An ode to Himachal is Raadballi - a Heavenly abode in the lap of the Mother Nature 

Tripoto
29th Dec 2018
Photo of An ode to Himachal is Raadballi - a Heavenly abode in the lap of the Mother Nature by Sahila Kalia
Day 1

We live in a land where nature is worshiped and valued for providing the best. So is the place called Raadballi. A small town surrounded with Dhauladhar Ranges, some 40 Kms opposite of Dharamshala and in the midst of a wildlife milieu.

Sunset from the high above the mountains in Raadballi

Photo of Delhi, India by Sahila Kalia

It is a thumb rule for all our trips that we start pretty early, so that we avoid Delhi's traffic during the lean hours. Hence, we started our journey to Raadballi at 4:00 AM - just two days before the New Year 2019. Nothing can beat the new year celebration except the solitude of hills and while being on this trip, I had figured out that Palampur and Dharamshala are almost equal distance from Delhi and have almost the same route. However, both of them have their own stories and their own breathtaking beauty of nature. God must have created these places for His own repose and tranquility.

Finding this location was not an easy task. I searched and searched through various websites, resorts, home stays, and hotels but everything was occupied for New Year's celebration. Dharamshala is very near to Delhi and has actually become quite commercial. However, we were lucky enough to find the hidden gem of Kangra Valley called Raadballi Retreat.

Raadballi Retreat - a Heavenly abode

Photo of Raadballi Retreat, Nagrota Surian, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia

Nestled in the lap of beautiful Dhauladhar range and surrounded by the nature, this serene abode is treat for the travellers. Raadballi has an ancient story associated with it. Raad means a mythical tree and Balli is the girl who used to worship the tree. On her name, this place was named - Raadballi. It is a small village away from the main city and the accomodation we selected was Raadballi Retreat. This place is hosted by Sumit Guleria and his grandfather, the retired naval chief of the Indian Navy. Sumit is a caretaker, a guide, a chef and a storyteller. He loves talking, travelling and is very passionate about hosting families at this heavenly dwelling. He truly fulfills the Sanskrit saying called "Atithi Devo Bhava" means treat your guests like God.

Moving on with the journey, we spent our first day travelling through the highways and completed the evening with sumptuous chai and pakoras made by Sumit and his helper, Kakaji at home.

Day 2

Our mornings in the hills always begin with an early wake up call from the nature to visit the rising sun. We immediately got out of bed at around 5:00 AM and got ready to visit our first destination called Pong Dam Lake. Well, not exactly a dam but an enormous lake reservoir, which flows downhills to the dam and generate hydro power for the state.

Pong Dam Lake early in the morning

Photo of Pong Dam, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia

A closer look at this lake makes you feel like as if we are stepping into the sea of fishermen and boats. This lake caters to a large number of fishes and birds, which are less found in any other reservoirs. Beautiful blue green water, rising sun, birds flying in a synchronous manner and a morning walk is a great way to start the day. We spent around 2 hours here walking through the wilderness, enjoying the sound of water, watching the birds fly by and sun shine calming our spirits.

Walking trail to Pong Dam Lake through the bird sanctuary

Photo of Pong Dam Park, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia

My baby sister engulfed in the beauty of the lake view

Photo of Pong Dam, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia

Post our return to the retreat home, we got the opportunity to enjoy the winter sun and have our breakfast beneath it, which we miss out while working at the offices. It brought back the childhood memories, when my mother made us sit in the sun during our winter holidays.

Our travel buddy is sunbathing after a short dip in the Pong Dam Lake water

Photo of Raadballi Retreat, Nagrota Surian, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia

Further, the afternoon journey took us to a trek and a river crossing adventure to the sacred hot water spring called Tatwani. It is a natural sulphur water spring believed to have nature's healing properties.

This entire trek - river crossing - walking to Tatwani takes about 3-4 hours, where we drove for about 30 Kms from Raadballi and stopped at the hill top to complete the remaining expedition by foot.

Trek to Tatwani

Photo of Tatwani Hot Spring, Gaggal Road, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia

Trek to Tatwani

Photo of Tatwani Hot Spring, Gaggal Road, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia

The downhill trek is a simple, less challenging walk where we held hands and swift through the barks, tree branches and mud.

River crossing to reach Tatwani - Julie at her best abilities

Photo of An ode to Himachal is Raadballi - a Heavenly abode in the lap of the Mother Nature by Sahila Kalia

Since, this was a December month so even this deep water is no less than an iceberg.

They are simply unstoppable

Photo of An ode to Himachal is Raadballi - a Heavenly abode in the lap of the Mother Nature by Sahila Kalia

Village life of Himachal Pradesh

Photo of An ode to Himachal is Raadballi - a Heavenly abode in the lap of the Mother Nature by Sahila Kalia
Day 3

Tatwani spring had one only chamber opened to the public and men and women have separate timings to take a dip in the hot spring. It was a natural jacuzzi but slightly inconvenient. The spring is visited by many people on daily basis, so cleanliness might be hard to manage since it is unmanned. But it is certainly worth a one-time stop.

Julie is a travel rockstar - World's best travel buddy

Photo of Tatwani Hot Spring, Gaggal Road, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia
Day 2

Moving on from Tatwani, we made our way to Masroor Temple - an ancient temple, which is also known as Rock Cut temples. This historic landmark is made out of one rock and has mythological belief that it was built by the Pandavas while they were on their Agyaat Vaas (that is one year of exile living after a 12-year long period of expulsion). They built this temple to live incognito from the world. Today the monument is being maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Masroor Temple - Rock Cut Temples

Photo of Masroor Rock Cut Temple, Lahalpur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia

A Temple inside the Temple

Photo of Masroor Rock Cut Temple, Lahalpur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia

After a long tiring adventurous day, we spent the entire evening with Dadaji who shared some amazing real life stories from his navy days and his stay in Delhi. His experience of life is unmatched and his stories were equally interesting. Sumit left no stones unturned to make this trip amazingly memorable for us. He provided traditional Himachali food with lots of love that even his simple soup tasted amazing. One day to the New year was spent under the stars, in Raadballi gardens with bonfire and delicious barbecued food.

Sunrise from Raadballi

Photo of Raadballi Retreat, Nagrota Surian, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia
Day 3

Our final day again began with a long walk uphill from the retreat home. We walked about 3-4 Kms to visit the rising sun and trust me one should never miss the sunrise while travelling to the hills or the mountains. The view is always magnificent and the calmness it brings to your soul is incredible.

We may not have done so many adventurous activities here but this trip to Himachal was an incredible experience which made us fall in love with nature again and embrace the solitude we felt enclosed in this peaceful heaven on earth.

Julie can never stay back when it comes to long walks

Photo of Raadballi Retreat, Nagrota Surian, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia

We bid adieus to Raadballi and drove to Dharamshala to pay a visit at the monasteries and the Dalai Lama Temple. I will advise to avoid Dharamshala during long weekends as there was so much traffic and the place had become too hot. There was a small church enroute to Dharamshala called St. John in the wilderness and I recommend to park your vehicle in its parking lot and walk 1 km till the entrance of the city to avoid jams. It saved us a lot of time and trouble of crowding. Afterall, we wanted to enjoy the nature and not the congestion, which we already see everyday in the city.

iEnroute to Dharamshala

Photo of Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sahila Kalia

Going forward, our new year's eve became even more special when we reached to my home town, Jalandhar. We spent the evening celebrating our grandmother's 90th birthday on 31st December. This was simply a cherry on top of the cake with the blessings of our elders.

Photo of Jalandhar, Punjab, India by Sahila Kalia
Day 4

This brings to the end of our second trip to Himachal Pradesh. Just to share some technical information about the routing, which I may have missed above. Raadballi is about 480 Kms from Delhi. I recommend calling the retreat owner for the route as there is a small diversion which separates the roads to Dharamshala and Raadballi. From Dharamshala, we had opted for a drive via Punjab and then Delhi but one can take direct route to Delhi through Chandigarh. It is a beautiful place to go, if someone wants to experience the nature at its best and walk away from the daily hustle bustle of the metro life.

1 Comment(s)
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An excellent real feel blog. We are satisfied to know that you enjoyed place and its surroundings studded in the midst of mother nature. Your edge for preferring eco-friendly places like Raadballi Retreat www.raadballi.com in contrast to the hustle-bustle of crowded places is personally liked by us. Thanks for sharing your first hand experience.
Fri 04 05 19, 11:46 · Reply · Report