Dalhousie is one of the many hill stations established and developed by the British empire in India as their summer retreats. This place still oozes a colonial feel and is scattered with British style bungalows, churches and other buildings.
Famous for its deep and green, pine-covered valleys with snow-clad mountains at remote backdrop, Dalhousie is a panoramic place with views to behold.
Located in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, Dalhousie is built on and around five hills – Balun, Bakrota, Tehra, Patreyn and Kathlog. Ravi river flows at the base of Dalhousie, through the Chamba valley.
Dalhousie has an average elevation of 2000 meters and besides the Dhauladhars you can even view Pir Panjal mountain range from here.
Getaways from Dharamshala – Dalhousie (116 kms)
This is the last article from my series on ‘Getaways from Dharamshala’. Despite being a mainstream hill station, Dalhousie has still retained its old world charm and is not too cluttered. Other articles in this series
Why Visit Dhalousie
One can come here to relax, take leisurely strolls around, visit temples, churches and colonial buildings, soak in the beauty of Khajjiar and adjoining places, more adventurous souls can explore nearby peaks and passes by trek.
Both honeymooners and family vacationers can unwind here at their own pace. Dalhousie preserves ancient temples, art, Hindu culture and British architecture which you can explore amongst its calm and easygoing ambiance.
Interesting Read: Top 12 Must Visit Offbeat Places in Himachal
Best Time to visit Dalhousie
Dalhousie experiences a pleasant summer, the temperature hardly ever goes above 30. In March-April, snow starts melting and reveals beautiful vistas. Summer season here is from April – June and is considered the best time to enjoy this place.
Dalhousie is one of those few hill stations which exuberate a different charm in every season and can be visited anytime, depending on what one wants to see.
To experience snow-covered mountains and open grounds to play around in snow, visit the place during December – February. October – November is chilly but you are not likely to find snow, however, this is one of the leaner periods and you may find less crowd here.
Monsoon season (July-September) is quite wet but makes the valley even more green, pretty and romantic.
How To Reach Dalhousie
From Dharamshala, you can reach Dalhousie by taxi, bus or drive down in your car. The distance is conveniently covered in about 4 hours with scenic views all along.
Buses from HRTC and a couple of private operators run from Dharamshala for Dalhousie in the morning between 7 to 9am.
If you are coming from Delhi then route options are similar to reaching Dharamshala. My article on Complete Guide to Dharamshala has all the required details on the same. I have briefly written about the options below:
The nearest airport, Gaggal (Kangra), is approximately 3.5 hrs of drive away (130 kms) from Dalhousie. Spicejet and Air India operate regular flights from Delhi to Kangra airport. Easiest and fastest option for the onward journey ahead is to take a taxi from airport. Or else, you can get a private bus from outside the airport if you land in the morning.
Nearest rail station from Dalhousie is Pathankot (84 kms away). Regular trains from Delhi are available on this route. A night trains suits best as it reaches Pathankot early morning. Some buses run from Pathankot to Dalhousie in the morning. Otherwise, taxis are easily available outside the station to go ahead.
Dalhousie is about 570 kms (more than 11 hrs of drive) away from Delhi. For most of the route the roads are in good shape and you can self-drive. Regular buses by HRTC and some private operators are available from Delhi (ISBT) for Dalhousie which leave in the evening and reach Dalhousie the next morning.
What To Do in Dalhousie
Officially, Khajjiar is a picturesque sub-town and the brand image of Dalhousie which pops up the moment you mention the hill station’s name anywhere.
Located 21 kms and almost an hour’s drive away from main Dalhousie town, Khajjiar is often termed as mini-switzerland of India. At 2000 meters above sea level, Khajjiar is surrounded by tall, dense deodars and pines.
Interesting Read: Monasteries In Dharamshala – A Complete Guide
The most famous tourist spot in Khajjiar is the Khajjiar lake, which is situated between Dalhousie and Chamba main city. It is almost a dry lake but lush green meadows around it and thick forest cover makes it a beautiful picnic place for both locals and tourists. You will find the usual recreational activities to do here, such as, horse riding, zorbing, photo-shoot in Himachal’s attire, photo shoot with rabbits and even short-distance paragliding.
For me, the best thing to do there was to enjoy the scenic beauty of the place and stroll around the meadows.
Literally meaning, black cap, Kalatop hill is around 8 kms from Dalhousie and derives its name because of the dark and thick forest which covers it. Besides providing the mesmerising views of hills, valleys, river and green meadows, Kalatop is also a wildlife sanctuary which houses Himalayan black bear, Black marten, leopards, pheasants and other birds amongst the oaks, pines and deodars.
Visit Kalatop for the beautiful trails and views. The best way to enjoy its beauty is to walk around the well laid trails. Take a bus, taxi or drive till Lakkarmandi, which is 4 kms from Kalatop.
From here you can walk till Kalatop while enjoying the serene views. There is a forest rest house inside the sanctuary, which needs to be booked well in advance if you wish to spend a night right in the lap of jungle. It can be booked through HPTDC portal.
If you are visiting Dalhousie during winters, you should visit Bakrota to get good view of the snow covered mountains. It is a famous spot for tourists in Dalhousie and is frequented by people to soak in the sight of white peaks.
We visited Dalhousie during summers and the place still looked pleasant with a background of Himalayan trees. Located at 2085 meters above sea level this is the highest point in Dalhousie and is just over 4 kms from Dalhousie town center.
As it is a little in the outskirts of main town, this place is comparatively quiet and also has some beautiful homestays for the offbeaters. There are no activities to do here, except walks and strolls.
This waterfall is located en route to Panchpulla, a picnic and tourist spot in Dalhousie. Because of accessibility and convenient location, this is thronged by tourists while visiting Panchpulla.
People are allowed to take a dip in the falls except during monsoon when the water flow is heavy and falls with full force. Although, you would find the fall better looking during monsoon or right after that because of abundance of water.
Unfortunately, lot of waterfalls in the hills dry up by summer if there has not been enough snowfall during the season. Satdhara is fed by ‘seven streams’ (hence the name) of water that flow down from high up in the mountains (fed by melting snow).
The water is supposed to have medicinal properties, apparently because of the presence of mica in it. It is a decent place to visit with family and friends, enjoy the views but don’t expect too much water in the fall during summer or early winter. From Gandhi Chowk (central location in Dalhousie), you may walk to Sadhara, which is around 3 kms away or take a cab.
Stay Options at Dalhousie
Dalhousie has a plethora of stay options from all genres. You can choose from peaceful homestays to luxury resorts. We looked for a decent hotel for a comfortable stay with family and zeroed in on Hotel Grand View.
The staff here was courteous, helpful and fulfilled all our special requirements regarding our stay with a toddler. The property has both outdoor and indoor play areas (which was thoroughly enjoyed by kids) and a pretty view.
However, I would recommend if you are travelling alone and would like more solace then opt for options in the outskirts, like Bakrota hill.
Besides the private ones, HPTDC operates some beautiful hotels here, like Hotel Devdar in Khajjiar which is beautifully located and gives you a chance to cherish the meadows of Khajjiar closely.
In addition to these three destinations, you may explore a little offbeat and charming village ‘Barot’, which is a little over 110 kms from Dharamshala.
In this article, I have covered all the things you can do during a quick getaway to Dalhousie. However, on a more leisurely vacation, you can further explore the Churches, Libraries, Markets and Colonial buildings. I will elaborate on those in my upcoming article on a ‘Complete Guide to Dalhousie’.
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