One of the most popular hill stations in Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala is a gem in itself with numerous places to explore and a variety of foods to try. In my previous articles, we have explored the little city of Dharamshala, the livid town of Mcleodganj and offbeat Dharamkot village. If this does not satiate the travel bug in you, then you can venture out to some enticing getaways near it – Palampur, Bir-Billing, and Dalhousie.
All of these places are two to four hours’ drive away from Dharamshala and can be clubbed as a day trip or a night’s stay with your Dharamshala itinerary.
This series – Getaways from Dharamshala – will give you quick and handy information about Palampur, Bir-Billing, and Dalhousie. The articles will elaborate on Dharamshala’s neighborhood and how to explore each of these destinations
Let’s start with the nearest one from Dharamshala – Palampur.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Palampur – Getaways from Dharamshala
(35 km from Dharamshala)
Lush green and dotted with water streams, this hill station, Palampur, is surrounded by Himalayan pine forests and tea gardens. The backdrop of Dhauladhars further enhances the beauty of this quaint place.
Famous for tea plantations (Kangra tea belongs to this region) and beautiful landscapes, it is one of the greenest places in Himachal and known as the ‘Tea Capital’ of northwest India. Other articles in this series:
Visit this place to enjoy the green sceneries, check out the tea plantations, taste authentic Kangra tea fresh from the tea gardens and have a leisurely, laid-back stay at one of the tea estates, if you like.
What To Do in Palampur
Tea-gardens are the highlight of Palampur. When in town, enjoy the panoramic tea estates and see how locals created your favorite beverage. Almost all tea gardens offer visitors access to their tea making process.
You may even learn a trick or two from the experts on how to make that perfect cup of tea! Kangra has been growing both black and green tea since the mid-nineteenth century. Taste the unique flavor of this tea, which is very different from what you and I are used to drinking back home.
The largest and most beautiful of the streams in Palampur, it is famous for the iron suspension bridge that passes across it and the scenic view of the valley this place offers. There’s another bridge here which is comparatively new and used for regular vehicular traffic.
The stream flows in full force during and post rainy season when it is bursting with water and takes the form of a proper channel. Visit Neugal to enjoy the natural beauty around. Neugal lies around 2 km from Palampur town center.
Saurabh Van Vihar
Next to Neugal is Saurabh Van Vihar, a nature park built in the memory of Army martyr Captain Saurabh Kalia, who martyred during the Kargil war. It is more of a picnic spot for both tourists and locals with a small lake in which one can enjoy paddle boating.
The landscaped forest is set in a valley with snow-covered Dhauladhars behind it. A good place to take a stroll or relax with family and friends.
Those interested in art and pottery should give a visit to Andretta village. It is a place for art lovers, potters, or those who are in love with clay, ceramics, and excited to buy some beautiful stuff from here. Andretta is a small, clean, and ecologically progressive Himalayan village that attracts artists, potters, and theatre practitioners.
Almost 13 km (20-30 mins drive) from Palampur, Andretta also houses the famous Shobha Singh Art Gallery. Because of its unique art scene, Andretta hosts many art aficionados from India and many other countries. There a few homestays in the village, most of the buildings here are green and promote eco-tourism. You can know more about Andretta at the wiki.
You can further explore Baijnath temple, Jakhni Mata temple, and Tashi Jong monastery for a dose of spirituality and gorgeous views of the valley (especially from Jakhni Mata temple). All of them are present around Palampur.
Interesting Read: Monasteries In Dharamshala – A Complete Guide
How To Reach Palampur
If you are traveling from Dharamshala to Palampur, there are many private and state transport buses available for this route. I, during my visit, chose to travel by taxi.
You can also get connected directly to some of these taxi drivers in Himachal Pradesh. These drivers can also come and pick you up from Manali / Shimla / Delhi / Chandigarh too, of course with a price of a pickup as well.
Palampur is well connected to almost all cities in Himachal and Punjab. If you are traveling from other cities in India then refer to the options listed below:
Gaggal is the nearest airport, 37 km away from Palampur. Gaggal is well connected by multiple airlines to Delhi, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune. Taxis and buses are available at Gaggal to cover the last leg of your journey to Palampur.
If you have some leisure time and would like to enjoy the slow pace of a toy train which takes you through mountains, rivers and green pastures, then opt for the narrow gauge Kangra valley toy train from Pathankot. Pathankot is the nearest train station from Palampur that connects well to Delhi and other major cities via multiple trains.
Regular buses ply to Palampur from major cities in Himachal and Punjab. From Delhi, you can get on a luxury Volvo or state transport bus to reach here. HRTC buses also go there. Or you may choose to drive, roads from Delhi to Palampur are in good shape except during the rainy season.
Best Time to Visit
Palampur remains pleasant throughout the year and can be visited anytime, to relax in the lap of nature. However, I advice to avoid monsoons as road conditions could become unpredictable due to landslides. Moreover, heavy rains can spoil any plans of exploring the place.
Weather in Palampur does not reach extremes. Summers are moderate (20 to 35-degree celsius from Apr-Jun), monsoon months tend to get quite wet (heavy rainfall from Jul-mid Sept) and winters (from Oct-Feb) are mild to chilly, the temperature can fall below zero in the months of Dec-Jan.
Summer evenings get very pleasant and nights get a little cold, so to escape the heat of plains this is a good time to visit Palampur.
Interesting Read: Top 12 Must Visit Offbeat Places in Himachal
There are several hotels, homestays, and some resorts in and around Palampur. If you wish to spend a night there during your getaway from Dharamshala, you may choose Palampur. I recommend staying at a tea estate to experience the best of this place.
HPTDC has a couple of hotels in Palampur, one of them, The Tea Bud, is located right opposite a tea estate and is surrounded by deodars and pines. Beautifully done like many other HPTDC properties, this one is a good and reasonably priced option.
If you prefer luxurious accommodations then check out Norwood Villas or Country Cottages.
A visit to Palampur can easily become a part of your Dharamshala itinerary. However, if you choose to stay for a longer duration, then I would recommend exploring Bir-Billing as well. I will share my experience at Bir-Billing in my upcoming article which will provide all the information that you need to plan your adventure there.
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