Summers have hit North India and it's time for planning vacations in hills and there are lot of options for folks living in cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar etc. One of my favorite summer destination is Dalhousie region. There is lot to explore in this part of Himachal Pradesh. This Photo Journey shares some information about planning a great trip to Dalhousie, Khajjiar, Chamba, Chamera, Kala top and some of the basic treks around these places.
Let's talk about the ways to reach Dalhousie and hit the hills. Train is best for folks in Delhi. Take overnight train to Pathankot and the it's 2.5-3hrs drive to Dalhousie. You can hire a taxi in 1500-1800 Rs (depending upon your negotiation power) or can take bus. Himachal buses are pretty decent and private buses would be much cleaner. Folks from Punjab can drive in their own vehicles. Even a group of 4/6+ people can also drive from Delhi in a Cab/tempo-traveller. Own vehicle would help you a lot in exploring the place around Dalhousie & Khajjiar. So take an appropriate call. If you are fine travelling in semi-deluxe buses (non-AC), a direct bus is also available from ISBT Delhi and Chandigarh.
In Dalhousie there are various hotels and few home stays to choose from. It's suggested to do upfront booking during summers and no need to worry about accommodation during off season. If you are there in off-season, you can get great deals and all depends upon your negotiation power :). In 2006 when I visited Dalhouise, we got a room at 250 Rs, when tariff of same room used to be 1800 Rs during season.
There are various places around Dalhousie to explore. Above photographs shows Chamba town and the beautiful Khajjiar comes on the way to Chamba from Dalhousie.
If you like shopping, don't miss the main market and look at Chamba-chappal, which are found in unique designs. If you like to but art-pieces, check out Chamba hankey. These are comparatively very costly and cost depends upon the kind of designs on the hankey. Even if you don't want to buy, at least check the work done with local folks.
If you drive to Chamba via Khajjiar (which is recommended), come via other route via Chamera Dam. The Ravi river flows parallel to the road. When I went there, we stopped our car and stepped down to the bank of the river. Now that I am aware of my foolish actions, I would request not to go near the river. And if you are thinking why? Please watch videos of Beas river on youtube and you would see some horrifying videos which shows how abrupt flows these rivers can get in hills. So enjoy the beauty from distance.
If you are in a local taxi when exploring this region, your taxi driver would stop the car on the roadside to show this house is beautiful valley around Ravi River. This is the house where Taal movie was shot. This was Aishwarya Rai's house in Taal movie :).
On your way back from Chamba to Dalhousie, Chamera dam comes of your right. It's again a beautiful place. I have never gone down till the dam, but have heard that it's a beautiful place to explore. btw, if you are wondering why my reference point is Dalhouise, then reason is very simple. Dalhousie is best place to stay in this region and during day time you can walk, trek or drive around other places.
This photograph is clicked from Dainkund Trek which we did on our 3rd day in this region. It's a beautiful trek and in above photograph you see Khajjiar, which is most beautiful place in this part. Khajjiar is must go if you are in Dalhousie. You can skip Chamba if the trip is very tight and you are someone who don't like a rushed vacation.
There are various beautiful treks around Dalhousie. We walked to Lakkad Mandi and then till Dainkund. Dainkund gets snow for longer period during winters. When snow melts in other parts of Dalhousie and Khajjiar, there is some probability of finding some patches on the way to Dainkund.
Kalatop is another beautiful trek form Lakkar-Mandi. Lakkar-Mandi is 6-8 kilometers from Dalhousie town. You can also take bus till Lakkar-Mandi. Kalatop is maintained by Forest department and it's a sanctuary. There are black bears in this forest, although we didn't see any. There were lot of birds around us. It's definitely a great place for birders to explore. Above photograph shows the forest guest house in deep forest of Kalatop.
There are some very interesting old structures in this part of Himachal Pradesh. Some of the buildings are in ruins, but most of the british architecture is maintained well.
If you have time and want to explore this place in best way. Find a home stay, travel in local buses for Khajjiar, Chamba or other region. Indulge in some of the beautiful treks around this place. During my 3rd trip to Dalhousie I met an architect from UK who was on sabbatical and we was exploring this region of Himachal Pradesh on foot. He had some great observations captured in his camera, especially different types, shapes of trees.
When in hills, you should definitely find a Chai-tapri to enjoy tea which you don't find in sophisticated restaurants/hotels :). There is tea shop on Subhash chowk. It's close to the church gate and run by an old lady. I recommend a sip of this tea when you are enjoying the walk on Mall road of Dalhousie.
If you walk down from Gandhi Chowk of Dalhousie, you would hit some beautiful waterfalls at around 2 kilometers. There are few shops around the falls and a small water pond for boating. Kids usually like this place, so don't miss if you have kids with you. Last time when I visited, waterfalls were also collecting some garbage although I heard that shopkeepers regularly get the place cleaned, because their business depends upon the tourist visiting these waterfalls.
Evening walk on Mall road in Dalhousie is another must experience thing. The mall road is between Subhash Chowk and Gandhi chowk. And when you are walking on the mall, do plan to visit Churches on these chowks. If sky is clear sunset is amazing. And it looks brilliant when you see sunset hues reflecting from Ravi River.
I have written multiple times about these places, so check out other posts if you are planning to visit Dalhousie this summer. Feel free to comment here, if you have some specific questions.