Day 3 – Part 2
For an account of the previous days, click below for…
Day 3 – Part 1
Here I am with the continuation of Day 3 of my Chamba trip 🙂
I am on my way back to Chamba now from Bharmour, having loved every minute of it. It takes me pretty much the same time getting back to the hotel and my room. I hastily order dal and chapatis with onions and enjoy a lovely meal on the terrace looking out over the river and the mountains with blue skies above. By about 3 pm I am ready to move.
The route takes me across the river to the other side where we take the road going left up into the thickly forested hills. Turns out the driver is from a village about an hour’s drive up the hill and he has quite a few interesting snippets about the region. The thick pine forest comes under the Forest Department while the villager who have been living there from long back, are allowed to stay there and farm and hunt pretty much anything EXCEPT the Himalayan bear. People are afraid of the giant beast as usual encounters with village folk out collecting firewood, have usually led to deaths or serious injury. With the forest department doling out serious punishment for injuring a bear, the villagers have no choice except to go foraging in large groups, which isnt always possible for them. The usual story of Man Vs Wild, with two sides of each story, however it is pleasing that the Forest Dept is actually taking its role as the protector of wildlife quite seriously.
Life for the villagers is pretty difficult in these parts in general, and it becomes more so come winter. Last year apparently there had been somuch snowfall that the entire village had been snowed out under 6-7 feet of snow and it had taken them days to finally be able to venture out of the house! (the doors and windows having been jammed shut by snow) No electricity either as the snow had brought down electric poles within a few hours! They only received electricity after about a month once the government finally managed to re-erect all the towers and lines.
Anyway, back to my account … by now, we had crested the rise and were at the top of the treeline. As you head towards Khajjiar, the road opens up and you get spectacular vistas of the Pir Panjal range to the right. However, it being evening already, most of the peaks had been covered by clouds and I could not get a glimpse of their true majesty…just eluded me by a bit, but well, enough reason for me to come back again! 🙂
About 2-3 kilometres from Khajjiar, there is a famous Devi temple with an awe inspiring bronze statue of Lord Shiva that is 81 feet high, with the spectacular Pir Panjals behind. For travellers to the region, this temple is a must visit not only for its scenic locale but also for the shrine within. Small yet beautiful.
After spending some time here, I moved up the road to Khajjiar. By now both sides of the road were covered with 2-3 feet snow drifts and the road had recently been cleared. In higher reaches, the snow was even deeper, most likely 4 feet. The dark pines formed a snow topped canopy all around us as we moved into Khajjiar town. The centre piece of the town is a lake surrounded by beautiful green meadows in summer where tourists can indulge in zorbing, para gliding and horse riding. However, winter was a completely different story!
The lake was completely frozen over and the meadow was covered with a thick carpet of snow as far as the eye could see. It was pretty chilly as the wind whipped across through the dark pines along the sides. The lake boasted a pavilion in the middle with a path leading to it, but the heavy snow had ensured it had cracked off and lay dangerously skewed into the freezing icy waters of the lake. I walked all along the periphery of the lake, crunching through the snow and enjoying the crisp, mountain air. Along the south east side of the lake is an ancient temple which is also beautifully carved and is worth a visit. There are a few hotels and resorts around the lake, which is pretty much all of Khajjiar! 🙂
I walked further up the road which brought me to the town. The road climbs up slightly and then leads on to Dalhousie, however the heavy snowfall ensured that the hard working JCBs would not have an easy time clearing it and still needed at least a couple of days before it was open to traffic. I could see the JCB chugging alonmg, blowing dark plumes of smoke into the evening sky, struggling manfully against the snow. That was my last glimpse of Khajjiar as I turned back and drove down back to my hotel.
It had been a wonderful day and I capped it off with a nice stiff drink while gazing at the night sky and marvelling at the wonder that is Himachal.
Thanks for reading…Day 4 coming up soon 🙂