Last Updated: January 31, 2020 Kamlesh Nayal
Named after the famous British governor Lord Dalhousie, the charming hill town of Dalhousie nestled in the lap of Dhauladhar ranges of Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh, is a perfect blend of colonial flavour and enchanting scenic beauty. The sprawling bungalows, charming cottages and exquisite churches here, set against the backdrop of snowy Himalayan peaks exude an old world charm that reminds everyone of beautiful villages, located somewhere in the European countryside. Since this hill town’s inception in 1850 till today, it has attracted lacs of tourists including some great national leaders such as Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Sardar Ajith Singh. The tranquil charm of this quaint hill resort, spread over five hills – Bakrota, Tehra, Kathlog, Potreyn and Balun, entices every visitor and greets them with a welcome break, away from the maddening crowds of metropolitan cities. Whether you are a nature lover, an adventure buff, an avid trekker or a wildlife enthusiast, this calm and soothing place is sure to leave you captivated for your lifetime. If you are planning a visit to this scenic resort and looking for a Dalhousie travel guide that can help you plan your trip, here are some best things to do and see, just for you.
Soak your souls in the breath-taking vistas of Panch Pulla
Located at a distance of 2–3Km. from the city centre of Dalhousie, ‘Panch Pulla’ is one of the top tourist attractions in the city and is a favourite weekend haunt for picnickers, nature lovers and trekkers. Literally meaning ‘Five Bridges’, the place is one of the most scenic sites in the region owing to its treasure of torrential waterfalls, gushing streams and panoramic views of hills and forests that surround the area. A dip in the plunge pools formed below the falls provide a deep refreshing and rejuvenating sensation to tourists who specially travel to Dalhousie to beat the heat that prevail in the plains of Northern parts of India during peak summer months. For those who love trekking, can venture on a moderate hike in the areas nearby, soaking their souls in captivating vistas of nature all around. A trip to ‘Panch Pulla’ is incomplete without visiting the Samadhi of great freedom fighter, Sardar Ajith Singh, who is known to have breathed his last on the day of India’s independence, 15th August, 1947. Built at the very confluence of five streams of ‘Panch Pulla’ and shrouded by forests of pine and deodars, a visit to this memorial not only gives you an opportunity to pay your homage to this great revolutionary but, also provides you a chance to revel in the beauty of some of the best scenic vistas of the place. A paradise for nature lovers, ‘Panch Pulla’ is best to be visited during monsoons when waterfalls and streams are flowing with their full force, providing a great spectacle to eyes and off-course, a great soothing feeling to your souls.
Rejuvenate your senses with a refreshing dip in the Satdhara Falls
On the route to ‘Panch Pulla’, lies another beautiful tourist attraction in Dalhousie, the ‘Satdhara Falls’. This scenic place derives its name from the seven gorgeous water springs that cascade from a height of 2036 metres, making their way through imposing hills and cliffs of splendidly charming Chamba valley. The springs are known to have great therapeutic values owing to the presence of ‘Mica’, commonly known as ‘Gandhak’ in its waters. Tourists travelling to ‘Panch Pulla’ definitely make it a point to stop by at these stunning waterfalls to take a dip in its refreshing waters and off-course to enjoy the serene beauty of nature that abounds at this place. If you love photography, I am sure this gorgeously scenic place will treat you with some amazing camera shots.
Hop on a boating spree on the Chamera Lake
Yet another best place to visit during your holidays in Dalhousie is the picturesque and serene ‘Chamera Lake’, located at a distance of about 25 km. from Dalhousie. Nestled amidst dense pine and deodar forests, the lake is actually a reservoir formed by the ‘Chamera Dam’ that is perched at an elevation of 1700 metres above sea level. Blessed with immense scenic beauty and tranquillity, needless to say, the place is one of the most loved and visited tourist spots in the city. Whether you are a nature lover, a honeymooner, an adventure buff or just a casual holiday seeker, a trip to this enchanting place is sure to leave you with loads of cherishable memories of your wonderful trip to Dalhousie. With plethora of fun and adventure activities to enjoy, I am sure, you can easily spend here a memorable and refreshing day with your friends and families; go for a relaxing boat ride with your soulmate enjoying the scenic vistas of the place, try your hands at some fishing & angling, have some fun navigating through strong currents of Ravi River during the adventurous river rafting experience and if you don’t want to do anything and just relax, grab yourselves a ‘bhuna bhutta’ and sit on the shore of the lake, soaking your souls in the serenity of the place.
Enjoy a day picnic at Mini Switzerland of India – Khajjiar
Snuggled in the lap of snow-capped Himalayan ranges and surrounded with lush green forests of tall pines and deodars, ‘Khajjiar’ is a beautiful saucer shaped meadow, often nicknamed as ‘Mini Switzerland of India’, located just a short distance from Dalhousie. The splendid scenic beauty of this place, replete with plush greenery, snowy peaks, pleasant weather and a beautiful lake right in its heart, bestows it with an unmatched hypnotic charm that often intrigues tourists to make a stopover here for a day before continuing their journey to other more popular hill resorts in the vicinity. While scenic beauty of this place is its major attraction that lures tourists, especially nature lovers from the areas nearby, the endless choices of fun activities such as zorbing, paragliding, horse-riding and hiking, also makes it a perfect destination for adventure lovers and trekkers. For those with a penchant for some luxury sports, Khajjiar has a beautiful nine-hole golf-course set amidst lush greenery and breath-taking landscape; try your hands at some golfing fun here and I am sure, you will be left awe-struck with the splendid experience. If you are on a honeymoon vacation in Dalhousie, nothing can beat the romantic charisma of ‘Khajjiar’ that is sure to leave your hearts and souls captivated for lifetime; book yourselves a cosy little cottage and spend a lovely night amidst serene and tranquil settings, away from the maddening crowds. In the morning, head to the ‘Khajji Nag Temple’ located just nearby and pray for a blissful start to your new lives.
Take a hike up to the Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary
Spread over an area of almost 20 square kilometres, ‘Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary’ is located at a distance of approximately 12 km. enroute to ‘Khajjiar’ from ‘Dalhousie’ and is definitely a ‘must visit place’ during your trip to this beautiful Himachal hill resort. Nestled under the shadow of the stunning snow-clad peaks and fringed with dense oak, blue pine, deodar and coniferous trees, the beautiful sanctuary always seems to exude a heavenly aura; small crystal clear streams running through different sections of the sanctuary further add to its picturesque beauty. Being a wildlife sanctuary, you can expect here to see a variety of alpine flora and fauna. The wild residents of the sanctuary include but, are not limited to leopards, jackals, langurs, barking gorals, deer, bears and Himalayan black martens. Besides wild beasts, the sanctuary is also a home to countless colourful birds that fill the air with their musical chirpings. While wildlife spotting, jungle safaris and nature photography is what attracts most of the tourists here, the serene ambience, scenic beauty and lush terrain of the place also makes it a favourite spot to enjoy day picnics, nature strolls and trekking. If you love combining a trekking expedition with a spiritual experience, do visit the ‘Bara Pathar Temple’ that lies midway, hidden amidst dense forests, on the trekking trail to Kalatop. Dedicated to local Goddess, Bhulwani Mata, the temple holds a great religious significance for locals, blessing them with health, happiness and prosperity. A grand fair is also organized here annually during the month of July and needless to say, it’s a great draw for pilgrims and tourists alike from the nearby hill towns.
Pay tribute to great freedom fighter of India, Subhash Chandra Bose at the Subhash Baoli
Named after the great Indian Nationalist, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, ‘Subhash Baoli’ is yet another popular tourist spot in Dalhousie. It is said that Netaji spent several months during the year 1937 in Dalhousie amidst serene natural beauty, rejuvenating and meditating to cure his illness; and the same spring which he frequented to drink water from, is believed to have later been christened as ‘Subhash Baoli’. Flanked by towering pine trees, snow-clad Himalayan peaks, picturesque springs and water streams, the place is no less than a heaven on earth. One can spend hours under the shelter near the baoli, gazing at the splendid beauty of the nature and immersing his souls in deep tranquillity and serenity of the place. Fresh breeze of mountain air and sound of the gushing waterfalls here, is sure to rejuvenate your minds, bodies and souls. There are many tea-stalls and small eateries nearby serving lip-smacking snacks and hot beverages – truly a relaxing experience amidst gorgeous mountain scenery. Do stop by at this historical place not just to take in the scenic vistas but, to also to pay your respect to this great freedom fighter.
Listen to the songs of wind at Dainkund Peak
Perched at a height of 2755 metres above sea level, ‘Dainkund Peak’ is the highest peak in Dalhousie and a famous site for adventure enthusiasts and trekkers. For those not in a mood to trek, there is also a motorable road that leads to the hill; you can easily hire a taxi to get to the top. The name Dainkund is believed to have been derived from two words – ‘Dain’ and ‘Kund’, which means ‘house of the witches’. The name so comes from the local folk tales which say that this mountain was a home to witches many years ago. Today, the Dainkund Peak is a popular trekking destination in Dalhousie and is flanked by gorgeous Himalayas, offering enchanting views of the lush carpeted meadows, verdant forests and beautiful Ravi, Chenab and Beas Rivers winding their ways through the valley below. One can stand here for moments gazing at the craftsmanship of nature and admiring the creations of God. Once you are at the top of the peak, focus your ears on listening to the musical symphony created by the breeze flowing through trees and hills – you will also know why the peak is also called as the ‘Singing Hill’. Before starting your descent from the peak, make sure to pay homage at a small ancient temple on the top, dedicated to Pholani Devi. Though you will find nothing more than a trident at this temple, it is still a very sacred site for the locals who believe that it is this temple which has been guarding them from the witches who once resided on the very hill.
Have fun time with friends and family over lunch at Ganji Pahari
Yet another famous tourist spot in Dalhousie is the ‘Ganji Pahari’ that can be translated in English as the ‘Bald Hill’. Since the summit of the hill is devoid of any vegetation and greenery, it is called so. Located at a distance of just 5 km. from the heart of the city and 1 km. from ‘Panch Pulla’, the site is not only a trekker’s delight but, also a favourite haunt for picnickers. Though the views of surrounding snow-capped mountains and valleys from here are not as breath-taking as from the ‘Dainkund Peak’, it is still a perfect site to enjoy a nice gathering with friends and families on a hot summer day; the cool breeze of air on the top is sure to leave you relaxed and rejuvenated. Don’t forget to carry food and water along as there are no shops on the summit. If you are in Dalhousie during winter months, ‘Ganji Pahari’ provides for a much better ambience, complete with snowy trails and picturesque vistas all around. Like most of the hills in Himalayan regions, ‘Ganji Pahari’ too has a small temple that is held sacred by the locals. The temple here is dedicated to Goddess Kali and it is believed that tying a piece of a red cloth here fulfils all your wishes. So, if you are planning a visit to the top, don’t forget to make a wish at the temple – you never know, Mother Goddess might answer your prayers.
Pay obeisance to Goddess Durga at the ancient Chamunda Devi Temple
Situated on the banks of the beautiful Baner River in Kangra district of Himachal, ‘Chamunda Devi Temple’ is a must visit site when you are in Dalhousie. This ancient temple is considered to be one of the oldest in the region and is believed to have been built around 750 years back. Dedicated to Goddess Kali who is said to have killed two ferocious demons Munda and Chanda at this very site, the Chamunda Devi Temple no doubt, holds a great religious significance not only for locals but, also for pilgrims and devotees who travel here from far off corners of the country. Though the architecture of the temple is quite simple, the spiritual aura and serene location of the shrine, encircled with tall pines and lofty Dhauladhar ranges, also make it one of the popular tourist spots in the city attracting both national and international tourists alike. The presiding deity inside the Chamunda Devi Temple is of Goddess Durga who can always be seen wrapped in a red cloth to protect her piousness. Besides the idol of Goddess Durga, one can also see images of other gods and goddesses carved on the inner temple walls. Durga is considered to be the consort of Lord Shiva, so, the temple also houses a cave that enshrines a sacred Shivlinga. Best time to visit the Chamunda Devi Temple is during the festival of Navratri when hordes of pilgrims and devotes travel here from far and wide to seek the blessings of mother goddess; ringing of temple bells, special puja ceremonies and aartis performed at regular intervals during the festival exude the vibes of deep spirituality and are sure to fill your hearts with utmost peace and solace.
Admire the colonial heritage of Dalhousie, St. John’s Church
A trip to Dalhousie is incomplete without visiting one of the most beautiful and historical chapels of Dalhousie, the ‘St. John’s Church’. The aesthetically beautiful building stands tall, right in the middle of the main city centre, just at a distance of 2km. from the bus stand. The backdrop of snowy Dhauladhar peaks add to the mesmerizing charm of the church, attracting lots of tourists and devotees every day, especially on Sundays when special prayer services are held. Talking about the history of this chapel, it was consecrated in 1863 by the protestant missionaries and holds the status of being the first chapel to be built in the city. The architecture of the church resembles that of the Roman Catholic’s Church of England and stands as a testimony to the British rule in the region. Inside the chapel, one can see and appreciate some exotic stained glass paintings of Lord Jesus, St. John and St. Peter. There is a library too housed in the building where one can get to see a collection of some rare books and pictures depicting the colonial history of Dalhousie. Even if you are not religious enough, do visit it once and I am sure, the quietness and solace of this sacred site will definitely touch your hearts somewhere.
Take a pleasant stroll through the Garam Sadak
Bestowed with immense scenic beauty of lofty Himalayan peaks and huge covers of pine, deodars and rhododendrons, Dalhousie surely makes as a perfect destination to venture on some wonderful nature strolls, taking in the surreal beauty of the place. There are quite a many scenic nature trails in this quaint little hill town, most famous of which is the ‘Garam Sadak’. As the name suggests, this road, connecting Subhash Chowk and Gandhi Chowk, comparatively remains warm as it receives direct sunlight and provides with a great escapade from chilling winds that blow in the region, especially during winter months. Besides offering the tourists and locals, a pleasant and warm temperature, this scenic road bordered with tall and shady trees, also provides with some great vistas of the valleys and mountains surrounding the region. A stroll through this road is a marvellous experience during late evenings when entire valley is lit up with lights offering a great spectacle to eyes. With that being said, you need to be informed that though, entire valley is bathing in lights, the stretch of ‘Garam Sadak’ is blanketed in darkness so, it is always recommended to carry a flashlight along when making your way through this road after sunset. As you stroll through the ‘Garam Sarak’, besides revelling yourselves in scenic beauty of the place, do take notice of the exquisite ‘Tibetan Rock Paintings’ that adorn the hills walls of the road. These brightly coloured paintings illustrating Tibetan Buddhists gods and goddesses such as Gautam Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava, Avalokiteshwara and Tara Devi offer a great feast to eyes.
Step into the bygone era of Chamba dynasty at the Rang Mahal
A Dalhousie excursion is not complete without taking a stroll to the magnificent palace, ‘Rang Mahal’ that once served as a residence to the royal women of the former Chamba kings. Tucked away in Surara Mohalla area of Dalhousie, the palace is an architectural marvel and showcases a unique blend of Mughal and British styles of design. Built by Raja Umaid Singh in 18th century, this beautiful palace is a treasure trove of exquisite wall paintings that adorn its inner walls; most noteworthy of these paintings are the ones depicting scenes from life of Lord Krishna. While you can see lots of paintings ornamenting the walls of the palace, you will be amazed to know that almost double of them have been moved to National Museum in Delhi. Apart from paintings, you can also find here, a rare collection of Chamba coins, tribal hill jewellery and traditional royal costumes on display. Once a residence of the royal family, the palace has now been taken over by Handicrafts Department of the State Government and many of its rooms have been converted into workshops for embroiders, local artisans and craftsmen. You can watch these artisans work and if you wish, you can also purchase their handicrafts at quite reasonable prices.
Shop till you drop at the Tibetan Handicrafts Market
What is a holiday without indulging in some exotic local shopping experience of the place you are holidaying at? While there are many interesting shopping sites in Dalhousie, what attracts visitors the most is the ‘Tibetan Handicrafts Market’. Located in Gandhi Chowk area, the market is a hub for shopaholics offering them a spectrum of handicraft products ranging from authentic Tibetan handcrafted woollens and carpets to small trinkets, toys a nd souvenirs. Do remember, haggling is a key for a splendid shopping experience here. If hunger strikes you during your shopping spree, take a seat at one of the Tibetan restaurants and relish some piping hot steamed momos simultaneously enjoying a sip of hot tea. Often called as the ‘Gateway to Chamba Valley’, Dalhousie is truly a little heaven on earth. Replete with nature treks, shimmering waterfalls, enchanting lakes and therapeutic springs, the place makes for a perfect summer holiday getaway in Northern India. If you are planning a visit here, do make sure not to harm the aesthetic beauty of the place and put in your hundred percent efforts to keep the natural treasures as clean as possible. For more travel tips or information regarding Dalhousie tour packages, do contact us by posting your comments in the section below.
Published: 13 Sep, 2016