CHAMBA BHARMAUR DALHOUSIE

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Chamba valley, perhaps the loveliest in Himachal, is known for its scenic attractions, sparkling streams, lakes, meadows and lush deodar forests. Crowned with high mountain ranges, Chamba, rich in wildlife is home to animals like the elusive snow leopard, ibex, brown bear, leopard and the musk deer.

A splendid artistic heritage includes fine temple architecture, beautiful miniature paintings, and exquisite embroidered Chamba Rumals. Chamba’s serene beauty makes it the ideal holiday retreat.

DALHOUSIE

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Dalhousie is a hill station full of colonial charm that holds lingering echoes of the Raj. Spread out over five hills (Kathlog, Potreys, Tehra, Bakrota, and Balun) the town is named after the 19th-century British governor-general Lord Dalhousie. The town’s varying altitude shades it with a variety of vegetation that includes stately groves of pines, deodars, oaks and flowering rhododendrons. Rich in colonial architecture, the town preserves some beautiful churches.

Its marvellous forest trails overlook vistas of wooded hills, waterfalls, springs, and rivulets. Like a silver snake finding its way out of the mountains, the twists and turns of river Ravi are a treat to watch from many vantage points. There are also magnificent views of Chamba valley and the mighty Dhauladhar range with its awe-inspiring snow covered peaks filling an entire horizon.

A veneer of Tibetan culture has added a touch of the exotic to this serene resort and along roadsides are huge rocks carved in low relief, painted in the Tibetan style. By road Dalhousie is 555km from Delhi, 45km from Chamba and the closest railhead at Pathankot is 85km away.

Around Dalhousie

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Subhash Baoli-A splendid walk from the main post office square leads up to this spring (2085m) which also has some panoramic views of the snow capped mountains across.

Satdhara-Close to the town (2km, 2036m), and on the route to Panipulla are the seven springs of Satdhara, known for their medicinal properties.

Panjpulla- A pretty spot (2km), where water from natural sources flows under five bridges.

Bakrota Hills-A five kilometre popular walking circuit through Bakrota Mall, offering splendid mountain views.

Kalatope-Set in natural surroundings, the forest rest house (8km, 2440m) here with fine views makes for an ideal spot for a weekend retreat. The nearby sanctuary shelters a variety of wildlife.

 

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Bara Pathar-Amidst thick woods is the small temple of Bhulwani Mata (4kms) in the village of Ahla on the way to Kalatope. A fair celebrated in July venerate the goddess.

Dalhousie Churches

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There are four churches in Dalhousie. Just 1.5km from bus stand is the church of St. Andrew at Balun. This church of Scotland was built in 1903. Another is St.Patrick’s Church at Balun, which is 2km from the Bus stand. This was built in 1909.

It is the largest church in Dalhousie. St.Francis’s Church at Subhash Chowk was built in 1894 and St.John’s Church at Gandhi Chowk was built in 1863.

Dainkund

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On a clear day, this tall peak outside town (10kms, 2745m) affords a birds-eye-view of the hills, verdant valleys and the Beas, Ravi and Chenab rivers threading their silvery passage down to the plains.

Khajjiar

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When it is possible to go by road(22km, 1960m) this exquisite glade is just a pleasant day’s walk from Dalhousie. A picturesque spot with an emerald saucer shaped meadow amidst a dense forest which even has a lake with a floating island at its centre, a temple with a golden spire by the wayside and a golf course, makes for a perfect holiday setting in the mountains.

Fast Facts

Altitude-2036 meters

Climate-In winter, the temperatures do get very low and heavy woollens are needed. The summer temperatures can rise up to 30 degrees C and cotton clothing is recommended.

Getting there-Well linked by road, public and private transport is easily available for Dalhousie. Nearest airports are at Kangra-135km, Jammu 180km, and Amritsar 301km.

By road Dalhousie is 555kms from Delhi, 45km from Chamba town and the closest railhead is 85km away at Pathankot.

CHAMBA

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Resplendent with historically and architecturally important buildings, Chamba town in its temples and palaces preserves much of its rich medieval past.

Perched on a plateau overhanging the river Ravi, the town is named after Champavati, a daughter of Raja Sahil Varma of the Bharmaur royal house who shifted his capital here in 920AD.

Isolated by high mountains in its beautiful valley, Chamba over the centuries was allowed to develop its own style of ‘Pahari’ art and architecture.

Much of this heritage has been preserved and Chamba, known for the splendour of its temples and handicrafts, is replete with artistic masterpieces.

Still intact a fine group of six ancient shikhara style stone temples ( dating back to 8th century) are dedicated to Lord Shiva, Vishnu, and other deities. Among them, the richly carved Lakshmi-Narayan temple is the oldest structure.

Other evidence of Chamba’s heritage can be seen in the famous collection of miniature paintings from the Kangra, Basholi and Chamba schools at the Bhuri Singh Museum, as well in the murals and other artefacts at the Rang Mahal Palace.

Chaugan, the grassy meadow at the heart of the town, is also the centre of its cultural activities. In July/August, each year, the Minjar fair is held here. Valley Gods and Goddess in their majestic palanquins are brought down from the mountains to pay homage to Lord Raghuvira, the presiding deity of the valley. During the week-long harvest fair, the ground comes alive as villagers in colourful dresses celebrate with sport, song, dance, and music.

The Hari Rai temple near the Chaugan (dating back to the 11th century) known for the four armed bronze statue of Lord Vishnu (Chaturmurthi) is a masterpiece in metal craft. Overlooking the town a little distance away, the temple of goddess Chamunda Devi has some of the finest wood carvings that adorn its exterior and interiors.

Chamba is 120kms from Pathankot-(the nearest railhead), 390kms from Shimla and 45kms from Dalhousie.

Around Chamba

 

Katasan Devi Temple-A popular place of pilgrimage (30kms) with the temple premises being an excellent vantage point for a view of Chamba valley.

Sarol-Landscaped gardens, a sheep breeding centre and an apiary make Sarol (11kms) an interesting place for picnics.

Chamera Lake-(763 mtr. above sea level). In Chamba District, The Chamera lake is formed by Chamera Dam on the Ravi River at Chourah. The site is easily accessible from the Chamba-Pathankot highway. Water Sports activities are available at Chamera Lake.

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Jhumhar-In the vicinity of thick alpine forest lands, Jhumhar (10kms from Chamba)  is famous for its apple orchards.

Saho

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Perched on a scenic plateau along the bank of river Sal, Saho (18km. from Chamba) is famous for Lord Shiva Chandashekhra temple, which has the moon for a crown. ‘Shivlingam’ made of copper minded locally at the location where lord Chandrashekhra guided the local sage. On striking the stone bell in the neck of the revered statue of a bull in the temple premises, a metal sound is heard.

Fast Facts

Altitude-996 meters

Climate-The temperatures at Chamba moderate between 36 degrees C and 0 degrees C in winter. Woolens for winters and cotton clothing for summer are required.

Getting there-Well linked roads provide ample public and private transport for Chamba. The nearest airport is 180km away at Kangra. Chamba is 120km from Pathankot (the nearest railhead), 390km from Shimla and 45km from Dalhousie.

BHARMAUR

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Bharmaur remained the capital of the princely state of Chamba for over 400years. About 65kilometers from Chamba, this fascinating little town(2130m) surrounded by high ranges was then known as Bharmpur. Its ancient temples endow Bharmaur with an aura of a hallowed place. The abundant alpine pastures in the region are home to the nomadic Gaddi tribesmen. Life in Bharmaur centres around the Chaurasia-a temple square which owes its name to the 84 shrines built within its periphery. With varying architectural designs these temples were built between the seventh and tenth century. The towering shikara of Manimahesh temple dominates the square and a life-size bull idol of Nandi, in polished brass guards the entrance. The Lakshna Devi temple’s sanctum sanctorum houses’s the meter-high goddess idol cast in exquisite brass.

Around Bharmaur

 

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Manimahesh, an important place of pilgrimage is 34km away Beauty of the solitary Manimahesh Kailash peak (5656m) reflected in the quiet waters of a turquoise mountain lake evokes a spontaneous prayer among the pilgrims who visit the spot annually. Singing devotional songs they wind their way up an arduous track to bathe in the icy waters of Manimahesh Lake and workship at the little lakeside temple. Each year thousands converge for the Manimahesh Yatra in August-September to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva. Belief holds that the Hindu God resides on the holy mountain.

Bharmani Devi

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The temple of Bharmani Devi, the patron Goddess of Bharmour, is 4km from Bharmour on a steep gradient, located on a ridge among the forest and has a fascinating view of Budhal valley. According to a legend, Goddess was residing in the Bharmour Chaurasi before the advent of Pilgrims. When Lord Shiva first appeared in Bharmour, the Goddess shifted her seat to the hilltop known as Bharmani. It is said that goddess passed a command to Lord Shiva that the journey to the sacred Manimahesh peak would be incomplete unless the devotees visit her place. Since then it is a ritual to visit Bharmani Devi, before the journey to Manimahesh.

Other places of interest

Salooni-(56kms, 1829m), has some of the most awesome views of the Greater Himalaya snow ranges.

Bhandal Valley-The beautiful valley of Bhandal(1831m, 22kms from Salooni), is rich in Himalayan flora and fauna and makes for an ideal retreat.

Pangi Valley-Over the Sach pass(4428m), 173 kilometres from Chamba, full of grandeur and tribal majesty is the landlocked valley of Pangi. The native Pangwals and Bhotis are robust, hardworking, handsome people who keep the valley’s unique culture alive in folk songs, music, and tribal dances. Beyond the reach of tropical monsoon rains, the valley is one of the last offbeat challenging tourism destinations in the State. From Killar, the sub-divisional headquarter of the valley; there are a number of exciting treks to Keylong and Kishtwar in Kashmir.

Chhatrari-The Shakti Devi temple, 40km from Chamba is of great archaeological importance.

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Kugti-Not far from the Kugti Pass(5040m) on the challenging trail to Lahaul from Bharmaur, this happens to be the last inhabited village in the picturesque valley.

Overlooking deep conifer forests kugti has a little forest rest house. The famous Keylong Wazir temple is just 2kilometers away.

It has also a wildlife sanctuary where the brown bear is found. Kugti pass is very popular among the foreign trekkers.

Devikothi

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It is situated north-east of Chamba at an altitude of 2350 meter which is 107 kilometre from Chamba. The village has a spectacular view of snow-clad peaks. It has a famous temple dedicated to Chamunda Devi, locally called Chaunda built in 1754 AD. The temple also presents a splendid wood carving wall paintings work done in Mughal style.

Fast Facts-

Altitude-2195 meters

Climate-In winter, the temperatures do get very low and heavy woollens are required. The summer temperatures can rise up to 30 degrees C and cotton clothing is recommended.

Getting there-Bharmaur, accessible by road is 65km from Chamba.