Chindi, a hamlet in Karsog Valley is unknown and an offbeat place in Himachal Pradesh. And, that is its biggest advantage. Untouched by tourism, Chindi maintains its quaint, beautiful culture with ease. With a sea of apple orchards and enormous pine and deodar forests, this village is a nature lover’s paradise. Also, the place has a bunch of history and religion attached to it with temples splattered across its geography.
Given that this isn’t a touristy destination, please do set your expectations right and relax in the beautiful valley! The beautiful village is calm, pristine, and delightfully unaware of its natural beauty or rich cultural heritage. The villagers are especially friendly and hospitable. If you’re exploring the area and get tired, chances are a nearby homeowner will offer you a cup of chai and share some beautiful stories as well!
Let's quickly dive into the details:
About Chindi Village
A small village with houses scattered around, Chindi has temples and a beautiful pond as well. There’s also a beautiful natural stream which makes for a perfect evening companion. The village itself is engulfed with beautiful apple orchards and hilly woods of pines and Deodars!
Given the lack of tourism, this is truly one of the most picturesque villages in Himachal! Also, added advantage of Karson being an area of a wildlife sanctuary – the region is home to several species of musk deer, Ghoral, bears, and a variety of pheasants and other birds.
Situated at an elevation of 1850 meters, Chindi is a little hamlet located in the Karsog Valley, around 90 km from Shimla and 107 km from Mandi near Barot – Bir – Billing. Chindi comes exactly 7 km before Karsog town and is at a higher elevation with rolling hills, ancient temples with spectacular views.
Karsog Valley falls in the ancient temple belt of the Suket Kingdom of Himachal Pradesh. The temple belt starts from Sundernagar and covers up to the Karsog Valley. There are many temples throughout the region and you’ll be hard-pressed for time to cover them all! More details below on the temples.
Also, the name Karsog comes from the words ‘Kar’ and ‘Shok’ meaning ‘daily mourning’. Mahabharata tells us that dictates that this village was terrorized by a demon (rakshasa) who would eat a villager daily and thus the village was in perpetual mourning. But, when Pandavas were in exile, Bhima saved the village from the demon by offering himself instead
Chindi – Karsog Weather
Chindi weather remains pretty pleasant throughout the year. It is a quintessential Himachali experience. Even in the summer months, it remains mildly cold, though sunny. Monsoons are tough, landslides can occur. Winter months do experience snowfall and the region is converted into a magical wonderland. Visit the region during July and August if you wish to see the town heaving with fruits and greenery. Karsog Valley can get completely covered in a thick blanket of snow during the months of January and February.
Best time to visit Chindi – Karsog
Chindi is a perennial destination – you can choose to easily escape in the summer months or enjoy the cold winter days! The choice is truly yours. The only season I would suggest you avoid is the monsoon months as the mountains can be a bit unpredictable. Also, monsoon might make you a bit restricted if you’re a true explorer. However, in the end of May and June is apple harvest season – so if you’re keen on experiencing the joy of apple picking – monsoon might hold some magic after all!
I would recommend March to May and then September to December as the best periods to visit Chindi.
How to reach Chindi and Karsog
There are two ways to reach Chindi – Karsog; one route is via the Shimla route which is shorter and takes lesser time and the other route goes is via Sundernagar in Himachal.
If you take the Shimla route, the distance from Delhi to Karsog is approximately 450 km.
On the other hand, if you are travelling via Sundernagar – you will cover about 500 km.
Essentially, after the 9-hour journey to Shimla from Delhi, add another 4-5 hours of driving time (109 KMS from Shimla). The route is relatively less frequent and you’ll need to be alert throughout the journey. Though, the route itself is especially scenic.
The nearest airport is Shimla, situated about 120 km from Karsog. This route can be covered by cab or bus. Cabs will be available at the airport, however, you’ll have to get to the Bus Stand (about 6 km away) to fetch the bus to Karsog.
Even though Shimla has a railhead, this is not conveniently connected. The most commercial railhead is Kalka, from where you’ll fetch a cab to Chindi.
The best way to travel to Chindi is by road. The route is amazing, and anyways part of your journey is mandatorily covered by road.
Route from Shimla to Chindi
Karsog Valley is 109 KM from Shimla. In order to reach, you’ll take the SH13 from Shimla towards Mashobra and Naldehra. You’ll cross Tattapani on the way – which makes for the perfect pit stop with its hot Sulphur springs. The road is fairly well maintained throughout the year and local buses ply this route frequently.
By public transport
If you’re looking to cover the route by bus, you should choose to catch a late evening bus to Shimla. There’s an HRTC bus that leaves Delhi at 830 pm to reach Shimla at around 6 am. This gives you ample time to cover the 5-hour stretch to Karson and still reach during the daytime. If you’re going to stay at the PWD guesthouse, let the bus driver know and he can drop you off before the final destination of Karsog.
Being a small little hamlet, Chindi can be easily covered on foot. If you’re planning on covering some far-off sites, you can always hire local cabs. Also, the added advantage of drivers being skilled and knowledgeable about the region will give you many more options to explore!
Things to do in Chindi Karsog Valley
The beauty of small Himachali towns is that you don’t need to have a full-blown plan. You can go by the mood and relax and explore to your heart’s desire. Chindi and Karsog Valley are perfect examples of this. Carry a book and enjoy the breeze, walk around and find the beautiful stream, look up and marvel at the exquisite views! Given that there are almost no tourists here, you’ll have the place to yourself!
Karsog Valley overall is rich in local architecture, particularly temples. Some of the notable temples in the area are-Mamleshwara Mahadev, Kamakshya Mata, Mahunag, Ardhnarishwara, Aledi Mahadeva, Palinag at Nalagali, Churag temple, Nag Dhamooni at Sairi Bangla, the temple at Nag Dhamooni at Saranda.
Also, if you’re looking for some spectacular views, I highly recommend the Kunhoo Dhar, 23 KMs from Chindi. Lastly, a trek to Shikari Devi at 3359 meters is a great way to explore the surroundings. If you have sufficient time, I also recommend the village and temples of Pangana, about 23 KMs from the hamlet.
Trekking and Hiking
Karsog valley acts as the base for many treks including Shikari Devi, Kamru Naag, Mahu Naag, and Dhamoon Naag. Also, if you’re not into long treks or are pressed for time, I recommend exploring the woods regardless, at your own pace. There are many vantage points in the village. Ask locals for some interesting trails in the picturesque valley.
The villages in Karsog Valley and near Chindi have such a beautiful character. Traditionally built with a lot of Himachali architecture, you’ll enjoy exploring the region and checking out generational homes. Strike up a conversation with the locals to get a taste of life here.
Also, it is fun – though not touristy, to explore the local markets and enjoy people gazing! I promise you will love the laidback rhythm of the village life tempting, distant from the flurry of urban life.
If you’re visiting the valley in apple picking season, you’re in luck! The entire Karsog Valley is very fertile and grows a variety of crops. The specialty, however, is an apple! From the months of June and July, the perfect season for family outing and fun! Many farms here will offer apple picking experiences. A popular farm is the Kalasan Nursery where for Rs. 1,000 you can pick organic fruits like apples, plums, pears, prunes, and even kiwis!
Kunhoo Dar is situated at a distance of 23 km from Chindi. If you’re not driving on your own – hire a local cab to get there. The flat-topped hill has the best viewpoint! From here, you can even take a KM long walk from Karsog Bazar to reach Kunhoo Dar. The views include the Shikari Devi peak and the entire Karsog valley. Other prominent peaks you can view from here include Pir Panjal, Hanuman Tibba, and others.
Temples in Karsog Valley near Chindi
The land of temples, Karsog Valley has a lot to offer. You’ll be hard pressed for time to cover these all!
Mahu Nag Temple
Built-in 1664 AD by Raja Shyam Sen in honor of Lord Karna – the guardian deity of the region, Mahu Nag Mandir exists to help the villagers when help is required. Mahu stands for bee and nag is a snake – that’s the representation of the temple.
Mameshwar Mahadev Temple
One of the most well-known and important temples of Karsog valley, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Mameshwar Mahadev mandir is a sacred place where Bhrigu Rishi meditated. The locals believe that the Pandavas constructed the outer part of the temple during their exile. Also, the temple is home to eternal fire, always kept burning for religious purposes.
It will take you about 40 minutes from Chindi to reach here. The temple itself is made of ancient stone and wood with some stunning carvings on the exteriors! Also, ensure you check the timings of the temple, as it is usually closed in the afternoons.
Kamakshi Devi Temple
Situated very close to the Mamleshwar Shiva Temple is the town Kao. Kao is home to the ancient Kamakshi Devi Temple. Dedicated to a form of Goddess Durga, the brass statue of the deity is dressed beautifully in and adorned with heavy silver ornaments in local design. The wood carvings here are stunning as well and the pendants and chimes further add to the charm.
Where to stay in Chindi, Karsog Valley
There are not a lot of options in terms of stay. However, the Hotel Mamleshwar, which is run by the HPTDC (Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation) is simply stunning. The hotel looks like the idyllic Himachali cottage with beautiful grounds and breathtaking views. The rooms in themselves are big and clean and come at about 1400-1500 per night and the staff is very friendly! The food served is simple but delicious. Book in advance!
Another option is the PWD guest house, though they give preference to the government officials traveling – check when traveling.
What to eat
While mostly, you’ll be eating at your accommodation, I have to suggest and highly recommend a dhaba. This dhaba serves lip-smacking North Indian food. The Himachali dishes in particular are crazy good. Do try the Rajma Chawal. The dhaba is located adjacent to the petrol pump right before reaching Karsog. All villagers heartily recommended this place.
What to shop
The local markets in Chindi are for the residents – there’s not much in terms of souvenirs here. However, I highly recommend getting some Morel Mushrooms (Gucchi) from here. Though they are EXTREMELY expensive, the taste is royal and unique. Must have delicacy. These mushrooms grow in the wild and are only available in high altitudes.
Apart from that, some of the local jewelry shops have really pretty silver ornaments in local designs with exquisite craftsmanship.
Tips when you’re visiting Chindi & Karsog
- This is not the place you visit for fancy luxury hotels and restaurants. It is advisable to keep some snacks packed with you, especially if you like wandering on your own path!
- Karsog is a little-known wonderland for mountain biking. Ask your hotel for one, or better yet – get yours here!
- As with all Himalayan off-beat destinations, remember to wear sturdy shoes and comfortable clothes. Remember to dress in layers as the Himalayan weather is very fickle-minded.
- It is advisable to carry cash for your trip here. Most places won’t have proper facilities for card payments.
- Since there’s a limited accommodation option – remember to book in advance!
- Internet connectivity is very low, so forget about the world and work when you’re here!
- The journey to Chindi is tedious – and to truly settle down and catch the feels, ensure a longer trip for the place. Also, it is advisable to keep a buffer day when visiting.
- If you’re not comfortable driving in the hills –Chindi is not the place for you to get your groove on. Truly local drivers for safety.
Chindi is breathtakingly beautiful, and as an added advantage – it is very far from the city life. There is not even a small community market and there is hardly any activity after sundown. If you are not OK with such a quiet sleepy hamlet environment, this place may not work for you.
However, since you’re on Devil on Wheels, I assume you’re a lover of mountains and I have no hesitation in suggesting a trip to this beautiful hamlet, away from the hustle and bustle – nestled beautifully in the lap of the Himalayas. Hope this guide is helpful to you and as always, if you have any questions or concerns – leave a message below and I will be happy to help!