Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain.
When Himachal Pradesh witnessed unprecedented rainfall over four days, resulting in flash floods, landslides, and widespread destruction, it also washed away my plans to visit the Himalayan state in July. But I am not a person who gives up quickly. Instead of cancelling my trip entirely or waiting for the monsoon to end, I persevered, postponing my trip by two weeks. This decision led me to explore the captivating monsoon beauty of Kangra and Chamba districts, away from the more flood-prone regions of Kullu-Manali. In my previous post on Himachal diaries, I shared the fascinating tales of my stay at Fortune Park Moksha Hotel in McLeod Ganj and my explorations of the vibrant towns of McLeod Ganj and Dharamshala.
Now, I invite you to join me as I delve into the picturesque realm of Dalhousie and the mesmerising beauty of Khajjiar. In this article, I will recount my adventures of exploring Dalhousie and Khajjiar in 4 days and provide practical tips for an unforgettable trip. I’ve covered everything, from must-visit places and ideal stay options to the best time to visit and a tentative budget.
Table of Contents
WHY TRAVEL TO HIMACHAL IN THE MONSOON?
Embarking on a journey to Himachal Pradesh in the monsoon season is akin to stepping into a dream. Lush green valleys, towering mountains, and serene landscapes come together, creating an ethereal experience under a veil of fluffy cottony clouds. Additionally, the monsoon is considered a shoulder season for hill stations in Northern India, offering better travel deals and fewer crowds at tourist spots.
DAY 1 – MCLEOD GANJ TO DALHOUSIE BY ROAD
Around 3 PM, I left Dharamshala to start my journey to Dalhousie. Overall, it took four and a half hours (4.5 hrs) to cover an approximately 121 km distance. It became a captivating experience unfolding through winding roads, verdant valleys, and panoramic vistas. My drive was peppered with breaks to capture the lush beauty of Himachal that is only visible during monsoon season. The ongoing roadwork created opportunities for photo stops. Along the way, River Ravi accompanied me. I couldn’t stop stopping at Lahru, a small village in Bhattiyat Tehsil of Chamba district, Himachal Pradesh. The orange and amber sunset over the Ravi River’s meandering banks was too mesmerising to miss. Each pitstop was a chance to take in the region’s natural beauty and build anticipation for the delights that awaited me in Dalhousie.
Arriving in Dalhousie
As I reached Dalhousie around 7:30 PM, I found myself welcomed by the luxurious embrace of Fortune Park Dalhousie. This newly constructed four-star hotel, nestled amidst the picturesque Pir-Panjal range, was a haven of comfort and elegance. The hotel’s location, overlooking the valley, was nothing short of enchanting. A dense cover of pine trees framed the stunning panorama, casting a serene charm over the entire place. This strategic positioning also meant that the hotel was delightfully removed from the hustle and bustle of the town’s Gandhi Chowk, ensuring tranquillity and seclusion.
Upon stepping into the lobby, echoes of the colonial town’s charm greeted me through the aesthetic design and decor of the hotel. Vibrant colours, a huge round sofa, and a cosy fireplace created a warmth and welcome ambience. Fortune Park Dalhousie boasts 57 plush rooms and suites, most offering breathtaking views of the pristine valley. This attention to detail ensured that leisure travellers like me could fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the surroundings.
The amenities at Fortune Park Dalhousie added to the experience of wellness and relaxation. An indoor swimming pool with a view, a well-equipped fitness centre, and a restful spa promised rejuvenation.
When it came to dining, Fortune Park Dalhousie did not disappoint. The all-day dining restaurant, Zodiac, and the well-equipped bar, Neptune, ensured that culinary desires were well catered to. However, The Oak Lounge, a terrace space overlooking the untouched wilderness, truly stole my heart. As I gazed out into the misty hues and untouched vistas, I felt a sense of calm wash over me.
In addition to its stunning accommodation, Fortune Park Dalhousie was equipped for hosting events. With banquet spaces and a gazebo-adorned terrace, it accommodated conferences, social events, weddings, and memorable gatherings.
During my stay at the hotel, I was fortunate enough to experience the lavish comfort of a plush room. The cosy elegance of the room complemented the natural beauty outside the window. But the indulgence did not stop there. The culinary delights that I savoured during my stay were beyond compare. From savouring the flavours of the local Chamba Thaali to enjoying a barbecue dinner in the mesmerising gazebo, each meal was a journey of taste and delight. And who could forget the joy of waking up to a valley-facing breakfast, a feast for the senses and the soul?
What truly set Fortune Park Dalhousie apart, however, was the impeccable hospitality of its staff. The dedicated and caring team, led by General Manager Prakash Mahato and F&B Manager Bappa, made every effort to ensure that my stay was not just comfortable but truly memorable. Their warmth, attentiveness, and commitment to guest satisfaction were evident in every interaction.
While Fortune Park Dalhousie holds a special place in my heart, I must also mention that other fantastic accommodations are available in Dalhousie, catering to different budgets and preferences. From cosy homestays to luxury hotels, the town offers a range of choices for travellers.
DAY 2 – EXPLORING DALHOUSIE
After indulging in a hearty breakfast at Fortune Park Dalhousie, I was ready to set out and explore the town and its surroundings. While there are more than ten places to visit in Dalhousie, being a nature lover, I gravitated towards areas filled with natural beauty and tranquillity. Also, being a slow traveller, I spent quality time at fewer destinations rather than hurrying from one place to another.
Chamera Lake, 34km from Gandhi Chowk, Dalhousie
My first stop was Chamera Lake, which beckoned with its monsoon magic. A 38 km drive from Fortune Park took me to this serene water body. The stillness of the lake was a balm for the soul, and I spent a peaceful morning soaking in the beauty of nature.
Situated in the Chamba district, this pristine lake offers a perfect retreat for those seeking tranquillity and natural beauty. The drive to Chamera Lake from Dalhousie takes around 45 minutes, leading you through winding roads that offer glimpses of the stunning landscapes. The lake looks even prettier during winter and spring, with snow-clad mountains hugging its emerald-green water. Its serene waters reflect the surrounding lush greenery and towering mountains, creating a postcard-worthy scene that’s a delight to capture on camera.
Chamera Lake is an artificial reservoir created due to the Chamera Dam project. The lake serves as a source of hydroelectric power and doubles as a picturesque attraction for tourists. Its calm waters provide the perfect setting for boating, and visitors can rent paddle boats and enjoy leisurely rides across the lake. For adventure enthusiasts, there are opportunities for water sports like jet skiing and speed boating, adding an extra layer of excitement to the visit. The rates for these activities can vary based on the type of watercraft and the duration of the activity.
Depending on your interests, you can spend anywhere from a couple of hours to half a day at Chamera Lake. Whether you’re captivated by the beauty of the surroundings, partake in boating adventures, or sit by the lake and let the tranquillity wash over you, the experience will be memorable.
The lake spans an impressive area, with a width of approximately 1.5 kilometres and a depth that varies based on the season and water levels. The water level in Chamera Lake water reaches a maximum of 763 meters, while the minimum water level is 747 meters. When I had gone there, it was flowing higher than its regular mark; therefore, going near the lake waters was prohibited. Thus, I enjoyed my trip to Chamera Lake with a Maggi instead of boating.
Panchpula, Chamba – 3.5 km from Gandhi Chowk, Dalhousie
My next destination was Panchpula, a beautiful waterfall at the heart of Dalhousie. While it didn’t match the monsoon beauty of Bhagsu waterfall in McLeod Ganj, it remains popular among tourists. The waterfall is said to be formed by the confluence of five streams, some of which have medicinal properties that are very helpful for healing skin diseases. And, at one point, there were five naturally made bridges. When you climb the stairs of the waterfall to reach its top, you can’t help but get mesmerised by the tall deodar and pine trees. The soaring clouds, the fleeting fog, and the drizzle over the swaying bright colour Buddhist prayer flags made the area even more surreal. They lent a mystical aura to the picnic spot. Some mini adventure sports, such as hanging Burma bridge, zipline, etc., were also offered. Restaurants and souvenir shops accompanied the 200-metre mini-trek. The Panchpula Waterfall is a base for several treks of Dalhousie as it is very near to the central city.
But what I loved the most was the sound of rushing water that felt like a soothing melody, and I couldn’t help but feel a deep connection with nature.
Throughout my explorations in Dalhousie, I was struck by the town’s tranquillity and serenity. Each corner held hidden gems, where time stood still, and the beauty of the surroundings took centre stage.
As the day ended, I returned to Fortune Park Dalhousie, where a surprise barbecue dinner awaited. The staff’s attentive service and genuine care made me feel truly at home, surrounded by friends who prioritised my comfort and happiness.
DAY 3 – DALHOUSIE TO KHAJJIAR AND MIDWAY SIGHTSEEING
After a hearty breakfast at Fortune Park Dalhousie, I bid adieu to the hotel that had become my haven of comfort and luxury. My next destination was Khajjiar, renowned for its natural beauty and captivating landscapes. As I embarked on the journey, I couldn’t help but feel a mixture of excitement and a tinge of nostalgia for the memories I had made a decade and a half ago on my maiden trip to Chamba.
Scenic Route from Dalhousie to Khajjiar via Dalhousie Public School
The journey from Dalhousie to Khajjiar offered a picturesque route that showcased the region’s natural beauty. As I embarked on this journey, l found myself driving through winding roads that grew narrower as we started climbing altitude and revealing even prettier sweeping vistas of mountains, forests, and valleys.
One notable route I can’t forget was the path passed by Dalhousie Public School. A well-manicured Serpentine Road was blooming with purple and white coloured hydrangea flowers, which peaked in the rainy season. The misty veil of white clouds kept making the journey even more vivid. Here is an interesting piece of trivia for you – hydrangea is said to be the chameleon in the world of flowers. Depending on the soil’s acidity, the same seedling’s colour will be different. It turns blue in acidic soils, red in alkaline soils, and purple in neutral soils.
This route offered an opportunity to witness the charm of the school and its surroundings, all while enjoying views straight out of a postcard. The serene beauty of the landscape and the fresh mountain air made me envious of the students and the teachers who experience it daily.
Before reaching Khajjiar, I made a few stops to make the most of my journey. The first stop was Dainkund Peak, a mountain peak that offered stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Dainkund Peak and the Legend of Pohlani Mata Temple
The journey to Dainkund Peak, often called the “Singing Hill,” is an adventure that rewarded me with breathtaking panoramic views. At the peak of Dainkund, I found an 800-plus-year-old Pohlani Mata Temple dedicated to the local deity. The legend of Pohlani Mata is steeped in mythology, and locals believe that she protects the region and its inhabitants. The name “Dainkund” is derived from the term “Dain-Kund,” meaning a lake where witches lived. According to a local legend, this hillside was infested by witches and demons who were later slayed by none other than Goddess Kali herself. The hillside is also called the Singing Hill, owing to the sound of the wind rustling through the woods. The temple’s serene surroundings and the sense of spirituality that envelops the area make it a peaceful place for reflection and worship.
The hike to Dainkund Peak is an adventure that promises natural beauty and a sense of accomplishment. The total hike distance is approximately 3 kilometres, and the time taken to cover it varies based on your pace and the number of breaks you take. On average, reaching the summit can take around 1 to 1.5 hours.
The trail took me through dense forests and scenic pathways. It occasionally revealed stunning vistas of the surrounding valleys and mountains. As I ascended, I was surrounded by the refreshing scent of pine trees and the gentle whisper of the wind. The moderate difficulty level ensures the hike is accessible to most fitness levels, and the reward is well worth the effort.
The legend surrounding Dainkund Peak and the challenging yet invigorating hike made this a truly unforgettable experience. The panoramic views of the surrounding valleys, mountains, and forests were a testament to the splendour of Himachal Pradesh’s natural beauty.
Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary
My next stop was the Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. While the cloudy weather obstructed some of the views, it added an air of mystery to the sanctuary. I embarked on a nature walk, immersing myself in the dense forests and listening to the sounds of the wild. Even though I didn’t encounter any animals and couldn’t do any adventure sports activities during my visit, the sanctuary’s serene atmosphere and diverse flora left me with a sense of peace and connection with nature.
As I continued my journey towards Khajjiar, I couldn’t help but marvel at the region’s diverse landscapes. The road wove through dense forests, picturesque villages, and open meadows, offering a glimpse into Himachal Pradesh’s beauty.
Arriving in Fortune Park Khajjiar
As I arrived in Khajjiar, I was greeted by the enchanting beauty of Fortune Park Khajjiar. Situated in the foothills of the Dhauladhar ranges of the Western Himalayas, this hotel was a true gem. Located approximately 24 kilometres from Dalhousie, the hotel offered panoramic views of the surrounding meadows and forests.
My stay at Fortune Park Khajjiar was marked by the same level of luxury, comfort, and impeccable service that I had experienced in Dalhousie. With 35 plush rooms and suites, the hotel provided a haven for relaxation and rejuvenation. The Deluxe Suite I stayed in was a spacious retreat, providing all the comforts of home while surrounded by the beauty of nature.
Culinary Delights and Hospitality
One of the highlights of my stay at Fortune Park Khajjiar was undoubtedly the culinary experience. Chef Naresh Sharma’s creations were a feast for the senses, capturing the region’s flavours and presenting them in a way that delighted both the palate and the soul. From smoking hot sizzlers to Tibetan dim sums, each meal was a journey of taste and exploration. The food blended traditional recipes and modern presentations, making each meal an unforgettable experience.
The impeccable service and warmth of the staff, led by F&B Head Imtazul Islam, added to the overall experience. Their genuine care and attention to detail ensured that every moment of my stay was truly memorable. Whether it was a quiet meal overlooking the Khajjiar meadows or a friendly chat with the staff, every interaction left me feeling truly valued and welcomed.
DAY 4 – EXPLORING KHAJJIAR AND AROUND
My time in Khajjiar was a tapestry of exploration and adventure. With Fortune Park Khajjiar as my base, I set out to explore Khajjiar’s mesmerising beauty.
Jot Pass – 18km from Khajjiar
I visited Jot Pass or Chowari, a place known for offering one of the best 360-degree mountain views, which was also a shooting location of the blockbuster Bollywood film “Gadar: Ek Prem Katha.” Located approximately 8000 ft above sea level on the Kanthli Dhar over the Dhauladhar range of the outer Himalayas, the Pass connects the rugged Chamba Valley to the fertile Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh. The place provides 360-degree views of the mountains, including the famous Manimahesh Kailash Peak (18547 ft, ASL), Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar mountain ranges.
The quaint surroundings and the warm hospitality of the locals made this a memorable stop. It was raining and mist-laden with abysmal visibility; therefore, I couldn’t go hiking to its peak. But plan B was alright, too. This place is famous for khoya barfi (milk dessert). Trust me, I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I couldn’t help gulping down a few. Incredibly soft and very fresh with no harmful preservatives. Pure creamy condensed milk dessert. Another thing that this place is famous for is its pickles, specifically the CHUKH chillies pickle, which is found only in this region. If you ever go to Jot Pass, remember to buy some local pickles and sweets from Jot Dhaba, supporting the local economy and savouring the region’s flavours.
Nature Park, Jot – 17km from Khajjiar
Visiting Nature Park, Jot, allowed me to experience it in a different light. Though the weather was still cloudy, the sanctuary’s serene beauty and the possibility of encountering wildlife added an element of excitement to my visit. Despite the lousy weather, families and kids were playing in the park. The park had a children’s playground and many life-size replicas of wild animals. The monsoon clouds kept playing hide and seek with the expansive valley views.
Shiva Statue, 1 km from Khajjiar
While returning from Jot, we stopped at the Shiva statue, one of the tallest 85 ft (25m) Lord Shiva Statue in Khajjiar, Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh. It is about a km southeast of the Khajjiar meadow towards Chamba District. One of the most unforgettable moments of my trip occurred when my drone got stuck in a tree near the Shiv Statue. The dedication and hard work of the villagers, who worked tirelessly for two hours to retrieve it, left me humbled and grateful. This incident was a testament to the sense of community and helpfulness of strangers that defines life in these tranquil regions.
I witnessed a magical sunset at the crown jewel of Khajjiar, often referred to as the “Mini Switzerland of India,” at the Khajjiar Ground. This meadow was a canvas of natural beauty, surrounded by dense forests and framed by the majestic Dhauladhar ranges. As I walked on the lush green grass and soaked in the serenity, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of connection with the Earth.
Khajjiar offers various adventure activities such as ziplining, paragliding, and horse riding. These activities allow visitors to engage with the pristine landscapes in unique ways. Since I was short on time, I couldn’t engage in any of those.
As the night pulled a curtain on a glorious day, I made my way to my hotel. And, to make my stay even more special, Fortune Park Khajjiar organised a special candlelight dinner. As the stars glittered in the night sky and the soft glow of candles illuminated the surroundings, I felt a sense of enchantment that words could hardly capture.
DAY 5 – HOMEWARD BOUND
After seven days of immersing myself in the beauty of Himachal Pradesh, it was time to bid farewell. With a heart full of cherished memories, I embarked on the journey back to Delhi. The distance between Khajjiar and Amritsar Airport is approximately 227 km, and it took me almost 5.5 hours to reach the airport. The time to cover this distance varies based on traffic conditions and your chosen route. My route took me through Pathankot, each turn revealing yet another glimpse of the region’s natural splendour. As the mountains receded in my rear-view mirror, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of gratitude for the experiences I had enjoyed and the beauty I had witnessed.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR EXPLORING DALHOUSIE AND KHAJJIAR
As you plan your adventure to these enchanting destinations, here are some practical tips to help you make the most of your journey:
How Many Days Are Enough in Dalhousie and Khajjiar?
To fully immerse yourself in the beauty and experiences that Dalhousie and Khajjiar offer, I recommend dedicating at least 2-3 days to each destination, thus spending 4-5 days in both the places. This will allow you to explore the main attractions, savour the local culture, and engage in adventure activities.
What is the best Time to Visit Dalhousie and Khajjiar?
The ideal time to visit Dalhousie and Khajjiar is during the spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) seasons. The weather during these months is pleasant, perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing. The monsoon season (July to September) offers a unique charm with lush green landscapes. However, both destinations have unique charms during all seasons, so the best time to visit ultimately depends on your preferences.
How do you reach Dalhousie and Khajjiar?
Dalhousie and Khajjiar are well-connected by road, and reaching these destinations by private car or public transport is convenient. The nearest airports are Gaggal Airport (Dharamshala) and Amritsar. Pathankot railway station offers easy access, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free journey.
Where to stay in Dalhousie and Khajjiar?
While there are no five-star hotels, Fortune Park Dalhousie and Fortune Park Khajjiar offer luxurious stays with stunning views. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak tourist seasons. However, if you are tight on budget, you can find many cheap hotels in Dalhousie and Khajjiar as low as one thousand rupees.
Must-Visit Places and Activities in Dalhousie and Khajjiar
While I’ve shared my personal experiences, be sure to explore other attractions. In addition to the places I mentioned, consider visiting Kailash, engaging in treks that allow you to immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes, and discovering local handicrafts and flavours that reflect the region’s rich culture.
What are the most popular things to do in Dalhousie with children?
Families with kids can go to Gandhi Chowk, Chamera Lake, Panchpula, Dainkund Peak, and Khajjiar Grounds, among other places.
What are the best places to visit in Dalhousie for couples?
Dalhousie is a honeymoon destination, and you’ll spot many newly married couples roaming in Dalhousie. The best places in Dalhousie for couples are Chamera Lake, Panchpula, Dainkund Peak, Mall Road, Satdhara Falls, and Khajjiar Grounds, among other sites.
Itinerary for exploring Dalhousie and Khajjiar in 4 to 5 Days
Day 1: Arrive in Dalhousie. Visit Gandhi Chowk or go for a walk amongst the trees.
Day 2 – Visit Chamera Lake and Panchpula; if you start early, you can also cover Chamba.
Day 3 – Hike to Pallohni Mata temple from Diankund, visit Kala Top Wildlife sanctuary
Day 4 – Visit Jot Pass, Shiva Statue and Khajjiar Grounds
Day 5 – Return home
Many people come to Dalhousie from Punjab and Himachal just for the weekend. So, when they are looking for places to visit in Dalhousie in 1 day or 2 days, I always recommend they sit back and enjoy the Pir Panjal Valley view from their balcony.
What local Cuisine you must-try in Dalhousie and Khajjiar?
Take advantage of the opportunity to savour Himachali Cuisine. Try dishes like Dham, Chana Madra, and Babru.
What clothes to pack for Dalhousie and Khajjiar?
The weather in Himachal can be unpredictable, so pack layers and be prepared for rain during the monsoon season.
What is the Local Culture of Dalhousie and Khajjiar?
Respect the local culture and traditions, especially when visiting temples and religious sites.
What Adventure Activities can you do in Dalhousie and Khajjiar in 4 days?
If you’re an adventure enthusiast, consider trying activities like paragliding and ziplining in Khajjiar.
Is Hiking good in Chamba?
Both Dalhousie and Khajjiar offer excellent hiking opportunities. Ensure you have the proper footwear and carry essentials like water and snacks.
Tentative Budget for Exploring Dalhousie and Khajjiar in 4 Days
Accommodation – 1,500 INR to 22,000 INR, depending on your budget
Transportation – 3000 INR for a full-day taxi hire
Food – 500 INR -2000 INR, depending on where you eat.
Activities – Free to 1000 INR per person
For a couple, a tentative budget of 50,000 INR should be sufficient to cover accommodation, meals, transportation, and activities. However, remember that prices may vary based on your preferences and choices.
Conclusion – Is it worth visiting Dalhousie and Khajjiar in 4 days?
Of course! My journey of exploring Dalhousie and Khajjiar in 4 days was a symphony of natural beauty, heartfelt hospitality, and unforgettable experiences. From the luxurious comfort of Fortune Park Dalhousie to the panoramic views of Fortune Park Khajjiar, each moment was a testament to Himachal Pradesh’s magic. As you plan your adventure to these destinations, I encourage you to embrace every opportunity to connect with nature, immerse yourself in the local culture, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re seeking serenity, adventure, or a perfect blend of both, Dalhousie and Khajjiar are destinations that will capture your heart and leave you yearning for more.