Dalhousie (India)

View of Dalhousie

Dalhousie is a hill resort town in the Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh in India at 2000 metres (6400 feet) altitude.

Understand

Dalhousie is a quiet hill station with little night life, best suited for people who want to de-stress, who like the quiet, serene atmosphere, and for honeymooners, ideal for long walks picnics and treks. It is not recommended for people who want discos, malls and multiplexes. While there is plenty to do, see and experience, Dalhousie exudes an old-world charm and it almost seems like it hasn't quite caught up with the rest of the world.

History

Lord Dalhousie founded the town in 1854 because its fresh and peaceful atmosphere and healthy surroundings enchanted him. The British acquired five hills Kathalagh, Potreyn, Terah (now called Moti Tibba by the locals), Bakrota and Bhangora from the ruler of the Chamba State for developing the area as a sanatorium; in return, his taxes were reduced. The project originated with Lt. Col. Napier, then Chief Engineer of Punjab; (‘afterwards Lord Napier of Magdala”). Dr. Clemenger of the 49th Native infantry did the surveying. In 1851 a spot where the Dayan Kund Ridge (now Dain Kund) breaks in to spurs was selected for the project and Kathalagh was identified for the construction of Convalescent Depot.

The British visited this place for their summer vacations, and the bungalows are in an English style. The modern town is situated among the five hills, facing the Pir Panjal range of snow-capped and pristine mountains, surrounded by thick forests of pine and deodar trees.

Climate

It is usually warm in the morning and afternoon in June–July, gets cold early in the evening, and is quite cold at night: pack woollens and jackets; T-shirts can be worn in the daytime while the sun is out. The weather gets quite cold when it rains.

In winter, the temperature can drop to freezing when heavy woolens are required. The summer temperature are mild and light woolens / cottons are recommended.

Get in

The trip to Dalhousie is a long one if you are heading from Delhi. It usually involves taking an overnight train to Pathankot (about 10 hr) and then a 2–3 hr drive from Pathankot to Dalhousie. The options for overnight trains are Delhi-Pathankot or Delhi-Chakki Bank train. Chakki Bank is only 4 km away from Pathankot which gives you the pleasure of being on train at right time (around 21:00) and being in Chakki Bank at morning (06:30)

There are frequent bus services from Pathankot to Dalhousie, which cost ₹70, as well as one bus a day from Delhi. A taxi from Pathankot costs between ₹800 (unofficial) to ₹1,350 (official taxi).

The nearest airports are:

Delhi to Dalhousie Taxi is one of the best tourist guides. It provides best offers and services of tourists.

There are also local buses to Kangra, Dharamsala (07:15, ₹155), Khajjiar and Chamba. For example, a local bus from Kangra to Dalhousie will cost only ₹150/- per ticket and will give some best scenic views on the way. You will also get a chance to interact with local people on the way who are nice. Seeing villages having merely 5-10 houses in the middle of mountains is a good experience.

Get around

The greatest activity in Dalhousie is on and around the three-level malls which were laid in the early 1860s for promenades, carriages, horses, dandies, etc. these roads and the steeper by-lanes which connect them to the bus-stand are still the arteries of the town. The malls around Moti Tibba and Potreyn hills are the most popular with tourists as the two are level and most of the business activity and hotels are around them. Gandhi Chowk, Upper bazaar. Subhash chowk, Catholic church of St Frances, Sadar bazaar and the Convent founded by an Order of Belgium nuns and their Sacred Heart School are on these two malls. Dalhousie’s third and highest mall was built around the upper Bakrota hill nearly a 1,000 feet above the G.P.O. (Gandhi Chowk). This mall was the favourite of Dr Hutchison: “of these Upper Bakrota mall is finest and the longest being fully 3 miles round and from it extensive views are obtained of the low hills and figure of eight walk on the two malls encircling Moti Tibba and Potreyn hills is very pleasant and popular among local people and tourists.

As Shimla finds its focus in the mall, in Dalhousie action gravitates in the evening to the G.P.O. which presents a riot of colours and activity. Sometimes it even becomes difficult to surge ahead without jostling and elbowing. Most of the good eateries and handicraft emporia, hotels and of course the ever attractive Tibetan market are all around the G.P.O. There is a library and a reading room at the G.P.O. for the convenience of the tourists.

The main mode of transport is a car or motorcycle; it can get very cold in the evening so a car is recommended. Pony rides are available in G.P.O. and Khajjiar, but this is mostly a recreational activity rather than a functional one. The ponies are called khachhars (mules), crosses between horses and donkeys: don't expect thoroughbred horses! Walking around Dalhousie is a good option, but to see Khajjiar and Chamba you will have to use some kind of transport. Taxis to these destinations are easily available from the main market.

See

Dainkund Peak
Church at Subhash Chowk in Dalhousie

Ask the locals for more detailed directions and advice about these places. Dain Kund, Upper Bakrota, and Ganji Pahadi are lesser-known but quite long and enjoyable walks. Pack a picnic basket: there are a lot of open, empty spots where one can sit and enjoy a meal and a good view.

Do

Dalhousie is known for its great valleys and high mountain ranges. Places like Panchpula are known for trekking. There are waterfalls, places to trek, or to sit down, relax, and experience nature. It is 5 km from G.P.O. Dalhousie Chowk. Going there is easy by bus, taxi, etc., but going on foot is a marvellous experience. This Place Registered its Name in History. As here Lies the Memorial of Amar Ajit Singh (Uncle of Shaheed Bhagat Singh)

Himalayan Cedar trees at Dalhousie

Buy

There are dozens of shops in the main market. D.C. Khannah local general store has everything from paint to everyday things; ask a local for directions-nearby Hotel Basera on court road Dalhousie.

Eat

There are quite a few restaurants; the better ones are usually in the hotels themselves. Kwality restaurant is one of the oldest, is located at G.P.O, is not the most sophisticated place, but is usually full and serves great dosa and Indian food. There are lots of small eating places at G.P.O. and Khajjiar. You can also try out some momos, a type of dumpling that is hugely popular with tourists).

Drink

There is a liquor store at G.P.O. and bars in the hotels, but no pubs as such.

Sleep

There are various hotels available. Please book your room in advance in July; it also helps to enquire about the condition and facilities available in the hotel. Guest houses and some houses are available on rent. The houses are more expensive but better maintained and more luxurious. Hotels differ in prices: the more expensive ones have better views and more services offered; one can have a look around to find the type of accommodation needed.

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