Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal..

Tripoto
25th Sep 2017

Brilliantly intense and vivid

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

Palampur-Mcloadganj-Khajjiar-Dalhousie, in Sept-17

Travelling to Hill stations is always a sheer joy for me. Captivating effects of wavy landscapes, everlasting temperate weather, snow-capped ranges, aligned sequence of Cedar and Pine and several unfamiliar coniferous trees, simple and down-to-earth natives and obviously the delicacy of having sizzling hot Maggie at the backdrop of mountain ranges remain very much alive in me for years.

Last September, a day ahead of Durga-puja i.e., on 25th of Sept, our tour to Himachal - “Dev Bhoomi” started. However, if all the preparations and planning are taken into consideration then my virtual Himachal tour kicked off way back in July. The biggest challenge was to get a confirmed railway ticket during that festive season particularly in Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Exp. and even my 82 days advance attempt managed to accommodate my wife at RAC 69. As she had to travel all alone, it was certainly disturbing for her to share berth with strangers. So it literally kept me haunted till the preparation of final chart. Luck although favoured me at the end.

In this context, I would like to brief about ourselves. That, the tour was coupled by me and my wife and obviously a Trolley bag which my wife purchased specially for this trip. A special mention was given to the trolley because it was not only very “Adorable” but also a “Classy” one. “Classy” because by someway or other that trolley revealed its utter displeasure every time we surfaced it to pull. Understanding its “pain”, we ultimately dumped the idea to roll it on and shouldered it “happily” throughout the tour.

Day 1

Now, coming to us, due to our diligence towards our respective professions we (un)fortunately stay away from each other by 1800 km or so; and that’s why, we decided to meet at New Delhi Railway station and would start for Himachal right from there. Accordingly, on that auspicious day, with the whistle of 12301 Howrah Rajdhani Exp dot at 16:55 hrs, the journey commenced.

Day 2

Day 2, 26th Sep

I was right there at the platform no. 16 at New Delhi junction to receive my wife. Train was late by 15 mins only. We then, proceed to our hotel Smyle Inn in the main bazaar area, Paharganj side. Our request of early check-in was honoured duly by the Manager and he accommodated us in a family room available with him at that moment. The room was overall fine and importantly air conditioned. Our plan was to rest throughout the day and leave for Pathankot in the evening by 14033 Jammu Mail.

The main bazaar area, where this hotel is located is very crowded but has ample options around; in terms of stay-in and shopping. We, although, dropped the plan to rove in the market considering the terrible heat outside and the extensive upcoming journey.

Jammu Mail departs at 20:10 hrs from Old Delhi railway station. I expected that checking out early by 6 PM would be sufficient. But friends, when we reached there it was about to be 8 PM and the courtesy must be given to the infamous traffic of New Delhi. Here, I appreciate my ever genius wife for preferring Toto (battery operated three wheeler) over Auto and salute that Toto driver who never surrendered and ran through all the possible as well as impossible lanes of Chandni Chowk market area just for us. I, at heart, already started feeling the tempo of the adventure we were going to have, following that thrilling ride.

Jammu Mail, on that day, departed almost 45 minutes late. That train did not have any pantry on board so we opted for e-catering and the service was okay.

Day 3

Day 3, 27th Sep

Next morning, at a delay of almost 3 hrs, we arrived at Pathankot Cantt (PTKC) station around 8 A.M. Shared Auto (Vikram, the large one), @ Rs. 20 each, took us to the Maharana Pratap inter-state Bus stand at Pathankot. A bus for Manali via Palampur was about to depart at 8:20 AM. The Conductor charged us somewhere around 210/- for two that included a concession for female passenger. So, didn’t have any clear idea about the exact fare per passenger. No such kind of breakfast-break was given by the Sardarji (the driver) that we were eagerly expecting. So, we ourselves broke our fasting by having whatever we had.

Shortly, the coldness of breeze did cordially welcome us in Himachal. Here I must confess that, I don’t know why on earth, I am always stuck to this particular funny phrase “coldness of breeze” whenever it comes to describe my first encounter with a hill station. Even if there is not cold outside, I myself feel the chill. Illogically or psychologically, the extremely humid temperature of Kolkata and my fondness towards the winter play this mind-game with me.

We got off at Palampur around 11:20 am. The bus halted for a very short time, as we quickly unloaded our luggage. Booking at “Holiday Home, Palampur” was done well in advance. It was kind of homestay situated at Lohna Hills. A little away from HPTDC run hotel “Tea Bud”. From the bus stand we hired an auto which took us to our destination at a cost of Rs. 100. On arrival, the courteousness of Mr. & Mrs. Saklani, the owner of the property, made us very comfortable. Room were very well maintained with all modern amenities available. Mrs. Saklani herself prepares yummy dishes for her guests. Within an hour of arrival, she prepared lunch for us.

The view of the landscapes from balcony is, however, the USP of their property. We were literally amazed by the view. The nonstop sound of flowing water, the sunrise, the tweeting of birds and to experience all these pleasure right from the room drafted some priceless memories for us.

View from balcony, Holiday Home Palampur

Photo of Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Afternoon, we walked to the nearby market and had Noodles, Momos and flavoured tea from roadside sellers. The walk, back to our guesthouse, down the serene path especially under street-lights was very exotic. Our dinner was ready by 8 PM. The menu included Basmati Rice, Pudina Daal along with two different kinds of Curries. Those preparations, we had that night, was the best in our entire journey.

Day 4

Day 4, 28th Sep

I woke up very early to enjoy the serenity of dawn. The picturesque scenery kept me amused for over an hour and then I witnessed that fascinating moment of sunrise. Turning the snowy ashy peak to saffron it gradually came up. Yawning and rubbing her eyes my wife lately yet timely joined me to witness that stunning phenomenon.

View from balcony, Holiday Home Palampur (2)

Photo of Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Sunrise from the balcony

Photo of Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

After a prolonged discussion and hypothesis we finally came to a conclusion that we would go for tandem paragliding at Bir-Billing. Bir-Billing has the credit to successfully host the Paragliding World Cup, 2015. I was actually scared and honestly never had ever tried even the smallest version of Ferris-wheel in life. And strangely, that me was thinking of paragliding. Anyway, after having Alu-Paranthas and Curd we bid adieu Mr. and Mrs. Saklani and started directly for Bir at 9:10 AM. Cab drivers of these places are always found very jovial and informative and every time they keep on informing you some fine facts of the surroundings. Our one, Mr. Ashwini was one of those kinds. Mr. Saklani made this arrangement for us.

En route, there was famous Baijnath Temple of Lord Shiva. This part of Kangra Dist. houses many famous devotional places. At 10:30 we reached Bir. A small hamlet, adorned with rich Tibetan cultures and full of enthusiasts all around. We made a deal with one of the local agents for Rs. 2500 each (for Go-Pro, pilot charged 500/- separately) which included the drop to Billing, the launching site, by their own transport. I was in peculiar state of mind and didn’t know whether it was due to the unforeseen thrill or the anxiety that left me dumbstruck throughout my way to Billing. On arrival at Billing and seeing others delighted, shouting, taking snaps, selfies, I felt like gaining my composer back again.

Way to Billing from Bir

Photo of Bir Billing Paragliding, Bir, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Pilots waiting for clouds to get clear

Photo of Bir Billing Paragliding, Bir, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

My favourite one ;-)

Photo of Bir Billing Paragliding, Bir, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

the take off point at Billing

Photo of Bir Billing Paragliding, Bir, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

With a flawless jump, my memorable and first tandem paragliding started. Initially my heart was most likely to come out of my mouth but, with few long deep breaths when pounding eased a bit, I discovered something exceptional. I did overcome my fear and started enjoying myself. The aerial view of Himalayan Foothills beneath my suspended feet was beyond any expression. Miniature structures and dense forest covers made me forget everything except my wife who failed to jump off at her first attempt. Not so easy, as with your every step forward, the glider tends to drag you backward with more intensity. I was worried of her, so I insisted to jump off followed by my wife. My wish, needless to say, did not fulfil.

Go-Pro did the job this time..

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

Those 20 minutes was mind-boggling. As I arrived at Bir earlier, I blissfully captured the landing of my wife. Her face, so expressive, itself revealed that she enjoyed herself the most. The entire episode came to an end by 1 PM or so and then we moved on.

The Palampur is also famous for Tea Plantation. We stopped by a road side small tea garden for a while. Next we headed to Neugal Cafe for lunch. I heard a lot about this property of HPTDC which includes a hotel cum restaurant and an adjacent park, sort of open space or so in the lap of nature. There was an entry fee of Rs. 10 per head charged on account of beautification of the garden - I presume; but the weird thing is that you have to bare the fee even if you don’t wish to go beyond restaurant. I was even wondering whether it is refundable or not, if you are not pleased with the menu and simply decide to walk off.

We were hungry and had a very limited time and options and so we immediately ordered Rice & Chapattis along with Chicken Curry & Mix Veg. The quality of food served was not at par and they were relatively overpriced.

Next, we moved on to Saurabh Van Vihar. A garden dedicated to martyr Captain Saurabh Kalia. It is situated on the bank of a streamlet and look very promising as you approach it. But overall, I felt that it require more attention towards its beautification as it has all the elements present there like boating in lake, aquarium, cafeteria etc. There is an entry fee of Rs. 20 per head and remains open till the dusk.

Boating point, Saurav Van Vihaar, Palampur

Photo of Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Our next destination was Chamunda Devi Temple.

Raging rivulet by the Chamunda Devi Temple

Photo of Chamunda Devi Temple, Baijnath, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Raging Rivulet at Chamunda Devi Temple(2)

Photo of Chamunda Devi Temple, Baijnath, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

It was a typical pilgrim spot and obviously I found nothing exceptional to add here. But, there was torrential river passing by the shrine which was obviously attracting a lot of visitors. As we didn’t intend to offer any worship, we came back soon and started for Mcleodganj.

Palamapur trip was really enthralling and had given us an ideal start to our Himachal Tour with some unforgettable reminiscence. As we were heading towards our next destination Mcleodganj we unanimously chose to halt and have a sip of famous Kangra tea. Mr. Ashwini, our driver, guided us to a tea vendor cum retailer where we all enjoyed tea with Pakodas. We even purchased a pack of flavoured tea from there.

Bye Bye Palampur..

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

Mcleodganj is a drive of an hour from Palampur. As we passed Dharamshala we suddenly realized that the road, right ahead of us, went nearly vertical. Mr. Ashwini let us know that the name of the road is “Khara Danda Marg”. Very symbolic to its name because it was awfully upright and for next 15 minutes we only ascended.

Around 6:00 PM, we arrived at Siddharth Guest House. A budget guest house located a little away from the main square but, thankfully, well accessible by car. It is important because Mcleodganj is a place where plane surface is hardly found and majority of the hotels require your stronger self to get into it. So, a tentative idea about the accessibility to the property is a must in case of advance booking. Our one was positioned around 30-40 steps downwards from where our cab dropped us. The only reason I booked it was the view from the balcony and I bet that our one, in this parameter, will surely beat some elegant properties around Mcleodganj by a fair margin. Room was basic and illumination at night inside the room was fair. But during day time it looked aesthetic; very airy with daylight everywhere. My primary requirement while selecting a property within budget was absolutely fulfilled.

Our dayout exhausted us completely, so the order of early dinner was placed. Zahid, the boy blessed with magical smile, ensured everything on time. Dishes were served really hot and thereby gratifying our appetite with we finally called it a day.

Day 5, 29th Sep

Day 5

The panoramic view of Mt. Dhauladhar Range right in the front, had a charming effect and I absolutely got absorbed into it for long. Don’t have expressions to explain exactly how appealing that was. Being wrapped up in a shawl, enjoying the tranquility of the morning and capturing the essence of the surroundings through the lens of my smartphone from the terrace were how that day began.

I opted for Mcleodganj over Dharamshala only to see the Monasteries especially the one where the present Dalai Lama resides in. Since my visit to Sikkim, I’ve become a big admirer of Tibetan cultures. Albeit, I have a very little acquaintance about their religious customs and beliefs but I really like, being engrossed in the rhythmic and reverberating chants of monks, watching those colourfully decorated traditional prayer flags and there synchronous ballet pairing with chilled gust, their unorthodox philosophy in offering almost everything including chips, biscuits, chocolates etc. besides usual fruits to their Almighty, to their Lord.

Photo of McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Balcony overlooking mountains, Mcleodganj

Photo of McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas
Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

Mcleodganj is also known as mini Lhasa. Lots of foreigners are found all around. Some of them had been to this place for more than once while some stay there for months or so. One moment, I found myself struggling to scale the way up to the main square and then all of a sudden I bumped into a Tasmanian gentleman, highly energetic and very much young still at his age of 70. That was his third visit there and that time he was determined to meet the present Dalai Lama after his previous two attempts went unsuccessful. The main square of Mcleodganj is the hub of souvenir shops, curio shops besides regular restaurants and other eateries. Also it is the center of many tour operators for local sightseeing. The Mcleodganj Bus stand is also nearby from this junction.

from Mcleodganj Chowk..

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

At quarter past noon, we started our sightseeing. The hotelier himself arranged a cab for us for five major points - Bhagsunag Temple, St. John in Wilderness, Naddi sunset point, Dal Lake and the Dalai Lama Temple. It charged Rs. 1000/- for the trip.

Bhagsu waterfall

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

At Bhagsunag, there is a wonderful waterfall and to reach its nearby, one requires to undertake a minor trekking of nearly a KM but surely a must visit place. We had some sort of brunch from a Vaishno Dhaba, outside the temple area as by the time of our departure meal was not ready at our hotel.

Then we headed to St. John in the Wilderness. A very amazing Church with a stunning Victorian like structure and it seems to have been built by some dark blackish brick like elements. The location of this church in the midst of thick silver and pine trees, a large bell and a cemetery at the backyard altogether bear a striking resemblance with one of those cathedrals which can often be spotted in Hollywood movies.

St. John in wilderness, front view..

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Amazing surroundings..

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas
Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Backyard of the Church

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas
Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Graveyard..

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Next, we visited Naddi village to explore the sunset point. Being little away from the crowd, this village certainly deserves a trip for its impressive scenery especially its viewpoints around. A number of guest houses and properties have come up here to accommodate tourists. En route, we stopped at another point of attraction called Dal Lake. Took few snaps and then we moved back to Mcleodganj for our fifth and final destination i.e., the main Dalai Lama Temple.

View point, Naddi..

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

Naddi View Point

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

Dal lake, Naddi

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

The complex of the temple is vast. We found there a museum cum exhibition gallery of Tibetan Art & Cultures. Upstairs, there is the main prayer hall where around hundreds of devotees were seen praying and offering worship to Lord Buddha. We did spend quality times there. The present Dalai Lama was said to be out of the town and so we missed the opportunity to meet His Highness.

The Lord Buddha..

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

Holy Prayer Wheels..

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

City view..

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

Kalachakra Temple..

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

As our daylong trip ended there, we mutually agreed to walk around the main square to explore the local markets and obviously, to have a taste of some Tibetan cuisine. Throughout the day we didn’t have any meal worth mentioning so before we got seriously caught up in shopping I almost rushed into a restaurant.

“The Clay Oven” has almost every dish ranging from Tibetan to Italian in their menu that surely can entice one’s taste-buds. We, without having an iota of idea about the dishes, ordered Chicken Gaythuk and Veg. Chopsuey of one plate each. They were thankfully yummy and also reasonably priced. Fuelling ourselves up, we gladly marched to the marketplace.

Yummy..

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

Day 6, 30th Sep

Next morning, as we were scheduled to leave for Khajjiar, we started bit early. Booked a cab to reach the Dharamshala Bus depot and from there, we boarded the only state run bus for Dalhousie which departs daily at 07:10 AM. That significant distance of almost 120 km was covered roughly in 5 hrs but never felt exhaustive thanks to the charming surroundings. The idea of shuffling across the curated playlist of favourite compositions while sailing through the ceaseless mountain terrain had converted our journey more pleasant than we’ve expected. At Nurpur, we stopped to have little supper and then again we moved on. En-route we did cross Banikhet, a place where many hotels have come up recently. I’ve learnt that many prefer to stay here as Dalhousie is becoming overcrowded these days.

Day 6

The first trouble we did encounter as we alighted at Dalhousie was the transport for Khajjiar. After a lot of refusals we finally were able to conclude a deal with the operator at Dalhousie taxi union worth Rs. 1050 only for the drop at Hotel Devdar at Khajjiar. Waiting for nearly one and half an hour at the bus-stop and then to pay that absurd amount for just 24 km one way followed by the terrible traffic congestion on the way to Khajjiar were some dreadful experiences we had that afternoon.

At 3 PM, we checked in at Hotel Devdar, Khajjiar. It is a HPTDC run property and positioned at the prime location right by the Khajjiar Lake. Rooms were wooden and had a cottage-like looks. Specious and well furnished. Mr. Singh, the attendant of those cottages was found very diligent as he ensured all the services to be provided on real time basis. We were totally exhausted and hungry as well. So, without further ado, we had our lunch and then took rest a bit.

Hotel Devdar..

Photo of Hotel Devdar, Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Khajjiar is popularly known as Mini Switzerland. A eminent attraction of Chamba district wrapped in the dense covering of Cedar and Pine trees and situated right in the lap of Dhauladhar ranges. From the veranda of our cottage, the panoramic view of the entire ground was astounding.

Due to our delayed arrival, we were sadly left with a very little period of the daytime. So, on that particular day we found nothing more to unbox. Evening was enjoyed with Pakodas and Veg. Soups and then with the conclusion of sizzling dinner our day, rather a hectic one, ended.

Day 7, 01st Oct

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas
Day 7

Whether due to the exhaustion or because of the warmth of blanket I woke up late that morning. Around 7 am, the sunbeam was spotted through the thick covering of cedars and at the far end the meadow was looking like a divine. Enjoyed the walk through the artificial pathway, encircling the grassland, for a while. At Khajjiar, there used to be a lake right in the middle of the ground, but, of late, that significant waterbody shrunk drastically and has turned out to be a puddle full of sludge. Local authorities must have to address to this concern immediately.

There it was..playing hide and seek..

Photo of Khajjiar Lake, Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Lake is no more.. :-(

Photo of Khajjiar Lake, Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Warmth of sunbeam reaching through the thickness of forest cover..

Photo of Khajjiar Lake, Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

A small primary school, Khajjiar, Himachal..

Photo of Khajjiar Lake, Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

We had a quality breakfast sitting on the veranda that overlooks the meadow in the facade. At 10 AM, we started for the daylong tour-Kalatop Sanctuary, Dainkund and Chamera Lake. Hired an Alto K10 for the trip at a nominal price which includes sightseeing and the drop at our hotel at Dalhousie in the evening. The guy, Mr. Raju, turned out to be very humble and genuine throughout the trip. He shared some interesting facts about the road condition in winter. The Dalhousie-Chamba road is sharply narrow and all the vehicles including public as well as private buses ply through this way. All these factors contribute towards the massive queue of traffic in this route. But during winter when this motorway remains closed due to snowfall, all Chamba and Khajjiar bound vehicles has to take a relatively longer route via Banikhet, he informed.

Where skies met the horizon..

Photo of Unfolding the unusual parts of eventful Himachal.. by Bibhas

We were first taken to Kalatop forest reserve. There is an entry fee of Rs. 250 for all vehicles entering into Kalatop but free for those who choose to walk down the road. We happily paid that sum and let our vehicle took us through the jungle. From the entrance, the main forest guest house is about 3KM.

Staying right in the middle of a forest reserve is terrific and on seeing the arrangements around, I must say that spending a couple of nights there would indeed be a great idea. As we didn’t get much opportunity to explore the jungle and confined our survey only to the surroundings of the guest houses and eateries so, my overall experience regarding Kalatop was nothing overwhelming. I, though, must confess that the amount of time we spent there was very short to assess the beauty of Kalatop altogether.

As we were approaching to our next destination Dainkund, our cab driver Mr. Raju reminded us about the physical exertions involved in Dainkund but we both were very confident about the distance we needed to mount there. In this context, I must say that in 2005, when I first visited Dalhousie I had not come across these places of attractions. At that time, places like Khajjiar, Panchpulla, Subhas ki Baoli, Gandhi Chowk, Garam Sadak, Subhas Chowk etc. were famous among the spots. That’s may be we preferred to explore places popular only for common. That moment, for many like ours, Himachal was nothing beyond Shimla, Kullu, Manali and Dalhousie. However, with the advancement in the virtual world, these unorthodox places coming into the limelight and getting there due recognition.

On arrival at Dainkund, our driver dropped us at a point from where we needed to undertake a moderate trekking to the Pholani Devi Temple at the summit. At the entrance, some enthusiastic young lads were found collecting garbage in a sack and thereby contributing there bits towards the cleanliness of the surroundings on the eve of Gandhi Jayanti. Initially the place was felt nothing special but, to my utter astonishment, Dainkund turned out to be the most beautiful place of my entire tour. Bewildered by the charisma I, at times, forgot that I was accompanying my wife. Running frantically from one viewpoint to another, simply in a quest to find out which one offer the better view. Thankfully, my wife remained vigilant all along and periodically shouting at my madness and kept reminding me to watch my steps. The vividly blue sky, the panoramic view of fathomless hills, verdant valleys, the telescopic vision of the Manimahesh Kailash Peak, and the Temple at the zenith - all these have garnished Dainkund as a complete package for excursionists.

Photo of Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalatope R.F, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Scenic Dainkund

Photo of Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalatope R.F, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Approaching towards Dainkund..

Photo of Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalatope R.F, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

At the top of the peak..

Photo of Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalatope R.F, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Flawless beauty of the nature..

Photo of Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalatope R.F, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Scaling Dainkund..

Photo of Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalatope R.F, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Speechless..

Photo of Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalatope R.F, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

There you see the destination..the temple..

Photo of Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalatope R.F, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Temple at the top..

Photo of Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalatope R.F, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Goddess..

Photo of Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalatope R.F, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas
Photo of Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalatope R.F, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

There were also some vendors selling tea, coffee, Maggie etc. We got into the one that was stalled next to the temple and ordered two plates of Veg. Maggie @ Rs. 40 and then we started to disembark. We, so amazed, hardly realised that more than 3 hours were passed by then.

Mr. Raju was literally bored and tired but could very well gauge the extent of our contentment. At 3:30 we started for Chamera Lake which is situated a distance of around 25 KM from the Dalhousie. It is a hydro-power project, on the river Ravi, run and owned by NHPC. The bird’s eye view of Chamera Lake was magnetic. We soon passed through the checkpoint and crossed the dam. As photography is strictly prohibited over the barrage, we moved straight towards the boating point. Plenty of boating options were available there with different price tags. Considering the long queue of visitors willing to savour the pleasure of the boating, we realised that to have our turn come, we needed to wait really long. So, the idea of boating was dismissed and we gladly resumed our visual exploration around the reservoir.

The Reservoir (1)

Photo of Chamera Dam, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

The Reservoir (2)

Photo of Chamera Dam, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

The Reservoir from the top

Photo of Chamera Dam, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Bird's eye view..

Photo of Chamera Dam, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Boating point..

Photo of Chamera Dam, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

That static watercourse between the clusters of hillock was undeniably a visual treat for the visitors. It was well past 4:45 PM and neither we were tired nor we felt hungry till we saw some eateries nearby. Had Momos and tea and then we started returning. That to and from drive from the tip we first saw Chamera to the boating point was incredible because of the vibrant aquamarine shades of the lake.

In the evening on the course of our return to Hotel Rudra Inn at Dalhousie we faced a terrible mess in form of the usual congestion. The driveway was full of stationary vehicles and after waiting for nearly an hour we agreed to ascend to the Gandhi Chowk afoot. That distance of barely 500 meters uphill felt very troublesome but the prolonged chain of immobile four wheelers soon made us realise that our decision was worthy and by the time we checked-in at our hotel we were all in.

Yes..we stayed here @ Rudra Inn..

Photo of Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas
Day 8

Day 8, 02nd Oct,

Stay at Rudra Inn was nice. The rooms had an elegant wooden finish with no valley or mountain views but our one came with a small balcony. The attendants were very alert and ensured timely services on demand. However, the key feature of this hotel is its proximity to Gandhi Chowk. Located at the Garam Sadak, hardly 100 meters from the main square and most importantly no hiking is required back and forth. Subhas Chowk is, also, hardly 15 minutes walk from the hotel and similarly through the plane terrain.

With Dalhousie, we arrived at the final leg of our short but eventful Himachal tour and next day we were scheduled to depart for Pathankot. So, we simply planned to stroll around Chowks. We first went directly to Subhas Chowk, a place named after our beloved Netaji. A viewpoint encircling the statue of Netaji overlooking the widened ranges is spectacular but remains always occupied by selfie-addicts. At this junction, there are a church with remarkably decorated interior and a Handloom store with considerable stock of merchandise. That afternoon, we visited the both.

Church at Subhas Chowk..

Photo of Hotel Rudra Inn, Moti Tiba, Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas
Photo of Hotel Rudra Inn, Moti Tiba, Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Subhas Chowk..

Photo of Hotel Rudra Inn, Moti Tiba, Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Subhas Chowk View Point..

Photo of Hotel Rudra Inn, Moti Tiba, Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India by Bibhas

Gandhi Chowk is Popular among tourists because of the local markets around. Shops of Woollen materials are abundant. A small Tibetan Market is also there in the vicinity. The evening of Gandhi Chowk especially the Garam Sadak, experiences a considerable thronging of people who prefer to take a stroll from one stall to another with a common intent to try different sizzling dishes and garnished scoops. Some non-veg. items are truly mouth-watering. Occupying a bench by the street, delightfully we went on having Kebab and watching mobs enjoying themselves.

Day 9

Day 9, 3rd Oct,

That very morning, when my wife was busy in packing our belongings up, I was, somewhere deep in my mind, wishing not to come back. My subconscious mind was still roving around the Himalayan cascades, venturing through the evergreen covers of Pine, climbing the hillocks with zeal, panting yet merrily reaching summits. The intensity of my excitement in unfolding these experiences through this travelogue is beyond any material pleasure.

At noontime we did the check-out and started walking all along the road to the Dalhousie Bus terminus. Suddenly, a gentleman who, apparently from the armed forces and heading towards same direction had stopped right ahead of us and gracefully offered a lift to our destination. At 1:20 pm, occupying a couple of seats in Punjab Roadways bus, we ultimately left for Pathankot Cantt. Along the mountainous motorway we started reaching the lowland. Our tireless vision was fixed at the view out the window with more vigour, perhaps it sensed well that the splendour would exhaust soon.

Around 4:45 pm we arrived at Pathankot Cantt. station. We were very hungry by then but failed to find out any suitable options around the station. The dinner available at the Railway Food Court was sold out like a hotcake as we managed to procure only one Veg. Thali to fed a pair of starving stomachs. Train no. 22402, which was very punctual that evening, dropped us at Delhi Sarai Rohila station very early at 4:45 AM.

Day 10

Day 10, 04th Oct, 

An auto at the cost of Rs. 150/- helped us reach our hotel. Our trip had come to an end and that evening we again arrived at New Delhi junction from where it originated. Really it’s a shattering feeling to say goodbye to your better half. But with times, we learnt to remain strong in awful phases like these. Whenever we get an opportunity, we do en-cash it by exploring new places. As our train kept moving in their respective directions, I was busy in casting my mind back in the moments of togetherness.

Some important fine facts of our tour are as follows (for information only; not to be considered as promotion or recommendation of any kind):

In New Delhi:

Hotel Smyle Inn. 

Address: 916, Gali Chandi Wali, main bazaar, Paharganj.

Contact: 01123589107/ 9999276591

Website: www.smyleinn.com

email id: smyleinn@gmail.com

In Palampur :

Holiday Home Palampur, (Room No. 302)

Contact: 01894233522/ 9816197412

Website: www.holidayhomepalampur.com

email id: holidayhomeplp@gmail.com

Cab Driver: Sh. Aswini, M: - 9805735578, 

Pilot for Paragliding at Bir: Sh. Gopal, M: 8628808984

In Mcleodganj :

Hotel Sidharth House, [Room No. 108; however the room just above us (2nd floor) have better view.]

Address: Jogiwara Road, below Yongling School, Mcleodganj

Contact: 9805310685/9622880284/9858364461

Website: www.siddharth-house.com

Email id: siddharthhouse.mcloy@gmail.com

In Khajjiar:

From Dharamshala to Dalhousie the HRTC bus fare was Rs. 342- for 2 adults.

Hotel Devdaar, Khajjiar (Room No. 102)

Website: www.hptdc.nic.in/ohrs/PublicPages/PubHome.aspx & www.hptdc.in

Cab driver: Sh. Raju. M: 9736839696 and

Dalhousie Taxi Operators union (relatively overpriced): 01899-242786/ 9459901001

Website: www.dalhousietaxiassociation.com

email id: dalhousietaxiunion@gmail.com

In Dalhousie

Hotel Rudra Inn (Room No. 210), at Garam Sadak, near Mall at Gandhi Chowk.

Contact: 9816358585, 9736540000,

Website: www.hotelrudrainn.com

email id: rudrainndalhousie@gmail.com

From Dalhousie to Pathankot the Punjab Roadways bus fare was Rs. 210- for 2 adults.

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