SUNDAY FEATURE: Palampur – An Enthralling Getaway

The land where sparkling streams and brooks adorn the green carpeted landscape, giving way to spectacular views of the mighty Dhauladhars overlooking the lush green tea gardens, is none other than the alluring Palampur – literally meaning the land of abundant water!

The Tea Capital

Situated in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh this British tea plant legacy is also known as ‘The Tea Capital of Northwest India’ and is world famous for its ‘Kangra Tea’! Palampur offers you the exquisite experience of strolling and feasting your eyes at the lush green tea gardens all around. The air drips of sensuous aroma of the tea leaves while pine trees render it a relaxing and a rejuvenating quality. One can enjoy time at the Bundla Tea Co-operative or observe tea making process at the Palampur Tea Co-operative.                    

Tea garden in Palampur

People of Palampur are warm and friendly. They celebrate the local festival of Sair with much ecstasy and enthusiasm. The legend has it that worshiping the Shair deity during the Sair Festival protects the region from heavy rains and crop failure, bringing prosperity to the region (and Palampur is indeed one of the most developing and economically thriving regions of Himachal Pradesh!).

 Apart from the exotic tea, the local food is no less tempting! The Khatti Dal, Mithe Chawal and Chooar Ka Raya excite one’s palate. The ayurvedic treatments at Palampur are also popular.

Artist’s Delight!

About 13kms from Palampur is the serene village of Andretta. It is an artists’ village which was once the home for the painter Sobha Singh and playwright Norah Richards. The Sobha Singh Art Gallery and the Andretta Pottery House are quiet a mosaic of art and culture. Another remarkable monument is the 1200 years old Mahadev temple at Baijnath near Palampur.

                      

Mahadev Temple

The Shikahra style architecture and the fine sculpture are prolific in its own kind! The ‘Shivratri Festival’ held there is a well attended fair with people coming in from across the country. Another peculiar thing about Baijnath, as locals told, is that people here worship Ravana for his superb intelligence and knowledge!

The Adrenaline Rush

For those who want sheer adventure- Bir and Billing are the ideal places. They are approximately 35 kms from Palampur and are known well for paragliding and hang-gliding. Every year Himachal Pradesh government conducts International Paragliding Competition at Bir-Billing.

Paragliding at Bir – Billing

Treks can be made from Palampur towards Chamba which are fascinating and easy. A short trek can also be made to Neugal Khad on the periphery of the town which is an awe-inspiring chasm. The more tough treks are from Sanghar Pass to Bharmaur via Holi and from Baijnath over the Jarser pass to Bharmaur.

Other places to see nearby…

  • The Saurabh Van Vihar, in the vicinity of the Neugal Khad is a well preserved natural park – ideal for picnics!
  • The Taragarh Palace which was  once the summer palace of the last Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir is worth visiting. It is now a luxury hotel.
  • The Tashijong monastery near Taragarh is also very impressive.
  •  The monolithic rock cut temples at Masroor, about 40kms from Palampur, are a stunning architectural piece of art.
  • The temples of Jawalamukhi and Chamunda Devi are popular pilgrimage centres.
  • The Kangra Fort located on the outskirts of the town of Kangra makes one walk through the walls of history.
  • The Kangra Toy Train journey to Palampur is also a great experience with beautiful views to lay your eyes on!

FACT FILE

How to reach:

 Palampur is well connected by all means of transportation. The Kangra airport is just 40 kms from Palampur. The nearest railway station is at Maranda which is about 3 kms from the main bus stand. Palampur is 254kms from Chandigarh via Pathankot by road.

Where to stay:

There are many hotels and resorts in Palampur to stay in.

Climate:

The mild climate makes Palampur a comfy zone for every tourist.

Best time to visit:

Palampur can be visited throughout the year but the best time would be from March to June and mid September to November.

Published in Identity India in its August 2013 issue

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