As an avid traveller, I don’t restrict myself to the same kind of group. I love travelling solo as much I love travelling with family, cousins, friends and most of all the groups I take on tours. Meeting new people and travelling with them, opens up a whole new perspective. However, I have to confess that one travel companion I love travelling with the most, is my brother. And this trip to the Kangra Valley was extra special only because of this.
My elder brother came from the United States after a year, and that day I left home from Bakloh and drove on NH 43 for 3 hours towards Gagal Airport to receive him. We were super excited to meet each other! After we met each other, we decided to head south. Our plan was no plan at all. We stopped and spoke to random locals on the way and asked them to recommend beautiful and unexplored spots. And that became our impromptu plan.
After driving for half an hour, we reached a completely rural area of Kangra which is famous for temples. One of the temples is called, Masroor temple which was carved out of a large rock - a magnificent monolithic structure. It is one of its kind in entire Himachal Pradesh! The flower seller who stood next to the temple told us that it was founded by Lord Bhim. We offered prayers and then spent an hour talking near the banks of the small lake adjacent to the temple.
Discovering Tapta Pani
Both of us were keen to drive towards Dharamshala and on our way, we came to know about a place called Tapta Pani, which is a natural hot spring in an extremely remote area. The roads were in a bad condition and we could hardly spot any vehicle there. Soon we became a little unsure of this decision and felt that this place might not be the kind of place which we were looking for. However, moments later, out of nowhere we spotted a river and the view totally changed.
It wasn’t a disappointment at all! On the contrary, the hot springs in the river were flocked by foreigners who were also camping next to the river. There was a temple adjacent to the hot springs which gave the whole view a unique charm of its own. We were relieved and equally excited about this discovery and decided to camp here. As the spring was crowded, we had to wait for our turn to take a dip. However, we couldn’t stay inside for long, since it was a hot day.
By evening, we were tired to the bone and decided to find a camping spot to spend the night with other travellers. We pitched our tent right next to the river and later went inside the river for a few hours with some chilled beers to relax and cool off.
Like always I had carried our portable kitchen which came in handy for cooking diItser. It something I advise every road traveller. Very soon it got very dark and we went off to sleep under the open sky with millions and millions of stars staring upon us!
To Dharamshala & McLeodganj
We woke up early in the morning as we wanted to see the sunrise over the river. There were a few local people who were doing yoga & meditation with other foreign travellers. They were nice enough to ask us to join them. We managed to learn few aasanas and it got us prepped for the day.
We had a quick breakfast of eggs and headed off for our next destination towards Dharamshala. We have a lot of family members and friends in Dharamshala and have been visiting this place since childhood. We chose the “Khanayara road” route to Dharamshala which is slightly off but since it is at a really high altitude and up on the mountains, it offers an amazing view of the river, waterfall, and dense forest.
The drive was scary but at the same time an adventurous one too! We were on top of the mountains and literally touching the sky. We hiked up a little to see the Dhauladar ranges from a good vantage point and it looked like the mighty mountain was right next to me. For a moment I thought about how old these mountains were and the different eras they have stood through. We stayed there for some time and drank hot tea and had some delicious fried snacks. A traveller told us that this place is also famous for hiking trails, camping and more such activities. Had we not camped the last night, we would have made this our campsite stop for the trip. I noted it down for future trips.
The Other Charms Of Dharamshala
A good friend of mine, who lives in Dharamshala has a large
chain of hotels there. He invited us to stay in his place on top
of Dharmkot, which is one of the highest points in Dharmshala.
Most of the people already know quite a lot about Dharamshala
and Mcleodganj so I won’t give much information about these
places. These are basically touristy places and you will find lots
of people from India & abroad.
We reached there by evening, dropped our stuff
at his hotel and left for a stroll in the markets of Mcleodganj.
The crowd that evening was a little beyond my expectation
but fortunately it was a healthy mix of people from different kinds
of places. I like observing people & their varied cultures and a
crowded place like this is just perfect for this.
Of course, I also paid my visit to the monastery like I do on
every trip; while my brother spent the time at the
Tibet Quality Bakery right outside, where he usually picks up his supply of yak cheese.
Dinner was a delicious fare of Sino-Indian cuisine - appetizers and soup; where we shared the table with a couple from Germany. We then headed to a nightclub and stayed there till the wee hours of morning. As expected we woke up a little late and headed straight to my friend’s coffee shop in Dharmkot for breakfast.
We met him there and he introduced us to some of his friends from different countries. Interesting conversations took place and we chilled with them over some beers. Compared to Dharamshala, Dharmkot is not widely known to the people in India but it is a popular travel destination for foreigners.
We also got a chance to go for an Ayurvedic massage later and it was one of the most rejuvenating massages that I've ever had. Later, we went to check out some of the local tourist spots in Mcleodganj like the tea gardens, monastery, and the famed cricket stadium!
During lunch time we stopped by a famous restaurant which is known for Tibetan cuisines like thupka, momos, and other delicacies. After lunch we came back to my friend’s hotel and relaxed for some time.
There are many places like Tirun, Bhagsu falls where people go for hiking. My friend’s house is very close to Bhagsu falls so we hiked later in the evening to his place and were lucky enough to see the sunset over the waterfall. It is indeed one of the best views one can have.
Usually people start leaving this place after sunset. But as my friend lived near the falls we decided to stay there for a longer time and he dropped by later to set up a barbeque next to the waterfall. With a lot to catch up on, we took our own sweet time and reached the hotel around 12 am and went off to sleep.
Exploring The Unexplored
We had one more day to explore which we wanted to dedicate to the Kareli lake. We started our trip in the morning and after driving for around 2 hours we could see the lake from a higher altitude.
It was sparkling in the sun and looked splendid but we were informed by a tea stall owner that one needs to hike for 15 kms to reach the lake. Since we were very exhausted from our trip and had to head back to our home in Bakloh, we decided to see the lake some other time. We still had time and wanted to utilize it by exploring more such unique places. One of them where we managed to go was called 'Naddi'. It’s a 20 mins drive from Dharamshalala. We had to stop at a point and walk further for 10 minutes since it was difficult to drive to that area.
Bal was the name of the place in Naddi. It offers a scenic view of the forest and mountains and we were delighted to see it. The best thing about this place is that it is not crowded and that day there were few foreign tourists who were enjoying the hike, bicycling, and horse-riding.
This place is also famous for the Guna temple which is at a higher altitude and needs an additional hike of 15-20 minutes. The only thing that I wish was different was the weather. It was hot! And the hike added to the heat but luckily this place is next to a river which was super clear and had lots of safe swimming spots. So, like always, we jumped in and chilled for some time in there. Given the heat, our clothes dried right off our backs.
After our little swim, we were hungry and had lunch at a local cafe. We then drove for a few hours and reached a place called Dal Lake. The place was crowded - not something which we usually prefer, so we just stayed there for a while and then left for Bakloh. We were able to explore multiple places on our way. Writing about them would take another blog post, so I will just pin that for now and hope that the pictures will convey the idea. All in all, it was an enchanting experience of the magnificent Kangra.