A nature’s paradise.
By Suman Bajpai
Serene beauty, attractive surroundings, peaceful locale, snow-capped peaks, awesome weather have given Dalhousie an edge over other popular destinations for those looking for refreshing breaks. This spot is a perfect example of eco-tourism as well. The place is an untouched, uncommercialised, less-frequented hill spot – as compared to most of the north Indian hill stations, and has kept its natural attractions intact for the tourists to see. We also did not find any vehicular pollution. This destination is special for nature-lovers and trekkers.
Dalhousie is a popular hill resort situated in the Dhauladhar range of Himachal Pradesh. It is the passage to the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. The hill station of Dalhousie comprises five distinct hills – Kathlog, Portreyn, Tehra, Bakrota and Balun, which covers an area of about 13 sq. km. It is situated at 6000-9000 feet above sea level in the western Himalayas. Dalhousie is surrounded by the beautiful scenery of snow-capped peaks. As a famous tourist spot of Himachal Pradesh, Dalhousie flaunts a wide array of natural and architectural pieces. From the age-old churches and temples to museums and clubs, Dalhousie presents an ecstatic appeal to the visitors.
Rich in colonial architecture
Scottish and Victorian architecture can be seen in the bungalows and churches standing in the heart of a town. It is a hill station full of colonial charm that has lingering echoes of the Raj.
The town is named after the 19th century British governor general Lord Dalhousie. The town’s varying altitude shades it with a variety of vegetation that includes stately grooves of pines, deodars, oaks and flowering rhododendrons. Its marvelous forest trails overlook vistas of wooded hills, waterfalls, springs and rivulets. Like a silver snake finding its way out of the mountains. There are also magnificent views of Chamba valley and the mighty Dhauladhar range with its awe-inspiring snow-covered peaks filling an entire horizon.
A vastness of Tibetan culture has added a touch of the exotic to this serene place and along road sides are huge rocks carved in the Tibetan style.
A walk around Dalhousie
From the blissful silence to the crisp mountain air criss-crossing its way through the trees, the power of sound and silence can be experienced inevitably. We preceeded to Diankund a hilltop about 2745 metres above sea level. We had to trek about 3-4 kilometres to reach the Devil Temple. It was tedious and tiresome. We could see the Himalayan Stretches, the Argil Valleys and further – all the way up to the temple.
Next, our destination was Kalatop. We had to take diversion at Lakadmandi and the entrance ticket to Kalatop, a forest area we had to drive about 3-4 kilometres through standing narrow lane, dark with deodar and trees on both lines. There were some resort-like constructions. We could get hot tea there. Just down on the slope we could see some huts of the locals.
We were there for an hour and started off to Chamba. The road to Chamba is on the slopes going straight for some length and then climbing and turning to the other side of the hill, giving us a dream-come-true view of Himalayan Valleys. Just a glimpse of the tips covered in snow. It was a top of one of the Kailash Parvath Mani Mahesh. As we were approaching Chamba we were running by the side of river Ravi. I was told that the river Ravi flows from here to Pakistan.
Other evidence of Chamba’s heritage can be seen in the collection of miniature paintings from the Kangra, Basholi and Chamba schools at the Bhuri Singh Museum, as well in the murals and other artefacts at the Rang Mahal Palce.
Khajjiar-mini Switzerland of India
If you go to Dalhousie you can miss going to Khajjiar. It is situated at an altitude of 6500 ft above sea level in the district of Chamba, in Himachal Pradesh. This place is accessible by well-maintained roads and it takes about one and a half hours to reach Khajjiar from Dalhousie and Chamba. The existence of Khajjiar is closely associated with the rulers of Chamba. Around the 6th century, the Chamba valley was ruled by local Rajput rulers. They made it their capital. In the medieval era, Khajjiar became a part of the Mughul Empire and later the Sikhs dominated it. Lastly it was overtaken by the British. In 1948, it became a part of the state of Himachal Pradesh. Most popular tourist attractions of Khajjiar, is the Khajinag Temple, a temple constructed way back in the 12th century. This temple is also known as the Golden Devi temple and is a small shrine devoted to a local female deity.
Here I did Paragliding, with a parachute that goes up about 30-35 feet on being pulled by a couple of men. I am in the sky, jumping from the top of hill from about 1500 ft above the plain of khajjiar ie mini Switzerland of India. Before jumping I was somewhat scared and refused to do it, but iIn another second I was in the sky flying just like bird. It was really thrilling and unforgettable moment of my life.