Travelogue – Dalhousie, Chamba and Dharamshala

Added by Himachal Live News on November 9, 2008. | November 9, 2008 |

It was time for my annual journey through Himachal. I love doing these once a year. This time I picked up Chamba – Dalhousie – Dharamshala sector. One rainy morning, I packed myself in the car and started from Shimla. It was an hectic journey across the length and breadth of Himachal to Dharamshala. This is a long drive of almost 8 hours covering a distance of 265 km. Drive from Shimla to Ghagas touching the Bilaspur border has become painful, because of the road widening work going on. It took 3 hours to reach Ghagas. Roads are in a complete mess till Bhararighat. The main bazaar at Darla is still full of potholes giving you a feel of zero gravity in the small car.

Once across, Ghagas, I expected better roads, Not so! The road is full of potholes till Ghumarvin. Road is better in stretches but then the potholes  make you shift gears. Ghumarvin is a border town of Bilaspur and Hamirpur district and has grown up impressively since last time I had visited. Kandror Bridge As usual, the outer areas of the town are dotted with car and truck workshops. The bazaar is full of all kind of big showrooms. Signs of people’s growing purchasing power. Crossed Ghumarvin and next stop was Hamirpur. I was entering the CM’s area and hoped for better road but to my disappointment, the road was in the same condition. Roads are wider on this stretch making it easier for the two way traffic to move smoothly. Another drawback on this journey is absence of a proper stopover for lunch and resting. Buses from Shimla stop at Chamakri pul and Bhararighat before Ghagas but couldn’t find a decent stopover after Ghagas.

After crossing Bhota, found a small dhaba at the road bifurcating to the Baba Balak Nath temple. This dhaba is a bamboo shack with bare minimum furniture. DSC01150The place smelled of freshly cooked food and offered tawa chapatis instead of the usual tandooris which I always avoid while driving. Gave myself a 30 minute break and tended to the car after lunch. All appeared to be fine. Zipped across Hamirpur. It was Sunday, so there was  minimum traffic on road. Crossed Nadaun, Jwalaji and a small tea break at Kangra, Dharamshala looked just over the hills. Drive from Nadaun till Mataur, where one leaves the main highway for Dharamshala is a dream drive. The main bazaar at Jwalaji was crowded as ever and Kangra has a new bus stand. Quite immaculate!!  Young ones at Kangra love driving there bikes and come pretty close while overtaking and even when coming from front. I was rattled at this sort of driving and reduced my speed from Kangra onwards. Road from Mataur to Dharamshala is better than the one I had traveled last. Still have potholes in places but drivable. Reached Dharamshala around 7 pm and simply crashed on the bed at my brother’s place.

Chuwari 1Next morning, started my journey at 7 after a cup of tea and left for Chamba. I planned to travel via the Chamba Jot. Had breakfast afterdiversion crossing Shahpur and left the highway and joined the shorter route to Lahru.  This is a single road across the hills and forest and occasional small hamlets. The morning air had a feel of the chill and children going to schools gave me company till 9 am. Reached Lahru around 10 am. The road till Lahru is decent and one can touch 50 km in stretches given the hilly steep and blind curves. The sun was out by now and from Lahru it is a steep climb up till the Jot. In between passed the beautiful village of Chowari. This is at an ideal location just below the mighty Chamba Jot. The valley is open and gives  a 360 degree view as you climb up the Jot. As I moved up, I could virtually feel like driving up in  the clouds. 3 km before the Jot, a thick fog had come up. The air was lighter with loads of chill. I was looking forward to stop at the Jot and click a few pictures but it was a complete let-down once there.  There are buildings on both side of the jot completely blocking the both side view!  Didn’t stop at all and climbed down the other side into the Chamba valley. The descent is gradual and road in pretty good condition. One needs to keep a constant foot on the breaks. It took me around 45 minutes to reach Chamba from the Jot.

Ravi Chamba was quite a disappointment. The main bazaar is crowded and no place to park your vehicle. Looked for an old friend who runsDSC01106 a small hotel behind the Tehsil office. Left the car with him and went to explore the market. Chamba is famous for Chamba  chappals and rumals, all local handicraft work. Found a good pair of chappals for Anu and after some aggressive bargaining bought one for 150/ Went over to the Laxmi Narayan Temple for darshans on top of the bazaar. Came back to the hotel and caught up with our lives over lunch with my friend.

I had earlier planned to stay at Chamba for the night but dropped the idea and left for Dalhousie. You travel across the same road as to jot and  after over bridge10 km there is a U turn to Khajjiar. There is no signboard at this place and in case you are not attentive, you may miss the turning and end up at the Jot!! Found out there are no signboards in Chamba town itself. Thanks to the motor mechanics on the outskirts, I was able to take the correct road who also had a good sense to warn me to look for a diversion ahead for Khajjiar as there was no signboard. The tourism deptt. have placed signboards everywhere in the state, how they left Chamba is beyond any reasoning.

kj2 Chamba to Khajjiar is a 40-45 minute drive. Being off season, found the place to myself. The sun was just settling behind the meadow. Amazing..amazing place sans the tourists. Being a Shimla wala.. couldn’t resist taking a walk around the meadow. A good 25 minute walk khajjiar1and after a cup of hot tea I started for Dalhousie. This stretch is part of the wild life sanctuary area and many of my friends have recalled their experience  of sighting the leopard here. It was evening time, perfect for the bragh to come out on the prowl. I was almost reaching Lakkar Mandi with no sign of the elusive leopard. Suddenly about 15 meter ahead found a bear coming off the road and accompanying her (I guess she was the mother) were two baby bears, walking in tandem.It was an amazing sight, like two babies with their mom out on a stroll on the Mall.  As I looked for the camera, the mother just glanced at me and moved down the road. I missed a great picture. Thanking my stars to let me see such a beautiful family, I drove off to Dalhousie a further 15 minutes drive. Passed through the impressive looking Dalhousie Public School. It has army written all over the building. Saw impressive looking Sardarjis, ex army types, taking a walk around. It was getting dark when I reached Dalhousie. Checked-in to the hotel, had soup for dinner and was lost in dreams around 9 pm after a hectic day.

Next morning, woke up at 6 am and went out for a walk. Dalhousie is spread across Subhash Chowk and Gandhi Chowk. From Subhash Chowk took a full dal circle on the Cart road and back to Subhash Chowk. Then took the pedestrian path to Gandhi Chowk. Found Gandhi Chowk all todal1 myself at this time of the morning. Took the Mall road back to Subhash Chowk and then to the hotel. Dalhousie is a cantonment and army has maintained the character of this town. One of my ex army friend used to describe this place as “Dul-lousie” (Dull & lousy). I differ from his opinion though. It started raining when I reached back at the hotel and it was time for a short nap again. After breakfast left the  hotel again at 11 am and went out to explore the area. Went to Punjpulla, which is a small picnic spot and further ahead found a resort nestled in the forests. This is known as the Peace Channel Resort. It offers good accommodation and above all the peace here is mesmerizing. Ideal place if you are looking for solitude and want to listen to the chirping of the birds and occasional roar of the leopard!! Dalhousie is a must visit place for Gujju travelers. Restaurants here serve Gujju food and Ahmedabad style Pao-Bhaji. Visited the three churches in town. It was 7 pm when I came back to the hotel. Ordered an early dinner and switched off the lights by 9 as planned to leave in the morning.

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39 Responses to Travelogue – Dalhousie, Chamba and Dharamshala

  1. Goli Reply

    November 10, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    This are beautiful pictures :) and nice write up.

  2. Goli Reply

    November 11, 2008 at 3:41 am

    This are beautiful pictures :) and nice write up.

  3. Goli Reply

    November 11, 2008 at 3:41 am

    This are beautiful pictures :) and nice write up.

  4. NITYIN Reply

    November 11, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Thank you goli. This is a repeat post as I messed the original one with formatting. The second part is coming soon!

  5. NITYIN Reply

    November 11, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Thank you goli. This is a repeat post as I messed the original one with formatting. The second part is coming soon!

  6. NITYIN Reply

    November 11, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Thank you goli. This is a repeat post as I messed the original one with formatting. The second part is coming soon!

  7. Pinesh Mehta Reply

    December 1, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Nitin,
    I am planning a trip to Shimla & Manali from 30th Dec to 10th Jan and intend to travel from Shimla to Manali in an Innova via the Shimla Bilaspur road. can you inform me as to
    (1) How is the road condition between Shimla to Bilaspur?
    (2) and upto Manali?

    Regards / Pinesh Mehta

  8. Pinesh Mehta Reply

    December 1, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Nitin,
    I am planning a trip to Shimla & Manali from 30th Dec to 10th Jan and intend to travel from Shimla to Manali in an Innova via the Shimla Bilaspur road. can you inform me as to
    (1) How is the road condition between Shimla to Bilaspur?
    (2) and upto Manali?

    Regards / Pinesh Mehta

  9. Pinesh Mehta Reply

    December 1, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Hi Nitin,
    I am planning a trip to Shimla & Manali from 30th Dec to 10th Jan and intend to travel from Shimla to Manali in an Innova via the Shimla Bilaspur road. can you inform me as to
    (1) How is the road condition between Shimla to Bilaspur?
    (2) and upto Manali?

    Regards / Pinesh Mehta

  10. NITYIN Reply

    December 1, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    @Pinesh

    The road is fine from Shimla to Manali. Between Shimla and (Ghagas) where you touch the NH21, there is some widening work going on. Nothing to be bothered about much. Innova can take you places. Happy journeys!

    BTW you can also explore another route to Manali via Shimla – Tattapani – Chindi and you touch the NH 21 at Ner Chowk before Mandi. This is a much scenic route and road is decent. Time to reach Manali will be the same.

  11. NITYIN Reply

    December 1, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    @Pinesh

    The road is fine from Shimla to Manali. Between Shimla and (Ghagas) where you touch the NH21, there is some widening work going on. Nothing to be bothered about much. Innova can take you places. Happy journeys!

    BTW you can also explore another route to Manali via Shimla – Tattapani – Chindi and you touch the NH 21 at Ner Chowk before Mandi. This is a much scenic route and road is decent. Time to reach Manali will be the same.

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  13. nilesh shah Reply

    March 15, 2009 at 10:48 am

    dear nitin,

    i am visiting Dalhousie and Dharamshala in the month of May.could you suggest me any secluded place near Dalhousie to relax and keep away from more tourists?
    thanx

    • NITYIN Reply

      March 15, 2009 at 7:35 pm

      Hi Nilesh
      Dalhousie will be crowded during this period. Around Dalhousie you can stay at Alps Resort which is at Bakrota Hills on the Khajjiar road. It is about 7 km ahead of Dalhousie. The hotel is nice one. You can also stay at Khajjiar which is around 20 km ahead of Dalhousie. The place is a big meadow. This is a major sightseeing place during the day. There are only 2 good hotels here. HPTDC Hotel Devdar and Mini Swiss. HPTDC hotel has the best view as it overlooks the meadow. If you are not looking for 5 star facilities, this one is recommended. Just do a google search for all these places. HPTDC hotels can be booked online on their website. Let me know if you require any more information

    • NITYIN Reply

      March 15, 2009 at 7:35 pm

      Hi Nilesh
      Dalhousie will be crowded during this period. Around Dalhousie you can stay at Alps Resort which is at Bakrota Hills on the Khajjiar road. It is about 7 km ahead of Dalhousie. The hotel is nice one. You can also stay at Khajjiar which is around 20 km ahead of Dalhousie. The place is a big meadow. This is a major sightseeing place during the day. There are only 2 good hotels here. HPTDC Hotel Devdar and Mini Swiss. HPTDC hotel has the best view as it overlooks the meadow. If you are not looking for 5 star facilities, this one is recommended. Just do a google search for all these places. HPTDC hotels can be booked online on their website. Let me know if you require any more information

  14. nilesh shah Reply

    March 15, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    dear nitin,

    i am visiting Dalhousie and Dharamshala in the month of May.could you suggest me any secluded place near Dalhousie to relax and keep away from more tourists?
    thanx

    • NITYIN Reply

      March 16, 2009 at 1:05 am

      Hi Nilesh
      Dalhousie will be crowded during this period. Around Dalhousie you can stay at Alps Resort which is at Bakrota Hills on the Khajjiar road. It is about 7 km ahead of Dalhousie. The hotel is nice one. You can also stay at Khajjiar which is around 20 km ahead of Dalhousie. The place is a big meadow. This is a major sightseeing place during the day. There are only 2 good hotels here. HPTDC Hotel Devdar and Mini Swiss. HPTDC hotel has the best view as it overlooks the meadow. If you are not looking for 5 star facilities, this one is recommended. Just do a google search for all these places. HPTDC hotels can be booked online on their website. Let me know if you require any more information

  15. Mandeep Reply

    June 13, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Nityin,
    Are there any hotels to stay at JOT.

    • NITYIN Reply

      June 13, 2009 at 6:18 pm

      I found just 2-3 dhabas on the Jot. No staying place. Just 2-3 km before Jot on the Chuwari side there is one hotel. I do not recollect the name right now, but the view here amazing and you cannot miss this place. Looks like a decent budget hotel, worth staying for a day at least for the views!

  16. Mandeep Reply

    June 13, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Nityin,
    Are there any hotels to stay at JOT.

    • NITYIN Reply

      June 13, 2009 at 11:48 pm

      I found just 2-3 dhabas on the Jot. No staying place. Just 2-3 km before Jot on the Chuwari side there is one hotel. I do not recollect the name right now, but the view here amazing and you cannot miss this place. Looks like a decent budget hotel, worth staying for a day at least for the views!

  17. pramgopal Reply

    December 23, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Hi Nitin,
    I am planning a trip to Dalhousie, Shimla & Manali from 19th Jan to 29th Jan can you inform me as to
    (1) How is the road condition between Dalhousie to Shimla to Manali
    (2) and upto Amritsar?
    Regards / Pramgopal

    • NITYIN Reply

      December 23, 2009 at 7:16 am

      Roads are in excellent condition from Dalhousie to Manali and Shimla. No worries. From Dalhousie you can travel to Manali first and then to Shimla. Similarly Road to Amritsar is again in excellent condition.

      Thanks for commenting here

  18. pramgopal Reply

    December 23, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Hi Nitin,
    I am planning a trip to Dalhousie, Shimla & Manali from 19th Jan to 29th Jan can you inform me as to
    (1) How is the road condition between Dalhousie to Shimla to Manali
    (2) and upto Amritsar?
    Regards / Pramgopal

    • NITYIN Reply

      December 23, 2009 at 12:16 pm

      Roads are in excellent condition from Dalhousie to Manali and Shimla. No worries. From Dalhousie you can travel to Manali first and then to Shimla. Similarly Road to Amritsar is again in excellent condition.

      Thanks for commenting here

  19. mangeshkarandikar Reply

    March 1, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Quite a nice post Nityin. Have read the second part too. I know I am commenting more than a year after your post, but then I just found your post. I am traveling from Dalhousie to Dharamsala at the end of April with my wife and teenage son. Is the route Dalhousie – Chamba – Chowari – Sihunta – Shahpur – Gaggal – Dharamsala good to travel by a private car(Tata Indica)?

    Though I have visited Manali previously for treks, I am visiting HP this time as a typical tourist as the wife is not the trekking type. Actually I have booked us on a Kesari Tours wala trip from Chandigarh to Manali, but the adventurous streak in me has compelled me to go first to Amritsar and do the Amritsar – Pathankot – Dalhousie – Dharamsala – Chandigarh trip by car, joining the tour crowd at Chandigarh.

    Please advise. Please feel free to e-mail me

  20. NITYIN Reply

    March 1, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Most of the traffic on this route is on this road only. Road is fine except for a small patches here and there. I recommend traveling by this route only. If you can plan a stay at Chamba a night before traveling to Dharamshala then you can travel through the Chamba jot and Chuwari. Else you don't have to come to Chamba and then proceed straight to Loharu and onwards.

  21. mangeshkarandikar Reply

    March 1, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Thank you Nityin for your prompt reply. Does this mean that I HAVE to stay overnight at Chamba? The only reason I chose this route over the one via Laharu is because it seemed to be more scenic, at least from Google Earth. But then that can be quite misleading. It could be just the opposite!

    The other route I am trying to work out is that from Dharamsala to Chandigarh. At present I am thinking of going the Kangra – Jwalamukhi – Nadaun – Hamirpur – Bhota – Bilaspur – Swarghat – NH21A to Chandigarh. Basically trying to keep to the hills as much as I can. But I wonder if I am missing out on some spots to see.

    Do send suggestions… they are invaluable

  22. NITYIN Reply

    March 2, 2010 at 12:18 am

    Coming from Dalhousie, you can come to Khajjiar and then drive towards Chamba and join the Chamba to Chamba-Jot road and then move over to Chuwari and Loharu. From Loharu you can take either the road via Nurpur or the straight road to Shahpur (which bypasses Nurpur).

    Your route onwards to Chandigarh looks fine. This will be a quite a long journey to Chandigarh and not much of this is hills. You can have a night halt at Bilaspur or Swarghat. Both places you will find HPTDC hotels.

  23. Sanjay Reply

    May 11, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Planning a trip to Dharamshal next week and from there to Dalhousie. I find nice description and information of Dharamsala-Dalhousie routes and many thanks for that. Can you please tell me which route will give me wide road for most part and no steep hills if there is at all :-)) . Regards,

    • NITYIN Reply

      May 11, 2010 at 4:08 pm

      The route via Nurpur is wide while the route via Sinhuta is a single road. Both roads are in excellent condition. If you go via the JOT then it’s a steep hill drive

      • Sanjay Reply

        May 12, 2010 at 8:29 am

        Thanks, Nityin ! Do you mean there are three routes – Via Nurpur , Via Sinhuta and Via Jot ? And can I expect to complete this journey in 4 hours ? Regards,

        • NITYIN Reply

          May 13, 2010 at 2:59 am

          Hi Sanjay

          If you are coming from Manali / Dharamshala side then you can take either of the routes I mentioned in my previous message. Jot route is used only if you want to reach Chamba. If you are coming from Pathankot side then you follow the main Dalhousie road.

  24. Sanjay Reply

    May 11, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Planning a trip to Dharamshal next week and from there to Dalhousie. I find nice description and information of Dharamsala-Dalhousie routes and many thanks for that. Can you please tell me which route will give me wide road for most part and no steep hills if there is at all :-)) . Regards,

    • NITYIN Reply

      May 11, 2010 at 9:08 pm

      The route via Nurpur is wide while the route via Sinhuta is a single road. Both roads are in excellent condition. If you go via the JOT then it’s a steep hill drive

      • Sanjay Reply

        May 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm

        Thanks, Nityin ! Do you mean there are three routes – Via Nurpur , Via Sinhuta and Via Jot ? And can I expect to complete this journey in 4 hours ? Regards,

        • NITYIN Reply

          May 13, 2010 at 7:59 am

          Hi Sanjay

          If you are coming from Manali / Dharamshala side then you can take either of the routes I mentioned in my previous message. Jot route is used only if you want to reach Chamba. If you are coming from Pathankot side then you follow the main Dalhousie road.

  25. Sanjay Reply

    May 13, 2010 at 4:11 am

    Thanks a lot , it’s pretty clear now ! Will post my experience on coming back ..
    Regards,

  26. Sanjay Reply

    May 13, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Thanks a lot , it’s pretty clear now ! Will post my experience on coming back ..
    Regards,

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