Dalhousie – how we made the most before the onward journey

Morning view of Dalhousie

Morning view of Dalhousie

The morning of 28th September 2015 was sunny. At Subhash chowk (known as Charring Cross during the British era), just opposite to our hotel there was St. Francis’ church. After climbing up the small ascent, there was a miniature statue of Lord Jesus on the left side. The statue was safeguarded inside a wire mesh structure. The church just stood behind, surrounded by tall and dense trees. It was an old Catholic church built in 1894 exhibiting elegance of Victorian architecture. This church is a look alike of a church of England. Construction of the church was financed by people posted there during that time and local inhabitants. That is why its door remains open for all.

St. Francis' church

St. Francis’ church

Then we moved to St.John’s church, situated at GPO mall. This Protestant church is more than 161 years old. Built in the year 1854, same year when Dalhousie came into being. It is rather a smaller one surrounded by a lush green lawn. Tranquillity of the church often gets disturbed because of its position. GPO mall is a busy cross point of the town, where vehicles blow horn every now and then.

St. John’s Church

St. John’s Church

Before 1863, there was an older structure made of wood. It was Rev John H.Pratt who was instrumental to making the stone structure. The church was named after his name as St.John’s church. Though it is a Protestant church, but it is replica of a Roman Catholic one. Is not it surprising?

After visiting the churches of Dalhousie, we moved outbound. Our next destination was Dayan Kund (or Dian Kund) at approx. 2755 metres. This is my favourite place. When I visited this area in 2012 for the first time, I fell into love for its atmosphere and surroundings. Air is very pure here with the typical Himalayan fragrance. Tourists in huge numbers visit this place. Many of them finish the trek midway, though a lot of youngsters make it to the topmost point. Speciality is the 180 degree unique front view of the entire range of snow-capped mountains one can see from the top. The rear view of balance 180 degree of the nearby hills is also beautiful.

Serpentile hilly way, view from midway of Dhyan Kund

Serpentile hilly way, view from midway of Dayan Kund

After parking our vehicle, we proceeded towards the top. Slowly the narrow cemented path with intermittent stairs went above. One can have a view of the hill placed to the right, which is under control of air force. On way, we noticed small flowers smiling and dancing in bright sunlight, which grew up here and there naturally along the slope of the mountain. A lot of butterflies were flying encircling the area. They were so fearless that presence of tourists did not pose any threat to their joyful movement. If you maintain silence, you can hear musical sound created by breeze coming from the snow-capped peaks passing through adjacent trees. That’s why this hill is also named as the singing hill.

The Air Force area, as seen from Dyan Kund

The Air Force area, as seen from Dayan Kund

An open-winged fearless butterfly

An open-winged fearless butterfly

Snow-capped series of Himalayan peaks, view from Dyan Kund

Snow-capped series of Himalayan peaks, view from Dayan Kund

Gradually we reached the top. It was a marvellous place. From there we had a grand view of the Himalayan range, but there was obstructioncreated bytall deodar trees.Though it was a bright day, but we noticed slow movement of clouds towards the peaks placed far away. That posed a threat for photography. We took some snaps very fast and proceeded further ahead. There was temple of Pohlani mataji some distance away. The way was narrow and risky. The vertical surface of the hill was on our right but the left side was open, from where ground zero was not visible.

Another majestic view of the great Himalayan peaks

Another majestic view of the great Himalayan peaks

We reached the next hill, on which the temple of Pohlani mataji was there. The surface was flat, on which the red coloured simple structured temple was constructed. Its simplicity and absence of extravagance charmed us. We offered a small puja with the help of panditji present there. On the top of the next hill there was an idol of goddess Kali mataji. Here and there, many tridents were fixed. It is believed that the place of worship is 800 years old. Once goddess Kali mata descended on the hilltop to slay many a demon that used to reign the place and kill the villagers. By killing the demons she saved the villagers and restored peace.

Selfie before the Pohlani Mataji temple

Selfie before the Pohlani Mataji temple

We noticed that construction of a small building was under progress adjacent to the temple.On being asked we came to know that once completed, it will help the pilgrims to stay there in case of an emergency. Readers, for getting more information or if you want to suggest anything, you can contact the temple committee at 09418992253, 09418883130 or 09459907461. I have not tried these numbers yet.

The idol of Kali mata ji on a nearby hill top

The idol of Kali mata ji on a nearby hill top

Climbing the hill, on which idol of goddess Kali mataji was there, was prohibited. So, we started to trek another adjacent hill. Trekking that hill took just 5 minutes. From top of this hill the view of the Himalayas was much more spectacular, as it was free from trees or any kind of obstruction. The surface of the top was very wide, more or less flat and covered with green grass. So we had the opportunity to roam around there, which is normally uncommon for any hill top. I took many photos and video of the Himalayan range and the surrounding. Many snow covered peaks were placed by God one by one. What an arrangement it was. The Mani Mahesh stood tall amongst them. I was happy because it was still a bright sunny day with no sign of cloud above our head, though there was bit of cloud above the peaks. We stayed there for some 20 minutes and then climbed down. The descending journey was difficult as the slope was nearly vertical, which we did not feel while climbing up.

A panoramic view from top of the hill adjacent to Pohlani mata temple, keeping Swaraj and his parents in the foreground

A panoramic view from top of the hill adjacent to Pohlani mata temple, keeping Swaraj and his parents in the foreground

Just beside the temple, there was a small shop offering packed snacks and hot tea / coffee. We sat there and had some hot beverages and biscuits. An Assamese family coming from Dibrugarh was also there taking snacks. We gossiped for a few moments and started the downward journey towards our vehicle parked far below.

Khajjier, the Switzerland of India

Khajjiar, the Switzerland of India

Our next point was Khajjiar, which was less than 25 km from Dalhowsie. There was a particular point in between Dalhousie and Khajjiar from where Mt. Kailash was seen. Khajjier appeared to me like a mini Kashmir valley. A huge beautiful lush green area encircled from three sides by series of Deodar trees arranged in different slopes. The fourth side is the entry point cum parking area by side of the road. Situated at around 1960 metres from mean sea level, it has a perimeter of about 5 km. the place is so majestic that it is also called Switzerland of India. There was a pond at the centre, beside which there were colourful sheds, where tourists can sit and enjoy the atmosphere. Many recreational facilities have been added to make the spot more attractive. At the entry point, there was a kid’s corner with child gaming facility. At the other extreme of the field, there was Zorb ball facility for the brave hearts. Para gliding arrangement was also there, but very few takers were noticed. Like other popular tourist spots, here also a lot of hawkers were roaming around with fake Shilajit and other goods. And for the religious minded people, there was an ancient temple nearby dedicated to Khajji nag, where wooden images of Pandavas were there.

Another view of Khajjiar

Another view of Khajjiar

We enjoyed beauty of the place,then we started our journey again. Next we reached the Jagdamba mata temple, where a very high Shiva idol stood tall. It is just 1 km from Khajjier and 4 km from DyanKund. This statue was built in about 2006 by artist of Rajasthan and completed in 2008. This is the highest Shiva statue in Himachal which is 81 foot in height, polished with the bronze solution. In the backdrop, there is serene beauty of the Dhauladhar range. Opposite to the Shiva idol, temple of Jagdamba mataji is situated at 1st floor height. The stairs reached to the temple floor from outside. Apart from mata Jagdamba, idols of other Gods were also there. I saw all these places in 2012, but one can always make repeat trips.

The 81 feet tall idol of Lord Shiva near Khajjiar

The 81 feet tall idol of Lord Shiva near Khajjiar

Then we started a very long drive to Chambi, lying on NH-20 (Pathankot road). The route was Khajjier to Jot to Lahru to Nurpur to Trilokpur. The journey through the mountainous road was a bit strenuous. In the afternoon, we stopped at Jot, which was at 8600 feet. It was very small town, rather a village we can say. But atmosphere was excellent. A deep blue sky with glittering sun always make me happy. So did Jot. We took delayed lunch over there, which was freshly prepared in front of us. After 30 minute’s lunch break we started our journey again.

A local hotel cum restaurant at Jot, at 8600 feet altitude

A local hotel cum restaurant at Jot, at 8600 feet altitude

By late evening, after 8 pm we reached Trilokinath cave temple, situated at Trilokpur, Tehsil Jwala, Dist.Kangra. Beside river Beas, downward stairs reached to the cave temple. Photography was not permitted inside the cave. It was already dark, so I could not capture any photo from outside even. Many shops were adjacent to this religious place. Inside the cave, stalagmite Shiva linga was formed. On the upward ridge of the cave, there were ruins of a supposedly palace. According to local belief, the cave temple was once adorned with gold, where Shiva used to meditate. Once a shepherd tried to steal gold from the cave, when Shiva transformed all the gold into stone. Apart from the main Shiva linga, several linga type and conical shaped stalagmite and stalactite formations were seen on the floor and roof, everywhere. It was a treat to see the place. Had our chauffeur cum guide Deepak not been insisting and soliciting us to visit the cave, we would have missed this ancient place of worship. Apart from popular temples, where devotees throng in huge numbers, there must be many less visited places of religious importance like this one in India, which people normally do not accommodate in their tour plan. Our country in a great one indeed offering so many diversities and varieties. We are lucky to have taken birth here and we must not ignore to cover all such places to realise unity in diversity.

Hotel Gopal and Restaurant at Chambi, NH-20, where we put up

Hotel Gopal and Restaurant at Chambi, NH-20, where we put up

After visiting Trilokinath cave temple, we checked into Hotel Gopal and Restaurant, situated nearby at Pathankot Road, Chambi. This is new hotel came up beside national highway. Apart from being spacious, its cleanliness and energetic response of the staff pleased us. After the hectic tour undertaken by us throughout the day, we decided to put up here for getting ready for another hectic tomorrow.

11 Comments

  • Uday Baxi says:

    Dear Santanu
    A very good article. So many experiences in a single day. You must have enjoyed the most as it might have given you an opportunity to take beautiful pictures and walk in the clean and fresh air.

    Thanks for sharing.. Waiting for your next post.

    Regards

  • SANTANU says:

    Dear Uday,
    Once again thanks for your nice comments. Our trip was all along hectic (I like to have hectic trips), but was enjoyable at the same time. Next part of the current series of the travelogue is in the pipeline. Thanks for your continuous support.
    Santanu

  • Nice post Santanu ji. Pictures of Dalhousie and Khajjair with Himalaya in the background are just awesome. Keep traveling keep writing.

    • SANTANU says:

      Dear Naresh ji,
      Thanks for your comments and inspiration. I am also looking forward for your next travelogue.
      Regards
      Santanu

  • Vijay Bisnauthsing says:

    I like travelling and coming from a small Island, I have planned several Yatras with a group of friends and relatives. We visit India every year once. We have visited the 12 Jyotir Lingum mandir/places, 4 Dhams, we have even been to Muktinath in Nepal. This year we are planning to visit Sri Lanka, the Ramyan trail, then continue to Assam, Guwahati, Kolkatta, Varanasi (we go every year as we have our own Kool devi Mandir there), Delhi, Kanchi… any tip, idea will be welcome as you have an expertise in that subject. Keep up your good work and I love reading and getting ideas. Vijay

  • SANTANU says:

    Dear Vijay ji,

    Thanks for your complements. I appreciate your proposed endeavour to cover so many places in your future trip.

    In Assam, please cover Kamakhya temple, Kajiranga National Park, and Manas National Park at least. (Please surf http://assamtourism.gov.in/)

    In Kolkata, take the city trip organised by West Bengal tourism on daily basis. Apart from the famous Kalighat temple and Dakshineswar temple, there are many heritage buildings which can attract you. Take out 2 days time (to & fro) from your schedule to go to Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Shantiniketan. Visit to Mayapur (ISCON establishment) from Kolkata will take only 1 day (to & fro).

    From Ghumakkar.com you can collect many feedback which may help you devise your itinerary.

    Regards
    Santanu

  • Vijay Bisnauthsing says:

    Santanu,
    Thanks for your suggestions.
    I will ask my tourist agent to include those into our itinerary.
    We displace from place to place by air flights and most of the time we stay in 3/4 stars hotels.
    We were in Kolkatta last March 2015, and we stayed there for 3 nights. We did visit Kalighat – famous mandir where touts surrounds you, and Pandas ask for more money, as paisa he malik there. We visited also Shri Rama Krishna ASHRAM and it so happened it was Swamiji’s birthday celebration that day. Howrah bridge was a must and we also visited the Victoria Memorial and its huge garden. We stayed at Peerless Inn, thus shopping for the group was easy.
    By the way, we are all from Mauritius.
    Thanks again.
    Blessings
    Vijay

  • Ramta Jogi says:

    Nice blog..
    2nd pic of Khajiar is picture perfect.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Dear Santanu,

    When I read ‘Charing Cross’, it reminded of the tube station in London. In 1998, I got an opportunity to visit London and I was instructed to catch a train and get down at Charring Cross. It was my first tube ride (or in any metro/sub kind of setup) so the memory is still fresh. After reading ‘Charing Cross’, I looked it up on internet and learnt that

    “…….The name of the area, Charing, is derived from the Old English word “cierring”, referring to a bend in the River Thames……” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charing_Cross)

    I visited Dalhousie in 2003 and I do not think anyone told us about the Dian Kund. The place looks heavenly and your apt photos have done full justice to it. Thank you.

    Its quite a long ride you took.

  • SANTANU says:

    Thank you Nandan for sharing your experiences with us. Its always nice to have your valuable comments.
    Regards.

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