Idea of this Photo Journey came after a brief discussion with one of my office friends, who want to go on a road-trip to Mcleodganj and other places around. During the discussion it came that they have approximately 4 days in hand and want to make best of this time. This Photo Journey is to help in planning such Road Trip around Palampur region of Himachal Pradesh. (Declaimer - This plan is made purely for Nature Lovers and Adventurous people)
Please note that, if you want to know more about any of the places being discussed here; just click on photographs of appropriate links shared in between.
So this discussion started with an idea of Road Journey to Mcledoganj and what other things can be approached if we have 4 days in hand. So what we planned is to hit Mcledoganj in morning or by noon.. Have some rest at your Hotel/Resort and have your breakfast/lunch... and move out to feel the place, as per your preference. Main places you may want to do around Mcledoganj Streets - a Visit to Temple near residence of His Holiness Dalai Lama, a small walk till St. John Church (This is a wonderful walk through high cedar trees around the road), Bhagsu Waterfalls & a temple near it and don't miss interesting eating options in Mcledoganj streets. Shopping is something you will figure out yourself :)
Next Day again can be spent around Mcleodganj for trekking around Triund or general walks around the place to better feel it and enjoy the nature around Dharmshala/Mcledoganj...
Next day, we planned to move towards Barot. We planned to leave Mcleodganj by 7am in the morning and expect to reach Barot by 12:00 noon, which is reasonable estimate. Barot is least known place but wonderful place for nature lover. No commercialization, peaceful and isolated from tourist movements. The only challenge is place to stay. There are very simple Guest-Houses to stay, but not bad at all unless you are looking for good service with luxury arrangements in your room. Simple & clean rooms with basic stuff can be found across the river at Barot. While going to Barot, lot many things may compel you to stop and spend some time, but ignore while going to Barot and enjoy them during back journey. Don't think twice before stopping if you find something very interesting, which may not be possible to experience during back journey :)
Spend one night at Barot and start back journey to Palampur in the morning... Now, it's time to chill on the way and take your time wherever you feel like. There is a cut on the way which takes us to Bir Billing. Distance-wise it's just 14 kilometers from main road but takes around 1-1.5 hr because of steep hill and bad road. Bir-Billing is one of the world popular place for Paragliding and World Cuo happens at this place only. From top, whole valley can be seen where everything looks very tiny. This is one of the best place to experience Paragliding and it can't be compared with paragliding options at Solang Valley or other hill stations. It takes 45 minimum to land in the valley if wind favors you, otherwise 1 hr to 1.5 hrs is average time to land after you fly from top. But please note that Bir Billing is at least one day affair, so need to be planned accordingly. So here I have put it as an optional place because you may not find anybody on top who can provide paragliding services to you.
There is an interesting and huge Monastery on the way. It's just 2 kilometers away from main road which connects Barot with Palampur. There is a cut near Chuantra town which takes to us to Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche Institute. You can choose to visit this Tibetan colony and Monastery. After spending some time here, we can further towards Baijnath, which is our next destination.
Baijnath is one of the main important town with a popular Shiva Temple made up of rocks. This temple is on right side of the road and comes just in the beginning of Baijnath Market. Nice place to spend some time and go to it's back side which has well maintained garden with an amazing view to river flowing in the valley with snow capped hills in background.
Drive from Baijnath to Palampur is simply amazing with wonderful road, scenic beauty and tea gardens on both sides of the road. If you haven't stopped your car for lunch, take a break at Taragarh Palace, which is a Welcome Heritage Hotel on the way to Palampur. This can also be a decent place to stay...
As you come near to Palampur, don't miss to stop and see Kayakalp Health Resort... This area is generally very beautiful... A round inside Agricultural university can be a good idea, if you want to see how hybrid seeds are produced in their local fields and how they actually maintain all these things...
As you enter into Palampur Town, just move up towards Chuapati and Neugal Cafe which is one of the beautiful place in Palampur. Huge Tea Gardens surrounded by beautiful cottages and colorful houses. Have a cup of tea at Neagul Cafe and enjoy wonderful view of Dhauladhar Mountain Ranges, which can be best seen form this place. If still you have time in hand, take a small detour to go near to Neugal River which flows just below the hill where Cafe is located.
I know this day can be very tiring but rewarding as well. Now it's upto you where you want to stay. Going to Dharmshala/Mcledoganj doesn't make sense if you plan to leave back for Delhi/Chandigarh in morning. If still there is some desire to explore more around Mcleodganj, go to Dharmshala and spend your night there. In case interested in staying at Palampur, there is a nice hotel by HPDTC- Tea Bud. btw Palampur is known as Tea City of North India.
Next morning, if you leave early I strongly recommend to go via Masroor Temples and hit Una, which will be 25-30 kilometers extra. But this temple is worth seeing. There are some series of Monolithic temples which are carved out of a huge hill. Temple is located at a very isolated village.
This overall plan share details about some of the main places. To know more options, check out links shared in this Photo Journey which have more detailed information about each places discussed here.