Saturday, April 30, 2011

Trip to Chindi-Karsog-Shimla : April 2011

[Travelogue continues from Trip to Tirthan Valley-Jalori Pass ]

After bidding a good bye to Raju and Varun, we departed Gushaini at 9.30 a.m. Our driver Fateh Singh was constantly in touch with his friends at Banjar to know the fate of the mud road over Tirthan river following the overnight rains. It was only when we saw two HPRTC buses coming from Kullu and Aut,  we had a shy of relief. Eventually, we crossed the make-shift mud road  not without some anxious moment as Tirthan river was flowing just above the mud road. [We came to know later at Chindi that the mud road through Tirthan river was washed away in the afternoon cutting off the link between Kullu and Gushaini].

Valley view on way to Chail Chowk
After a tea break at Pandoh, we resumed our journey towards Chindi via Chail Chowk-Rohanda-Bakhrot. The road from Pandoh to Rohanda was fairly good but Rohanda-Bakhrot road was not in good shape forcing us to restrict the drive in 20-30 kmph range most of the time. There was not much of traffic on the road. The drive on Pandoh-Chindi road was most rewarding in terms of its scenic beauty. The road skirted the wide and deep valley with beautiful houses, orchards and stepped farms and passed through the forest of mostly deodhar and pine trees. A stream flowing through the valley completed the perfect scene for a picture post card.

View of the valley on way to Chail Chowk
From Bakhrot, it was 3 kms drive to reach Chindi village and HPDTC’s Hotel Mamleshwar was located further 500m ahead. It was raining when we reached Hotel Mamleshwar at 4.30 pm. We got rooms which were spacious with room heaters, TV and 24 hours hot water ( @Rs.1000/- plus taxes). The ambiance of the Hotel was good with lawns and gardens on the frontage.  After tea and some snacks, we strolled towards Chindi village which was, in fact, a small hamlet with dozen shops and a few houses. An old Durga temple ( and a new one under construction) predominated the village. The view of the entire Karsog valley with snow clad mountains in the background from Chindi was mesmerising. Karsog was not in my itinerary but seeing this wide valley, I made my mind to visit this place the next day which meant a detour of about 15 kms from Chindi via Bakhrot. We had dinner in hotel’s restaurant ( that is the only place to eat in Chindi and the food was basic but good).
A giant rock with painted Hanuman near Rohanda.

A stone house with square slate tiles on way from Rohanda to Bakhrot

HPTDC's Mamaleshwar Hotel, Chindi

Chindi village with Durga temple in the background.

My decision to visit Karsog was reinforced by HPDTC Manager who strongly suggested to make a detour to Karsog  town and visit one of the oldest temple in Himachal Pradesh – Mamaleshwar temple, 3 kms from Karsog town. We departed Chindi at 10.00 am for Karsog. The road from Bakhrot  to Karsog was good except in Karsog town where it was not in good shape apart from slow down in movements of traffic due to congestion. It was interesting to see the change in perspective of Karsog valley from Bakhrot (1800m)  to Karsog (1350m) - from higher to a lower elevation. While houses at higher reaches of the valley was surrounded by mostly apple orchards, houses at the lower levels of the valley were encircled by stepped farms. Houses looked neat and well organised with all of them having square slate roof tiles.  A further 3 kms of drive from Karsog led us to Mamaleshwar temple.  The temple is stated to be 5000 years old. Lord Shiva is the presiding deity. It has carved wooden doors and carved statues of other deities. Photography is prohibited inside the temple complex. There were another couple of temples in the vicinity of Karsog like Kamaksha Devi temple known for temple architectures but we were short of time. I guess, one full day may be required to explore the Karsog Valley itself. Perhaps a separate visit to Mandi-Janjehli-Chindi-Karsog is required to explore the surrounding places.
Karsog Valley seen from Chindi at dawn.

A part of Karsog Valley on way to Karsog.

Mamaleshwar Temple, Karsog
The drive from Chindi to Shimla was smooth as the road was wide and in better condition. After taking a lunch break at Tattapani and spending some time at the banks of Satluj in small hot water ponds, we reached the HPDTC hotel The Peterhof  ( Delexe room @ Rs.2700/-) in Shimla at around 5.30 pm. I had already done reservation at this hotel. The hotel is at the central place yet away from hustle bustle of a big hill station. Rooms were very spacious with high ceiling and one ante-room for storage and dressing. In winter, the hotel is centrally heated and other times, a mobile room heater is provided which we had to use due to extended winter this time. The hotel being Himachal State Guest House also, it has been well maintained.
Satluj river at Tattapani

A longish strip of agricultural field near Basantpur on way to Shimla

HPTDC's Peterhof Hotel, Shimla

In the evening, we had a pleasant 2 km walk  to the Ridge via Mall road. The ridge was moderately crowded - mostly locals and tourists from neighbouring places to chill out in the rained soaked evening. After a cup of coffee at India Coffee House at Mall road, we returned to the hotel and had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. The food was good but the service was very slow.  

Jakhoo-Tara Devi-Sankat Mochan-Viceregal Lodge

We hired through the hotel a car for temple tour and drop at Viceregal Lodge (Logan @Rs.1000/- 5 hours). Incidentally, the car provider happened to be the one who had arranged our pick up at Chandigarh airport for Mandi drop.  We started for the temple trips around 10.00 a.m. starting with Jakhoo temple. As we walked towards the temple under a shaded path, one of the many monkeys on the way snatched my wife’s spectacle and ran away. Luckily, a fellow visitor enticed the monkey with nuts and took back the spectacle intact. A giant Hanuman statue has been erected in the Jakhoo temple complex which is visible from Shimla Ridge. The next in line was Tara Devi temple located 15 kms from Shimla off the Shimla-Kalka Road. The temple is located on a hill top giving a superb view of Shimla and surrounding areas. Himalayan ranges and snow clad mountains can be seen from the temple’s viewing gallery. The last one was Sankat Mochan temple where Lord Hanuman is the main deity. There are separate temples for Lord Ram, Shiva and Ganesh.
Peterhof Hotel Lawn, Shimla

A docile group of monkeys on way to Jakhoo temple.

Jakhoo temple complex

Tara Devi Temple in the outskirt of Shimla

View of a village from Tara Devi temple
Since it was already 3.30 pm, we got ourselves dropped at Viceregal Lodge ( now Indian Institute of Advanced Study) which was on a walking distance from our hotel. We got tickets for the day’s last guided tour scheduled for 4.00 pm. The places inside the Viceregal Lodge which impressed me most were the Burma teakwood paneled Central Hall, historic conference room where Shimla Conference of 1945 was held and an antique clock which still works. The Institute has a small cafeteria where we had tea/coffee and some snacks. It was first time since our visit to Himachal Pradesh that we saw a sunny evening and instantly decided to visit Shimla Ridge once again. After doing some shopping at lower Mall road, we had dinner at Alfa restaurant at Mall road ( good Chinese food).
Sanket Mochan Temple, Shimla

Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

Burma teak wood paneled Central Hall of Viceregal Lodge, Shimla
Shimla to Parwanoo via Kufri-Chail-Khandaghat (110 kms)

The original plan was to start early from Shimla for Narkanda and get dropped at Parwanoo in the evening for the next day’s early morning Shatabdi Express from Kalka. The plan was dropped after knowing the pathetic condition of Shimla-Narkanda road. Instead we decided to spend some time at Chail Palace on our way to Parwanoo. As expected, road to Kufri was bad but thereafter it was smooth. We took a  break at Chail Palace and after strolling for a while around the Palace’s lawn, we took lunch at Palace restaurant. The food, though somewhat expensive, was very good. We reached Parwanoo via Khandaghat at 5.30 pm. In a hindsight, I had booked the rooms in Hotel Shivalik (@Rs.1300/-) through HPTDC’s online booking service available at Peterhof which turned out to be a good decision as the hotel was almost fully booked. The hotel was not well  maintained but looking at the other hotels around Kalka, this seems to be  a better hotel. We arranged through the hotel two cars to pick us at 5.30 a.m. (@Rs.150/- per car) for Kalka railway station drop which was barely 1.5 km down the road.
Shimla Ridge in the evening.

Next day, the cars reported at Hotel Shivalik on time and we were at the Kalka railway station in 5 minutes. With this, our eight days of Himachali bliss came to an end.


vishnu joshi said...

Nice post about Shimla tour.

Sadanand Kamath said...


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Alex Tudor said...

Great tour report, indeed nice.

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