Guide To Traveling To Himachal Pradesh During Covid
When India went into lockdown to combat the rising threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry that was affected the most was the travel industry. Travel as we know it has ceased to exist in the country. But at the same time, Himachal Pradesh has opened up for travel in recent months, albeit with Covid regulations.
Himachal Pradesh is one of the states that has started encouraging this kind of travel to boost their economy which is dependent on travel and tourism to sustain itself. Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Himachal Pradesh during Covid.
Himachal Regulations And Guidelines
Nearly all regulations have been lifted by the state, so the only thing that the visitors have to keep in mind is that they have to adhere to the social distancing guidelines while they are visiting the state.
Every tourist is required to install the Aarogya Setu app (which has been instrumental in tracking the Covid cases effectively) on their phones.
People traveling to Himachal Pradesh from other states are to apply for an e-pass. (Apply for a vehicle permit e-pass as well if you will be taking your own vehicle).
For a more in-depth look at the regulations and guidelines, the Himachal Pradesh tourism website offers a comprehensive set of documents that you can read through before you plan your trip to the state.
Getting To Himachal Pradesh
The most issues you will face while attempting out-of-state travel during the pandemic is during the actual transport. The availability of public transport is limited and is encouraged only if traveling is absolutely necessary.
Getting To Himachal By Air
You can fly to Himachal, and it’s the fastest way to do so. All passengers will have to certify their health status on the Aarogya Setu app or produce a self-declaration form. Thermal screenings will be done for every passenger, but no Covid test is mandated.
However, those coming from Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan are to carry a negative RT-PCR test not older than 72 hours.
Getting To Himachal By Train
There are no direct trains going to Himachal from most of the country, so you’ll have to figure out the best way to travel to Delhi and take one of the Covid Special Trains into Himachal.
Getting To Himachal By Road
Roadways are the best way of traveling during this pandemic. The state has cleared travel for its inter-state bus service for people who are looking for an affordable transport option. You’re going to have to find out if one such bus is traveling to Himachal from your state. Keep in mind that buses in Himachal Pradesh are to run on 50% occupancy.
Even though the bus service has made it simpler for people to travel to the state once again, it is still advisable that you use private vehicles to travel, since you will significantly reduce the chance of potentially contracting the coronavirus.
Things To Keep In Mind When Traveling
Travel during a pandemic comes with its fair share of risks. You have to take care to avoid coming in contact with people who are unfamiliar to you. Here are a couple of things you need to keep in mind while traveling:
Travel Alone Or In Small Groups
Try to travel alone if possible. If the number of people increases, so do the chances of contracting the virus. Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code (which prohibits four or more people to gather in one place at the same time) has been implemented time and again to combat crowding.
It is a good idea to keep the size of your group small so that you comply with the law automatically.
Use Private Transport
Using public transport to travel right now carries a certain level of risk with it since it is impossible to figure out if any of your co-travelers could be carriers of the virus.
Using private transport is a relatively safer bet as you already know the people with who you are traveling. You would also be aware of who they have/have not come in contact with within the 15-day period before the date of the travel. This brings us to the point below:
Recheck For Infection
The best-case scenario would be to get yourself and your co-travelers tested for the coronavirus.
In case you decide not to get tested (even though we recommend you do it as a safety measure), be sure to check and see if you or your co-travelers are exhibiting any symptoms associated with the infection.
Talk to your fellow travelers and try to ascertain whether they have come in contact with any Covid positive person in the last 15 days.
You should take up the initiative to travel during this time, only if you have taken every precaution to prevent the possibility of contracting the virus.
Reduce Contact Based Transactions
Since minimizing interaction is the ultimate goal, you can start off by doing the following:
Book every stay in advance via online transactions.
Pay for meals and other shopping items using UPI or other online wallets.
Things To Carry When Traveling To Himachal During Covid
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Washable and reusable masks
Multiple changes of clothes (Avoid doing laundry)
Smartphone with Aarogya Setu app, and UPI payment app (Internet is required)
Covid negative certificate (Better to be safe than sorry)
Things To Do In Himachal When Traveling During Covid
The coronavirus primarily spreads through physical contact. In that case, crowded places and popular tourist spots become a potential hotspot for the spread of cases. Avoid places that are always crowded, like the Mall Road in Shimla, Solang Valley in Manali, etc.
Here’s what you can do instead:
Paragliding in Bir Billing
Bir Billing is a small village some 65 km away from Dharamshala. It is remote enough to not attract too many tourists, and the paragliding itself is an individual activity (although you will have a guide with you while paragliding).
Trekking is a great way of ensuring that you don’t come in contact with many people. Luckily, Himachal Pradesh has many great treks of varying difficulties. Try opting for the less popular ones since you are bound to run into more people on a popular trek route. Try the trek routes that are away from tourist hubs like Manali. Here are 3 that are good for beginners.
Kheerganga Trek, Kasol
Indrahar Pass Trek, Dharamshala
Triund Trek, Mcleodganj
You will most likely run into fewer people in Kasol, Mcleodganj, and Dharamshala than in hubs like Manali and Shimla.
If you are a more experienced trekker, then you can go trekking on slightly more challenging routes like:
Sar Pass Trek, Kasol
Prashar Lake Trek, Mandi
Don’t forget to carry tents, sleeping bags, food and water supplies, and plenty of thermals to keep yourself warm. You will get plenty of opportunities to stargaze during nighttime.
Given the current circumstances, there has never been a better time for indoor vacations to become the norm. By keeping the travel part of traveling to a minimum, you will automatically reduce the chance of spreading or getting the virus. Luckily, areas like Kasol have some fantastic homestays and isolated resorts that you can choose from.
Here are a few we recommend:
The Himalayan Village
Make sure to do your own research and check if these places are adhering to the safety protocols properly, before booking.
While traveling to Himachal during Covid, or any place for that matter, isn’t recommended, a considerable part of the state’s economy depends on tourism. In such cases, it becomes the prerogative of the traveler as well as the host state to ensure that the arrival of the guests is not putting people in undue danger.
If you follow the rules and guidelines issued by the state and vehemently stick to the physical distancing act, then you can use your traveling to enjoy yourself as well as do some good.
Is There A Lockdown In Himachal Pradesh?
As of writing this article, Himachal isn’t under lockdown, but there are restrictions on getting around, and the Kangra district is under weekend lockdown and night curfew.
Are Tourist Allowed In Himachal Pradesh?
Tourists are still allowed to visit Himachal Pradesh but are expected to comply with the Covid guidelines.
Is It Safe To Travel To Dalhousie Now?
You can travel to Dalhousie without many restrictions currently, but keep in mind the Covid protocols and avoid stepping out if not absolutely necessary.
Is Dalhousie Open For Tourists Now?
Yes, Dalhousie and Himachal Pradesh as a whole are open for tourists, but with certain Covid restrictions, especially those coming from Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
Is Tourism Allowed In Shimla?
While the second wave of the pandemic has resulted in tourism taking a hit again in 2021, you can still visit Shimla now.
Is Manali Safe?
Yes, Manali is a safe place for travelers, including solo females.
Which Month Is Best For Manali Tour?
The summer months of March to June are the best times to visit Manali. This is when the weather is most pleasant and nature in all its glory.
Is Himachal Allow Tourists?
The Himachal Pradesh Government is allowing tourists to visit the state, while at the same time monitoring the Covid situation.
Is Kasol Dangerous?
Kasol is generally a safe place to visit, but we recommend not going there during the monsoons as there’s a risk of slippery roads and landslides.
Why Kasol Is Mini Israel?
Kasol is known as Mini Israel because of the high concentration of Israeli tourists that visit this place.
Traveling To Himachal: What To Keep In MindTraveling To Himachal During The Coronavirus Pandemic