Himalayan Adventure: A Trip to Kalsi

Jittery and belligerent from its Himalayan adventure, the Yamuna bursts out of the hills in the Jaunsar-Bawar region in the Doon Valley, to traverse its course across the vast Indian plains. As a person who’s been observing Yamuna for more than 12 years in Delhi, it was a surprising and strange experience for me. The infantile, sparkling, enchanting stream of the Yamuna at Kalsi is a far cry from the morose, shrunken awful sight you come across in Delhi or Agra.

Taken from the Car as it was about to reach Kalsi

Misty Morning on way to Kalsi

Before Sunrise Kalsi Adventure

Seven folds of verdant hills, misty and hazy headed high above the emerald green quilted banks unfolds by your side in vast expanse. A view to thrill indeed…and you won’t believe you could be living a dream; a dream and myth that used to be Yamuna in our mythologies. But sitting on those banks with a bamboo bridge to cross the dazzling waters of something as pure as only myth could have described them is an experience to be relished and cherished.

Bridges of Pastoral County Cascading Yamuna River at Kalsi

Lush fields nestled amidst the mountains in Kalsi

Lingering and meandering as far as your sight stretches out below, a limited throng of rooftops punctuates the verdant landscape. A red-bricked dome structure catches the attention, some child playing and an old lady trying to dry up her hair – it’s a cool January out here – but the roar of the river diverts you as it gurgles and foams its way into the panoramic horizon.

Football Team of local children playing on the banks of Yamuna A most charming football ground in Kalsi

Up in the air a budding Lionel Messi savoring his golden strike at Kalsi

Children in Sun Kalsi Afternoon

Greenery reaches out in interruptions and the snowy – a metaphor really :-) – crowds the steep slow of the Yamuna; to the canal-lined road before leaping the periphery in an even trickle of circumventing lawns, flowering beds and graceful trees –which mind you is the fodder both for the inhabitants and their livestock.

Flower in full bloom taken at Rock Addict of Ashoka precincts

Trails at kalsi

An underrated – and thankfully so – Kalsi snoozes on the bank of the meandering Yamuna a sight so ethereal you’d notice if only you – as am I – live in Delhi . Once an important township in the Jaunsar-Bawar region, Kalsi fell from its grace overtime into a quiet little village as the glory of Mauryan Empire dwindled. In earlier days it was as marked one of the furthest limits of the dominion of King Ashoka. Today this tiny sleepy hamlet by the Yamuna shoulders its historic ancestry with quiet ease.

Local Sheepherders in Kalsi

As we descended down the slope of the precincts of Ashoka’s Rock Addict, it was like we were travelling backwards in time. Leisurely sheepherder with his flock in the languid gentle sun crossed as way and the sight was reminiscent of the pastoral retreat as Shakespeare would have liked it (remember the drama As You Like it) The Maurayan king Ashoka 273 BC 232 BC got his 14 edicts engraved on this rock at Kalsi. It was been brought into light by John Forest in 1960 AD. Written in Prakrit language and Bramhi Script exhorts the leading principles of Buddhism, although worth notice is that there is no direct mention of the Buddha or his teaching as such.

Ashoka Rock Edict

The lone structure in red stands aloof ensconced in the lush meadows and well manicured gardens. The alluring part is there’s no din surrounding the place and you can spend some quiet moment here at this monument. Just listen to the melody of refreshing zephyr laden with unsullied fragrance of verdant surroundings and fresh Yamuna stream. Sitting here for a while is definitely worth it. This place also marks the northern boundary of the dominion of great Mauryan Empire ruled by Ashoka.

Meandering Yamuna River Azure waters as compared to the spoiled as in Delhi

Taken near Asan Barrage

Sunrise near Assan Barrage

Situated on the confluence of two perennial rivers Yamuna and Asan, Asan Barrage is an important wetland attracting a number of migratory birds while serving as a winter passage halt to trans-Himalayan migratory birds. An ethereal sight greeted us as soon as we arrived at Asan Barrage. A misty morning which soon dispersed as golden sunrise greeted us and the shimmering water sparkled as the morning ray dispersed from its surface. The lake with a fascinating view of the Shivalik forest range at the horizon makes its first appearance as one climb up the narrow road and come level with it.

It is said that around 57 species of birds gather at this wetland paradise in the course of each year. We too spotted a few – not much as we were to hurry to our main destination Kalsi. With the benefit of hindsight I’d add that one ought to do proper research before drawing the itinerary – as the facts which I now know where previously unknown to me – but then the joy of discovering destinations as it arrives during the course of an abrupt journey is what adds to the magic and remain etched to reappear as nostalgia. So all I’d say is what Robbie William had to say “no regrets, they don’t work”.

It was an experience which seldom repeats itself. It was abrupt and it was magical. There’s nothing more satisfying than a good jaunt and equally breathtaking pics. I am loving these unplanned sojourns of mine :-)

On the Assan Barrage

Bulbul spotted near Asan Barrage

Dazzling pure expanse of water at Asan Barrage with Shivalik Range forming panoramic Background

Facts:

District: Dehradun

Altitude: 620 Meters

Weather: Summer 17-30°C, Winter 5-22°C

Best Time: November – March

Must See: Asan Barrage, Ashoka Rock Edict

Distance from Delhi: 288 Kilometers

Journey Time from Delhi: 7-8 hours

Route from Delhi: NH1 to Pipli via Panipat and Karnal; state highway to Bata Pul via Ladwa, Radaur, Yamunanagar, Jagadhri, Chhachrauli and Khizrabad; NH72 to Herbertpur via Paonta Saheb and Asan Barrage; NH123 to Kalsi via Vikasnagar

P.S – I took this trip in January but came across this website a few weeks ago. I thought sharing my experience will be nice. Traveling is a new passion for me and so is photography while traveling. I hope you’d not mind my sharing :-)

9 Comments

  • Sahil says:

    Nikhil , Welcome to the team of Ghumakkars :)

    Beautiful narration supported with great pictures. I have been to Dehradun from Ponta Sahib Route but not been to Kalsi. Thanks for introducing this place.

    Sahil

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Hi Nikhil,

    Very well written post equally supported by awesome pictures.

    One of my favourate place in Dehradun is Assan Barrage, driving from city to Assan barrage is always a wonderful experience. Kids has own reasean of liking it , boating :-) . Ponta Sahib is approx. 5 kms from Assan Barrage , it is located in Himachal Pradesh. Apart from Gurdwara one can enjoy the bath in river , especially if some one is visiting in summer vacations.

    Being a localities (Uttranchali), its my suggestion that if you visiting Kalsi, please club Chakrata & Lakhan Mandal also. In Chakrata there is a one of the highest (360 mtrs.) Fall (tiger Fall ) of India. Lakhan Mandal is a historical monument.

    Keep Traveling , keep sharing.

  • JATDEVTA says:

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  • Vibha says:

    Hello Nikhil,

    Welcome to Ghumakkar! Thanks for taking us on this beautiful, picturesque journey to Kalsi. Some pictures are simply amazing. Especially the one titled ‘Up in the air…”

    Looking forward to many more stories from you.

    -Vibha

  • vinaymusafir says:

    Welcome to Ghumakkar Nikhil, very well narrated post imaged with great pics especially the ‘football team’ and ‘Up in the air a budding ‘.
    Next month, I am also planning to go Vikas Nagar for a camp there at the bank of river Yamuna.
    Keep journeying and sharing. Cheers!

  • Tarun Talwar says:

    Nikhil,

    This post marks your grand entry at Ghumakkar. Very well written with beautiful pictures that enhance the charm of this little hamlet.

    Keep Sharing!

  • Chandra81 says:

    @Sahil Thank you for your appreciation. I’d be glad if this post will make you plan a trip to Kalsi. That really will be an achievement :-) And thanks for being the first one to comment and like my narration – except for the editor who, I believe, should have liked my story telling :-)

    @Mahesh Thank you for liking my post. Next time when I plan to go there, I’ll keep your recommendation in mind. :-)

    @Jatdevta, Vinay and Tarun Thanks for going through my first post on Ghumakkar and taking time to respond. I really appreciate your attention. ANd thanks for the compliments. It feels good when fellow travelers, writers and photographers admire my work. I’ll definitely strive to exceed your expectation in my upcoming posts :-)

    @Vibha I’d have replied earlier but you see I was tangled up in typhoid blues – would have liked it better if it was just roadhouse blues. Thank you for taking all the effort that you took and guiding me through my first post on Ghumakkar. I’ll definitely try to keep up to your expectation.

  • Thanks for sharing my playground dude!
    Will write you more soon!

  • Vagish Anand says:

    I’m planning a trip to kalsi along with my family via road. Which is the best route to reach there. Doesn’t matter even if the route is a bit long but it should be smooth.

    What all places are nearby kalsi that I can visit. I’ll be coming by my own car so traveling is not a problem

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