By:Meetanjali Sood Kalra
Dalhousie located on’ Dauladhar’ mountain range of Himachal, once happened to be the summer retreat of British Governor General of India ‘Lord Dalhousie’. It is a gateway to one of the most beautiful district ‘Chamba’, known for its most ancient hindu temples, art and culture.
The British Government established the town of Dalhousie in the year 1854. The old buildings and churches built around the town give a glimpse of the Victorian and Scottish architecture. Dalhousie is known for its huge mountain ranges and beautiful valley. Just about 5 kilometers away from the town is the trek route of Panchpula where either one can walk or sit to relax and experience the beautiful scenery.
No trip to Dalhousie is complete without an uphill trek to ‘Kalatope’ that passes through the beautiful deodar and cedar trees and takes one into the awe-inspiring forest Wildlife Sanctuary. Kalatope is also a home to the dominating community of ‘Gaddi’s’ and the tribal’s who have their huts and herds on some of the highest points. One of the oldest Churches in the town is St.Francis Church but other churches also add charm because of their brilliant architectural designs and fantastic locations.
Two main festivals, which are held in Chamba every year during the months of March and August, are the mela’s of ‘Suhi Mata’ and ‘Minjar’. The entire region of Chamba district has been the producer of fine cloth and embroidered dresses for centuries. Bharmour is the ancient capital of Chamba district and has around 84 ancient temples built between the period of 7th-10th century A.D. Pangi valley is one of the remote areas around because of its difficult access and most of the time it happens to remain closed.
Khajjiar a small hill station that is about 22 kilometers from Dalhousie is not only visited for its enduring beauty but also for quietness in its nature. It is a small plateau, which has a lake in the middle and weeds all around its waters. Visiting Khajjiar gives one a chance to enjoy one of the most beautiful, magnificent and serene valleys of Himachal. The lake never dries up, as it is believed to be a source of natural water. Lush green deodar trees surround the entire glade and so walking around the lakeside or horse riding are two good options to do here.
Staying overnight at Khajjiar makes this magical paradise even more worth to visit. It is quiet pleasant during summers but one must carry woolens all the time as the place experiences unexpected rains throughout the year. Winters are extreme cold as temperatures fall below freezing points. Majority of tourists come here in winters to see this beautiful valley that usually remains covered under the sheet of snow. Recently many good hotels and restaurants with modernized facilities have come up and so a good halt can be planed to Khaijjiar and around.
The entire ground of Khajjiar is covered with soft green grass and a walk able pathway has been made on all sides of the ground for people to enjoy the scenic beauty and capture pictures of the valley as the place happens to be a photographer’s delight too. A signboard has been put up here, which shows a hiking footpath distance of 6194 kilometers of Khajjiar from Berne, the Swiss capital. This small hill station truly bears a resemblance with Switzerland and has been named as ‘Mini Switzerland’ on world tourism map.
The best thing to do in Khajjiar is to walk around the lake, which is right in the innermost cover of pine forest and is surrounded by saucer-shaped pasture and a floating island. In spite of remaining covered by thick layers of weeds all the time the lake happens to be the foremost attraction for children as it gives them all the freedom of rolling up and down on the sloped ground of the lake. Apart from enjoying its picturesque beauty one can indulge in other activities like trekking to Dalhousie and Kalatope Wildlife Sanctuary or wildlife photography and golf.
Another attraction of Khajjiar town is the Khajji Nag temple near the lake that was made in the 12th century and is inspired from Mahabharata and images of Kauravas and five Pandavas can still be seen inside the temple. The tourists do not forget to pay their reverence to the deity of Golden Devi temple, which is just next to the lake. Dalhousie and Khajjiar have about seven trekking routes for tourists to explore the mountainous beauty of nature. Dalhousie- Kishwar trek route via Sach pass is the foremost trekking roads of this belt and some other hiking tracks around this route are Satrundi to Bindrabani, Killar to Ishatahari and Bindrabani to Killar