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The Himalayan Sojourn- Part-II

After a busy day of traveling from Chandigarh to Shimla and visiting many places in Shimla, we were tired and started the next day leisurely. By the time we began the next day’s traveling it was already 9.30 am.

If you have missed the first part of this journey then here it is-

The Himalayan Sojourn- Part-I

We had nice breakfast with lovely tea at the hotel itself.  Now the problem with staying in any hotel at Lakkad Bazar area is cars or for that matter,  no vehicle can come till hotel as it is prohibited by the authorities. One has to carry the luggage down to the road to reach the vehicle. If luggage is heavy then it is better to ask the hotel guys to arrange a person to carry the luggage. Once the loading was over we started the trip for the day. Our aim today was to reach Rampur by night after visiting places like Kufri, Fagu, Narkanda, Hatu on the way.

View from the Kufri top.

The first stop was Kufri, which is 22 km from Shimla on NH-22. At the average elevation of 2,630 meters (8607 feet), Kufri is famous for skiing during winter months. In other seasons the climate remains pleasant in the day time but becomes cold to extremely cold during the night time. Once we reached the base of the hill, a steep climb was waiting for us. Well, you don’t have to climb this steep path; there are horses available at Rs. 350 per horse with a guide at the base to take you up to the peak. Though it’s very good for the people who love horse riding but this is not an easy ride! It takes around 30 minutes of a very uncomfortable ride up, at times through extremely narrow and muddy pathway. You have to be very attentive throughout the ride. Going up is still somewhat manageable but coming down from the hill with the horses almost running down the narrow path muddy path, sometimes brushing other horses which are coming up, it’s a journey you would not want to prolong!  A real adventure for sure! You definitely need to have guts! Though the views from the top are excellent and on a clear day one can also see the good views of snow capped mountains from there but the same is true with a lot of other places around Shimla. At the peak you can have your photos clicked sitting on a majestic Yak, holding a gun or you can show off some of your shooting skills by taking aim at sand filled plastic soft drink bottles or visit the temple at the top or you can just sit, have Maggi with hot coffee. In short Kufri top is a beautiful place but I felt it be little overstated and extremely crowded place in the peak season. By the time we got down to the base of the hill it was already 02 p.m.

One of many apple farms at Fagu-Theog Valley

We had our lunch at a small but beautiful restaurant called ‘Lazeez’ overlooking Fagu valley on the highway, around 15 km from Kufri. The place was quiet, food was awesome and the price was also reasonable. In short a perfect place to relax after adventures horse ride at Kufri! After a little longer break, we leisurely started towards our next destination Narkanda and Hatu peak, around 34 km away on the same highway. The road was picturesque and full of apple orchards with full of half grown apples as the apple season was still a few months away. Most of the apple trees in the valley were covered by nets to save it from birds and from a distance, these nets look like scattered snow patches on the mountain slopes. No points for guessing that we took several photo breaks on the way.

The Hathu Mata temple at Hathu Peak, Narkanda, Shimla.

After Crossing Narkanda one need to take the right turn and drive 5 km through the woods up to the Hatu peak through a very narrow mountain road. The Hatu peak  is the main attraction of Narkanda and also the highest peak of Shimla district at 3400 meter or 12000 ft. The road is well demarcated by sign boards. The road is so narrow at some points that vehicles need to stop or take reverse to get or give the pass to any other vehicle coming from the opposite direction.  But the drive is very scenic. Finally, we reached Hatu peak around 4 p.m in the evening and what a place it is! The peak has an ancient temple dedicated to Hatu Mata, a temple of ‘Mandodari’, wife of demon king Ravana from Ramayana. It’s a beautiful wooden temple and is considered very sacred by the local people. Besides the beautiful temple, the Hatu peak offers stunning views of the valley below with rows of mountains on one side and snow capped mountain peaks on the other.

A stunning view from the Hathu top, Narkanda, Shimla

This peak receives heavy snowfall during winter and sometimes in other time too. The place is so mesmerizing that one can just sit on the edge of one of the cliffs and spend hours witnessing the act of hide & seek of light and shadow in the valley below and doing nothing. The best part is you won’t realize the time. I have no hesitation to say that if someone is coming to Shimla then he or she should not miss Hatu peak at Narkanda. It is undoubtedly the best place in Shimla. We spend around two hrs at Hatu peak and had to hurriedly come down from there as it started to rain suddenly and  also visibility was getting worse every passing minute because of dense cloud up there.

View from the top of a cliff at Hathu top, Narkanda, Shimla

By the time we joined the highway again to go to Rampur which is 66 km away, it started raining heavily. We stopped at a road side tea stall due to low visibility and also we felt the need for some hot tea  as the temperature dropped suddenly due to heavy rain. As the rain slowed down a bit we hit the road again. Mountains have secrets hidden at every bend. You can never predict what lies ahead of the next bend. It was just a few kilometers from our last stop the weather opened up a bit and now there was rain as well as the sun, both together and this unlikely togetherness formed a wonderful rainbow which was forming a colourful bridge between the two mountain tops. It was magical. This rainbow looked different from each bend of the road. It was just unforgettable.

Two Rainbows together- somewhere on the way to Rampur, Himachal Pradesh.

By the time we reached Rampur the rain had stopped. It was around 8.30 p.m in the evening when we checked into our pre-booked hotel The Bushehar Regency, Rampur. An HPTDC property situated just outside Rampur on the highway beside the Sutlej river. The sweet sound of the river makes the stay even more pleasant. The rooms were spacious, clean and provided both AC and Non AC options. In hills, you don’t need air conditioning.  At Rs.1350 per night per room, the hotel provides a good stopover for short stays and for those who want to go ahead to places like Sarahan, Sangla etc. With an in-house restaurant with good room service, you can’t ask for more at this very small hilly town of Rampur. After freshening up we went to the restaurant instead of ordering room service and had very simple yet tasty dinner for the night. We were not that tired unlike the day before at Shimla and had enjoyed the cool breeze outside the hotel for some time after dinner. The feeling of cool temperatures at the peak summer felt amazing. It was 12.30 a.m in the night when we reluctantly returned to our rooms to catch up some sleep before the next day’s journey.

Getting there

By Road– Shimla to Kufri- 22 km, Kufri –Fagu-Narkanda- 48 km, Narkanda to Hathu peak & back- 10 km, Narkanda to Rampur- 66km.

Stay- Those who are on a short trip to Shimla and making the base at ShimlaShimla has a variety of hotels suiting all budgets. Bus & Cab services are easily available if you are planning to take a day trip up to Hathu peak and back. But if you have time try staying at Narkanda for at least for one day to enjoy the beauty of Hathu to the fullest. Hotel Hathu by HPTDC at Hathu is a nice place to stay for the night. Pre book this hotel online if you are planning to visit during the peak season (April to Mid August).Those who are planning to go ahead to the places like Sarahan, Sangla etc can consider staying at Rampur.

Telecom/Internet Connectivity: Till Rampur good 3G service is available. All major telecom operators provide good service till Rampur. BSNL has the best service.

Precautions:

i. Keep some dry eatables with you, because after Narkanda there are only few tea stalls or dhabas which provide basic food. The food is generally hygienic and tasty.

ii. Remember you have come this far to see mountains so don’t expect straight roads. Motion sickness is common after spending long hours in the car, either driving or sitting in these bending roads. Keep some medicines with you and eat simple food during the day time. Please don’t over eat during the day time even if you find the food is very tasty. Drink lot of water, don’t take it at once but consume it after regular intervals.

 

 

 

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