It is lush green and swinging, for the better part of the year in free-flowing winds. It is a destination so pristine that the urbanity of India; those who repeatedly complain (and why not) about the rush and not so hush a lifestyle in big cities- could well find the true meaning of digital detox for starters once here.
Once you are out here, it isn’t that you won’t wish to return for obviously we’ve got timelines to meet and societal hang-ups to attend to. But till as long as you are here amid eye-pleasing beauty that greets you with a panorama that’s inescapable, you’d find yourself wondering about a question whose time may just have come; one that’s hardly debated, with all due respect.
Did you know, Dalhousie, a joyous little wonderland in our own Himachal Pradesh, is called the little Switzerland of India?
You may have heard. Now, here’s a point worth reflecting if you can spend 5 seconds on it. Does one have to necessarily visit the serene central European destination to experience the sublime when, at least, a bit of it, and who’s to decide, maybe even loads can be experienced in India?
Yash Raj Studios, fans of red chiffon sarees, dark shades, cowbells, melting cheese, and pine trees- are hereby informed, this isn’t directed at you. But nor is this directed at the Swiss precision (evidenced brilliantly in the time-bound trains) of which we are fans and nor is this attempted to dull the divinity of the Rosti or Fondue.
Truth is in the land whose southeastern cantons speak Romansh, one where love flows in the air can be experienced within India, to a great extent, one for which one needn’t hold a passport or travel the long mile. And guess what, one needn’t even call it mini-Switzerland or whatever.
Feeling bored or tired of the same short getaways from the North, have experienced pretty much everything starting from Neemrana or Jaipur, been to Chandigarh enough times already and even, been quintessentially “Leh-d” in Ladakh?
Time to keep off from what you’ve already done because well, there’s still a lot on offer in India- did you know? Step off the usual pedestal and head to Dalhousie.
Guess what? The place is plum, sweet, easy-going, even has a 9 hole-golf course for all you care and this may read like a flimsy rhyme from a punk who likes Eminem but is the reality.
But first things first, how do you reach the place?
If you are traveling from a nearby place, say Delhi, then the best way to traverse is to take a flight from Dharamshala to the Gaggal airport, the latter, is located in the Kangra valley. For those who are unfamiliar with Dharamshala- really, who are you guys- would care to know it’s a home away from home to the legendary Dalai Lama.
The airport, in the Kangra Valley is one of the shortest and safest ways to travel to Dalhousie.
Ideally, those travelling from Delhi- not talking about the lovers of driving for no destination are beyond their reach- first travel to Dharamshala post, which they fly directly to Kangra airport.
Don’t be confused. This is Gaggal itself. Thereafter, it’s a 3 hour drive down to the hill-station, such a cliché, can we do with dreamland or dreamy getaway, please?
Still, how do you finally reach Dalhousie? Well, there are cabs or taxis and if you are lucky to have friends around you can always ask them to reciprocate tons and tons of love to you to take you the destination. Post a 108-km drive, which is fantastic and Facebook-worthy by the way- you’ll be here.
Alternatively, there are always the trains. So how and where do you take them from? Follow the snapshot. The train journey; these are anyways fun- aren’t they?
The nearest railway station to reach Dalhousie is Pathankot, in Punjab. This is approximately a little over 80 km from the serene hill station. So what one needs actually, should you be commuting from Delhi or let’s say Jaipur is to first reach Pathankot (from Delhi) or Delhi (from Jaipur) either driving down yourself or by taking a bus, well, suit yourself.
Those in Punjab already may want to feel lucky- do they- for Himachal is obviously any day more closer than it can be from Delhi, a city often occupied by unpredictable congestion, not necessarily restricted to the throat.
Places to see:
Truth be told, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone at Dalhousie. Located a little over an hour’s drive from Dalhouse is Khajjiar, a place you cannot not go to or avoid and not because it’s, quite simply, beautiful but also because no damage would happen to your Aadhaar card if you ended up there.
And guess what, you must.
There’s a lake that’s around 1920 meters above the sea level- idyllic for fun and frolic and no Facebooks or Twitter there please- and, of course, there’s tons of greenery and heck, even a golf course, and can you beat that folks?
There’s even a snake-shaped temple dating back to the 1100s, seriously, and its called the Khajji Nag temple. Lovers of wildlife may want to visit the Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary as well and pose with leopards, bears (keep the bottle for the evenings after lounging out in the nature’s alley), deer et cetera.
Jim Morrison once said, out here in the parameter, there are no stars! Well, you can find loads of them, of course, amid plenty of open spaces with a great scope for trekking and simply, being amid the naked beauty of the nature.
This is a mountainous peak not to be missed. It’s that beautiful. And it’s imposing and at the same time understated, with a monolithic height of 2,745 meters above the sea level.
A must-visit for the campers among us, the hill’s also called the singing hill. So bring on the Sonu Nigam, Elvis’, Adele’ and even Justin Bieber’ please. The place is agnostic to all ages (pun-intended).
No offence to Anupam Kher or MTV Roadies’ Raghu Ram, but the Ganji Pahari is a nice place, truth be told. Nice? Who wants nice, there’s one even in the South of France and we the dudes and dudettes from digital India have been there already, right? Well, let’s dispense with silly titles.
At the Ganji Pahari, a funnily named patch of the Barkota Hills of the Himalayas, you may want to soak in some tranquility, be amid some picturesque setting, preferably with both- and this time we are serious (we have been all along)- a bottle so that you can capture fresh air in its absoluteness and a great camera. But hey, even the high-pixel smartphone can do.
But seriously, this is a place so rare that those of us who may be visiting from polluted urban centres of India may simply wish to live it up for all they want.
St. Francis Church
Places of religious interest are in aplenty in the world’s largest democracy and probably why India is as loved as it is respected for its ‘everness’ in spiritual inclination.
At the St. Francis Church, you can have the most silent conversations with the almighty and find to your utter pleasure some awesome architecture, an embodiment of timeless grace. Built in 1894, this is another picture-worthy snapshot from Dalhouise. Case in point? With its Belgian glass and wooden interiors, the St. Francis Church was done entirely by the army officials.
Hush-hush ladies: there’s a mall close by too! Oops, men, you are known to stop too, right?
Prices start from INR 1000 to 15,000 depending on the season. However, there’s still plenty on at offer, such as the following:
Grand View Hotel
Where: Near Dalhousie Club, Moti Tiba, Dalhousie
Alps Resort Dalhousie
Where: Upper Bakrota Hills, Dalhousie
Mongas Hotel and resort
Where: The Mall, Gandhi Chowk, Dalhousie
Hotel Kumar’s Dalhousie
Where: Near Bus Stand,, Dalhousie
There! This luscious land away from home is the utopia you need when life gets irksome!