|The mini-Switzerland -Khajjiar
Approximately a 2 hour drive from Pathankot, Dalhousie has a few touristy take-aways such as the quaint streets, monkeys straddling along the hilly trenches of the roads, the cute pahadi kids with cheeks matching the redness of apples, and the St. Francis Church that stands at the corner of the Mall. What makes Dalhousie interesting is the refreshing air, the simplicity of life in the hills, and the journey itself. Marked by the picturesque view of the hanging pots with beautiful flowers lining both sides of the road as one approaches the Dalhousie Public School that falls on the way, the naturally beautiful cantonment, and pine-groves that form a crescent to typically demarcate the beauty of the hills. Further up from Dalhousie, among the more refreshing places to visit is Kala Top and Khajjiar. The Kala Top trek is a delight! With pine trees lining the way in a deep alley-like pathway that leads to a valley of sweet, white flowers, it makes way for a typical Bollywood act. A few poses and clicks away, you begin to feel like a celebrity too!! Khajjiar takes that excitement and feel a few notches up with huge meadows, a Himachal Tourism stay, and the vast line of green grass marked by tourists, vendors flipping around with a rabbit-basket, the Himachali dress, and cameras – all to woo the tourists to make for a memorable and delightful experience. The roads farther ahead from Khajjiar line the way to one of the oldest states in the century, Chamba. The drive to Chamba is rather rocky with steep slopes, and dizzy lanes, dotted with a couple of dams over the bank of Ravi. Chamba has a different terrain and language of its own, much like a lion’s roar that hints that it is the king of the jungle.
To the west of Pathankot is McLeod Ganj. This side of the world is all about peace, love and harmony. McLeod breathes of peace and calmness. The monastry of Dalai Lama has young monks, chanting away hymns while slapping their one hand with the other with a head in each group- a fascinating sight to watch. The air of the place is so sanctimonious that one would want to drench in it for days long before awakening to reality. Besides the Tibetan restaurants and the market lined with small jewellery shops with exquisite craftsmanship on display, Dharamshala also houses Dharamkot, a steady climb – on the crest of a hill above McLeod, a Tibetan colony replete with habitats allowing travelers to meditate and rejuvenate selves in the lap of nature. The beauty of Himachal is indeed spotless, and what adds charm to it is its close accessibility from stations up north. What is indeed commendable is the effort of the Himachal government in promoting its tourism, however, what remains to be seen is the equal dedication and spirit with which it seeks to preserve this bounty.
Off late, I have been thinking about trekking and exploring the mountainous peaks in India and UK, and this trip was all the inspiration I needed. A recent addition to my wish list being Snowdown in North Wales, in my quest to surmounting peaks and scaling new heights.
Until then, switch off that phone, pack your bags, take a week off and enjoy the hills – a perfect escape for a mini vacation – far away from civilization; where nature breathes! 🙂