Among the picture-perfect towns in Himachal Pradesh, is the scenic Dalhousie. Nestled across the five hills near the Dhauladhar mountain ranges, the hill station is located at an elevation of 1,970 meters above sea level.
Dalhousie is a jack of all trades and has all that it takes to keep tourists on their heels. From the colonial-era architecture of the St.Johns churches, trekking trails of Dainkund Peak, peaceful strolls around Subash Baoli, adventure water sports at Chamera lake, to witnessing the beauty of contemporary art at Garam Sadak.
However, whether you choose to stay at a humble guesthouse or a lavish resort, safety would never be a concern. Most of them are lined around the Mall road which has a bustling and lively crowd at any hour of the day.
How to Reach:
Dalhousie is situated at accessible distances from many of the major cities.
Jammu to Dalhousie – 167 km
Chandigarh to Dalhousie -319 km
Shimla to Dalhousie – 323 km
Delhi to Dalhousie – 570 km
The Gaggal airport is the nearest airport at a distance less than 110 kilometers from Dalhousie. Whereas, Pathankot is the nearest railway station, 86 kilometers away from the town.
There are direct flights as well as trains from Delhi, Mumbai, Haridwar, Ahmedabad, and so on.
Best Time to Visit:
Winters can get a little harsh if you’re not used to the cold. For me, even after wrapping myself in layers of poncho’s and sweaters, I’d be shivering and would look for a bonfire every half an hour.
So the ideal time to visit the hill station would be between April-June. This perfect combination of the fading winters with the arrival of summer in the snow land.
The nights are chilling and mist covers half of the town. However, mornings are warmer and the little rays of sunshine peeking through the clouds honestly feel like a relief.
If you’re a fan of the snow and would like to go skiing in the stacked slushes of snow, then the months of October-December are favorable. Whereas, beginners in skiing can opt for the months of March-April when the snow levels reduce gradually.
Places to Visit:
Established by the Britishers, the town is the perfect reflection of the historical and modern culture of India. Amidst the towering pine, greens are neatly planned streets with mural paintings along the sidewalks. Moreover, the stories that Dalhousie narrates through them are beyond exquisite. From the endless list of picturesque places in Dalhousie, here are five places you can make sure to not miss out on,
1. Chamera Lake
An artificial lake created across the Chamera dam, about 26 km from Dalhousie. It has been created in a way that compliments the natural backdrop of the misty mountains. Further, the place looks too beautiful to be true and that’s what would for sure leave you mesmerized on reaching Chamera.
The Lake is formed on the Ravi river which stands at an altitude of 1700 meters. Which, also makes it a convenient site for fishing and angling. A tourism department facilitated boathouse has been built around it, from where you could sign up for activities like river rafting, motor boating, canoeing, and kayaking.
For those who prefer to enjoy the serene version of Chamera, there are the options of pedal boats and rowing boats. Pedaling across the lake without a fixed destination had hit me with the right amount of thrill and calmness. And, boating charges fall under the bare minimum rates of around Rs.300 for half an hour.
The lake was initially created to serve recreational purposes but later on, became the major source of water supply for the people around it. Along with projects like the Chamera Hydro Electric Project, it became an essential spot of study for those interested in understanding the geography and energy derived out of it.
One of another reason why Chamera lake is one of the unmissable spots in Dalhousie is because of how it carries the best of both worlds. Well connected by road networks, the route to Chamera is motorable and easily accessible. After the motorable point, a brief trek amidst the dense forests is what would lead you to the turquoise glory of the Chamera. Like the lake itself, it’s a merging point of nature with man’s ideas.
2. Sach pass
For the adventure enthusiasts who reach Dalhousie, Sach Pass is their answer. Known for its trekking path which drew comparisons to the unruly terrains of Rohtang pass, these trails are extremely difficult and will test you to the limits.
Further, the pathway stretches beyond 150 kilometers, connecting the Chamba valley with the Pangi Valley in Himachal. On the way, I had to pass through several slippery water crossings, gushing waterfalls, uneven terrains, and snow walls that were 30 times taller than me. If I was to summarise the ride through Sach pass, it’d be the most intimidating yet the most exciting adventure I have ever had.
Since I had visited during the early months of summer, there were even more challenging factors of clearing the landslides before passing through. The pass is open for the visitors and locals from June and is closed by the end of October when heavy snowfall is experienced.
There’s the advantage of always having a helping hand around here. Locals are commonly seen traveling through this route as it is the shortest possible way to cross the valleys and there is no entry fee required. It’s a completely enchanting experience and once you gather the nerves to go there, there’s of course no going back because of just how captivating the snow-covered marvel is.
At an altitude of 2755 meters above sea level, is the highest mountain peak in Dalhousie, the Dain Kund. It receives maximum snowfall and so remains closed during the period of heavy fall.
The trek to Dain Kund begins after reaching the Indian Air Force Barrier via Lakkar Mandi. From here the temple road is barely 8 kilometers from the Dain Kund peak. Even though the trails are pretty steep, there are wide concrete steps that guarantee a firmer grip of ground while trekking.
Trekking your way up to the peak requires proper guidance and assistance. Without the right kind of gear, you might have to take occasional breaks and extend the duration of the trek. Keeping a particular time frame in mind while trekking gives you the necessary time in hand to get back to the base points.
This might be the most important thing to keep in mind while trekking up the Dain Kund. The minute I had reached the peak and got the bird’s eye view of the entire valley, I wanted to put down my rucksack, camp right at that spot, and not leave back to the base point.
Just as the name refers, the “Lake of Witches” is a completely bewitching experience.
Among the cluster of names and legacies, the peak holds tall. And, my personal favorite was the name “Singing Hill”. Standing at the top of the peak, in the utmost silence, the breeze rustling through the trees sing a rhythm like no other. Closing my eyes for a bit to listen to the sounds, I could feel myself float around with the music. In other words, that’s just how meditational the place was.
Along with the refreshing view of the green expanse of Dalhousie. You could also witness the beautiful river waters of Chenab, Ravi and Beas create a network across the meadows. In addition, a closer and enchanting view of these three rivers can be seen from the Pholani Devi temple.
Located on the trekking trail to Dain Kund. This humble abode of worship has nothing but a simple trident which the locals worship. This is a reflection of how the people here see God in every little thing they do.
Not farther away than 4 km from the Dalhousie Bus Stand. You could trek to one of the most mystical places in Dalhousie – Panchpula. This tourist spot that translates to “Five bridges”, originates from the infamous Dain Kund. The waters that flow from the peak, paves way for many small silvery waterfalls around Panchpula.
These falls carry healing medicinal properties. Due to which a lot of tourists stop by and collect water from here. From walking all around the snow in boots all day. It felt like home again when I removed my shoes and walked on the dewy meadows of Panchpula. The ideal picnic spot, don’t miss out on spending some time relaxing here. Before you step back to the busy life of schedules.
Panchpula also holds historical importance as this was the place where the great freedom fighter Sardar Ajit Singh, took his last breath. In his loving memory, localities had built a samadhi for him.
5. Kalatop Wildlife Reserve
After days of adventures and sightseeing. I chose to add a final touch to the trip through experiencing the raw and untouched Dalhousie. Located at an elevation of approximately 2,500 meters above sea level. The river Ravi flows right through the expanse of blue pine, deodar and oak forests at the sanctuary.
Barely a 6-kilometer walk from Dalhousie, this spot is ideal for Jungle safaris and nature photography. Another distinguishable feature of this sanctuary is that there isn’t any particular entry fee to the park. Unless you’re entering with a vehicle.
The park for wildlife protection and preservation expands over an area of about 30.7 square kilometers. It’s an exciting experience to spot wildlife. Amidst the dense forest lines and mountain ranges, and to click their photos.
I found a newfound respect for the wildlife photographers who patiently sit by to capture the right moment. One look at the park and I already had it figured out that this is what heaven would look like for wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers.
Home to several threatened and exquisite species, the Kalatop wildlife reserve is the most treasured gem of Dalhousie. The reserve attracts a lot of tourists around because of the Himalayan black bear. Alongside the black bear, are several other mountainous wildlife that is otherwise hard to spot around the meadows of Himachal.
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