Clear sky, tea-gardens, panoramic view of the Dhauladhar Himalayan ranges and people with traditional Himachali caps. I am talking about Palampur, a small city in Kangra Distrcit of Himachal Pradesh.
I was fortunate to work at a renowned institution- CSIR IHBT as a researcher. That is where I met with opportunities of exploring this beautiful city and around. I will start with the campus of IHBT which was a piece of art in itself. Especially the pentagon building, a lot of thought has gone in that. Apart from the infrastructure, you have a couple of good things you find there.
1. Plants: You may go there to take a variety of Indoor plants (snake plant, succulents, Areca palms etc. ) or flowering plants (calla lily, alstroemerias, bird of paradise, Gerberas, roses etc). Head to Floriculture lab straight away! You can get them at nominal prices.
2. Rose water: CSIR IHBT is an institution that also produces rose oil and a by product of the distillation process is rose water.
To know more you may explore the website.
Where to Eat?
Palampur has a variety of eateries starting from small cafes to high-end restaurants. The good thing about small-cafes is the vibes, they are pocket-friendly and best part is you can join a gig, sing and dance. However, if you require a more formal setting, high-end restaurants come to your rescue.
My ultimate favourites (that is what I did for an year, research and Explore!)
1. Blue Hills Cafe (No! They did not bribe me for this!)
For non-returning readers, I have written a full article on Blue Hills Cafe. But I will tell you in two sentences why I like it. One is, it is reasonable! Isn't that enough reason? Well, you have a variety foods options to explore (other than momos aka dimsums and noodles, which are pretty popular there). And the quality is good made fresh under hygienic conditions.
Second, the vibes! Once you reach the cafe, you sit in an open area. If it is winters they will make sure they have firewood burning to save you from that harsh cool breeze. Mini (their pet) will welcome you and you can simply sit and enjoy the music or even sing and share stories. I will admit, I was a little obsessed with the cafe, but Blue Hills cut the mustard! May be the sentences went far too long.
2. Sarovar Portico
This high-end restaurant is good for formal events and date-nights. The ambiance is great and it is also the only revolving restaurant in the town. There is a small gaming area where you can try your hand at snooker. Bar is available and the best part if the view that you get from the Cloud 9 restaurant area.
Parking no issue. However, reservations recommended due to high demand on occasions.
3. Cliffy's Cafe
After listening to my colleagues "Let's go and eat momos" time and again. Momos had become a nightmare for me. Thanks to Cliffy's! This is a new cafe which has opened a couple of months back and has good vibes and good food especially South Indian food. You will find trouble finding proper South Indian food in that part of city, listen to me head to Cliffy's. Good part is it also has books and a couple of musical instruments that you can play.
There is a large room for people so you may also host a party if you like to, the outdoor area comes straight from a Bollywood movie, with a fireplace and chairs around the seats for the perfect evening. Parking could be a little problem though. Comfortable seating and beautiful lights.
5. Gobind Sweets
Head for lip-smacking dishes. A wide range of sweets and laddoos available. But they serve good chaat dishes too.
Parking an issue since it is on main road.
4. Guleria Shop in the main market
A very small shop which you will find in the corner near the SBI ATM in the main market. This actually serves you delectable momos. As far as I recall, it only serves vegetarian options. I am not a big fan of momos, but I will admit, they were good. The side dish- the sauce or the chutneys- soya, chilli and mint-coriander worked perfectly to compliment the taste of the main dish and enhanced its taste double fold.
The only place where I found 'Siddu'- a dish from upper Himachal area. Siddu is a steamed bun stuffed with sweet to salty. Could be poppy seeds or mint-coriander filling etc etc. Parking could be a problem since it is located on the main road. You will enjoy your conversation with the humble owner if you ask him a few questions, he will be happy to answer. The old Bollywood music just gives you good feels!