It was many years back. It was my first time. And I fell in love. Love with the hills. Since then the hilly affair continues and we have been coming back again and again. This time our travel is to this awesome destination, Dalhousie.
Dalhousie is a hill station in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is situated on 5 hills and has an elevation of 2,030 meters above sea level. The town was named after The Earl of Dalhousie, who was the British Governor-General in India while establishing this place as a summer retreat. This hill station was one of the most favourite summer destinations of the ruling Britishers and this is truly reflected in the majestic Victorian style mansions in this region and it’s old world charm.
The tiny tinsel town Dalhousie tucked away in the lap of nature is a piece of paradise. It boasts of magnificent misty mountains, pine-clad valleys, fast flowing rivers, mesmerising natural landscape, flower bedecked meadows and some of the most spectacular views in the world.
We took the Jammu mail from New Delhi station, got down at Chakki Bank station, took a cab and in around two hours reached here. Had booked our accomodation in Hotel Mount View and Spa. It was the first hotel in town built in the year 1895, then known as ‘Bulls Head Hotel’ run by the same family since then. In the height of British Raj ‘Bulls Head’ was the premier hotel in town. It still maintains the same tradition till now. We got a great package for four nights which included breakfast and dinner on all days, unlimited tea / coffee with cookies, one night bonfire/ dinner with live music and a complementary spa package for two of us. Let’s look around a bit.
The hotel is strategically located in the center of town near Gandhi Chowk. After our late lunch we went for a walk nearby and did a little bit of shopping in Tibetan Market. This market is renowned for it’s handicrafts, gift items and trinkets to take back home as keepsakes. You could also visit the Himachal Handloom Industry Emporium and Himachal Handloom and Crafts Center to buy spectrum of goods including traditional shawls, exquisite handicrafts, bags, dolls, carpets, rugs, purses, Buddhist paintings, a variety of copper and silver ‘diyas,’ and souvenirs.
The evening was spent playing a few rounds of Tambola and listening to some live Ghazals followed by dinner and lots of relaxation. The next few days was about going around. Come let’s enjoy the peace and beauty of Dalhousie and it’s nearby towns.
Subhash Bowli is a picturesque site named after Subhash Chandra Bose the famous Indian freedom fighter, who had spent a lot of time in Dalhousie. This site is surrounded by several huge towering trees and offers beautiful views of the snow capped peaks and high mountains. The mind-blowing surroundings of the place are perfect for a holiday maker and a photographer, who can capture some of the best sights here.
People say that it is the same place where Subhash Chandra Bose used to sit and meditate while he was staying at a guest house in Dalhousie. Today a seating arrangement has been made for the tourists to come and sit here and enjoy the natural beauty of the overlooking mountains. It’s said that Subhash Chandra Bose who had an ailment and had lived in Dalhousie for seven months was cured and rejuvenated by the medicated water of the spring. We now move towards Khajjiar.
Khajjiar is a hill station approximately 24 km from Dalhousie. Dating from the 12th century, it sits on a small plateau with a small stream-fed lake in the middle. The hill station is surrounded by meadows and forests. It is about 2,000 meters above sea level in the foothills of the Dhauladhar ranges of the Western Himalayas and has a rare combination of three ecosystems: lake, pasture and forests.
On 7 July 1992, Mr. Willy T. Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India brought Khajjiar on the world tourism map by calling it “Mini Switzerland”. He also put a sign board of a yellow Swiss hiking footpath showing Khajjiar’s distance from the Swiss capital Berne-6194 km. Khajjiar is among the 160 locations in the world that bear topographical resemblance with Switzerland. The counselor also took from Khajjiar a stone which forms part of a stone collage around the Swiss Parliament to remind the visitors of Khajjiar as a Mini Switzerland of India. Lets enjoy the beauty of this wonder location.
The day was well spent and the evening was full of fun and entertainment with a hotel organized bonfire and music followed by dinner. The next day was for more nature and a visit to another famous town, Chamba.
Chamba is the headquarters of the Chamba district, bordered by Jammu and Kashmir to the north-west and west, the Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir to the north-east and east, Kangra to the south-east and Pathankot district of Punjab to the south. It has an average elevation of 1,006 metres from sea level.
The town of Chamba is located at the junction of Ravi River and its tributary, the Sal River with the Shah Madar hill forming the backdrop. The Ravi flows in east-west direction forming deep canyons. During the spring and summer months, the levels of the river rise significantly from snow melt and pose a flooding risk. Located on the right bank of the Ravi river valley, built on successive flat terraces, the town is bounded topographically by the Dhauladhar and Zanskar ranges, south of the inner Himalayas.
Buildings in Chamba were traditionally constructed out of dry stone masonry, with the walls and floors of the older houses plastered with a concoction of clay and cow-dung. Thick wooden beams were used to support the walls, paying attention to durability and to withstand earthquakes, and wooden cantilever construction was often used to support the verandas. The staircases and doors were made from wood, with the doors often decorated in religious reliefs and flanked by two lamps to light it at night. Before the arrival of the British, who introduced slate roofs to Chamba, roofs were covered with planks, coated in clay. Few of these houses remain today, although a number still have wood-clay roofs in villages in the suburbs.
The old heritage monuments, which are palaces and temples are located in the old town on the lower slopes of Shah Madar hill. They were built in the lower valley where the two rivers and steep thickly forested hillsides provided a strong defense. Located here is the 10th century Champavati Temple, said to have marked the birth of the town, the Lakshmi Narayan group of temples (built from 10th-19th century), the 10th century Sita Ram Temple, Bansi Gopal temple, Kharura Mohalla and Hari Rai temple, the 11th century Sui Mata Temple and Chamunda Devi Temple. The temples built in Chamba demonstrate a strong Kashmiri influence with their stone temple architecture and temple iconography. Let’s visit some of the temples.
The Lakshmi Narayan temples complex, devoted to the Vaishnavite sect, includes the main Lakshmi Narayan temple, built in the 10th century by Raja Sahil Verman. It has been built to suit the local climatic conditions with wooden chatries and has a shikara, and a sanctum sanctorum (Garbhagriha). A metallic image of Garuda, the vahana(mount) of Lord Vishnu is installed on the dwajastamba pillar at the main gate of the temple. In 1678, Raja Chhatra Singh adorned the temple roof with gold plated pinnacles as a riposte to Aurangzeb, who had ordered demolition of this temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
Chamunda Devi Temple is located in a prominent position on the spur of Shah Madar range of hills, opposite to the Chamba town. It was built by Raja Umed Singh and was completed in 1762. It is the only wooden temple with gabled roof (single storied) in Chamba, while all others in the town are built from stone in the north Indian Nagara architectural style.
In the past, the temple was accessed through a stone paved steep path laid with 378 steps, but it is now approached by a 3 kilometers motorable road. There is a mandap in the foreground of the temple of 5.1 metres (17 ft) x 6 metres (20 ft) size with an agni-kund or fire pit in the centre and a gable roof covered with slates. The mandapa has carvings in wood in its multi paneled ceiling with reliefs of human figures on the pillars and brackets. Votive bells are provided in the mandap entrance and it has a Nagari inscription, which records it as the offering from Pandit Vidhadhara to the goddess Chamunda deified in the temple.
The Sui Mata Temple dedicated to Sui Mata (a local princess, who gave her life for the people in Chamba), is located between the Chamunda Devi temple and Brajreshwari Devi temple. Colorful paintings within the temple depict the life of Sui.
Bhuri Singh Museum is situated in the heart of Chamba town. It was founded in 1908 to collect and preserve the scattered cultural heritage of Chamba State. Raja Bhuri Singh, the then ruler of erstwhile Chamba state, had gifted his inherited art collection and Dr. J. Ph. Vogel imparted his invaluable services for setting up this Museum. The art objects displayed in the Museum were related to art, craft and cultural history of the Chamba State and stand as an eloquent testimony to the life of past and have their value in the assessment of art and culture of this region. Museum possesses more than 8500 antiquities and art objects related to Art, Archaeology, Craft and Cultural Anthropology. Being a regional museum, more emphasis has been given to the Art, Cultural and History of Chamba region.
We were now on our way back to Dalhousie and on the way is Chamera Lake. Located at a distance of 25 km from Dalhousie, the exquisite Chamera Lake is actually a reservoir formed by the Chamera Dam, which is positioned at an altitude of 1700 meters. It is a major source of water supply for the villagers and is continuously fed by the Ravi River.This popular tourist spot of Himachal Pradesh is loved by every tourist and is a must visit place while in Dalhousie.
The next day was for roaming around, a visit to some other attractions of Dalhousie followed by some complete relaxation in the hotel. Let’s go around and relax.
St.Francis Church is a prominent monument of Dalhousie. It is more than 100 years old. One can see some of the finest examples of glass and stonework in the interior of the church. It was constructed in the year 1894 by the Army and Civil Officers and civilians. The church is maintained and regulated by the Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar. The church is built in British architecture and bears resemblance to many famous churches of England.
Shrouded by a green blanket of pine and Deodar trees and enfolding refreshing water streams, the picturesque Panchpula has always been one of the most favorite spots of tourists in Dalhousie. It is a nice picnic spot, where you can spend some time with your family and friends and enjoy the loveliness of exotic waterfalls and refreshing streams. Some of these streams even contain medicinal properties that are helpful in healing skin diseases. The Panchpula is a scenic place, which is surrounded by picturesque mountains and green valleys and is only three kilometers from the main city of Dalhousie.
Dalhousie, a few days of refreshing change. Amongst beautiful surroundings and nature.
Come to Dalhousie. Experience the beauty of nature. Experience India Beautiful 🇮🇳