Nothing against Shimla, but if you are looking for something offbeat, not so far, untouched and unspoilt by tourism, Narkanda is the place! My long time urge to buy ticket to a random place got me to Narkanda. A small village, 65 km away from Shimla, not so commercial, with just perfect landscapes one could ask for, and good food is an add on. Intentionally, we (me and 2 friends) didn’t plan the trip. Considering, this time, we actually wanted to feel what randomness is and wanted to face the challenges a traveller face. They say,
Planning for Shimla? Go Narkanda instead.
“Do something which your future self will be proud of. Visit a place where you have never been, talk to people, make new friends, taste their food, and know their culture. Take chances, feel what scares you, that’s how you get the essence of it and that’s the whole idea of “Travel”.
Day 1We started from Chandigarh for Shimla in the afternoon. The idea of “unplanned trip” was exciting and bit scary at the same time. But we continued with our random gossips and music, without realising we were in Himachal Roadways and people were noticing us. But our idea was to enjoy every moment without thinking “Log kya kahange”. We reached Shimla at 8 p.m. and that’s the time when it is bit difficult to get public transport in the mountains. A gentleman, the co-traveller in the bus, had his car parked in the bus stop and he offered us lift. Himachali’s are known for their helping nature and we encountered that on the very first day. He dropped us at the Mall road. We got ourselves a room and spend the night roaming around the Mall Road. The place is extremely commercial and is full of tourists (24*7*365) but during night, it was all quite and we could actually enjoy the beauty of mighty mountains.
Day 2Ready with our backpacks, we left for Narkanda in the morning. Away from the maddening crowd, the valley welcomes you with a view of Himalayan mountain ranges on one side along with tall pines, spruce and scattered maple and aspen trees on the other side.The narrow curvy road has its own charm. The valley soothes with the silence of its surroundings. The major attraction in Narkanda is “Hatu Peak”, which is almost 8 km by road from there. One can go via taxi to the peak but we chose to trek. We started the trek as soon as we reach Narkanda. In the beginning of the road, there is a famous “Chinese Van”, which probably serves the best Maggie in town. After having Maggie, we started the trek at 12’o’clock and reached the peak at around 3.
Hatu Mata Temple (11250 feet above sea level)A 5 km trek through the varied colours and serenity of fascinating Deodar jungle, scattered red maple leaves, glimpses of mighty Himalayan peaks blinking out of pine trees takes you to the famous Hatu Temple. This small wooden temple is dedicated to ‘Mandodari’ wife of ‘Ravana’. Spend some time at the Hatu peak as you enjoy the splendid panoramic views of Narkanda on one side and Rohru on the other side. Just a little further down the path is the lush green meadow of Joaba. Stop for a short picnic and laze around the nature-trimmed Joaba Meadow at the end of this beautiful walk. After spending some time there, we took lift on our way back to Narkanda. After coming back, we started our search for the hotel.It was not at all difficult. There are few small guest houses which were hygenic & economical. People were equally welcoming.There is one old and famous “New Himalayan Dhaba” on the mail road (there is only one road anyway) which offers the tastiest Punjabi meals (both veg. and non.veg.) During our stay, we had all our meals from the same dhaba.
Day 3We were supposed to leave in the morning. But we were totally captivated by the place, its weather, charm and the positive aura. We decided to explore more. Randomly hanging out on the curvy streets, we did 2 more treks on the small mountains in the area.We left the place at 6 in the evening and took the bus back to Chandigarh. These 3 days made me realise – Travel is not always pretty, it isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts; it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay.
The journey changes you. It leaves a mark on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you… Hopefully, you leave something good behind.Distance (from Chandigarh): 173 kms
Best time to visit: March to June. During Dec-Feb, you can experience snow.
Route: Chandigarh – Kalka – Shimla – Fagu – Theog – Narkanda