In the Lap of the Apple Heartland – Narkanda (HP)

Bugged by the exasperating workload, we headed off to Shimla this weekend, to find solace, but only to bump into the whole of Delhi crowd blaring horns in its characteristic fashion. So we bid farewell to the chaotic place, flipping through a local guide book and zipping away on the twisted road, we reached the surprisingly isolated Narkanda (2700 mts), 67 kms from Shimla, which proved to be an ultimate holiday destination. Also, along with Thanedar and Kotgarh, Narkanda forms the apple heartland of Himachal. Thank God for the relative bliss. The place was a welcome delight. After the wacky journey there was peace.

Narkanda - on way to Hatu (3300 mts)

The most prominent edifice of Narkanda is the Hatu temple. Hatu is famous for its ski slopes. At a commanding position of 3300 mts, it offers a spectacular view of the glorious snow capped Northern Himalayan peaks that would tempt shutterbugs across the globe. We drove past small hotels and guesthouses (at a rental of Rs 400-500 per night, they are a bargain), and followed the greenly carpeted road up from the crossroads to the Hatu peak. We refused breakfast at Narkanda, though regretted moments later for there was no provision of nothing remotely edible on the way to the summit.

d frost on way

The steep grilling terrain to Hatu is out of the ordinary. It meanders through a rich conifer forest which includes blue pine, deodar, fir and spruce. As we gained height, the road grew narrower and dangerously inclined. Considering the potential problems such as a frosty road or busted tires, we stopped killing the engine and hoping to grab some adventure, began our 4 km trek from Gujjar Kotha en route. Unlike a sole-destroying trek, it was energizing and soothing at the same time. Stopping by woods to catch some breath, capturing images of the majestically painted mountain range, exploring intoxicating blend of the unusual vegetation around, within 2 hours we reached the snow-crowned ridge. The picture-perfect scenery of the icy wide arc across the northern horizon and the valleys of Rohru and Theog on the south east were captivating. Since the location was quite high, the temperature dropped tremendously. We hurriedly stuffed our bellies at a tea stall and followed it up with a visit to the Hatu temple to pay obeisance to the native God. At a walking distance of merely 30 minutes to the south-east of the temple, we got to Jor Bagh, an ideal campsite. Abruptly, the sun broke down into dark clouds, but fortunately they excused us. May be they hinted us to evacuate and consequently vanished in a nanosecond.

Gujjar Kotha

It felt surreal as we leisurely walked along the lake at Gujjar Kotha. The pleasantness around the picturesque lake tranquilizes the body and soul. It, too, offers a peculiar site for camping. The nasty frozen lake persuades a man of fifty to rewind forty years and let go of the adult in him. There was no choice but surrender to the irresistible location and pitch our tent. As night descended on the valley, I laid full length upon the ground in the shadows of the bright moonlight, contemplating the remarkable day I spent in the splendid Himalayas. For the one time in my entire life, I wanted this serene darkness to last forever….

21 Comments

  • Mahesh semwal says:

    Dear Privanka,

    Wow Pictures are awesome. When did you visited this place ? looking for some more details regarding Hotels , restaurants , route (condition of roads) , etc.

  • Anandarup nandi says:

    Wow Priyanka! You left me longing for more. The quality of write-up is excellent. But why did you rush through with it? This piece has all the promise of a great travelogue. Please cook it a bit more for the sake of the readers. I’ll be eagerly waiting for a more detailed version.

    And, excellent pics :)

  • nandanjha says:

    Welcome aboard Priyanka.

    It finished too soon :-). Brilliant expression, looking fwd to read more from your previous travels.

  • Amrita says:

    Very nice, longing to be there. Wish I had been there too. The pictures too are marvellous, seems original like viewing them ourselves.
    Keep it up

  • priyanka says:

    Glad to c ur comments.. dy r always a welcome.. thnx for d appreciation guys.. hd to cut down on words cuz it was to b published in a local nwsppr..

    Wel.. with reference to the road conditions.. Bumpy.. ur driving skills are surely tested as u approach kufri (merely a 30 min drive 4m shimla)…. prty rough terrain bt gud to go al year round..

    Lodging fairly decent rentals, accommodation wud not b a problm sinc hotels r located on the highway.. HPTDC hotel is a convenient choice thou…. Camping is ideal any givn day…. ? :)

    Best time to visit Anytime n every time u to get to hit the road!! Grab d opportunity.. but I luv d snow (also for spectacular crystal clear views it offers then) so I wud say.. novmbr-feb.. Narkanda receivd seasons frst snowfall last month.. ? :)

  • priyanka says:

    oopsy!! ..*u get to hit d road*… pardon me for d goof up.. :)

  • priyanka says:

    @ Mahesh.. Narkanda is located on NH21.. a very secluded road takes u to Hatu.. steep terrain so choose ur vehicle wisely.. :)
    i ve bin there lyk some zillion tymz of now.. :) lately..planning to go this weekend.. yet again!! :) shimla is not half as good..

  • priyanka says:

    err..NH 22 *

  • Deepak says:

    Hi ,

    Nice pics…..

    so which vehicle you choose…was it an 4×4…
    or a simple “apni Gaadi”…

    • priyanka says:

      a Santro… :)
      but it caused a lot of trouble climbing uphill and had to park half way up….. a 4×4 wud b ideal i suggest…. d road to Hatu is one of d most dangerous roads to hit on.. for.. A) a narrow dangerously inclined road…. B) d blind curves…. C) d frost during winters… but al dis makes it d most fascinating drive… :)

  • travel deals says:

    why do we travel? Or like the song goes “does anybody know what we are looking for”?? Why do we consider travel a basic desire nowadays? I especially like how George Santayana puts it in The Philosophy of Travel: “We need sometimes to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what.” Do we travel to lose ourselves or to find ourselves? In order to find the WHERE, WHEN or HOW to travel, we need to rediscover the pure pleasure of travels and the meaning of our own inner journey and rediscovery.

  • JATIN ARORA says:

    hi priyanka ,

    A beautiful piece but could have been more elaborative. I was planning to go to shimla but after reading your travelogue I am planning to change my plans.

    So could you help me plan I out the trip

    I have decided to leave chandigarh on 18th afternoon at around 1o clock and drive down to chandigarh.
    You said itz around 66 kms from shimla so how much time does it take to reach there frm shimla.
    And u said abt camping did u get the equipment from there itself or u took it frm ur home.
    could u suggest some good place to hire these equipments and wht r the rentals like.
    and also some good place to put up if the camping plan doesn’t materialize.

    thnkz in advance.

    • priyanka says:

      heyy Jatin
      u must have visited Narkanda by now bt if u hvnt i recommend u plan out soon..
      well.. since um based in chandigarh, Narkanda is mostly a one day trip 4 me.. lyk i leav early mornin and um back by mid-night.. so lodging is smthing um not realy bothered abt.. so i rushd thru wd d accomodation details… i carried my own camping gear which i bought from delhi at a…much… cheaper’ price… thou u can hire these eqipmnts from d shimla mall.. Narkanda is around an hr & a hlf drive from shimla.. say 4 hrs and 30 min from Chd..
      do share ur experiences and snapshots wid fellow ghumakkars.. :)

      • Anant says:

        Hello Priyanka & all,

        I am seeing this article and comments approx a year later but hey better late than never ;)

        I found the info here very useful so thanks a lot. I just have a couple of days here in Chandigarh and it seems that is going to be snowing this week – so I am planning a day trip to Narkanda – primarily to check out its skiing potential. I am an avid skier , done a lot in Europe etc but do not have time to travel to Gulmarg/Kulu/Auli etc. so wondering if there is any advice on this wrt to skiing there and especially about guides and ski rental equipment in Shimla/Narkanda/Kufri.

        Thanks and have fun in the mountains!

  • manish khamesra says:

    Priyanka,

    Thanks for sharing information about this beuatiful place. And like everyone else I agree that your write-up is great and in the end it leaves readers asking for more.

  • jcjain says:

    Thanks for the beautiful pictures. Narkanda is No.2 on my list of most favourite destinations (after Sonamarg). Next time when you visit there perhaps you would like to stay at Gahan Forest rest House – about 18 Km from Narkanda amid most dense pine forest!

    • priyanka says:

      if u enjoyed dis article and r planning a trip to Narkanda, my recent visit to d place was even better… i explored a new road to rampur (beyond Narkanda)… :)
      will post my experience soon.. :)

  • aman says:

    keep us posted with your travelogues.

  • smitadhall says:

    Great last picture – straight out of a coffee-table book. and a great last line. looking forward to read more of your travels. Thanks.

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