Himachal Yatra – Palampur Tea Gardens

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 Devi Temple

Chamunda Devi Temple

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.

Barren Dhaula Dhar range without snow

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.

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Dhauladhar range with snow !
credit: http://neerajjaatji.blogspot.com/2009/04/1_16.html

With heavy heart on Dhauladhar’s plight, we proceeded further.  Passing military camps we were fast reaching Palampur.

A tank in Yol Military camp

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.

 

Neugal Khadd

 

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.

 

Palampur Tea Gardens

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.

Near Zen Tea estate

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.

Tea Gardens with dry Dhauladhar in background

 

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.

shopping at Tea estate

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.

Tea gardens on way to Neugal Cafe

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.

 

Neugal cafe

Neugal cafe

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 Khadd

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.

 

Neugal

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.

Saurabh Van vihar

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.

Beautiful Palampur

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.

 

Baijnath

In next post I will show you around the Baijnath temple …. till then Jai Bholey Nath

37 Comments

  • Nice post about Palampur area.
    Tea plantations in Himachal failed due to the low yield. Winters are harsh and summers are long and dry so the climate is not favorable for tea plantations. Although quality of tea is very high, or you can call it bitter red. This tea can only be blended in the tea of South India.

    Same thing with Darjeeling and Assam tea. Pure Darjeeling or Assam tea is bitter, very smelly and very red. It is blended 10-20% in teas from South India and that makes a decently flavored and colored tea.

    Not many people know that Kerala produces most of the tea in India, second is Tamilnadu.

    • SilentSoul says:

      Praveen Wadhwaji, thanks for your comments. You always surprise me with your knowledge about homeopathy and herbs. The information about tea is new to me and it has added to my knowledge.

      I request you to please continue writing… your posts are so engrossing that even without proper pictures they mean a lot.

      In my series Ghumakkri – Khatti meethi I did not have the fotos but that series came so superb that it became featured story for a month

  • Surinder Sharma says:

    Good Photos nice description. On Himachal Tourism website Accomodation at Chamunda has lowest tariff. It is nice place to stay. Thanks for sharing such wonderful post.

    • SilentSoul says:

      Sharmaji, the HPTDC in Chamunda is not only cheap but has the best view. We once stayed there and from the window we could see the vast valley and the temple.

      waiting for your next post

  • Amitava Chatterjee says:

    Sipping hot cup of Tea (at home) and looking at the beautiful tea gardens of Palampur, feeling like to go there right now…Himachal Pradesh is covered with snow at present…so, it would have been an ideal gateaway…

    Nice post with beautiful photographs…heard a lot about Dhauladhar range…will plan to make a trip sometime soon.

    • SilentSoul says:

      Tks amitava… why not go to Mcloadgung.. sit in a hotel and sip a cup of tea and view the snow clad Dhauladhar.. I have been to Mcloadgunj for at least 20 times and each time it stole my heart

      tks for your comments

  • vinaymusafir says:

    Jai Bhole Nath.
    Exciting to know about your next post on Baba Baijnath. Pls write soon.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    SS – To me this log was much more an engaging read and the flow of words as you moved from one place to another was very fluid. Thank you.

    The whole route is very scenic. We never stopped for Palampur and have driven through a couple of times. This was long back when we always wanted to reach the next stop faster :-). Not been to this side for a long time now. Should plan a visit with more leisure.

    Jai Bhole Nath.

    • SilentSoul says:

      Tks Nandan. Once we stayed in the house of former king of Bid-Billang and whole night could not sleep for fear of cheetah… perhaps in next Khatti meethi I will relate that hilarious incident

      • SilentSoul says:

        Nandan, I find from your comments that you have seen most of the places… but your travel stories are very limited here.

        We must benefit from your experiences and your travel stories to these places too. Hope to find some logs from you, besides your editorials

        • Nandan Jha says:

          Yes SS. Noted. The last non-editorial post was in April last year. Long time I must say. I am trying to pen my trip to Bundi during New Year. Lets see. Thanks for asking. :-)

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Thanks, SS, for showcasing the beauty of Palampur. Did not know that tea is grown in HP. Does it taste like the famous Darjeeling tea, which is grown in similar conditions?

    Sad that climate change has affected the snowline of the Dhauladhar range. Maybe that is the reason why the Neugal Khadd is almost dry. Maybe even the waterfall is also dry, who knows? The suspension bridge, adorned in the national colours, looks great, though.

    Nice to know that the memory of Capt. Kalia is being honoured by naming a park after him. I hope that there is a signboard somewhere within the park giving some information about this war hero. It is probable that in a couple of decades, few people will be able to recall who he was and might even say that the park was named after an Indian cricket captain!

    The Chamunda temple looks like it was built recently and its architecture is different too; it looked like a holiday resort at first glance. Hopefully, you shall be visiting it soon and telling us all about this shrine.

    • SilentSoul says:

      Thanks DL.. yes the climate change has been takings its toll and Dhauladhar is the first visible sign. when Delhi was reeling under 0.9 Temprature, we were having +10 degrees in Iceland.. unheard in last 100 years.

      Yes there is a signboard near the Van Vihar about Capt Saurabh Kalia, from where I got this information.

      Chamunda devi has also been commercialised. It is the most beautiful temple in Himachal, with a lake, and pure water rivulet. When we first visited there in 1977 there was nothing but a small temple with the stream of water… and now we see all Coke wala, chat wala, shops, hotels and what not. But still the spiritual vibrations of the temple are very high

  • SS jee

    Nice account . Very beautiful pictures. Though I have heard lot of posts of Himalayas now this was a new place for me. Dhaula dhar . Waiting for next that is Baijnath.

  • Vipin says:

    Lovely narrative of Palampur adorned with beautiful captures! Did you go inside Saurabh Van Vihar, is it worth paying a visit here? There is a Jakhni Mata Temple nearby Military Camp supposed to be providing wonderful views, we missed out on this while our walk in Palampur. Shall try to cover Van Vihar, Neugal Falls & Jakhni temple in next visit…

    • SilentSoul says:

      Yes vipin we went inside the garden for some time till the small lake. Jakhni Mata we did not go.. normally with family we go where the car goes… perhaps next time when we friends go together, we would go upto Neugal falls

      tks for your comments

  • Laxman Bhatia says:

    ??????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ?? ???? ??? ??? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?? ??? 25 ??? ???? ?? ?? ???? ?? ???? ??? ??? ?? ??????? ?? ????? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ?

    • SilentSoul says:

      yes that was a news for me too… i cant believe tea plants can live so long… I think Wadhwaji can throw some light on this

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    S.S. Ji….
    ???? ??????? ???? ????? ???? ?????? ?? ….?? ?????? ?? ???? ??????? ??????? ??? ?? ?? ??? ?? ???? ???? ???? ???? ??????? ??? ???-???? ??? ???? ???…..???? ???? ??? ?? ??? ?? ?????? ???? ?? ???? ?? ?????? ???…..| ??????? ??? ???? ???…?? ???? ??? ?? ??????? ?? ????????? ?? ???? ?? ??????, ??? ?? ?????, ??????? ????? ?? ???? ????? ????? ??? …..|
    ????? ???? ???? ??? ?? ???? ?????????? ??? ???? ?? ?? ??? ???? ?? ??? ??? ?? ???????? ?? ??? ?? ????? ?? ???? ?? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ??? ?? ?? ??? ?? ???? ???? ?? …| ??? ???? ????? ?? ????? ?? ???? ????? ?? ??? ????? ?? ?????????? ???…..
    ?? ???? ??? ?????? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ???? ??? ???? ??? ??? ????????? ?? ?????? ??? ?? ….
    ?? ??? ??????? ???? ??
    ???????….

    • SilentSoul says:

      ??????? ???????… ??? ??????? ????? ?? ?? ?? 10-12 ??? ?? ???? ???.. ?? ??? ???? ???? ?????? 2 ?? ??? ????? ??…

      ???? ???????? ??????? ????? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ???. :)

  • chicobello says:

    great to know about the tea history actually not much attention was paid to himachal tea and today its in sort of sorry state..there are only promises by the politician but nothing substancial ever happened…but i believe it is very costly as compared to other regular brands… the rural palampur was actually missing mean to say that the urban side of this beautiful town found more prominence in your narrative….if possible please show us the slated roof homes, natural water resources and yes the beautiful HRTC palampur bus depot it seems as if in the lap of dhauladhar….all your narrative have been highly informative with great description and beautiful pics..baijnath is deseparately awaited….

  • SilentSoul says:

    Tks Thakur ji, yes you are right that I did not highlight the rural himachal, which I also like too much… perhaps in another log I will cover the untouched things.

    This yatra was with family and on the highways only, so story is about easy and accessible places.

  • Stone says:

    Beautiful post sir;
    Second last photograph has set me dreaming about a home in such a beautiful city.

    Waiting for the next one.

    • SilentSoul says:

      Thanks Bhaskarji. I had been dreaming of this since 1977 but Himachal Govt does not allow non-himachalis to own a house even a hut in Himachal….. whereas himachalis can own house anywhere in India. Isn’t it against our fundamental rights ?? (Also now non-himachali cars can not go to Rohtang… you have to hire a local taxi for seeing Rohtang)…very sorry state of affairs in such a beautiful state..

      Now I have put my eyes on a few places in Uttrakhand where we (poor aliens) can own a small house on land lesser than 240 Sq.Mtrs….fingers crossed ! hope they do not follow Himachal Govt.soon..

      • Stone says:

        Really? And I thought that rule is limited to only J&K.
        That’s not fair.
        I hope Uttrakhand don’t follow them .

        • SilentSoul says:

          yes Bhaskarji… the only possibility in Himachal is purchase of ready built flats built by Govt/private builders…but these are only in big cities like shimla and Parvanoo and are very costly… in a concrete jungle.

          owning a piece of private land and build a dream house is not possible in JK and HP

        • Uttarakhand is already following it. The way I am told, unless you already own some piece of land in Uttarakhand, you cannot buy any land there and if you wish to sell your land, you must sell it to some local person only. I had a share in my ancestral house in Dehradun and I relinquished my rights in favour of my younger brother who still lives in Dehradun.

          Now coming back to the post, dear SS, although I have never tasted tea in my life, I would love to visit a tea garden – wherever I may find one – in Himachal, Assam, Darjeeling, Kerala or TN. I have seen many beautiful scenes in Hindi movies where the hero and heroin sing and dance in borrowed pahadi costumes but I have yet to see all of it with my own eyes.

          My father used to tell that in Dehradun, tea stalls used to be set up, way back in 1936 by Tea Market Expansion Board. This board had the responsibility to create market for tea in India itself. All the tea gardens were owned by Britishers and they wanted to sell their products locally also. A brahmin with overly visible thread (????) and dhoti and a long ???? used to be employed to make tea and at some ‘safe’ distance on another stall, a pure devout Muslim with long beard used to make tea for Muslim population. Gramophone records used to be played with religious / patriotic songs to attract people. A person used to preach the benefits of drinking tea and then free tree was served in earthen pots (??????) ! It used to be very difficult to convince people to accept tea in those days but gradually, people became fond of this habit forming stimulating drink.

          We pray to Almighty to bring back those snow-clad mountains. Amen!

          • SilentSoul says:

            Tks Sushantji for these comments. Yes my father used to tell me this that onDelhi station they offered free tea. Even till my Nani was alive, she used to take only when she was ill, as a medicine, but with full of milk and eating some butter later to neutralise the bad effects of tea …LOL

            As far as my knowledge goes, anyone can have a plot of one Nali (240 Gaz) for own living… and no outsider can own farmland in UK… I think Nandan would be best judge, as he is expert in land affairs in UK.

            I would like to own a Nali in UK for my post-retirement days…suggestions welcome

  • Gita AM says:

    Lovely post & pics, Silent Soul.

    ” Himachal Govt does not allow non-himachalis to own a house even a hut in Himachal.. whereas himachalis can own house anywhere in India. Isnt it against our fundamental rights ??” – Very valid point!

    We spent a couple of days in Palampur about a year ago, I had the best momos I have ever tasted in a tiny stall there. Would not mind going back for those momos alone!

    At that time, I did not connect the Saurabh of Saurabh Van with Saurabh Kalia whose killing was absolutely atrocious and unacceptable. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

    For all our HP trips, we have used the same driver who is from a small village near Baijnath. When I was about to buy some tea from those Palampur tea gardens, he stopped me from making the purchase and instead when we went to his home for lunch, his mother presented us with a huge sack of their home grown Kangra ‘desi chai’ – which just happened to be the longest leaf tea I have ever seen. Quality: superlative!

    Looking forward to your continued chapters.

    • SilentSoul says:

      Tks Gita ji for your lovely comment. Common Himachalis specially from rural areas are very friendly and welcoming.

      Hope you will continue reading and commenting this series…:)

  • Rakesh Bawa says:

    Dear Silent soul
    my first comment on your writeup and shall continue putting my bit of insights. I have been on this route many ties with my family members and your write up has just refrshed this mesmerising route. If you come from Dharamshala side towards Chamunda Devi, there comes on the right side, Tapovan and Siddhbari, famous for a Siva temple and yoga camps which foreigners attend. Agli baar zaroor jaiyega.

    • SilentSoul says:

      Rakesh Bawaji welcome and thanks for your kind comments.

      We have traveled on Chamunda -dharamshala route many times but do not recollect about these temples… grateful if you can tell the exact location so that I visit next time

      Tks for your time

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ SS, Sushant, Stone – As per my knowledge, a non-domicile person (like me and SS and Stone) can buy 1.25 Naali of land. Each Naali is about 2100 Sq Feet or close to 250 square yard (in Dilli speak).

    In hills, the land topology makes a sea of a difference of what you by, so request to pay special attention to it. These days a lot of ‘developers’ are making cottages with most of the modern urban facilities like power backup, security, gated community etc and are often a good alternative. Land prices in general is not prohibitive at most of the places but construction is. I would be glad to be your driving partner when you plan to look around for a place. :-) Insha Allah.

  • Kanika Agarwal says:

    @ SS

    Your description is certainly very beautiful covering every aspect, a traveler is always in search of. I would like to add that I stayed in Cafe Neugal with my family and the place hasn’t changed a bit since you last visited in 2013. The scenic beauty and the panoramic vistas around the place beholds one’s attention for hours and hours. Yes, you are right, the Dhauladhar range is no longer snow laden, unlike earlier, even in the months of May and June. However, the overall beauty of the place is second to none. The adjacent tea garden was magnificent and we enjoyed our moments of tranquility and peace which Cafe Neugal offered us with open arms. The Bajinath temple is a must-see spot, when in the area. Also, people who breed adventure within themselves, shall try their hands at paragliding at Bir-Billing.

  • SilentSoul says:

    Thanks Kanika Agarwal for your comments on this very old post :)

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