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Old 28th May 2010, 15:18   #1
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Default Palampur, Mcleodganj,Dharamshala travelogue

It’s been an year since we went there for an outing so I was getting restless. The hills beckoned us and we planned to visit Palampur,Dharamshala belt again! The heat of north Indian plains added to the frustration and we couldn’t wait to leave for the trip. I had planned the itinery well in advance and did some research on the places we had left out in the previous three visit which were more in the sense of ‘wherever mood takes us’. The programme was like this

Day 1: Chandigarh to Palampur 260 kms (stayed at Andretta 10 kms from palampur)
Rest and roam around at Andretta
Day2: Andretta to Baijnath, Bir and Billing
Visit Palampur in the evening
Day 3: Andretta to Dharamshala (Tapovan, Norbulingka, Naddi, St John’s church, Mcleodganj, bhagsunag temple)
Day 4: Andretta (Relax, visit, sobha singh’s art gallery, Andretta Pottery institute, Machial, a trek to village temple up in hills)
Day 5 : leave for Chandigarh after breakfast, visit Kangra fort on the way back

Day 1
There were 5 of us, my wife, son, My father, nephew and I. My father is an early riser and wakes up at 4-4.30 AM. Though we had planned to leave early around 6 but I woke up at 7. Finally we had breakfast and managed to leave at 8:30 AM. I took the usual root I follow :
Chandigarh-Kaharar-Ropar-Nurpur-Nanal-Una-Amb-Mubarakpur-Bharwain-Daliara-Ranital-Kangrabypass-Tanda(medical college road going through village)-join back at Kangra-palampur road-Nagrota-Palampur(around 5km before palampur take a right turn at a place where directions for Sobha singh Art gallery is plaed, also just before Palampur cooperetive tea factory)-Panchrukhi-Andretta.
Though I had read somewhere the Una-mubarakpur strech is in a bad shape I chose to rely on my brother in law’s (he’s a frequent visitor to palampur on business) advice that take the same route only. That is the harm in calling someone early in the morning! He realised 5 hrs later that a long strech of road is all gravel and being made around Amb!
I usually avoid the Ropar-Kiratpur-Anandpur-Nangal road and take Ropar-Nurpur-Nangal road, again on the advice of B-I-L . Both routes are around 100 kms but the former one though it goes through interior roads and is less crowded. Moreover some strech of Kiratpur section is in bad shape.
Journey was uneventfull till Una and after that the horrible Una Amb strech came and we were forced to drive on first or second gear over loose stones and gravel till what seemed like an eternity! Even before this section where road was being laid, it was all potholes and bumpy road all the way. Finally after Amb roads improved once again. We stopped around 11:30 before Bharwain at road side Dhaba to have tea. Though we had breakfast but the sight of yummy Tandoori paranthas tempted us and we ended up having one each!
It was a Sunday and this being route to Chintpurni and Jwalaji mata temples hordes of devotees in trucks, jeeps and taveras, apart from personal vehicles were going or coming back. Chintpurni is 2-3 kms detour from Bharwain. We bowed our heads on the crossing and continued towards our destination.
We called up the guet house to keep the food ready. Finally following the above mentioned route we reached Andretta at around 2:30 Pm. The paranthas we had midway served their purpose and after freshening up we straightway headed for food.

After food and rest we went to see Machial Mahadev , it’s a small temple where a natural stream flows in the back, it forms a pool behind the temple where big fish can be seen. Fed some bread to the fish and sat watching them sometime. After that we went to Panchrukhi market and had some pakoras. Came back and just relaxed in the front courtyard of the guest house.
A Little About Andretta
EXTENSION: Andretta, Himachal Pradesh|Full Stop India
Andretta is called the Artist’s village. With a close sylvan background, nestles like an oasis of beauty in the open Kangra Valley with snow-capped ranges of the Dhauladhar around it. Famous artists have made it their abode as it offered the splendid views and was away from the hustle bustle of large towns. It gave them the peace and inspiration to further their creativity. The names like Sobha Singh(The famous painter of such works like sohni mahiwal, The Kangra Bride,Sikh Gurus etc), Theatre person Norah Richards (NORAH RICHARDS AND HER RETREAT AT ANDRETTA PALAMPUR), painter and sculptor BC Sanyal and master potter Gurcharan Singh settled here. Now all of them are no more. Sobha Singh’s adopted daughter runs Sobha Singh Art gallery as a private Venture. Daughter of BC Sanyal , Amba has built a Norah’s Art Centre and Gurcharan’s son runs the Andretta pottery society and workshop on pottery which is quite famous with foreigners. In addition Norah Richard’s original home is estored by Punjabi University which also conducts rural theatre workshops in summer every year.
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Last edited by rock75 : 28th May 2010 at 15:31.
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Old 28th May 2010, 15:26   #2
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@ rock75 - rock your travelogues with some cool snaps, those are like adding cherry on top of a cake.
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Old 28th May 2010, 15:37   #3
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Nice start. I did Dharamshala/McLeodGanj 6 years back. Love to see how to feels to be there today!
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Old 28th May 2010, 15:43   #4
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Day2
After breakfast we headed for Baijnath one of the jyotirlings. A beautiful rock temple in a beautiful surroundings, It is made in the traditional architecture style with rock stone. The temple has a nice lawn alongside. It gives great view of Dauladhar mountain range.
We continued towards Bir and Billing. The route is one going towards Jogindernagar for some 9 kms and then a left turn towards Bir. Took some Coke and chips to refresh ourselves at Bir and proceeded 14kms towards billing. I was afraid at first since I read in some thread somewhere that the billing road is a rocky one with gravels all the way and fit for only SUVs. But the shopkeeper at Bir assured me that it is Ok for cars too. Keeping my fingers crossed I took a call to go and found the road though it has some tough hairpin bends(pretty much par for the course!) is perfectly decent one for such a place. There was nothing on the way, no tea stalls, no village, no buildings on the way. Mid way to Billing we reached a spot which gave great views of the hills below which spread far and vide. We could also spot a paraglider flying up in the air. One can see terrace fields interspersed with trees, green hills, little houses down below. After relaxing for a while and taking some pics we left for billing. And to our dismay the camera battery died on us!
Bir billing is famous site for paragliding. Bir has an amphitheatre of low hills and tea gardens and is also a landing point for paragliders.The paragliding world cup was also held here sometimes back. Billing provides a 200 sq Kms area of Kangra valley for paragliders. The views are amazing. We met a person conductiong paragliding and he told us that single paragliders can go as far as up to Dharamshala. They were waiting for a person gone on paragliding to come back. The billing top had few people with 2-3 taxis parked there with visitors from maharashtra and Delhi. We climbed up to the grassy top used as a paragliding launching site as far as we could go and sat there for sometime enjoying the views. Then we moved back towards Andretta. We crossed an Alto taxi on the way who were supposedly coming back up after the paraglider had landed with equipment packed, they asked us if we are interested in paragliding, but we had to go as only I knew driving and it wasn’t possible to keep others waiting in such an abandoned area.
We had food someway after bir towards Baijnath and after that reached Andretta following same route. We avoided takeing baijnath-banuri-andretta route which though scenic is longer and I had already gone on that one many times in the past.
IN the evening we visited the Andretta pottery society where the pottery workshop is conducted. The fees are quite steep Rs 40000 p.m. and three months course, stay ,food including. Mostly foreigners are doing this course. The original pottery artist a sikh is no more, now the course is done by his son who has a forigner wife. He was out of station but his employees were supervising the trainees and doing other chores.
Then we decided to visit palampur. Palampur is famous for tea gardens, there is a palampur cooperative tea garden, Bundla estate etc. The town has nice walks. It is a quite town with ig bungalows.We went through main market towards Bundla Tea estate, it’s a beautiful road going in between lush green tea gardens.We saw a lot of locals as well as tourists walking towards Neugal. At the end there is a right turn and 50 meters away is Neugal where HPTDC runs a café along side a continuously flowing water channel. Beyond this is a 300 feet deep chasm through which runs the roaring Bundla Stream. There is a hydroelectric project on this stream. In monsoons it roars along in a torrent taking big boulders with it creating a loud sound. It is just scary to stand at the edge and watch below at it. Neugal café is a nice picnic spot and at this time of the year full of people having fun in the water. It also offers nice views of Dauladhar. It being Monday , most of the shops were closed, we had some snacks and headed back to Andretta. We strolled around a bit, had dinner and called it a day.
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Old 28th May 2010, 15:45   #5
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i'm surprised to hear you visited bir and biling. to me these two places are untouched and really beautiful. go there every year, have a friend of mine in bir. we need more Pix....himachal is serenly beautiful
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Old 28th May 2010, 16:00   #6
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Default some pics

Adding some pics of Bir, health centre where we had some refreshment as road was too narrow to park the car without obstructing traffic, view of Kangra valley from midway to Billing, Neugal cafe' area.
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Old 28th May 2010, 16:08   #7
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Lilmonster,

I have been to Palampur 4 times but never visited Bir and billing so this time I thought let's check out more so since we had come halfway to Baijnath already. It's a pity that battery died on me mid way but I did manage some pics (posted above) from midway to billing , still awesome view. Pics can't capture the vast expanse of kangra valley seen from billing, that too for an amateur like me. sitting on the lauching point was an experience in itself!
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Old 28th May 2010, 19:45   #8
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Default Andretta pottery

some pics from Andretta pottery society centre
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Old 28th May 2010, 19:59   #9
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Default tea gardens

some pics of tea gardens of Palampur co-op tea factory, Fresh leaves were being picked by women when we passed by.
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Old 28th May 2010, 23:49   #10
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Nice pictures mate. I remember my growing up years in Palampur. We used to ride the horses down to Panchrukhi from our farm. You should ahve gone to Uttrala Hydel Station too it would ahve been a good learning experience but may be next time. I remember about 7 8 families going on an outing to Billing on scooters way back in 90 and my poor brother had to walk and push a Kinetic honda half the way to Billing. lol
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Old 29th May 2010, 11:04   #11
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surely next time we would visit the hydroelectric station. I have heard about the bundla falls too but couldn't find out how to go there and it was getting late so we left that.

Day 3
We left for Dharamshala via Rajkot –Chamunda devi-Yol Cantt route taking the national highway instead of state highway via palampur-chamunda-yol cantt-dharamshala. This one was wider, better roads and almost valley like though the other one isn’t that bad either but mostly hilly roads.
After Yol Cantt we saw a left turn indicating way to tapovan. First came HP vidhansabha, great building and great views of Dauladhar hills and after that Tapovan a Chinmaya mission ashram. There were a big murti of Hanuman ji and shivling . The place was quite serene and quite. We couldn’t visit the inner side of tapovan which I guess is open to inmates or mission people only.
We went beck to the main route and after a few kms there is a 1km road on the right side going up to Norbulingka institute, a place which has Tibetan art, culture and architecture on display. A very quite and peaceful place, a must visit I must say.In fact as a tourist I find this place better than Dalai lama temple. It also has a guest house and cafeteria for visitors. The buildings are beautiful. There is a doll museum displaying Tibetan history & culture. It has a token fee of Rs 5 to enter.
We left for Naddi village 5-6 kms above mcleodganj , a detour upside off Mcleodganj highway. It has steep roads and passed Dal Lake on the way. The small lake is all dried up and some work of clearing or deepening it is going on. Behind the lake there is a good no of Deodar trees. Naddi is a small village which offers striking views of Dauladhar peaks. Triund and the Rest house over there is also visible from Naddi. Two guys with telescopes were on the ‘naddi viewpoint’road. For 10 Rs they showed a waterfall on top of dauladhar hills, snow point , a temple on the hills, highest peak in kangra,Moon peak, Triund top resthouse and some huts at the base camp for trek to higher reaches. Worth the money to see it!
There are a large no of hotels in this area and some are coming up! As this place is quite and offers the best views in entire Dharamshala, and is starting point for trek to Triund it is becoming famous. I have stayed here in the past too.We had tea at a roadside shack(quite a few of them run by villagers, facing the dauladhar) I chatted up the shopkeeper and he said the trek to triund is less strenuous from here and rises slowly). We left for Mcleodganj and stopped at St John’s Church in wilderness, a km before Dharamshala. Interestingly I have visited Dharamshala 4-5 times but never spotted it on way to Mcleodganj! It is a must visit if you love peaceful spots where you can sit and enjoy nature. We walked around and found a worker who said he will open it for sometime. We went inside along with a few other visitors and felt peace inside. It felt good to visit this place which is so old.

Went to Mcleodganj, had food at a little place run by a Tibetan Snow lion and had chinese/tibetan food. Then we roamed for sometime in the Mcleodganj streets and headed off to Bhagsunag temple. We payed our obeisance at the temple and after temple there is a pool getting running water from the hills through three lion mouth shaped opening. Behind this pool there is a Swimming pool lined by tiles about five feet in depth. As this was tourist season and quite hot even in the hills, lot of people were bathing/swimming in it. We climbed a little way up the way leading to Bhagsunag water fall. It is a paved road around a km or so going up to the waterfall which is a small stream coming down the rocks to form a lot of small pools, each one having some people enjoying the water. We chose to go down to one of the lower pools to have some fun.
After that we left for Andretta, had tea in a quite picaresque place offering good views of Dharamshala opposite eco park of military area. A nail pierced my right front tyre after this break and had to change the tyre alongside the road just 2kms from Dharamshala. It is quite scary to change the tyre to roadside however I put some stone a little away and asked my father and nephew to stand o both sides to alert careless drivers. The advanteages of a tubeless tyre dawned on me then and there!
Since it was about 6 I thought let me get the puncture repaired so that I am not stranded if unfortunately another happens, I kept on asking for puncture repair shop and was guided ‘a little ahead’ on an on till I finally spotted one at Dari, an outskirt of Dharamshala, opposite a place which I later realized was a crematorium(Named Swarg ashram! ).The tube had 4 puctures though I had stopped as early as I could. Got it fixed and left around 7:45 Pm. We called up the guest house care taker to keep the food ready around 9:15. We reached there at around 9 pm and had food and went for sleep to our rooms.
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Old 29th May 2010, 11:53   #12
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Did you not stay at Mc LeodGanj?
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Old 29th May 2010, 12:35   #13
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Hey!!

Thanks for sharing the travelogue with us. My Dad was posted in Ahlilal Army Canonment in 1984 (close to Palampur) and was commanding a unit that time. I have fond memories of the place

1. I remember digging up earth worms and going fishing in the stream below
2. having a picnic in the Baijnath temple lawns.
3. trekking almost daily and exploring the hills closeby
4. visiting the hydel power project at Jogindernagar and using the mono rail to reach the dam
5. World championship of Paragliding and a few paragliders using our army units ground to land instead of billing due to bad weather (unfortunately one died in front of us as he hit a rock)
6. Ahlilal tea gardens.

I visited all these places last year and enjoyed thoroughly. There a few places like Andretta and the pottery factory that I could not visit, hence am enjoying them through this.

Thanks!!
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Old 29th May 2010, 20:00   #14
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Default some more pics from Dharamshala

You were lucky growing up in such a beautiful place! If it rains the hills look heavenly, I remember driving through Bundla estate last year when it was drizzling with tea gardens on both sides, I was on second gear and had taken off my foot from the accelerator and letting car go by itself, wishing the road never ends,with 60's music to company on car audio system!

I leave you with some more pics from Dharamshala, the first one is view of Triund Rest House from Naddi , i wish I had more Zoom than a poor 3X!The pics are from Naddi,st John's church, Mcleodganj and bhagsunag respectively.
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Old 29th May 2010, 21:30   #15
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The road on picture 18?
Is it the one that leads to the residential at McLeodganj?
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