Narkanda is a sleepy little town adjacent to Shimla that few may consider being an actual destination in and of itself. Yet, here I am, telling you that it should be! Why you ask! Well, the hidden gem of Narkanda is an offbeat location in Dev Bhoomi Himachal, with its charm still intact and its connectivity above normal standards.
Most people use it as a transit point to Kinnaur Valley and Spiti Valley. But, Narkanda also provides you with plenty of options to relax and enjoy the hills, as it should be, while also being an upcoming adventure sports destination. The treks in the surrounding woods, the beauty of the Sutlej river underneath, the snow-capped mountains with perfect slopes to learn how to ski and the views to enchanting the soul – Narkanda has it all.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Narkanda is a hidden treasure located 63 km from Shimla, making it one of the best weekend getaways from Delhi. This hill station connects Shimla to Kinnaur and Spiti valleys and receives a lot of snow in the winters. Hence, it is one of the best places to see snowfall near Delhi in Himachal.
Most of the people don’t know that there also lies a scenic and secluded hill station just 63 km away from Shimla where they can escape from the crowd and have an amazing time. Perfect for solo retreats, family vacations, and honeymooners alike – this place packs a punch and will leave you wanting more.
Given the beauty of the region and the forested hills of the surrounding vistas, it is no question that the offbeat location has kept its charm intact. If you’re looking for some hill-therapy, and are tired of the old tried and tested Manali/Shimla scenes, Narkanda will definitely not disappoint!
Narkanda is situated at an altitude of 9060 Ft and is a beautiful ski- destination. In winter, it is one of the most popular spots to enjoy snow along with a snow ride trek to Hatu Peak.
With a summer temperature maximum of ~25 Degrees and winter cold of ~-10 degrees, Narkanda is a delight to visit all around in the year, providing unique experiences each time around! Driving to watch Narkanda snowfall is one of the famous things to do among travelers in the winter season.
Best time to visit Narkanda
Each season has its charm when it comes to visiting any hill station. A word of caution when traveling in the monsoon season, however, as the Himalayas are prone to landslides and the traffic condition can suck – which might make your plans go out on a toss. Also, with the (magical, beautiful) Himalayan Monsoons, you’ll probably be stuck at your hotel with minimal views (that is, if you don’t like looking out at the clouds hiding the hills).
Narkanda experiences amazing weather from April to June. Although I must say that if you ate planning a visit to Narkanda in June or May, the weather might feel a bit hot in day time along with the tourist rush of summer vacations.
Since nearby areas, including apple laden village of Thanedar, are home to some of the best apples of the world – I must highlight that the apple picking season is from July-August. It is an insanely beautiful sight to see- the step farming in the mountains filled with luscious colors!
The blanket of snow and nearby skiing options in Narkanda, makes it an exceptionally valid option for your snow or winter escapades from January to March.
How to reach Narkanda from Delhi
Narkanda is at a distance of 403 km from Delhi and takes around 10 hours to reach by bus or car. Roads are well maintained for most of the year. However, there is a massive expansion project underway en route Chandigarh – Shimla (as in 2019), which might cause delays and traffic jams, especially in the tourist season.
The nearest airport is Jubarhatti which is around 80 km from Narkanda near Shimla. You can book a cab directly from the airport or you can catch a bus from Shimla for Narkanda.
There are no direct trains from Delhi for Narkanda. You’ll have to catch a train to Kalka from Delhi. The Shatabdi train is the most convenient option.
From Kalka, you can either take a bus to reach Shimla, hire a shared/private cab (available at the railway station) or even take the Shimla – Kalka Toy Train to reach Shimla. I have spoken about this before, but note, the toy train is the cutest way of traveling. Yes, the journey is slow, and yes, you can probably walk next to the train, but it is the most magical journey.
The train crosses through 103 tunnels along the way and leads you across valleys and vistas. But, if you’re pressed for time and have a strict schedule to follow, skip the toy train.
Narkanda by road
Situated approximately 63 Kms from Shimla, the journey will take you two-three hours. This slowness is the standard affair in the hills, traveling slow and steady! It is the best route for a road trip:
Delhi -> Kurukshetra -> Ambala -> Chandigarh -> Panchkula -> Shimla -> Narkanda
The journey from Shimla to Narkanda is iconic and scenic. The roads will take you through the crests of the mountains for the most part, and you will be cruising across many valleys. Of course, the views are stunning, and the drive is gorgeous, especially thanks to the well-maintained roads.
Using Public Transport or Bus
No direct buses run from Delhi to Narkanda. You’ll have to change buses, once at Shimla. Narkanda has good connectivity as it lies en route Kinnaur from Shimla. Any bus moving in that direction from Shimla to Kinnaur Valley will be crossing Narkanda. Every bus which goes to Kinnaur goes through this place.
Weekend trip to Narkanda
This is the best itinerary I can think of which will help you in visiting you all the places with all the necessary information:
Day 0 – Start Point
If you’re traveling by taking the time-consuming options of Train/Bus/ Self-drive – leave overnight. There are overnight HPTDC and HRTC Volvo buses running between Delhi and Shimla.
Day 1 – Reaching Shimla
Reach Shimla by taking any of the suitable options – whether it is a train, bus, self-drive, or air! Volvo, as well as roadways buses, are available every hour to get to Shimla from Delhi. If traveling by road, the journey will take around ten-eleven hours to reach Shimla.
The issue primarily is the ongoing construction en route Chandigarh – Shimla, which is currently causing havoc on the traffic movement. This condition also deteriorates exponentially when the tourist season is on. If you’re traveling by any means of public transport, you can take a bus from Shimla Bus Stand to Narkanda, which leaves every couple of hours.
Alternatively, you can choose to spend a day in Shimla, exploring the colonial era charm of the Mall Road and enjoying the many attractions of the Capital City.
Day 2 – Reaching Narkanda
This journey from Shimla to Narkanda will take you approximately 3 hours of total driving time. However, there are many cute little spots with amazingly scenic views along the way for you to stop and ogle at the grandeur exquisiteness.
The route attractions
If you’re driving on your own, you’ll want to utilize the Victory Tunnel near Mall Road, Shimla, and move towards Sanjauli by crossing the Lakkar Bazaar, etc. and move further ahead on towards Narkanda.
Post-Sanjauli, you’d want to keep up on NH-5 to reach Mungar. This region is where you enter into the lush green of the Shimla Reserve Forst Sanctuary. The route breaks into two – one for Kufri, the other towards Mashobra. You’ll head along towards Kufri.
Now, keep in mind that Kufri is an especially popular tourist destination in its own right and is a place that you can explore along the way, especially if you haven’t visited before. Ideally, you can stop here for some refreshments/ snacks, etc.
The Beauty of the route
Post Kufri, you will hit upon Fagu, situated on the Hindustan Tibet Road. The tiny settlements along the way, high up on the Himalayan belt leaves you in awe of the Himachali life. As you reach Theog, ahead of Fagu – be warned that the traffic is slow. The entire town is based around the main highway, and there is always a tonne of activity ongoing.
Theog to Narkanda is ~35 KMS, and the journey will take you around an hour – but, my darlings, the views are S-P-E-C-T-A-C-U-L-A-R!!!!! This road is the part of the drive where spotting many apple orchards will be an essential share of the view.
Day 2 – Places to visit in Narkanda
Once you reach your destination, check into your hotel. If you haven’t booked a place- find a place you like and settle in! Post refreshments set out to explore the hamlet of Narkanda! There are mainly three places to see here – Hatu Peak, Tani Jubbar Lake, and Narkanda Skiing point. You can book a cab to go to these places, or you can use public transport and trek around (always my preferred option).
There is a reason that Narkanda does make it to the list of top honeymoon destinations in Himachal.
Hatu Peak / Narkanda Temple
Hatu Peak is around seven km from the main town of Narkanda and is directly connected by road. However, no public transport goes there. Cabs that can accommodate four people will set you back by around INR 700. The second option for you would start your trek in the AM and return by evening from Hatu Peak.
The trek will take you around 3 hours Hatu peak is the second highest peak in the Shimla region after Churdhar peak and gives astounding views of various mountain ranges.
There is a temple situated atop the hill, as is the case with most hilltops in the Himachal region dedicated to Ma Kaali.
Be prepared for the drive as the lane is tiny, with sharp twists and turns and especially thrilling! The road is well paved; thankfully, however, you WILL have your heart in your mouth a few times.
The 360-degree views of the picturesque Shivalik Range can be relished scrupulously. Obviously, you can choose to devote an entire day chilling here – pack a picnic and entertainment is just surrounding you at all times!
Tani Jubbar Lake
A small but extremely stunning lake. Here, you can choose to spend your time exploring the area – there is a Nag Devta Temple here. Do note, however, that entry is not permitted. Also, there is an annual fair conducted near the lake in June, where local artisans bring their creations.
Day 3 – Back Home
If you have made cab arrangements or are traveling in your car, you can choose to spend the day trekking around the region. If you’re visiting in the winter months, do take part in the skiing activities. The slopes are easier, and it will be a fun experience. There is a tonne of unexplored spots nearby that you can go out and spend time in.
Otherwise, take a bus to Dhundhi, which goes at 11:30 PM to visit the lake. You can also choose to visit the nearby area of Thanedar, the epicenter of Apple Farming as we know it today. The Legendary Stokes Farm is a must-visit, especially during the Apple Plucking season.
Day 4 – Head back home
All good trips have to come to an end. Hopefully, your long weekend was full of great memories! Here, I must mention that a lot of people club their travels to Narkanda to onward travels in covering Kalpa, Sangla Valley, and Chitkul. Many tourists also treat Narkanda as a transit point to a road trip to Spiti Valley. This notion depends on your choice, and if you’re moving forward – there is plenty more to do!
Accommodation in Narkanda
A bunch of hotel options are available in Narkanda, ranging from homestays to luxury hotels and even encompassing the budget hotels in Narkanda. But, prices are a little high compared to the other hill stations as it is an exceptional tourist-driven town. Harsh Villa Guest House is a good budget option to stay in Narkanda. I have also preferred the PWD rest house as well for a budget stay in Narkanda.
The Tethys Ski Resort is hands down the winner of the best luxury hotel in the region. The VIEW along with the floor-to-ceiling windows is insanely gorgeous. Nestled in thick orchards, overlooking forested hills and providing a tranquil experience – The ski resort is the definition of old-world-charm luxury.
The Wilderness in the Jubbar Area nearby is also a cute place to stay. It is a cheaper option as compared to Tethys, but, but is perched alongside a lake. Located within an apple and cherry orchard, the hotel is equipped with cute Himachali-style rooms. The hotel is slightly far off from the main Narkanda Centre.
Food Options in Narkanda
There aren’t great options available in food. You can eat food at the place where you are staying or go to any dhabas. There are budget as well as costly places available to eat in the main market itself. Try Thukpa in one of the local food joints.
The Negi Dhaba has great food. The staff is delightful and the prices are reasonable plus the taste is lip-smacking. Do Visit.
Shopping at Narkanda
Being a very small settlement, so there are not a lot of shopping choices. Everything available here will also be available in Shimla. One thing I do recommend in terms of purchase is APPLES!
ATMs are available in Narkanda, so there is no problem with keeping a large amount of cash with you. Of course, a lot of the shops and restaurants will accept other modes of payments, including credit, various wallets, etc. But, keep cash handy for your visits to dhabas, etc.
Being at a height of 2700 meters, this hill station receives all the networks and also maintains a stable Internet connection.
A Government Hospital & Clinic is located in Mashobra, approximately 20 KMs from Narkanda. A small dispensary is, however, available in Narkanda.
There is a petrol pump at Narkanda. What’s even better is that there are mechanics available as well.
- Don’t litter waste in these places and bring all your waste back to the cities as these places don’t have much waste management. Most of the waste is dumped or burned which is more harmful to the environment.
- Don’t buy plastic bottles in these areas. Carry your water bottle and refill it wherever you can as the water in most of the Himalayan regions is pure enough.
- Explore the places without disturbing the local culture and people. Play your part by knowing more about the places and interacting with the people instead of disturbing them.
- Layering is key when it comes to dressing up for the hills. Since you’ll be ascending and descending a lot, especially given the destinations and differences in their attitudes, you’ll want to be prepared for a change in weather. If traveling in the winters, be prepared for sub-zero temperatures! Bundle yourself up, my friend!
- You can always refer my list of things to carry on a trip to the Himalayas.
I hope this Narkanda travel blog article will help you to plan your long- weekend trip to Narkanda. If you think I missed any of the places or any important information related to this place, please tell me in the comments below. And if you have any questions, please comment, and I’ll try to help you in every way possible.
If you know your friends or family are planning a trip to Narkanda, do share this article with them to help them make a memorable trip.