7 Offbeat Places Near Shimla & How to Reach Them on Your Next Holiday

With Manali, Spiti, and most recently Bir embracing sundry travellers day in and day out, the glories of Himachal Pradesh aren’t unknown to the country anymore. Be it just a long weekend or a full-fledged 7-day holiday, Himachal has the answer to all your travel cravings. From hill towns for weekend getaways from Delhi to exotic valleys like that of Lahaul, there’s treasure hidden all over the state. And to your delight, there are still MANY villages that remain overshadowed, thanks to the tourist hubs of Shimla, Manali, & Kullu.

With this blog, we’re bringing you the 7 most gorgeous villages, which give a major hit to even all the beautiful places to visit in Shimla! You can resort to these small towns for a breath of fresh air away from the bustle of city life & the popular tourist hill stations in Himachal Pradesh.

So, as you look for hotels in Shimla, I want you to wait for a couple of minutes & read this blog. I’m recommending destinations for all kinds of travellers- those up for a great trek, those who are getting away only to relax, those who love exploring the Himachali culture & whatnot. So, read on, fellow traveller and you just might find your perfect holiday destination in here!

1. Naldehra

Distance from Shimla- 23km

Naldehra is one of those tourist places in Shimla that does not get the attention it should. Well, good for travellers like us, who love going offbeat!

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The Naldehra Golf Course

How to reach Naldehra from Shimla

By car- This 23km ride will take you less than an hour. Follow Google Maps for navigation!

By taxi- A day tour to Naldehra & Tattapani from Shimla costs around 3000 INR.

By bus- The local HRTC buses between Shimla and Naldehra run 4 times a day. The journey takes 1hr and 55 rupees only!

Things to do in Naldehra

Naldehra Golf Course

Imagine playing golf on your holiday, with lush green mountains and ample of sunlight all around you on a pleasant day. This is exactly what makes the Naldehra Golf Course SO unmissable.

Chadwick Falls

These falls are located North of Shimla and can be easily covered when you’re on your way to Naldehra on your Shimla tour. It is a small fall, making for a good group hike if you’re with your friends and only planning to chill.

Shaily Peak

This peak with a temple atop looks out at a valley of dense forest. A rocky trail of 8km takes you to the top of the hill, which is near a lake. It makes for a good hike.

Craignano Nature Park

This park falls in a small village near Naldehra, called Mashobra, which is a little delight in itself. With picturesque trails and exotic flowers that bloom in the summer, the park also offers great views of the hills around. It opens at 10 am and closes at 5.30 pm.

2. Cheog

Cheog falls further ahead of Kufri. With apple orchards and lush green mountains, this village will become your favourite in no time! The Cheog weather is also pleasant throughout summers, with snowfall in winters. All the more reason to go, hmm?

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The Pine forest in Cheog. Picture by Ankit Gupta

Distance from Shimla- 23km

How to reach Cheog from Shimla

By Car- From Shimla, head to Fagu. Once there, take the right turn and drive for 4 km. Voila, you will reach Cheog just like that.

By Bus: All the outstation buses come via Shimla and from there you can hire a cab/shared taxi to go to Cheog.

By Air: The nearest airport is the Shimla Airport, 43 km from Cheog. You can take a taxi for INR 1000 – 1500 from there.

By Train: The nearest railway station is Shimla, 25 km from Cheog. A taxi from the railway station to Cheog will cost around INR 800 - 1200.

Things to do in Cheog

One of the best places near Shimla to live in, go to Cheog if you’re up for a lazy weekend holiday amidst the mountains with not much to do.

Hikes

You can hike up to Tungesh and Dharech, two temples on two nearby peaks. The temples offer great views of the sun falling on the valley, which makes it worth a visit.

Horse riding

Nestled amidst a jungle, you can go for horse-riding to nearby viewpoints with a villager. They’ll also tell you about the past of the place and their lifestyle.

Picnics

Cheog is full of apple orchards and grasslands, so it is easy to find a great picnic spot to laze your day away. Pair it up with card games and board games, and you’re all set!

Loving Cheog? Book your escape here!

3. Theog

Theog is a tiny picturesque village at the T-point for the roads of two beautiful destinations- Kinnaur and the Rohru Valley. Only 30km from #Shimla, it is the perfect place for a weekend getaway from Delhi.

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View from ZostelX Theog. Picture by Ankit Gupta

Distance from Shimla- 28km

How to reach Theog from Shimla

By car: Cross Shimla and Kufri. Drive on the Shimla-Rohru highway and take a diversion at Theog.

By bus: Reach Shimla and then take the bus to Theog for just 70 bucks!

By flight: The nearest airport is the Shimla Airport, at 53km from Theog.

Train: The nearest railway station is 32km away in Shimla. From there, reach Theog on the local bus or a taxi. A taxi will charge you around INR 2000.

Things to do in Theog

Hike to Shail Tibba

Shali Tibba is the perfect place to visit in Shimla for a 360-degree view of the Shimla hills. The temple atop gives you an idea of the rural Himalayan architecture. To reach Shali Tibba, you can drive up to the Khatnol Village, from where the hilltop is a short hike.

Hike to Kanag

This hike rewards you with splendid views of a valley full of Cedars. On your way here, you’ll not come across a lot of tourists, only locals who come here on weekends for family picnics. The hike is easy, and the rewards are amazing, so do visit if you love the quiet of the mountains, away from people.

Looks like your kinda escape? Book it here!

4. Koti

Distance from Shimla- 30km

I'll put it this way. If you'd want to experience mesmerising sunrises and sunsets for once, head to Koti peak for an unforgettable experience. It also makes for a great weekend getaway from Delhi!

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Koti at dusk. Picture by Ankit Gupta

How to reach Koti from Shimla

By bus- Take the Delhi to Shimla bus. From Shimla, board the bus towards Chail. Drop off at Koti Village.

By taxi- You’ll get direct taxis from Shimla to Koti. They’ll charge approximately 1200-1500 INR.

By train- The nearest railway station is in Shimla, which is 30 km from Koti. Carry on to Koti by a bus or taxi as mentioned above on your Shimla trip.

By flight- The nearest airport is in Shimla, located 48 km from Koti. You can then take a taxi/bus to Koti as directed above. The taxis may charge around 1500-2000 INR from the airport to Koti.

By car- Chandigarh to Koti: Kandaghat - Chail - Koti

Koti via Shimla: Shimla - Kufri – Koti

Also, Koti is just a 4.5 hr drive from Chandigarh! So all the folks looking for hill stations near Chandigarh, Koti is the hidden gem you’ve been looking for.

Things to do in Koti

Hikes

Embracing nature at its purest, Koti is home to multiple short hikes. Stroll across the thick Deodars and a sprawled jungle, spotting unique flora and fauna on your way. You can also go for a full-day trek to the Manuni Peak.

Birdwatching

You can spot unique Himalayan birds around Koti. The Steppe Eagle, Vultures, Western Tragopan, and Pheasants, amongst other birds, can be spotted if you have the eye for them.

Jungle walk in the Seven Meadows

A walk through the seven meadows of Chail offers a comprehensive experience of the region. You’ll come across streams, grasslands, wild animals, flowers and crop fields, as the soothing winds and the view of the deep gorge take your breath away. With meadows instead of hills, this is one of the unique places to visit in Himachal Pradesh.

Chail Cricket Ground

The highest cricket ground in the Chail region doubles for a plain that offers spectacular views of the Himachali mountains.

Kali Tibba Temple

Sitting at the top of a hill, the Kali Tibba Temple looks out at the gorgeous Choor Chandni Peak along with the Shivalik mountain ranges. Make it to this temple in the evening for a pleasant sunset view.

Chail Palace

Spread across 75 acres, the Chail Palace was built during the British Raj. With great architecture and marvellous views around, this is a must-visit place in the Chail region.

5. Kotkhai

This town in Himachal Pradesh is full of strong cultural vibes and multiple peaks around. So you can spend your time strolling around the traditional village, hiking up to the peaks for marvellous views, or driving down to the ancient and picturesque temples

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ZostelX Kotkhai, a hilltop homestay. Picture by Ankit Gupta

Distance from Shimla- 60km

How to reach Kotkhai from Shimla

By Car: Drive on Shimla-Rohru highway and take a left at Kotkhai towards Padara. This journey is of 60km and will take you nearly 2 hours.

By Bus: Take a bus from Delhi to Shimla. From Shimla, there are direct HRTC buses to Kotkhai, which cost just INR 122. You can book them on HRTC’s website in advance for convenience.

By Air: If you are flying down to the Shimla Airport, which is 75 km away from Kotkhai, you can take a taxi to Kotkhai as prompted above. A taxi would cost approximately INR 3000 from the airport.

If you are coming by train, the approximate fare for a taxi is INR 2500.

Kotkhai is yet another hill station near Chandigarh that should be on your list. It is only 160km, and the 6-hr drive is full of natural wonders.

Things to do in Kotkhai

Kotkhai Village

A rustic town with people still following the age-old Himachali traditions, Kotkhai is a cultural delight for an outsider. Take a walk through these villages and stop at a local tapri for chai and pakoda- this very ordinary experience is full of small wonders in itself.

Nawar Valley

This valley is one of those places near Shimla that is completely serene and homes a dense forest along with apple and pear orchards and little population. You can drive up to the viewpoint of the valley at sunset for a brilliant sky with hues of pink and orange to gorge at.

Giri Ganga

A small hike from Kotkhai leads you to a point called Giri Ganga, which is the origin point of a local river. With a temple on the top, this point gives beautiful views of the valley around.

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The greens of Giri Ganga. Picture by Ankit Gupta

Kupar Peak

A hike further up from Giri Ganga leads to the top of the Kupar Peak, a great place to watch the sun go down. You can also camp there overnight to gaze at the stars and enjoy a tranquil sunrise.

Hatkoti Temple

This wood-and-stone temple is slightly North from Kotkhai, which makes it a great place to visit early in the morning when the sun rays are still just taking over the greys of the night.

An escape into the mountains on the cards? Book your holiday to Kotkhai here!

6. Narkanda

The ultimate snow destsination of Himachal Pradesh, y'all!

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Distance from Shimla- 60km

If you’re travelling in winter, Narkand is one of the best places to visit in Shimla. Read on to know why!

How to reach Narkanda from Shimla

By Car- The drive from Shimla to Narkanda is only 60km and takes around 2 hours. For this, you’ll have to take the road that goes to Kufri and carry on towards Theog and further up. The route is easily accessible through Google Maps.

By Taxi- A round trip between Shimla and NArkanda will cost you around INR 2500. You’ll easily get taxis from the main market in Shimla.

By Bus- Board the Delhi to Shimla bus. Further ahead, you can book a bus online on HRTC for just INR 128 from Shimla to Narkanda.

By Train- The nearest train station from Narkand is in Shimla. From Shimla, you can either take a taxi or an HRTC bus to Narkanda.

Things to do in Narkanda

Known for its crimson red apple orchards, Narkanda is a great skiing destination in winters and a picnic village in the summers. Here are all the things to do in Narkanda.

Skiing

Winters in Narkanda bring with them generous amounts of snowfall, which turns the town into a mini Narnia itself. The plains of the town are used for skiing, an adventure activity that draws in many adventurers to the town in winters.

Hatu Peak

Hatu Peak is easily one of the best tourist places in Himachal Pradesh to watch the sunrise and the sunset. With the Hatu temple atop, the peak provides a marvellous view of the mountain ranges that surround it, including the Pir Ppanjal. You can either drive your way through a dusty path slicing through the dense forest or make it a day-trek. The trek takes 4-5 hours to finish and is moderately easy to accomplish.

Stokes Farm

It is said that a long time ago, a man began the farming of apples in Narkanda, thus bringing a new business to life for all its residents. The Stokes Farm, named after him, still homes beautiful apple orchards, which makes the place worth a visit in and around Shimla.

Kacheri

Kacheri is another hill station in Himachal Pradesh, very close to Narkanda. It holds the famous Mahamaya Temple, which sees a lot of pilgrims every year. With apple orchards and greenery all around in summers and a thick blanket of snow covering everything in winters, this temple of Goddess Kali truly offers a surreal experience.

Jau Baug

With a mention in the Mahabharata as one of the places the Pandavas visited during their Vanavasa, Jau Baug is a valley of meadows. Its viewpoint is a short drive from Hatu Peak, and gifts you with the views of lush meadows instead of the tall mountains.

7. Kotgarh

If you think serenity and solitude, you're thinking Kotgarh! With plenty of things to do around, this is where you go on a friends' road trip to Himachal Pradesh!

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View from ZostelX Kotgarh, clicked  by Ankit Gupta

Distance from Shimla- 75km

How to reach Kotgarh from Shimla

By Bus: Take the Delhi to Shimla bus. You’ll find private as well as HRTC buses. Local buses go from Shimla to Thanedhar. From there, Kotgarh is only 6km, which can be covered on foot or in a taxi.

If you’re reaching Shimla by train, you can make the onward journey to Thanedhar by bus or taxi. The approximate fare for a taxi is INR 1800 - 2200.

By Car: This ride will take you nearly 2.5 hours. Take the route from Shimla to Kufri and carry on to Narkanda. Take the exit from Narkanda towards Thanedhar and Kotgarh is on the way.

Things to do in Kotgarh

This village has everything to offer that you could expect from your holiday to one of the hill stations in Himachal Pradesh. A lake, oodles of hikes and treks, solitude, and stunning mountains. You name it, you got it at Kotgarh, a small village in Thanedar, Himachal Pradesh!

Treks

Hatu Peak Trek

The Hatu Peak of Narkanda is just 15km from Kotgarh. It is also a great day-trek if you drive from Kotgarh to Narkand and start your hike from there. The walk takes you through densely hugging Firs, Oaks, and Pines and is one of the best small treks of Himachal Pradesh.

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The sunset from the Hatu Peak. Picture by Ankit Gupta

Mural Danda Trek

With stunning views of the Satlej Valley laced with the Basra Range from the top of the ridge, the Mural Danda Trek is one of the hidden treks of Himachal that’s utterly beautiful. It takes you through a sea of Deodars and Oaks, rhododendron trees, and even small waterfalls. You can start the trek from Kotgarh village itself and finish it in 7-8 hours.

Basleo Pass Trek

The Basleo Pass falls in the Kullu Valley and looks out at the gorgeous Beas Valley. The trail takes you through lush green mountain meadows, encounters with wildlife, and breath-taking sights of the Shreekhand Mahadev range.

Attractions

When it comes to things to do, Kotgarh is one of the best places to visit in Himachal Pradesh. Here’s why.

Kotgarh Village

The village of Kotgarh is one of those quaint places that have an utterly bucolic charm about them. With houses made of wood, mud, and dung, people earning their livelihood with milk, poultry, and farming, the village takes you back to when life was simple.

Local fairs of the region

The onset of every season is celebrated here with local merriments, where the entire village comes together to sing folk music and enjoy their classical dance called Nati.

Even weddings here are very unique, so attend one if you ever get the chance. I remember being in a village near Kotkhai, and we got talking to the driver who was dropping us to one of the nearby villages. By the end of the 20-min ride, he had already invited me to his daughter’s wedding! And while I was not going to stay long enough to attend, what stayed with me was the lovingness and generosity of the people there, which I found in abundance. I believe all hill stations in Himachal Pradesh are full of such heartening experiences.

A day trip to Narkand

With Narkanda only 15km from Kotgarh, you can cover both the villages in a single trip by staying in Kotgarh and simply making a day trip to Narkanda for its temple, Hatu Peak, and the lake.

Tani Jubbar Lake

Only a 10-km drive from the village, the Tani Jubbar Lake is nestled in a dense forest of Cedar trees. It overlooks a range of snow-clad mountains, adding to the serene vibe of the lake. Near the lake sits a temple called Nag Devta, where villagers often come to visit. This lake also falls in the Narkand region.

Planning an offbeat escape? Make it to Kotgarh! Book here.

Weekend Getaways from Delhi

Looking for great tourist places near Delhi to escape on a long weekend? Well, all these places are just 8-10 hours from Delhi! So, you can take an overnight bus to Shimla and then head to one of these villages by a taxi or a local HRTC bus early in the morning, and voila! You’ll find yourself away from the crowd and into the wilderness & serenity of the mountains.

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The Deluxe Room in Theog. Perfect for a weekend getaway, eh?
Clicked by Ankit Gupta

It’s best if you spend at least 2 nights and 2.5-3 days in the village. This way, you can go for a couple of hikes, have sumptuous and ye very simple meals, talk to the locals and also visit the nearby attractions. Even after doing all of this, you may be able to spare 1 out of 3 days to just relax and enjoy the mountains at their best. So, I really insist you take a Friday or a Monday off if you’re planning for a getaway to one of these places near Shimla on a weekend which isn’t long.

Why choose a Homestay over a Hotel/Resort

If you’re looking for hotels in Shimla, I want you to wait a minute and give this bit a read. While hotels give you the comfort and luxury, if you’re someone who loves exploring the culture and knowing a place inside out, you may want to try going local even for accommodation.

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ZostelX homestay in Cheog. Picture by Ankit Gupta

You see, it is a different experience altogether to live with a local family, learn about their lifestyle, eat their traditional food, and experience the village in its true essence. Such a wholesome experience is given to you by homestays, which I’m sure you’ll find in most of the villages of Himachal Pradesh.

About ZostelX Stays

Imagine waking up to the sound of the chirping birds, as the golden rays of the sun melt on your cosy blanket. A warm breakfast is waiting for you in the balcony, which you will devour along with the stunning views of the mountains in all their serenity. It’ll be followed by a walk in the fruit orchards or down to the stream, where you’ll probably pick litchis and apples or go fishing and take a dip. You’ll come home to yet another fresh and delicious local meal, which you’ll have over sweet conversations with the host family. Evenings will be spent hiking ad exploring the little rustic villages on foot, going on a drive to enjoy the valley, or basking in solitude. You’ll then be treated with a hearty dinner, bonfire, and a sky full of stars as you bid the day goodbye.

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Guests having lunch with the hosts at ZostelX Kotkhai. Picture by Ankit Gupta

This is exactly the experience you can look forward to at ZostelX, with their immense collection of homestays in hill stations near Delhi, spread across the most offbeat areas of Himachal Pradesh.

Ready to explore the hidden gems of Himachal Pradesh, curving away from the crowded hotspots of Shimla, Kullu, & Manali? Check out ZostelX homes and book a beautiful holiday home in Shimla or anywhere in Himachal Pradesh.

Got more offbeat places near Shimla that you think we missed out on? Let us know in the comments! Want to stay updated about the coolest homestays in Himachal Pradesh? Follow ZostelX on Instagram.

Writer, Pranavi Chhikniwala.


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