A royalty who has outlived her times of glory, yet retains the regalness. That is how you may define Dalhousie- a quiet hill station in Himachal Pradesh, just 85 kms from Pathankot. Sheltered by the Dhauladhars, the quaint place may not hold the hustle bustle of Mussourie or the throng of the Mall Road of Simla, yet it holds an old-world charm coupled with serenity and that still makes it a favoured destination for many vacation seekers.
The hill station was established in the year 1854 by the British government as a summer retreat for its soldiers. It was named after Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of the country at that time. The place remained a favourite of many, even great Indian leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Feroze Gandhi, and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore who spoke volumes about the beauty of the place.
The hill station sits atop five hills at an altitude of 1970 metres above the sea level. There are not many places to shop or dine but ample spots to view the nature in its unadulterated beauty for Dalhousie has somehow escaped the eyes of the commercial world. It is still not a concrete jungle like other hill stations have turned into. For those looking to relax and enjoy being close to nature, Dalhousie is the place to go.
The weather there remains pleasant throughout the year. The tourist season is between March to May when the Sun God sends tourists running from the nearby plains to this scenic heaven. Other months of the year are just as good though. If you are a snow lover like me, do visit it in the winters.
For food lovers, there is an option to eat at renowned Moti Mahal restaurant for its signature dishes or have a nice, quiet (and economical) meal at Cafe Dalhousie which displays blackboard menu comprising of almost everything.
For the more adventurous kinds, you can find street food in the form of bhutta(corn cob) or innovative road side vendors as this gentleman in the picture.
Did you notice #OPENROADINDIA? Zoom in and read everything written on his scooter, you will love it!
The Tibetan market and a couple of other shops near Gandhi Chowk can feed your craving for shopping.
As I mentioned earlier, if you are a nature-lover, there is a lot to feast your eyes:
Khajjiar- the mini-Switzerland of India, is a must-visit spot on the list of everyone who visits Dalhousie and it is almost as if the visit is ceremoniously incomplete if you don’t visit the Khajjiar valley.
Deodar and pine trees form a ring around the vast meadows which bear a topographical similarity to Switzerland. The slopes provide an ideal setting for zorbing. Horse-riding is another option. If you are just in the mood to gaze at the beauty of nature, sit down(or lay if you wish) on the lush green grass and leisure your time away. You will be periodically disturbed by the enthusiastic horse owners to ride one, the photographers to click your picture in the traditional attire or the bunny-walas to hold a bunny and get a picture clicked. The area does need a little manitenance but nevertheless, it is worth a visit!
Khajjiar is around 24 kilometres from Dalhousie and the route itself is picturesque. On the way, one comes across Kalatop, which is a wild life sanctuary.
Other places you may visit are:
- Dainkund peak- the highest peak in Dalhousie.
- Chamera Lake- an artificial lake about 25 kms from Dalhousie, popular for water sports.
- St. John’s Church- oldest church of Dalhousie, constructed during the British rule.
- Panj Pula- a scenic spot, not far from GPO, where water flows under five bridges.
- Rang Mahal-an old palace which showcases both British and Mughal architecture.
Even if you don’t wish to visit any of the places mentioned, you can simply enjoy the weather and the beauty of the mountains from your hotel room or a private bungalow or homestays which are latest in trend nowadays. Dalhousie may not be as hip and happening as Simla, but it is definitely neither dull, nor lousy. The old world charm it retains and the purity of nature’s beauty that it abounds in, make it a place worth visiting and re-visiting!!