From Cherries in Thanedar to the murky Sutlej
Trip Start Apr 18, 2010
11Trip End Apr 26, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Hotel The Hatu, Narkanda
Our driver Vinod picked us up from the Chandigarh airport for what was meant to be a 4-1/2 hr drive to Narkanda. Fat chance!
The agony of a major traffic snarl at Kalka was eased by the discovery of some beautiful wooden doors on an old building on the Kalka main road.
Old Haveli at Kalka
Pretty jacaranda compensates for the traffic jam
ending snarl. The traffic here is worse than in Bombay, at least it
moves back home!
Dharampur enroute was our lunch stop - at Gianiji da Dhabba, justly recommended but terribly overcrowded. The food is scrumptious, a taste that you could never ever hope to get in Bombay.
Our driver missed the Shimla bypass, resulting in our getting stuck in the worst traffic snarl ever in Shimla city. Our journey was unnecessarily prolongued by more than 2 hours.
Why would anyone in their right minds want to stay in Shimla? I suppose one should think of Shimla, not as a hill station, but as the BIG capital of a state, which only happens to be located on the ridge of a mountain!
Our failure to spot the Shimla bypass exit cost us more than an hour here
Gorgeous wild irises provide a visual respite
Wild flowers, a welcoming woolly goat and a beautiful sunset as we approached Narkanda
We had booked at Himachal Pradesh Tourism's Hotel aptly named The Hatu, nestled in the Hatu range, at the highest location in Narkanda.
Government properties always have excellent situations. Aesthetic and simple of design, the rooms were large and comfortable with a heater and extra quilts thoughtfully thrown in. The staff, ably led by Rajinderji the Manager, were warm, welcoming and served us a hearty home style dinner. We also partook of a bottle of local Himachal fruit wine, tasting like a deliciously spirited punch!
Our room had views on both sides, of the valley, the picturesque Circuit House, and of the Hatu peak. The room boy proudly boasted that we would get both sunrise and sunset. He was spot on. We had picture postcard, if cloudy views from our room the next morning.
As it was overcast, Rajinderji suggested that we head towards the Thanedar area and save the visit to the Hatu peak for a clear skies day.
The Thanedar road branches off a hairpin bend on the NH22 at Narkanda, past the pretty Circuit House and the narrow roads leading to Tethy's Resort and the Hatu Peak. The steep Hatu slopes are covered in very tall coniferous forest with several beautiful walking meadows. Not surprisingly we spent quite a lot of time just ambling along and off the road breathing in crisp, clean air.
Pretty Himalayan wildflowers dotted the edge of the road and the grassy meadows
A short diversion from the main Thanedar road led us to the teeny Tanu
Jubbar Lake [Tani Jubbar lake] - more of a pond surrounded by
coniferous forest with a temple at one end.
Heading back along the main Thanedar road, we entered cherry and apple country. Cherries were ripening on the trees. We had missed the apple blossom season which was early this year. Now we could see little baby apples forming in the orchards!
Orchard country is a delight to walk through. Pink Himalayan gorse hedges line the roads.
Wildflowers abound with their attendant butterflies and pretty valley views appearing every now and then.
After meandering through the orchards, we decided to go down to the Sutlej valley along a winding country road. Beautiful jewel coloured swallowtail butterflies were mud puddling along the roadside. We gave a lift to a local Himachali lady who would otherwise have walked 5km to the school where she taught.
The Sutlej valley is most disappointing. The murky Sutlej river divides the Shimla and Kullu districts. The mountains on the Kullu side are barren and deforested. The water of the Sutlej is grey and looks cement laden. Not unlikely considering the pollution from the major dam project upstream. Adding insult to injury, it was hot, dry and dusty in the valley.
After a simple but most delicious rajma chawal lunch at a dhaba at Bithal, we headed along the river towards Nirath. A horse and its foal provided interest to the landscape. A suspension pedestrian bridge across the river led to a village on the opposite bank. Most of the villages on the slopes do not have motorable roads. People walk miles each day. No wonder they look so healthy and fit. Beyond Nirath, the highway goes on to Rampur Bushehr a major city, and then into the Kinnaur district. This is the new Hindustan Tibet Road, and the route for Sangla, Kalpa and Kaza.
We took the highway back to Narkanda. The road winds its way up through Kinjal where we were amused to discover a pair of cute furry dogs and a chicken in the back of a truck along with mattresses and cooking utensils. It was a nomadic family getting a ride somewhere. After Kinjal came Kumarsain, where we got a good glimpse of the SSB training grounds, situated in an idyllic location. On a clear day, the perma snow capped peaks of the high Himalayas are visible from several stretches of the highway.