South Himachal Pradesh

Nirmund is about 90km northeast of Shimla, via Rampur. Parasuram (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) is said to have performed austerities here. His father sent him off to atone for the killing of Sahasrabahu (Kartaviryarjuna). While Parasuram was gone, the sons of Sahasrabahu came to the ashram of Jamadagni (near Agra) and cut off his head. Parasuram’s mother, Renuka, then beat her breast 21 times in anguish.

When Parasuram returned, he made a vow to rid the earth of the ksatriyas (warrior class) 21 times. The cave where Parasuram did austerities has a silver Deity of Parasuram.

The ancient temple of Devi Ambika is said to have been established by Parasuram. When Lord Vishnu cut up the body of Sati, her head is said to have fallen here.

Nahan is a nice town that you may stay in while traveling through this area or when visiting the nearby Renuka Lake. There is a festival here at the end of the monsoon in which around 50 Hindu deities from the area are placed in a tank by a temple here.

There are buses to Shimla, Dehra Dun, Renuka Lake and regular buses to Dadahu (45 minutes walk from Renuka Lake).

Renuka Lake
This nice lake is an hour bus ride from Nahan. At this place there is a small bird sanctuary, a small wildlife park that has some deer and some beautiful butterflies.

The lake is named after Renuka, the mother of Parasuram (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu). There is a temple here dedicated to Parasuram and also some other temples. There is a festival here in November.

There are buses that come here direct from Nahan. There are buses every hour from Nahan that go to Dadahu, from where you have to walk 45 minutes to get to the lake.

Paonta Saheb
You may pass through this town located on the border with Uttar Pradesh, while going to somewhere else. There is a Sikh temple here, and Govind Singh, the 10th Sikh guru, spent time here from the ages of 16 to 20. There is also the Yamuna Temple here.

The cheaper places are rather bad.
There are buses to Shimla, Nahan (2 hr), Dehra Dun (2 hr) and Delhi (morning).

Pin Valley
The Pin Valley is south of Dankar and runs along the Pin River. There are several gompas in the valley. The 15th century Kungri Gompa is considered to be the main gompa in the valley. It is a few km off the main road. There is a gompa in Guling, which has rooms to stay. There is a government guesthouse at Sangam.

Wildlife in the valley includes snow leopards, ibexes, red foxes, eagles, and Himalayan griffons. Travel agents may tell you that the place is rich with wildlife, which may be true, but it is unlikely that you will actually see any. Buses go along the valley from Kaza to Mud, 24km away. There are almost no places to stay in the valley. You have to trek and camp out while visiting the valley.
Kaza to Keylong

To go between Kaza and Keylong you have to go over the Kunzum La Pass at 4550m. At Chandra Tal, a 12km trek from the pass, is the beautiful Chandra Tal (“Moon Lake”). From there you can continue on to Baralacha La, which is on the main road to Leh.

Guru Ghantal Gompa, in the village of Tupchiling, is a hard four-km trek from the village of Gondla. It is part of the Drukpa order and is around 800 years old. It is known for its deity of Padmasambhava.

Bara Shigri (“Big Glacier”), which is reached from Batal, is a 10km long and 1km wide glacier.