The bus was transporting children, all below the age of 13, who were studying at a private school in Nurpur town, 60km (37 miles) south of Dharamsala.
"The bus rolled into a 200-foot-deep gorge, killing 27 schoolchildren, two teachers and the driver", local police official Santosh Patyal said, according to BBC. Kangra district officials fear the death toll may rise as 11 other children have been injured in the worst school bus accident in the region in recent years.
It was this alert that helped rescuers reach the spot within the next 30 minutes, said police and local residents.
An injured student, Ranveer Singh, told the Indian media that he fell out of a window after the bus started rolling into the gorge.
The worst bus incident in the area in years occurring on Monday reportedly took place as the driver of the bus, an ex-army man lost control of the bus resulting in the plunge.
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"The bus had been inspected by all the authorities and had met all norms", she said. Food and Supplies minister Krishan Kapoor was among the senior state functionaries at the accident site to supervise rescue operations.
Eyewitnesses said the vehicle skidded as it turned a corner and left the mountainous road, India's ANI news agency reported. "We will get an inquiry done into the cause of the accident", said Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The state government has announced 500,000 rupees ($7,700) in compensation for each victim's family.