Date: March 26-29, 2015
Dalhousie and Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh
Recently, we drove to Dalhousie from Delhi, breaking the journey at Chandigarh. It took us about 13 hours each way. On the way up, we followed the route recommended by Google maps. This route bypassed all the cities (Pathankot – Ludhiana – Ambala etc.) but involved about 6 hours of hill driving on patchy roads in Himachal. The sight of the snow capped Dhauladhar ranges kept our spirits up. Nonetheless, the journey was exhausting. Hence, on the way back, we stuck to the conventional route via Pathankot. The return took us about the same time (13 hours) but involved only 4 hours of hill driving on way better roads.
We had online prior bookings with the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Department (“HPTDC”) accommodation at Hotel Manimahesh in Dalhousie. However, since this was off peak season, accommodation was also available on the spot. The rooms here are spacious and the staff very hospitable. The chef served tasty food, customised to our requirements, at very reasonable charges.
Dalhousie is a place for those who are looking for freshness, peace and a break away from the noise, pollution and hum drum of the city. This is not recommended for people who look for discos, malls and multiplexes. In fact, with a few British era churches thrown in, Dalhousie exudes an old-world charm and it seems that the town is yet to catch up with modern times.
There are not too many sight seeing activities and we spent our time walking up to the local markets at Gandhi Chowk and Subhash Chowk, clicking the churches and pottering in the Tibetan Market.
We also drove down to Panchpula and trekked up for about 1.5 km to visit a Kali temple. There is a stunning waterfall on this route. Although this is an interesting activity, given the narrow pathway on the hill, it may not be fun for the faint hearted.
From Dalhouise we drove to Khajjiar which is about 25 kms higher. On route, we were pleasantly surprised to come across snow at various spots on the Dhauladhar range. This was perhaps the last trace of winter on these mountains and we found tourists making the most of it by posing with snowballs for their coolest FB pic!
Here too we had a booking at the HPTDC accommodation Hotel Devdar. This was a log cabin and like most other HPTDC properties, the rooms were excellent and the window opened to the pine forests and the Dhauladhar range.
Their intercom system has broken down for some months and for room service we had to call on the designated staff’s mobile number. We actually found this cute and in line with the quaint charm that Khajjiar, as a British era hill station, exudes. However, IT has found its way up here as well and the dining room of the hotel had a free WIFI connection for the guests. A couple of other hotels have also, but these did not look enticing.
By way of activities, we walked around the lake and the thick pine forests, had tea at one of the stalls in the meadow and visited the Khajji Nag temple. This is a 12th century temple dedicated to the Khajji Naag. In fact, Khajjiar is eponymous to this deity. Local drums and trumpets are played during the morning and evening aarati here and the melodious notes can be heard from far.
There are various hill stations in Himachal and we have visited many of them. However, the picturesque and still not touristy Khajjiar was a completely new experience. If there is a heaven on earth, it would probably look like this.