Dalhousie: A Beautiful Hill Station In India
Dalhousie is a hill station located in the State of Himachal Pradesh in India which is a very good option for retreats and travelers who enjoy hitting the road less traveled. This hill station was one of the favorite retreats of the British during their stay in India and provides tranquil and serene surroundings. It’s a place that is frequented by trekkers, hikers, Mountaineers, Honeymooners and by tourists to get away from the hustle and bustle that is the epitome of Indian cities. Surrounded by five hills and located near the Dhauladhar mountain range of Himalayas, the town provides a stunning view of snow capped peaks and beautiful valleys in the summer. Dalhousie is a very good option for tourists who want to enjoy the Victorian architecture, Hindu temples and hiking in a place that is literally a walk among clouds.
Pathankot is the nearest city and regular buses and taxis are available for visiting the hill station. The nearest airports are in Amritsar (Punjab), Jammu (J& K), and Gaggal in Himachal Pradesh. The town is also accessible by railroad and is connected to Pathankot (40 miles away) which in turn is connected to major Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Banglore. It takes about an hour from Pathankot to reach Dalhousie by road or by railroad.
This city may not offer many monuments or places of historical importance but it certainly fulfills the appetite of people in search for a quite retreat and some relaxing sojourns. Since the city is nestled in the foothills of Himalayas it provides hiking and backpacking opportunities. The trekking trails may range from easy to very difficult and are a favorite among nature lovers. Surrounded by virgin forests, Dalhousie is an ideal location for a summer retreat that will leave you rejuvenated.
The city provides a glimpse into the past and the old part of it is still unchanged since a long time; the tiered structure and tin roofs give the city a rustic ambiance that is unique only to this hill station. The surrounding hills are thickly forested with rhododendron, oak, pine, and Deodar trees that add to the beauty of this place. Many Tibetan refugees had made this place their temporary home and have left behind numerous rock frescoes and a Tibetan market that still bustles with activity in summer.
The city is a gateway to many hiking destinations and some of them include the Bakrota Hills, Khajjar, Subhash Baoli, and Kalatop. These are some of the famous trails that are frequented by tourists for its pristine surroundings and natural beauty. Bakrota hills are very close to the city and are covered with Deodar forests; winter season is good for enjoying the snow covered trail and so is summer. However other arduous treks are best avoided in winter since the weather becomes unpredictable and very cold.
Other places of interest
The city is also famous for its many churches that flaunt a Victorian architecture and a whole day can be spent admiring these churches. Some of the most popular ones include St. Patrick’s Church, St. Andrew’s Church, and St. Francis Church. There is also a memorial called Ajit Singh Samadhi which is in remembrance of this freedom fighter who lost his life here in Dalhousie on the day of India’s Independence. Another attraction is the Kala Tope rest house, located amidst natural forest it is a three kilometer walk from the city. This place is a quiet spot for picnics and for unwinding.
Kalatop wildlife reserve
The Kalatop wildlife sanctuary is located thirty kilometers from the city and can be trekked. However this is only recommended for people who are ready to spend at least a day hiking the wild landscape. The sanctuary is home to many species of birds and mammals including the Indian Leopard, Ibex, Deer, and wild bears. However caution is advised if you take up this trail since the bear is not a shy animal and can pose a threat to a lone traveler. Khajjiar, Kalatop, Dain Kund, Lakarmandi, and Bara Pathar are some of the tourist attractions in this sanctuary.
There are many resorts available in Dalhousie; however very few are world class and majority of them are to be avoided if you are visiting India for the first time. Some of the popular hotels include the Snow Valley resort, Hotel Mount View and Teddy’s Lodge; use caution and care while choosing a hotel since some of them may not have necessities such as hot water or central heating. The weather is very cold in winters and the place is best visited in the summer when it is pleasant and tolerable.
The city offers a small albeit qualitative market for shopping and numerous souvenirs and handicrafts can be bought here. The best places to find these are G.P.O, Tibetan market and the Tibetan Handicraft Market. The handicraft market is located around a mile from the G.P.O and is a great place to scour for hand-made carpets and handicrafts. The place may not be open all year round and you may have to ask a local if it is open to visitors at the time of your visit.
Some of the most frequented trekking and hiking trails include Khajjiar to Chamba, Dalhousie to Khajjiar, Satrundi to Bindrabani, Tarella to Satrundi, Chamba to Tarella, Killar to Ishatahari, and Ishata to Atholi. These treks are difficult if you are not used to hiking and should be avoided in winter and without a guide. Longer treks that require more effort, experience and are about fifteen days long are Satrundi to Bindrabani, Chamba to Tarella, Khajjiar to Chamba, Dalhousie to Khajjiar, Tarella to Satrundi, Killar to Sach Village, Purthi to Raoli, and Bindrabani to Killar.
The cuisine is influenced by the recipes of Himachal Pradesh and has various culinary delights on offer ranging from ‘pahari’ or mountain food to local Indian delights. Festivals bring with them varied culinary delights that are meticulously prepared and are hygienic by any standards. One of the famous meals is the ‘Dham’ meal that has been prepared by Brahmins for many generations. It is a simple affair of rice, curry, and different types of curds which can amaze you with its palatability. Other festive recipes include the Ankalos that are made of rice flour, Aktori which is a cake, and Patande which is a type of pancake. Dalhousie is a place to taste the local culinary delights and is not for people who are fussy eaters.