Five weekend getaways from Chandigarh that are less than two hours away
Nestled in the lower hills of the Shivaliks, they are close enough for you to recharge your batteries and return, without busting the bank or planning in advance.
If you want to refresh your mind and body in a day, here are five getaways in the hills that you can choose from. Nestled in the lower hills of the Shivaliks, they are close enough for you to recharge your batteries and return, without busting the bank or planning in advance. All you need is a pair of wheels and a willing spirit. Take your pick:
If you want some peace and quiet, head to Nahan. Around two hours away from Chandigarh, the quaint little hill station is steeped in history. It’s also home to the training centre for the Special Forces. Nahan was founded in the early 17th century by a royal. It is famous for the scenic Renuka lake and the fossil park, built on the site of a place where fossils were found. Then there is the Jaitak fort on the top of a hill. If all you want do is to walk in the lap of nature, try the 50-km-long trek to the Churdhar Peak at a height of 3,850 metres. You don’t have to go the whole way, just wander around the foothills. Then there is Dhaula Kuan dotted with orchards. So, just pack your picnic basket and hop into the car with your family. It’s one day trip that you won’t regret. The dhabas on the way may not look very appetising but offer great chai with pakoras.
If you are fed up of contending with hordes of tourists, head off to Subathu, a quaint little town near Solan, which is home to the Gorkha regimental centre. So, besides seeing signs that say “Roko and toko”, you will encounter spick and span surroundings. Established by the British as a garrison town, it is now home to a museum, which displays souvenirs that were brought back by the regiments after the war. Among these are a couple of stones from the Great Wall of China that the Subathu Gorkha regiment got when it marched through Peking in 1900 to crush the Boxer Rebellion in China.
Also enjoy several colonial era buildings that were constructed in 1829, when Lord William Bentick, former governor-general of India, built a viceregal lodge and 20 other buildings here.
Another attraction is the Gurkha Fort, which is located on a small hillock at a height of 4,500 m. Surrounded by dense forests, the fort houses cannons that are believed to be as old as 180 years! It is said that the fort was constructed in 1900 AD by Amar Singh Thapa, a Gurkha army chief, to fight the British. The remains of the fort make for an interesting historical tour, where visitors can reflect upon the tales of valour and courage of the Gurkha warriors. Today, the fort is under the Indian Army’s 14 Gurkha training centre.
No one in Chandigarh needs any introduction to Kasauli, 70 kms away. The lovely hill station dates back to the colonial era. Today it’s become the favourite of hoteliers who are busy building new properties in its mountains. But even now, you can find a quiet place on the way to Kasauli or in the upper or lower mall for a leisurely lunch or a candle-lit dinner amidst the rustling of pine trees. The air remains crisp and fragrant. It’s the perfect getaway for someone who doesn’t want to go too far from the civilisation and wants a mix of mountains and white-glove hospitality.
Some of the must visit sights include the green-roofed Christ Church, dating from the mid-19th century. There is an upper mall and lower mall in the cantonment area. Monkey Point in the lower mall overlooks forests of horse chestnut and Himalayan oak. After you have climbed a multitude of steps, you will be greeted by a small temple and mindblowing views. Then, there is the Gilbert Nature Trail that takes you through lush green countryside rich in birdlife.
Expert tip: Don’t miss a visit to Ross Common , an HP tourism property. It overlooks the valley and is on the way to the Monkey Point.
If the hustle bustle of the popular hill stations is too much for you, and all you want to do is to go for a leisurely walk in the hills with pines for company, please take a right turn to Dagshai a little after you cross Kasauli.
Founded by the British in 1847 after taking five villages free from Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, in the olden days it used to house tuberculosis patients and has a British graveyard that overlooks the valley.
According to local legends, the name Dagshai came from ‘daag-e-shahi’ meaning royal mark. It is said that during the Mughal rule, a royal mark was put on the forehead of criminals before they were sent here.
Today it has two boarding schools and a cantonment. The Dagshai Central Jail, built in 1849, has been turned into a museum that has some rare finds. Besides the cellular jail in the Andamans, it’s the only jail-turned-museum in the country.
But as we said earlier, you don’t need any sights or sounds other than those of pine trees and the birds to make Dagshai a place worth visiting. Do carry a picnic hamper, it’s perfect for it.
A tiny hill station in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh, it is just 60 kms away from Chandigarh. Situated in the Choor Chandni hills of Himalayas, it sits at a height of 5,120 feet. The best way to savour is to take the toy train from Kalka that goes through the Barog station and its tunnel, one of the important stations on the UNESCO World Heritage Kalka-Shimla rail route. You can walk around the railway station, enjoy the piping hot tea or take a drive around the area. Not very far from the town is the Dolanji Bon Monastery built by Abbot Lungtog Tenpai Nyima in 1969. The place is run by the Yungdrrung Bon Monastic Center and raidiates peace.
Or you can just crank up the music, lay out your picnic hamper and enjoy the beauty of the pines and deodars.