(12 nights 13 days)
Popular and still very pristine is the region of Dharmshala, Dalhousie and Chamba.
- Day 1: Pathankot (Chakki Bank) - Khajjiar (1980M) - 95 kms/4 hrs Arrive in Pathankot by overnight train (Jammu Mail) from Delhi. Drive to Khajjiar. Check into hotel in Khajjiar. Khajjiar is a saucer-shaped meadow, ringed by pines and has a lake set in the middle, complete with a floating bland. Afternoon at leisure/ visit Khaji Nag temple and hike in the surrounding hills.
Khajjiar once formed part of the famous Rajput rulers of Chamba. It served as the capital of the Chamba rulers in the 6th century AD. In the medieval period, it came under the Mughal dominion followed by various Sikh kingdoms. Finally, it was brought under the control of the British.
- Day 2: Khajjiar - Dalhousie (2036M) - 24 kms/1 hr After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Dalhousie.
Located in the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas, Dalhousie offers mesmerizing views of the majestic mountains and the rice fields. Credit for discovering Dalhousie goes to the British governor-general Lord Dalhousie, who found this hill station in 1854. It soon developed the summer retreat of the British who were attracted by its enchanting beauty.
Places to visit in Dalhousie are Subhash Baoli and Dainkund peak (a short hike).
- Day 3: Dalhousie - Kalatop - Dalhousie - 34 kms/2 hrs and 6-7 kms hike Hike to Kalatope. Kalatope wildlife sanctuary area with its well laid out trekking jungle trails is a visitor’s paradise. Dense Deodar and Fir forests are places of solitude very close to Dalhousie town. Look out for pheasants and Serow in these forests but should be beware of Black bear, which can be encountered often in the area. Permission needs to be obtained to visit the sanctuary.
The sanctuary is rewarding for the view but its Ibex, deer, bears and leopards rarely come out of their hiding.
- Day 4: Dalhousie - Dharmshala (Mc Leod ganj) 2000M -160 kms/ 5-6 hrs Drive to Dharmshala. Check into hotel. Visit the monastery and Norbulingka institute in the afternoon.
Mc Leodganj: Originally home of the semi-nomadic Gaddi tribe, Mc Leodganj is today the residence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. This mid 19th century place was developed as a British Garrison. The place was developed as an important administrative point for the whole Kangra valley. Today the place has developed as headquarters of the exiled Tibetan Government. The impressive monastery has larger than life size images of Buddha, Padmasambhava and Avaloketeshwara.
Norbulinka Institute: Just four kms from Dharamsala, Norbulinka was established to preserve and teach the ancient Tibetan arts. The shady paths, wooden bridges, small streams tiny water falls make this place look like heaven. Here one can watch the wooden carvings and the Thangka paintings, golsithing and embroidery being done. The nunnery close to the institute is a place where women are taught the advanced levels of Buddhist philosophy.
- Day 5: Dharmshala Day sightseeing of Dharmshala.
War Memorial: Set amidst the pine groves is a war memorial, built on the entry point of Dharamsala to commemorate the post independence war heroes of Himachal Pradesh. A web of narrow paths and landscaped lawns lead towards this monument.
Dall Lake: Surrounded by high and green Deodar trees is the lake, which fills a mountain bowl. Situated 11-kms away from the town, this lake is easily approachable by road and makes an enchanting and serene picnic spot.
St. John's Church: One of the most poignant memories of the British Raj is the church of St. John, situated in the wilderness. This charmingly dressed stone church is located just 8-km from Dharamsala on the way to McLeod Ganj. Under the shade of Deodar branches, a memorial has been made over the body of the British Viceroy, Lord Elgin who died at Dharamsala in 1863.
Kangra Art Museum: This treasure trove of the Kangra valley's arts, crafts, and rich past, displays artifacts that date back to the 5th century. The museum also includes a gallery of Kangra's famous miniature paintings and a representative collection of sculptures, pottery, and anthropological items.
- Day 6: Dharmshala - Palampur (1220M) - 35 kms/1 hr After breakfast, drive to Palampur. Check into a guesthouse.
In local parlance, the word for lot of water is "pulum". This is what has given Palampur (1249 m) its name and its water has given the valley so much of its character. Countless streams criss-cross the landscape and in their intricate mesh, hold tea gardens and rice fields. The town came into being when tea plantation was introduced in the 19th century and Palampur became a focus for the planters. Kangra tea, with its center at Palampur, has been internationally acclaimed since then.
Masrur: Fifteen richly carved monolithic rock temples sculpted in the splendid style of the Kailash temple at Ellora and dating back to the 8th century are to be found at Masrur, just 15 km south of Kangra. Images of Ram Sita and Lakshman can be found in the sanctum of the main temple.
Tea factory: At the very start of the town, the tea factory of the co-operative society, offers an insight to the processing of Kangra tea.
- Day 7: Palampur Full day visit of Baijnath temple and Andretta.
Baijnath: It harbours an exquisite specimen of temple architecture in finely chiseled stone dedicated to Lord Shiva built in circa 804 A.D.
Andretta: Situated just 13-kms away from Palampur, lies this dwelling place of artist Sobha Singh. It houses a gallery of some of his major works and a pottery center.
- Day 8: Palampur - Sojha (2652M) - 190 kms/6-7 hrs After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Sojha. Check into Banjara retreat. Evening around a bonfire.
- Day 9: Sojha - 10 kms drive/4 kms hike Hike to Raghupur fort after breakfast. Walk back to Jalori pass. Picnic lunch next to a waterfall close to retreat. Evening at leisure.
- Day 10: Sojha - Serolser Lake - Sojha - 12 kms/4-5 hrs Day hike to Serolser Lake. Overnight stay at Banjara Retreat.
- Day 11: Sojha - Thanedar - 85kms/3hrs After breakfast, leave for Thanedar. Night stay in Banjara Orchard Retreat, Thanedar.
- Day 12: Thanedar - Day excursion to Hatu peak 20 kms drive and 10 kms hike/4-5 hrs The 3136 mt high Hatu Peak offers a panoramic view of the Pir Panjal and the Dhauladhar ranges of Himalayas. Drive to Sidhpur; 10 km from the Banjara Retreat and then climb up through the Conifer and Oak forests. The climb to the peak with a small break for a packed lunch, generally takes about 3 hours. The forest around Hatu is famous for its flora and fauna/ Avi-fauna. One can see Silver fir, Birch, Oaks, Himalayan Cedar, Himalayan Yew, Rhododendron, herbs and wild flowers. It is also rich in wildlife and if you are lucky you may see Leopards, Black Bear, Jungle Cats, Himalayan Weasel, Flaying Squirrel, Himalayan Pheasants like Monal- state bird of Himachal, Red Jungle Fowl, Magpie Robin, Laughing Thrush, Minivets and Whistling Thrush to name a few. The Hatu Mata Temple, located on the ridge of the top, is very popular with the locals during the local fairs in September and October.
The more adventurous ones can hike back to Sidhpur and drive back to retreat. In the evening drive/ hike to St. Mary’s church in Kotgarh (a 3 km hike through most picturesque forest).
- Day 13: Thanedar - Kalka 160kms/5 hrs Drive to Kalka to board evening Shatabdi express train departing at 1730 hrs to Delhi.