Table of contents for Himachal Yatra2012
Kangra accomplished, and then we proceeded towards Palampur, famous for its scenic beauty and tea gardens. Passing by YOL military camp we crossed Chamunda Devi temple. We have visited this temple many times and given the tight schedule that we had for further journey, it was decided to by-pass this temple. Perhaps next time I would visit here again and give you a log about this mysterious temple.
We folded our hands from above to Chamunda and proceeded towards Palampur.
Chamunda Temple used to have some magnificent views of Dhaula Dhar Range. Dhauladhar means the white peaks. This is the only snow line in India, which is easily accessible and is seen from 100Kms. Travelling from Chintapurni till Joginder Nagar this range is clearly visible giving a beautiful look to the scene.
Snowline is the mark from where above, snow remains unmelted even during summers. Normally snowline starts from 4000 meters. I had seen Dhauladhar range in peak summer months of June and everytime I was baffled by its unparalleled beauty. But for the first time Dhauladhar disappointed us. There were barren peaks without any trace of snow. It seems the global warming has already killed Dhauladhar’s beauty.
I can confirm that till 2009, Dhauladhar was full of snow even in the summer months. in 2009 when Niraj visited Palampur he had taken the foto of Dhauladhar where snow has covered all the peaks of Dhauladhar and the snow line is clearly visible.
With heavy heart on Dhauladhar’s plight, we proceeded further. Passing military camps we were fast reaching Palampur.
A few Kilometers before Palampur, we crossed the (in)famous Neugal Nalah, which is very violent in monsoon and creates havoc in the area but now in the month of November it was peaceful, almost dry and looking innocent.
Soon after crossing the Neugal Nalah, we were welcomed by the famous tea gardens of Palampur. It was second time I was watching the tea gardens and this time too they were as magnificent as earlier.
In a small town of Gopalpur, we stopped by Zen Tea Estate, the biggest in the area. The estate was owned by British till 1940 and the plantation is perhaps that old.
Dr.Jameson started the first tea plantation here and soon the small town of Palampur became famous for its tea gardens. The Camellia tea, planted by the British in 1849, grew so popular that tea from Kangra won a gold medal at an exhibition in London in 1886 for its superb flavour and quality.
Currently, with only a total of 1,000 hectares under tea cultivation, the state produces 850,000 kg of tea per year. The government plans to increase production to a minimum of 2.5 million kilograms in the next few years.
As is expected from our better -half(s), they soon found a shop nearby selling tea and other herbal products. While I sat sipping the hot cup of tea, the fairer sexes were allured by the expert shopkeeper into buying many sorts of herbal tea, achars, chutneys and what not and our car was heavier by some kilograms.
We entered Palampur main and checked about nearby Neugal cafe. The route from Palampur to Neugal Cafe is around 3 Kms with tea gardens on the sides of the road.
Soon we reached the Neugal Cafe… I was visiting here after 1992. This cafe is run by HPTDC and has a beautiful ambiance, with snow laden Dhauladhar (alas that is gone), a small stream of fresh water flowing through the garden of the cafe. We roamed around and then started our journey towards Neugal Khad.
Driving our car about 2 Kms down hill we reached the famous picnic spot of Palampur, Neugal Khad. Here the river opens up in a big valley and we have a beautiful bridge made for people to cross over to the other side of the Khad.
Neugal Khad is a famous picnic spot and a nest for the love birds. The scene around is very beautiful… perhaps when Dhauladhar have enough snow on the peaks, it may look like mini heaven.
There is Saurabh Van Vihar in the area where we can enter by paying a nominal amount. This park has been named after a brave soldier of Indian army, Capt Saurabh Kalia who hailed from Palampur. The van vihar is spread in 35 acres and houses a beautiful lake full with water birds.
I had read somewhere that Neugal has a great water fall from where the rivers falls from Dhauladhar. I was told that the water fall is magnificent and a must see…we tried to find the waterfall but in vain. We tried to check with locals, but no one knew the way. Then we stopped a taximan and asked him. He pointed towards a distant peak saying we have to go there first few kilometers by car and then trekking to see the Neugal falls. since I was accompanied by heavy companions, no one agreed to my idea of going there…. so it was left for our next journey with other friends.
We came back to Palampur and had some refreshment there and enjoyed the beauty of this little town.
Palampur is a small beautiful city with a background of Dhauladhar. Most of the people in Palampur are rich and friendly. Palampur is also famous as a base for para-gliding at Bir-Billang which has come on the international map due to its annual hang gliding competitions.
Capt Vikram Batra, who was awarded Param Vir Chakra for valour during the Kargil War, hailed from a village near Palampur.
Movies like 1920 and parts of Aamir Khan-starrer Raja Hindustani were shot in Palampur.
Palampur is the only hill station in India where deodar trees grow even at altitudes of over 4000 feet.
We bade farewell to Palampur and started our onwards journey towards Baijnath. I have come on this road many times but for one reason or the other, always missed this magnificent piece of ancient Indian art. I was very excited that at least this time I would be able to see the beauty of this old temple.
We crossed Palampur and after an enjoying journey of 16 Kms from Palampur, we reached BaijNath, the village also named after the temple.
In next post I will show you around the Baijnath temple …. till then Jai Bholey Nath