Dalhousie in December

Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh can be visited during anytime of the year, but Dalhousie in December, is a treasure. The freezing winter converts the little Himalayan town into a lovely snow resort. With the snow covered Dhauladhar range of the majestic Himalaya at the back drop and the five hills of Dalhousie it is extremely scenic. The five hills are – Bakrota, Terah, Bhangora, Kathalagh and Potreyn. I am fortunate that I have experienced Dalhousie in December. The day we reached Dalhousie, that night it snowed heavily and the next morning the bus stand remained covered in snow. It was an amazing site. There are many places to visit in and around Dalhousie.

How to Reach Dalhousie

The nearest railway station is Pathankot, Punjab, which is 80kms away from Dalhousie. Pathankot is well connected to Delhi, Chandigarh and Bhatinda. From Pathankot we took a cab to Dalhousie. The nearest airport is KangraGaggal Airport at Dharamsala which is 117kms from Dalhousie.

The Heart of Dalhousie

The heart of the tiny Himalayan town, Dalhousie, is Gandhi Chowk, a square with Mahatma Gandhi’s statue. I was mesmerised at the beautiful view of the Dhauladhar range it offers. St. John’s Church, an age old tranquil church stands at the busy Chowk, bustling with tourists. We had lunch at ‘Café Dalhousie’, a very eye catching restaurant, an old and popular restaurant here. However, the service and the quality of food were not up to the mark. We were roaming about, clicking photographs with fluffy angora rabbits, eating street side local delicacies like hot smacking momos and bargaining at the Tibetan market. Besides street food, there are numerous cafes and fine dining here. We had dinner at ‘Hotel Mongas’ which was finger licking good. The locals told us that ‘Kwality Restaurant’ is also a good one.

Other Things to See in Around Gandhi Chowk, Dalhousie

From Gandhi Chowk we climbed to Moti Tibba, a cliff surrounded by pines, firs, deodars and oaks, with fresh snow on them. Once again we stood by amazing views of the snow capped Himalayan ranges. Soaking into the beauty of this place rejuvenated my urban soul. ‘A walk to remember’ is what I experienced at Garam Sadak, a picturesque road which leads to Subhash Chowk from Gandhi Chowk. This road is meant for pedestrians only. Subhash Chowk has a statue of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Netaji stayed at Dalhousie for few months in 1937. The place where he stayed is called Subhash Baoli. It is a tranquil spot.

Panchpula, Satdhara falls and Ganji Pahari, Dalhousie

Panchpula is 2.5 kms from Gandhi Chowk andis a popular site in Dalhousie. It has little bridges across the flowing waterfall and stream. It’s a picnic spot where tourists enjoy zip lines and rope bridges. The place is covered with numerous colourful prayer flags. We were shivering here. From here we headed to Ganji Pahari, a tree less hill top. It was an excellent day trek option amidst snow in December. There are mud houses on top and the trek ensures breathtaking views, though we couldn’t complete it as it started snowing.

Chamera Lake

Chamera Lake is one of the most picturesque places in Dalhousie. The bird’s eye view from the top, before driving down to the lake, is an extremely pleasant sight. The pristine blue waters of the lake surrounded by hills appear heavenly. Boating at the lake was fun. The lake is the reservoir of Chamera dam on the Ravi River and supports hydroelectric power projects. After boating, we had hot veg pakodas and coffee which were quite rejuvenating in the cold. Near the lake stands the Bhalei Mata Temple on a hill top. The panoramic view of the lake from the temple is beyond comparison. We visited Chamera Lake on the way to Chamba Town from Dalhousie, as the lake is accessible before dusk.

Chamba Town

Chamba Town is a busy hill town, 53 kms from Dalhousie. The Bhuri Singh Museum and the 10th century rock cut Lakshmi Narayan Temple are most popular here. The temple compound has many temples with iconic statues of Garuda and Nandi. Chamba is famous for honey, walnuts, pomegranates and Chamba rumals (colourful stories hand embroidered on handkerchiefs). We brought home walnuts and honey from Chamba.

Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary

Have you watched the movie, ‘Lootera’? The second part of the movie was shot at Kalatop. We found the place as serene as expected. The locals were asking us not to drive to Kalatop Wild Life Sanctuary because of fresh snow. However, we couldn’t resist visiting the place and drove for 15 kms. There are a few old imperial bungalows as forest rest houses at the entry gate. The forest of deodars, oaks, blue pines and firs is mystical. We were lost in its pristine beauty. On the way to Kalatop, stop at Bara Pather, dedicated to the temple of Bhulwani Mata, set amidst the pristine surroundings of Chamba Valley, set against the snow clad Himalayan peaks. This is the foothill of Dainkund, a popular trek destination and famous for ‘white holidays’ in winter.

Khajjiar, the most popular site from Dalhousie

Do you want a Desi Swiss experience, just 20 kms away from Dalhousie? You have to visit Khajjiar, the mini Switzerland of India. I suggest, you must spend at least a night at Khajjiar. Waking up at Khajjiar has been one of the best mornings I ever woke up to. We woke up to fresh snows. Then slowly, the rolling green meadows and the green pines and firs far away turned white. Snow white khajjiar is a site to behold. We couldn’t hike up to see the cute yellow sign board showing Khajjiar’s distance from Berne, the Swiss Capital – 6194kms. The topography of Himalayan pastures of Khajjiar is similar to that of Swiss Alps. Hence the Swiss Envoy, Willy P.Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India, called it the ‘Mini Switzerland’, in 1992. Khajjiar Lake, the little stream fed lake was already frozen as expected. Adventurous sports like horse riding, paragliding and zorbing are common activities around the lake. Some of our friends dressed up in traditional Himachali attires for photographs. The 12th century Khajjinag Temple stands beside the lake.

The Natural Beauty of Dalhousie is Unmatched

Dalhousie is situated at 6.5k feet above sea level. It was a popular summer retreat for British troops, in the pre independence era. Dalhousie received its name after Lord Dalhousie, the Viceroy of India in 1854. Dalhousie still has that old world imperial charm. Definitely, the natural beauty of Himachal Pradesh is what attracts tourists to Dalhousie and around. The snow is beautiful but there are few tips to remember. Take buffer time/days as there are chances of road closure due to heavy snow fall. Secondly start travelling late as the fresh snow on road will melt with the day. Since we enjoyed the first snow of early December so much, our driver ji sent us images of absolutely snow covered Dalhousie and Khajjiar in late December. Dalhousie in December is a winter wonderland.

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