This relatively small, serene and immensely scenic hill station in Himachal Pradesh, is a haven for holidayers. The summer retreat of the British who once ruled the country still retains its appeal, with the well-preserved heritage structures based on period architecture strongly reminding visitors of the Colonial times. Grand mansions and classy buildings in Victorian and Scottish styles set against lush, calm, colourful and picturesque backdrops replete with vast meadows, snow-clad mountains mist-cloaked pine forests, waterfalls, sparkling rivulets and placid lakes are indeed a pleasure to behold and experience.
Blessed with natural terrain spanning across five hills of Bakrota, Bhangora, Kathalagh, Potreyn and Terah in the shadows of the Dhauladhar ranges, pleasant weather and period structures Dalhousie, also serves as a gateway to Chamba, a rich hub of Hindu culture dotted with a unique collection of ancient temples and art. Travellers are in for a visual treat at each and every destination they visit in Dalhousie – Daikund Peak, Panch Pulla, Satdhara Falls, Khajjiar Lake, and others. Adventure seekers will be delighted to explore paragliding, trekking, hiking, and river rafting opportunities here. Culture and heritage enthusiasts are bound to find the Bhuri Singh Museum, Rang Mahal in Chamba, as well as few ancient churches/temples quite impressive. The different local markets and malls will sure appease shopaholics looking for gifts and mementoes.
Nightlife is quite non-existent/limited in Dalhousie. Few luxury hotels and restaurants may serve beer, some of them have bars, but there are hardly any pubs around town.
Best Restruants and Foods
It may be difficult to find good restaurants close to touristy spots far from town, but there are quite of them located on the Garam Sadak and Thandi Sadak offering a decent choice of delectable food ranging from international (Italian, Chinese, Continental) cuisine to simple local breakfast and a hot cup of tea/coffee to go with it.
Multicuisine restaurants are aplenty. Upscale restaurants definitely include the plush Tiffins Restaurant that churns out a lavish fare comprising both Indian and international delicacies and the Kettle House, which promises a tasty array of culinary delights set amidst a unique ambience. The Mongas Cafe also offers a great mix of food and ambience where people can have a relaxed meal.
There are a host of restaurants that are pocket friendly as well, most notable of them being Cafe Dalhousie, Moti Mahal, Kwality Restaurant, Sher-e- Punjab Dhaba (Oldest one), and Napoli Restaurant. Costs for 2 people range anywhere between Rs.100 – Rs.200 at these restaurants. Non-veg bakes, grills, fries and roasts can relished at the Bon Appetit.
Some of these restaurants such as Cafe Dalhousie and Kwality Restaurant also serve South Indian food. Vegetarians are bound the relish the food at Manmahesh Rasoi, a pure vegetarian restaurant that primarily serves Indian dishes.
Delicious noodles at the CFC Eat and Treat, or pizzas and sandwiches at Sip N Bite often cater to hunger pangs of many a tourist on the move. The Amritsari and Lovely Restaurant also offer some lip-smacking and filling Indian dishes.
Each of these eateries of the best of food, ambience, and services for the prices charged. Do make sure to carry cash as many of the small restaurants and eateries do not accept card payments.
How to Reach
Dalhousie, though a popular tourist destination, does not have a local airport or railway station. It is however well-connected by road to the nearest rail head at Pathankot and the airport at Kangra.
By Air– Visitors can arrive at Delhi / Chandigarh and travel by air to the nearest airport at Gaggal (Kangra) located about 130 Km from Dalhousie. While the Pathankot domestic airport is much closer (75 Km) it is served only by Air India. Visitors can hire a cab/taxi or take a State transport bus to reach the hill station in about 3-5 hours.
By Rail– The nearest railway station at Pathankot, roughly 75 Km from Dalhousie is well connected by road. Travellers can alight at Pathankot and take a private taxi or bus from here. It is also possible to travel by shared-cabs.
By Road– Dalhousie is connected to other parts of the country by an extensive network of roads. It is quite possible to drive / take a bus even from the capital, Delhi. Road trips are typically long and ideal for those who enjoy long scenic drives.
Once here, Dalhousie is best explored on foot, but there are cabs available for hire, making the tour even more enjoyable.
Best Time to Visit
- Anytime of the year.
- Early summer is ideal to catch the thawing snow and enjoy the cooler temperatures; however summer months are relatively pleasant as well.
- Monsoon starting in July feeds the rivers and waterfalls and makes a pretty picture. Rainfall is never too heavy.
- Winter commencing in October is chilly with snowfall in December draping Dalhousie in a white blanket.
What you will like
- Pristine, idyllic town.
- Pleasant climate and scenic settings.
What you might not like
- Little recreation except for Golf/boating/long strolls.
- Children likely to get bored.
- Lack of public amenities (toilets, decent restaurants around tourist spots).
- Nature lovers.
- Travellers looking for a pleasant, relaxed holiday experience.
While 3 days may just be enough to visit some of the major attractions in Dalhousie, nature lovers yearning to spend time in this calm and beautiful town may find it a tad difficult to quickly move from one locale to another when on a short trip.
Day 1- Start your Dalhousie tour after a light breakfast heading straight to Panch Pulla where you get to enjoy the cool waters from heavy cascades and brimming streams set amidst dense greenery and rocky terrain. You can have a dip in the pools of water at the base of the falls and spend some time in this refreshing environment.
Remember to stop at the Satdhara (7 Springs) Waterfall enroute to Panch Pulla. You may choose to take a plunge into the waters to experience the therapeutic effect they are known to have!
Get yourself some packed food and bottles of water and head up the nearby Ganji Pahadi (Bald Hill) for some spectacular visuals of the surrounding areas and a visit to the Kali temple here. After a picnic lunch and some rest proceed to admire the beauty of the Chamera Dam (on River Ravi) and the clear turquoise waters of its reservoir set amidst dense Deodar and Pine vegetation. Enjoy a boat ride or simply relax on the waterfront before heading back to town.
Day 2- Kick start the second day with a visit to the scenic Chamba. Take time to appreciate the architectural beauty of ancient monuments and temples here well-preserved over the years by erstwhile kings of the land. Visit the impressive Rang Mehal, a palace built by Raja Umaid Singh for the women of the royal family, catch a glimpse of local history at the Bhuri Singh Museum here as well and of course experience the beautiful scenery and indulge in shopping at the Tibetan Market and handicraft emporium here.
Move on to next place of interest commonly referred to the Switzerland of India, Khajjiar for a dose of adventure activity/trekking and some exceptional views. You can stroll through the sprawling golf-course, take a boat trip on the pristine Khajjiar Lake and visit Khajji Nag temple during your trip.
Take a guided tour of the Kalatop Sanctuary where wildlife thrives in a natural open habitat with no enclosures. Relax a while at the guesthouses within the premises and head back to town for a good night’s rest or even stop over at the Sanctuary which offers accommodation facilities as well.
Day 3- Your last in this town will be a busy one as well, as you still have to visit the popular Dai(n)kund Peak to get spectacular visuals of the surrounding hills, water bodies and lush greenery, and of course listen to the whistling wind that creates music as it gushes through the forested terrain. Offer prayers to the Trident that represents the local guardian deity, Pholani Devi, who is believed to keep evil-spirits at bay.
You can visit the Chamunda Mata Temple for a darshan and blessings of this powerful goddess and/or visit the St. Francis Church and St. John’s Church (from the 1800’s) to offer prayers based on your religious beliefs.
Head to the scenic Subhash Baoli for a calm stroll, before indulging in some last minute shopping, allowing sufficient time to pack up for the return trip. The waters of this perennial spring are believed to have cured ailments of Subhash Chandra Bose who spent quite some time in Dalhousie.
There are quite a few scenic locales in and around Dalhousie that are best experienced /explored in an un-hurried manner. Adventure activities such as river rafting and paragliding can prove quite addictive while treks demand some time and effort as well as adequate rest. While a whirlwind trip does prove refreshing you most likely will want to return to spend more time at this charming hill station!