Dalhousie is a small hill station in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. According to wikipedia, the town was established in 1854 by the British Empire as a summer retreat for its troops and bureaucrats and was named after Lord Dalhousie who was the British Governor-General in India at that time. It is located on the western edge of the Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas and is surrounded by snow-capped peaks. The best time to visit is from March to May and from October till November end. From December till March, it gets really cold and even the day-boarding schools here also shuts down for 3 months.
You can either go via road or by train. If going by train which we did, you’ll have to go from Pathankot. We took the Dhauladhar express which leaves Old Delhi in night and reaches Pathankot in the morning. Dalhousie is around 85-90 Kms from Pathankot and the usual taxi fare from Pathankot is INR 1850/- if you go with a pre-paid taxi however if you don’t, you can bargain till INR 1600/-. If you want to save money, you can take the state transport bus which will cost you not more than INR 100/-, pretty cheap as compared to taxi fare, isn’t it? 🙂
As far as the places to see in Dalhousie, there are not many, but since the valley is in between the mountains, it gives you incredible views altogether. For local shopping / roaming, you can go to Gandhi Chowk (G.P.O) and Tibetan Market. We also went to St. Francis Church at Subash Chowk . It’s a nice quiet place to sit and just relax.
And, the main places to visit are:
Khajjiar: It’s another hill station located around 24 Kms from Dalhousie and has a rare combination of three ecosystems: lake, pasture and forest, all in one place. Yes, it’s also called as Mini Switzerland of India. According to wikipedia, On 7 July 1992, Mr. Willy T. Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India brought Khajjiar on the world tourism map by christening it “Mini Switzerland”. He also put a sign board of a yellow Swiss hiking footpath showing Khajjiar’s distance from the Swiss capital Berne-6194 km. Khajjiar is among the 160 locations in the world that bear topographical resemblance with Switzerland.
Dainkund Peak: It’s around 30-45 minutes (15 Kms) drive from Dalhousie to this place. Once you reach this place, you need to park you car to the Air-Force base camp barricade and then there’s a walk to 0.5 Km upwards towards an observation hut which ultimately provides a breath-taking view of the complete Dhauladhar ranges. Another 950 m relatively easy walk from this point, is the Kali Mata temple.
Kala Top Forest Resort: On way to Khajjiar and 11 km from dalhousie you come upon the toll booth which marks the entry to Kalatop wildlife sanctuary. To the left side, is the start of a 3 km gradual sloping upward path to the kalatop forest guest house. The road is not a tar road but is motorable. You can drive the car right up to the guest house for a fee of INR 200. But it is preferred that one walks down as you enjoy the walk through the dense pine forest. If you get lucky, you might get to see few wild animals. During our journey, we saw many langurs. If you want to enjoy the beauty of a forest night, there are also few cottages/rooms available which one can get for around INR 800/- per night here.
Apart from this, there’s not much to see in Dalhouie. We went to Chamba which is quite far away from Dalhousie. The same is famous for its museum, temples as well as river Ravi.
If you’re a foodie, don’t forget to visit Sher-e-punjab restaurant down the lane on subash Chowk. Actually, there are 3 restaurants with same name here but the one which second-last call themselves as the oldest one. We ordered Butter Chicken and it was too good!
If you’re planning to go to Dalhousie and come across this piece and have more questions, do let me know in the comments section below or connect with me here on my twitter handle. Would be happy to help you!
Some more spectacular views of the valley: