Himachal Pradesh has become India’s most popular hill resort owing to its easy accessibility and diversity of hill stations which are known for cool and salubrious climes, seats of much worshipped religious deities and adventure sports. Dalhousie is one such hill station which is increasingly becoming popular among home and foreign tourists. Nestled on the spur at the western end of Dhauladhar, Dalhousie in its present shape was founded in 1850’s when the British acquired five hills from the ruler of the Chamba State for developing the area as a sanatorium. The project originated with Lt. Col. Napier, then Chief Engineer of Punjab; (‘afterwards Lord Napier of Magdala”). In 1851 a spot where the Dayan Kund Ridge breaks in to spurs was selected for the project and Kathalagh was identified for the construction of Convalescent Depot. Dr. Clemenger of the 49th Native infantry was deputed to make necessary observations on the site. In 1853 the five hills of Kathalagh, Potreyn, Terah (now called Moti Tibba by the locals), Bakrota and Bhangora were acquired by the Govt. of India from his Highness the Raja of Chamba who was allowed a reeducation of Rs. 2000 from the annual tribute of Rs. 12,000 paid by him. Since the estate was founded in the time of Lord Dalhousie the sanatorium was recommended to be called “Dalhousie” by Sir Donald McLeod.
In the year 1866 more land was required in Bahloon and Bakloh hills for the construction of barracks of the Convalescent Depot and as Cantonment for the 4th Gorkhas respectively. For these two portions of the Chamba State, a further deduction of Rs. 5000 a year was made from the tribute payable by the Chamba Raja. With the expansion of the estate which started during the British raj, the whole area has come to be known as Dalhousie. After acquisition in 1850s Dalhousie was a made a part of Kangra district of Punjab state. Later it was transferred to the Gurdaspur district in August 1861. Only after recorganisation of the states, Dalhousie became a part of Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh on Ist Nov., 1966.
Unlike several other hill stations of Himachal Pradesh, Dalhousie is favourite among those who seek solitude and restfulness. Off late some aggression of Punjab can be seen in the behavior of tourists who take a Maruti hop from Ludhiana, Jalandhar and other parts of Punjab to this serene and quiet hill station. However, their uproarious laughter, loud manners, singing and bhangra dancing remain far from creating any sort of law and order situation. The place is remarkably crime free.
The greatest activity in Dalhousie is on and around the three level Malls which were laid in the early 1860s for promenades, carriages, horses, dandies, etc. these roads and the steeper by-lanes which connect them to the bus-stand are still the arteries of the town. The Malls around Moti Tibba and Potreyn hills are the most popular among the tourists as the two are level and most of the business activity and hotels are around them. Gandhi Chowk, Upper bazaar. Subhash chowk, Catholic church of St. Frances, Sadar bazaar and the Convent founded by an Order of Belgium nuns and their Sacred Heart School are on these two malls. Dalhousie’s third and highest mall was built around the upper Bakrota hill nearly a 1000 feet above the G.P.O. (Gandhi Chowk). This mall was the favourite of Dr. Hutchison: “of these Upper Bakrota mall is finest and the longest being fully 3 miles round and from it extensive views are obtained of the low hills and figure of eight walk on the two malls encircling Moti Tibba and Potreyn hills is very pleasant and popular among local people and tourists.
An ardent admirer of the scenic beauty of Dalhousie Dr. Hutchison would like a visitor to stand on Dayan Kund at 9000 feet where the magnificent panorama greets the beholder. He writes, “ Facing south-west the Kalatop spur is on the right with the Dalhousie hills, Bakrota, Terah, Porain and Kathalag – stretching away towards the Ravi. Bakloh is seen at a greater distance on the left and beyond are the ridges and valleys of the siwaliks, running parallel to one another and losing in distinctness as they recede towards the plains. Far in the distance is the outermost ridge, with the cut near its extremity to allow the Chakki to flow in to the Beas. Near this is Pathankot, with Shahpur a little farther to the north-west, on the Ravi.
Within the siwalik area two wide river beds are seen running parallel, the one to the east being the Chakki and that to the west, the Ravi. East of the Chakki are the siwalik hills round about Nurpur; and across the Ravi, to the west, the same ridges and valleys, stretch away in the direction of Jammu.
On a clear day three atleast of the great Punjab rivers are visible glittering in the sunshine and losing themselves in the plains beyond, which seems to melt away into infinite space. These are the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi, even the Chenab may sometimes be seen.
Turning to the north the gaze rests on an amphitheater of lofty ranges, with foreground of mountain and valley, forest, gorge and stream. Closing in the horizon to the west and the north-west are the rounded summits of the Kund Kapalas and Daganidhar, which in summer are entirely free of snow. Beyond them are Bhadrawa and Balesa in Jammu. To the north and north-east the snowy pinnacles of the mid-himalaya or Pangi range stretch out in majestic array, many of them rising to an altitude of 18,000 and 19,000 feet. Beyond them are Pangi and Lahaul. Towering up from behind them are two lofty peaks, covered with snow, one slightly rounded and the other pointed and precipitous, which among Europeans are known as the Bridge and the Bridegroom. These are in the Gurdhar range in Pangi, and are about 21,000 feet in height, being the highest peaks in Chamba state. Far to the south-east the eye can trace the line of the Dhauladhar till the ranges is lost in a mighty maze of snowy mountains, chief among which is the Kailas at whose base rest the sacred lake of Manimahesh.”
As Shimla finds its focus in the mall, in Dalhousie action gravitates in the evening to the G.P.O. which presents a riot of colours and activity. Sometimes it even becomes difficult to surge ahead without jostling and elbowing. Most of the good eateries and handicraft emporia, hotels and of course the ever attractive Tibetan market are all around the G.P.O. There is a library and a reading room at the G.P.O. for the convenience of the tourists.
The Post Office is also located at the G.P.O. It remains open from 10a.m. to 5 p.m. Conversion of currency is possible at Punjab National Bank. The business hours in the Bank are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dalhousie has a number of period buildings. Most of them are occupied by state Government offices officials. Jandrighat, the summer palace of the Raja of Chamba is a well maintained edifice.
There are a number of good public schools in Dalhousie. The best is the Sacred Heart School of the Belgium nuns. Besides there are another half a dozen schools which attract the wards of the affluent and well to do families from India and abroad.
Even during the pre-partition days, Dalhousie attracted large number of tourists. Some of the distinguished personalities like Ravinder Nath Tagore, Subhash chander Bose and Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru visited Dalhousie in their formative period to immerse themselves in the leisurely quiet of this hill station. The calm and compose walks of the thick forests stirred the poet in Ravinder Nath Tagore. Some of his early poems are set against the backdrop of Dalhousie. Sardar Ajeet Singh, chacha of Sardar Bhagat Singh and a freedom fighter himself came to rest his tired limbs in Dalhousie and he breathed his last just before declaration of India’s Independence on 15th August, 1947. there is a samadhi in the memory of Sardar Ajit Singh at Panchpula which is a place frequented by every tourist.
Pt. Nehru visited Dalhousie in 1925 and Subhash Chander Bose convalesced in Kynance near the Post-Office for about seven months in 1937. Dalhousie Centenary Celebrations were held in August, 1954. Late Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, the then Prime Minister presiding over the occasion, drew the attention of government and people of India for rehabilitation of this beautiful hill station. He said,”One of the finest hill station in is Dalhousie from the beauty point of view, climate and agreeable surroundings. It is not a flashy hill station like some other and there are few amusements there… for my part, I would rather go to Dalhousie than almost any hill station in India, Kashmir apart…”
Places near Dalhousie of Tourist Importance
Panchpula, a beautiful spot, is barely 3 kms. from G.P.O. On the way to Panchpula is Satdhara springs gurgling with refreshing water, believed to contain some medicinal properties. Panchpula stream is the main source of water supply to Dalhousie and Bahloon. The stream springs from the north side of DayanKund and runs down a picturesque ravine to the waterworks of Panchpula. There is an elegant monument erected at Panchpula where several streams meet at one point. This monument, a samadhi was built in memory of great revolutionary Sardar Ajit Singh who breathed his last in Panchpula. There is Tourism restaurant and several chai shops in Panchpula that offer hot and cold beverages and snacks.
Kynance is a private residential building of Dharamvirs. This building was constructed during the year 1933 by Dr. N.R.Dharamvir of Lahore. This building acquired historical significance due to the reason that Neta Ji Subhash Chander Bose, a class fellow of the wife of Dr. Dharamvir, stayed with them for a period of 7 months beginning May, 1937. Before arriving in Dalhousie, Neta Ji was in British Jail where his health had deteriorated. On the request of his younger brother the British High Court released Neta Ji on parole on health grounds. It brought Neta Ji to the climate of Dalhousie. Kynance is barely 50 kms. from G.P.O. It lies hidden from the public eye below the road. An insignificant looking board bearing the name of Kynance hangs from a tree and is discernible to only those tourists who have an eye for details.
Just approximately 1 km from G.P.O. is a charming natural spot called Subhash Baoli. Neta ji Subhash Chander Bose during his 7 months sojourn in Dalhousie in 1937 is believed to have spent most of his days by the side of this water body, meditating amidst dense woods of Cedar and meeting his party workers. This place lies on the G.P.O. - Jandri Gaht Road. A canopy with seating facilities has been created by the local administration at this place.
ST. Andrew’s Church
St. Andrew’s Church commonly known as the Church of Scotland was built in the year 1903 at Baloon by Protestant Christians. The Church is approximately one and half kms. from Dalhousie’s bus stand. The Church building is in good condition, recently a brick boundary wall has been erected around it to save the building from mischief mongers.
ST. Patrick’s Church
This Church is situated in Baloon, Dalhousie Cantt., on Military Hospital road approximately 2 kms. from main bus stand. St. Patrick’s Church is the largest church in Dalhousie having a seating capacity of 300 persons in its main hall. The Church was built in the year 1909 and the dressed-stone building is still in good condition. This Church was built exclusively from contribution made by officers and ranks of the British Army. At present the Church is managed and maintained by the Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar.
ST. Francis Church
This Catholic Church is a very prominent monument on the Subhash Chowk. This Church was built in the year 1894 from the contributions made by Army and Civil Officers and Civilians. This Church is managed and maintained by the Cathoilic Diocese of Jalandhar. St. Francis’ Church on Prtrain hill is believed to have been built on the lines of a certain church in England. Beautiful glass work and intricate stone work can be seen in the Church. Service is conducted every Sunday.
By the side of the Church is the residence of the Priest. The building is called Alverna better known to the local people as "Lambe Chole Wale Padri Ki Kothi".
ST. John’s Church
This Church stands on the Gandhi Chowk approximately 2 kms. from the main bus stand of Dalhousie. This Church was the first to be built after the town of Dalhousie was founded. Prior to 1863 a wooden structure stood at this place. The idea to build a stone structure took birth with the arrival of Rev. John H. Pratt who came to Dalhousie on 11-04-1863 and inspired the Christian community to build a permanent church building at this place. Building of this church is a copy of Roman Catholics church of England but this church belongs to Protestants. The church building stands in a good condition but its surroundings demand much better care. Service is conducted on every Sunday.
Laxmi Narayan Temple
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and was built more than 150 years ago. The temple enshrines a beautiful image of Lord Vishnu. The temple is frequented by local devotees. The temple is located in Sadar Bazar approximately 200 mtrs. from Subhash Chowk.
Radha Swami Satsang Bhawan & Hospital
Dalhousie holds great significance for the followers/ disciples of Radha Swami sect of Beas (Punjab). This Satsang Bhawan is situated near Moti Tibba 300 mts. from Gandhi Chowk (G.P.O). In recent times many people from the nearby villages of Dalhousie have embraced the Radha Swami Sect. Every Sunday from 10 AM to 11 AM Satsang is held in the above cited premises. The Present Radha Swami Chief Maharaj Gurinder Singh Ji visits Dalhousie twice a year. Even the Late Maharaj Charan Singh Ji was very fond of Dalhousie. It is believed that Baba Swarn Singh Ji was enlightend in Dalhousie.
Shivkul is an Ashram of Vimala Thakur, a re-knowned religious philosopher lady from Gujarat. Shivkul is on the Mall Road between Gandhi Chowk and Subhash Chowk. From here one can enjoy the beautiful panorama of Pir Panjal Hills, connecting Chamba Distt. with Jammu & Kashmir. During summer when Vimala Hi popularly known as Vimala Bahen comes to Dalhousie many foreigners as well as Indian disciples of Vimala Ji from all parts of the country and abroad gather in Dalhousie to attend her lectures on spiritualism.
Dakshina Murti is a yoga institution created by Dr. R. P. Kaushik of Sonepat/Delhi during mid seventies. Dr. Kaushik travelled all over the world to teach yoga and spiritualism. He died in July 1987. His followers still come to Dalhousie and stay at Dakshina Murti 200 mts away from Subhash Chowk on the small Mall known as Garam Sarak
Norwood is a beautiful House situated on the east of upper Bakrota Hill of Dalhousie. This house is also known as Kainth Wali Kothi is a local name given by people of Dalhousie. Approximately 5 kms from Gandhi Chowk on the Bakrota Mall, the kothi is surrounded by thick forest of deodars.
During 1925 a young Yogi Swami Satyanand came to Dalhousie and stayed here. He meditated here and took a silent vow that he will not break his fast till he finds the truth and God. After fasting for a month Swami Ji was enlightened with "Ram Naam". He called this place Tapo Bhoomi. After this enlightenment he wrote some noted books like Ramayana, Geeta Parbachan, Bhagti Parkash, Amritvani. He died on 30th November 1960. After his death a very close follower of Swami ji Bhagat Hans Raj Ji of Gohana is organising Satsang at Norwood presently known as Param Dham also called as Ram Ashram. Thousands of people from all over the country come to Dalhousie twice a year to attend Satsangs. About 250 people can stay at a time here when satsang is conducted.
Seven kms short of Dalhousie is Banikhet - the gateway to Dalhousie. At Banikhet the road bifurcates for Chamba and Dalhousie. This small place has gained importance with the setting-up of residential colony of Chamera Hydro-electric Project. There is a PWD rest house at Banikhet. A Nag temple in Padhar Maidan now called mini stadium is a place of worship for the people of Banikhet and villages around. The temple is approximately 150 years old.
Kalatop and Khajjiar are best explored if you take a three days walk from Dalhousie to Kalatop, Khajjiar and back Dalhousie. The trek is more or less level and requires good health, a pair of sturdy walking shoes. Kalatop is 10 kms from G.P.O. at an altitude of 8000 feet. Walking along the secluded and forested road through upper Nakorota hills, one reaches Lakkarmandi. Between G.P.O. and Lakkarmandi lies the Dalhousie water system, Tibetan Handicraft Centre and Dalhousie Potato Farm at Ahla. Lakkarmandi is nestled between 8600 feet high DayanKund peak on its right and Kalatop on the left. Dayan Kund has military installations and is closed to civilians except the local people who visit Bhulwani Mata temple near DayanKund.
Lakkarmandi is home for dhogri families that are engaged in charcoal making. Most of the dhogris have been driven to plains because of the fall in the demand for charcoal.
At Lakkarmandi there is a Wildlife Barrier to check movement of vehicles on the unpaved but narrow level road that runs 3 kms to Kalatop Forest Rest House. The walk from Lakkarmandi to Kalatop is through dense forest of pines and deodars. The solitude is occasionally broken by singing birds. The blissful solitude of Kalatop is ideal for the honeymooners. Permit for the rest house is obtainable from DFO, Wildlife, Chamba.
For More Information Please Contact:-
DC Office, District Chamba
Tel No 01899-225371
Additional Deputy Commissioner
Tel No 01899-222540
E-mail : NIC Chamba