Dalhousie: A Charming Mountain Getaway
Dalhousie is a small town located in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh and nestled into the Himalayas offering pristine views of the mountain ranges and rich culture. Named after the then British governor-general Lord Dalhousie, this beautiful town started as a summer retreat and now is a popular travelling spot among families as well as solo travellers.
Why Should Dalhousie Be on Your Travel List
A small colonial town spread across five hills and panoramic views of the mighty Dhauladhars, Dalhousie is a great destination if you are looking for some solitude time into the mountains or if you are looking for a getaway with your friends or family.
From nature’s delight to its food, culture and range of activities, there is nothing you will not find here.
If you are someone who loves nature, whether by the mere sight of the wonderful mountain ranges or if you are an explorer who likes to wander in between the trails and hike to the waterfalls, Dalhousie will offer you all of it.
The town is surrounded by pine-clad valleys, offering majestic sceneries of the snow-capped mountains, a delightful sight. You can also hike around the numerous forest trails which the valley has.
Rich in Culture & History
The origin of Dalhousie can be traced back to the year 1850, the time of the British regime in India. With these traces of the regime in the form of its colonised architecture, the town of Dalhousie definitely serves history on a platter to anyone who visits the valley.
It reflects its past through the many buildings that the town endeavours and also showcases the rich tradition which now thrives through the local culture. The town also celebrates many local rituals, festivals and fair which will allow you to dwell into its rich traditions and culture.
Traditional Dishes & Souvenirs
When in Dalhousie, you will find a variety of food options to grab from. From the much-loved north Indian food to Chinese and continental dishes, Dalhousie will offer you with various restaurants and cafes spread across the town.
In addition to this, the state of Himachal also offers a very popular but less explored traditional dish called Siddu, a dish cooked in the local households, where the dough is cooked on a bonfire, served with ghee and curry as an accompaniment. Siddu is a must try dish for anyone who loves to explore new dishes and cuisines.
The town also offers a lot of traditional souvenirs, like Himachali woollen shawls and caps, Tibetan handicrafts and traditional jewellery. You can go shop these at the Mall road, a popular shopping hub at the town’s main market.
Great for Solo Travellers as well as Groups
Dalhousie is a place which offers a range of sights, activities and getaways, whether you are travelling in a group or all by yourself.
If going in a group, there are numerous sights you can visit and various activities you can indulge in.
On the other hand, Dalhousie is a safe place to travel if you are on a solo trip and as a backpacker travelling on a budget, you can stay at hostels which are much cheaper or rather stay in a homestay as it is extremely safe for solo travellers.
Filled with Adventure
Beyond its pristine beauty, the valleys of Dalhousie also offer numerous adventurous activities if you are looking for some thrill. You can sign up for forest trails or hike up in the mountains, with various trekking options like Dainkund Peak - the highest mountain hill surrounding Dalhousie to get panoramic breathtaking view of the valley, a day trek to Bakrota Hills - a 5 km uphill into forest with a dominance of thick deodar, pine and oak trees in your surroundings.
You can also indulge yourself with recreational water sports and activities which usually take place around the popular lakes.
10 Best Places to Visit in Dalhousie
Popularly known as the mini Switzerland of India, Khajjiar is a well-known tourist attraction. It is 22 km away from Dalhousie and you can either reach here via road from Dalhousie or if you’re an adventurous soul you can also take a trekking route from the town of Chamba.
Once in Khajjiar, you can enjoy the beautiful meadow with a pond surrounded with cedar forests all around serving you with some mystical views. You can also visit the Khajji-Nag temple which is dedicated to the serpent god and can also stroll in the Kailash villages for a unique experience.
2. St. Francis Church
Located at the Subash Chowk, St. Francis church has is a historical church that has been standing tall since 1894, the year that it was built through funds generated by the civilians and the army officers. You must visit the St. Francis Church for its beautiful architecture and atmosphere, and of possible attend the prayers on a Sunday. The church has a beautiful design with intricate stone work and a Belgium glass façade which adds to the beauty of the structure.
3. Kalatop Wildlife Reserve
If you’re someone who is looking to experience the thrill of wilderness, then Kalatop Wildlife Reserve should be on your list. Located in the higher hills of Khajjiar, the Sanctuary is ideal for trekking and excursions into nature, for some serene and quiet time and a refreshing holiday. Make sure you do spend a good amount of time so you don't miss out on the amazing range of things to do here.
You can enjoy the serene beauty of nature, plan a picnic or go for a wildlife tour where you can spot sheltered wildlife in the sanctuary like Himalayan black bear, leopard, Ghoral deer, Monal pheasant and others.
Summer is the best time to visit the reserve as heaps of snow of over five feet can pile up during the winters due to heavy snowfall in the region.
4. Dainkund Peak
The name Dainkund originally means the city of witches and this is how the peak got its name back in old times, it was believed that the peak was the abode of witchcraft.
It is the highest mountain hills in Dalhousie and one must visit this place for the incredible experience of enjoying the summit. The location of this peak is beyond what can be described. Once you reach here, you get an endless view into the mountains no matter which side you look. Surrounded by mountains, it is a photographer’s paradise. The calmness of the place with the sound and feel of the breeze flowing around will give you an experience like never before.
It can get cold here even during the summers, so you should carry an additional layer once reach the top.
You can also camp at the campsite and trek till the peak. A lot of guides and tours can be easily found locally if you’re planning to do the same.
5. Satdhara Falls
On your way to Panchpula lies the magical Satdhara falls which by its name refers to a confluence of seven spring streams with its water known to have therapeutic properties.
The Satdhara falls is only at a distance of 5 km from the main city and you can take taxis or buses to reach the spot and then walk till the falls. No guide is usually required as it is easy to reach but you must wear comfortable shoes as the pathway can be rocky.
The best time to visit the falls is the monsoon season when the water is gushing at its prime. It usually gets really crowded on the weekends during season time, so ideally you can visit the Satdhara falls on a weekday to avoid the crowd and spend some quiet time here.
6. Chamera Lake
Located 25 km away from Dalhousie, Chamera lake has lately gathered attention and turned into one of the popular tourist's spots, all for the right reasons. Chamera dam is the source for Chamera lake and it derives its water from the river Ravi.
It is a great spot for you to go with your friends and family and enjoy a fun excursion. You can either do a picnic here or indulge yourself into various water activities like boating, kayaking, canoeing, sailing and fishing.
When visiting the Lake, make sure you stay for the sunset, as it offers a magical view - with various shades of hue in front of you, along with its reflection in the lake making it an enthralling experience in its entirety.
7. Khajji Nag Temple
In very close proximity to the Khajjiar lake is the popular Khajji Nag temple which is dedicated to the Serpent God. The temple was built long ago, with traces of its origin in 12th century AD. It has a shrine dedicated to Naga, meaning serpents and it showcases numerous idols of snakes.
The temple is dome-shaped, made up of limestone quarries. The temple should also be visited for its dual architecture with a blend of both Mughal and Hindu styles, which can be seen on the wooden carvings and on the wooden ceilings.
A well suited and popular spot for the trekking enthusiasts, Ganji Pahari means a valley with no vegetation that mainly looks like a bald, plain valley. It is located at a walking distance from Panchpula or you can embark on a one hour hike from Dalhousie itself.
You must visit Ganji Pahari for its quaint scenery and for an experience of a short hike or a walk. It is a popular spot and you can easily find guides to reach here, from both Panchpula as well as Dalhousie.
Beyond the hustle bustle in the main attractions of Dalhousie lies Panjpula, which is quiet and serene, allowing you to have a calm time only with the sound of the waterfall around.
Located at the backdrop of Dalhousie, it is another confluence of various mountain streams and the waterfalls at Panjpula are famous for its medicinal properties which is what makes it a popular tourist destination. Panjpula originally means five bridges and it is named because of the five bridges which surround the water streams.
Unlike Satdhara Waterfalls, Panjpula can be visited all around the year, in any season for you to get a calm, stress-free experience.
You can easily find a taxi or a bus to reach here from the main chowk in Dalhousie.
Located close to Dalhousie, the ancient town of Chamba is an untouched valley as compared to other touristy towns and offers a rich enigma of its culture and heritage. If you are someone who believes in exploring the local life, you must visit Chamba and spend your day here.
When in Chamba, you can stroll around and spend some time with the locals to witness heartfelt conversations and an appreciation for a slow and simple way to life.
You can also visit some attractions in Chamba - mainly the various temples and museums in and around like Akhand Chandi Palace, Champavati temple, Chamunda Devi temples and others.
Bonus: Budget Hacks while Travelling in Dalhousie
Travel in Local Buses
Apart from local cabs which can be an expensive affair, you can opt to commute using the local Himachal Roadways buses which are also used by locals for their everyday mobility, particularity solo travellers. They are very cheap and no prior tickets need to be purchased. You can buy your ticket from the conductor once you board the bus. This is also a great way to experience local life.
You would however need to understand which bus you need to take and from where, and at times it might involve changing multiple buses before you reach your destination. The locals are very helpful and will guide you through these routes whenever you are stuck.
Stay at Homestays
Hotels can be somewhat expensive if you are travelling on a budget and as an amazing alternative, you can actually stay with the locals at their homes. A lot of times you do not need prior bookings and can walk in and find homestays in the region but you might want to pre-book if you’re visiting in peak season.
These homestays not only serve your purpose to get a place to stay but also offer a rich cultural exchange where you can actually spend some time like a local, with the locals. Moreover, it also helps the locals in the town to thrive their work. The homestays can be pre-booked from Himachal-Tourism official website.
Experience true nature amidst the mountains
Hill-stations are a perfect getaway to take a break and recharge yourself with nature's regenerative energy. Take some time off and try to visit all these places when you visit Dalhousie to experience true nature amidst the mountains.