Gaggal Airport


The Airports in Himachal Pradesh aren’t too many even though the state attracts a substantial number of tourists from all corners of the country. Given that a majority of them originate from the plains, air travel becomes the default choice.

Unfortunately, the hill state currently operates only three airports, servicing popular tourist destinations. However, the current inclination towards air travel to the region is hindered by high tariff rates.

While air travel is an appealing and time-efficient option, the prohibitive costs act as a significant deterrent. Conversely, opting for road travel extends the journey, and those unfamiliar with hill travel may find it challenging to endure mountain sickness.

Presently, there are three domestic airports in Himachal Pradesh–

  • Kullu Manali Airport
  • Shimla Airport
  • Kangra Airport
Positioning of Airports In Himachal Pradesh

1. Kullu-Manali Airport At Bhunter

Kullu–Manali Airport (with IATA Airport Code KUU) is located in Bhunter, in close proximity to Kullu–Manali. Positioned along the banks of the river Beas, this domestic airport serves as a convenient gateway for travelers heading to Kullu-Manali and the Lahaul Spiti Valley.

Many visitors opt for this airport to save significant travel time. From a traveler’s perspective, the nearby destinations of Kasol, Manikarna, Malana, Kullu-Manali, Rohtang Pass, and Lahaul Spiti are easily accessible from this airport.

For tourists heading to Manali from Delhi, choosing air travel is the best option, especially for those who prefer to avoid a long journey. Flights from Delhi to Bhuntar Airport, located 10 kilometers before Kullu, provide a convenient alternative.

From Bhuntar, various transportation options like taxis and buses are available for further travel to destinations such as Manali, Banjar, Jibbi, Tirthan Valley, Solang Valley, Atal Tunnel, Kelong, and Leh Ladakh. Opting for air travel not only saves time but also allows you to explore the beautiful places in the district.

If you’re planning your journey, it’s essential to note that the mentioned places have different directions. To optimize your travel and avoid repetitive routes, seek advice from a guide or a local familiar with the area. Kullu Airport, also known as Bhuntar Airport, serves as a crucial gateway to the region.

Situated in Bhuntar, Himachal Pradesh, the airport has a single runway, making it challenging for pilots due to the surrounding high peaks. Despite its challenges, Kullu Airport connects the Himalayan region to the rest of India through direct flights to and from Chandigarh, Delhi, and Jubbar-Hatti in Shimla.

Operated by the Airport Authority of India, Kullu Airport is equipped with modern amenities. The airport is supervised and managed by the AAI, which periodically initiates steps for its development and growth. Notably, the airport faced challenges, including flash floods in 1995 that threatened the runway.

The new air terminal was inaugurated in 2008, with an expanded apron to accommodate two aircraft simultaneously. Airlines like Kingfisher and Air India have played significant roles in connecting Kullu Manali to major and minor cities in India.

Please note that Kingfisher Airlines ceased operations in September 2012, while Air India Regional resumed its operations to Kullu in May 2013. Additionally, Himalayan Bulls, in collaboration with Deccan Charters, started Kullu-Chandigarh-Kullu flights thrice a day from April 2, 2014.

Given below is the table listing distances for important places from Bhunter Airport-

Kullu                   9.3Km(18 Min)
Kasol                   29.9Km(58 Min)
Manali                  50km(1h 27 Min )
Rohtang Pass            100Km(3h 29 Min)
Lahaul                  166Km(5h)

2. Shimla Airport

Shimla Airport (IATA Airport Code: SLV) is located in Jubbarhatti, 22 kilometers from Shimla. This again is a domestic airport. Shimla, Kufri, Mashobra, Chail, Naldehra and Tattapani are the places near this airport in Himachal Pradesh.

Shimla Airport,Airports in Himachal Pradesh

Initially, upon spotting the airstrip from the plane, I felt a bit uneasy. The presence of a mountain on one side and deep valleys on the other three sides contributed to my nervousness.

However, upon disembarking, we discovered that the airport was remarkably picturesque. Despite its modest size and the absence of a conveyor belt system, the staff was accommodating, placing our luggage on a table for us to retrieve. The personnel were not only helpful but also proficient in multiple languages.

Nestled in the hills, Shimla Airport captivates with its scenic location, providing awe-inspiring views of the surrounding mountains. The tidy and well-maintained small terminal adds to the charm.

The airport staff’s politeness and assistance stand out, even though the flight experience can be a tad turbulent due to the hilly terrain. Skilled pilots adeptly navigate through these challenges.

The only drawback is the susceptibility to weather conditions, occasionally causing delays or cancellations. Overall, arriving at the beautiful hill station of Shimla through this unique airport is an unforgettable experience.

It’s like stepping into heaven. Initially permitting only private jet flights, the airport now offers a direct flight to Delhi. Additionally, it serves as a training ground for budding pilots from various government institutes.

Within the premises and surrounding areas, various shops offer souvenirs and essential items. A shopping complex within Shimla Airport includes eateries providing fresh food to visitors.

Distance for important places from Shimla Airport-

Shimla                  22Km(46 Min)
Mashobra 34Km(1h 10Min)
Kurfi38Km(1h 20 Min)
Naldehra  47Km(1h 33 Min)
Chail 62Km(2h)
Tattapani78Km(2h 30Min)
Hatu Peak90Km(3h)

3. Kangra Airport

The Kangra Airport, identified by the IATA Airport Code DHM, is situated in Gaggal near Kangra, approximately 14 kilometers from Dharmshala and 8 kilometers from Kangra.

Alliance Air, Indigo and Spice Jet operate a minimum of four flights daily to Kangra Airport.

The experience at Dharamshala Airport is truly awe-inspiring! Surrounded by snow-covered mountains, it provides breathtaking views that are both captivating and unforgettable. The scenic beauty during takeoff and landing is simply enchanting, creating a distinctive and memorable airport encounter.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Kangra Airport in Himachal Pradesh, and I must express that my experience was delightful. Nestled in the picturesque Kangra Valley, the airport is embraced by majestic mountains, forming a stunning backdrop for travelers.

One of the first things that impressed me was the airport’s cleanliness and efficiency. The facilities were well-maintained, and the entire area had a tidy and organized appearance. The staff members were friendly and helpful, ensuring that the check-in and security processes were seamless.

Although Kangra Airport is relatively small compared to larger international airports, it fulfills its purpose effectively. Despite its compact size, it offers all the essential amenities a traveler might require, including various seating areas, restrooms, and a range of food and beverage options. This ensures that passengers can relax and rejuvenate before or after their flights.

A notable aspect of Kangra Airport is its breathtaking location. As the plane takes off or lands, passengers are treated to spectacular views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks and the lush greenery of the valley. This natural beauty adds a serene and scenic element to the overall travel experience.

The airport’s accessibility is another positive feature. Well-connected to major cities in India, Kangra Airport boasts frequent flights, making it convenient for both domestic and international travelers looking to explore the enchanting region of Himachal Pradesh.

While the food prices are relatively high, the airport is small and clean, well-managed, and offers a picturesque view from the boarding zone to the flight. The Kangra district, with its vast area and historical significance, adds to the overall charm of the region.

Expansion plans are in motion, with the Airport Authority of India (AAI) proposing a runway length increase to 3,010 meters in a recent draft plan. This expansion aims to accommodate larger aircraft like the Airbus 320, which can seat up to 180 passengers.

Currently, ATR-72 aircraft with a capacity of 75 to 80 seats are in operation due to the existing shorter runway. The passenger count is limited to around 50-55 due to these constraints.

Kangra Airport, Airports in Himachal Pradesh

Kangra Airport has become significant due to the presence of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium (HPCA) in Dharamshala. In 2015, Dharamshala was selected as one of the eight cities to host matches during the 2016 ICC World Twenty20, further enhancing the airport’s importance.

The stadium also hosts IPL matches. The stadium has a magnificent backdrop of the Dhauladhar Mountains range.

In summary, Kangra Airport in Himachal Pradesh offers a pleasant and hassle-free travel experience. Its cleanliness, friendly staff, and stunning location make it an excellent starting point for anyone visiting the region.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply seeking to explore the picturesque landscapes of Himachal Pradesh, Kangra Airport serves as a gateway that lives up to expectations.

Distance for important places from Kangra Airport-

Kangra Fort                          12Km(25 Min)
Dharamshala  14Km(26Min)
Palampur38Km(1h )
Jawala Ji Temple 44Km(1h)

4. Proposed Additional Airports In Himachal Pradesh

4.1 Mandi Airport

In addition to these airports, one more Airport at Nagchala, Mandi has been proposed recently. This Airport has been promoted as an International airport and is considered of prime importance from the Defense point of view. This airport will be able to handle large aircraft.

4.2 Rangrik Airport

The Rangrik airstrip in Spiti Valley has been in limbo for several years. It was initially intended for dual use in both defense and civilian operations, gaining significance, particularly in light of China’s airport at Lupsuk, which is just 190 km from the Indian border at Kaurik.

According to a Hindustan Times report on August 12, 2023, a team was scheduled to assess the feasibility of constructing the airstrip in Rangrik, but adverse weather conditions led to the rescheduling of the entire plan.

5. Conclusion

The three airports in Himachal Pradesh cater to popular tourist destinations, but the current preference for air travel to the region is minimal. This can be attributed to the high tariff rates.

While opting for air travel is an exciting and time-saving option, the cost remains a significant deterrent. On the contrary, traveling by road prolongs the journey, and individuals unaccustomed to hill travel may struggle to maintain their endurance levels while dealing with mountain sickness.

Among the existing airports, Kangra Airport holds the potential for expansion, whereas Shimla Airport lacks such prospects.

To make air travel to Himachal Pradesh more economically viable, it is crucial to facilitate the landing of larger aircraft at these airports and encourage more tourists to choose air transportation.

5/5 - (3 votes)


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