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A slice of nature, a sip of wine
Harnoor Channi |
April 21, 2006
Love to travel? We continue our reader driven series on must-visit places.
Harnoor Channi, 23, an executive with HCL Technologies in Noida, loves Palampur, a lush green paradise in Himachal Pradesh.
The best part about India is its many breathtaking nooks and crannies that are yet unexplored, not to mention unexploited.
My idea of the perfect hill station is not a commercial hub like Shimla or Mussourie. I'd rather travel to smaller towns hidden in the heart of the hills, known for nothing but the warmth of its people and its clean fresh air.
Palampur is one such place. You may not have heard of it, and those who have would attribute it to the military cantonment there. For others like me, Palampur is an unexplored jewel.
How to get there
A six-hour drive from Chandigarh and a long 12-hour drive from Delhi with stops, Palampur is a little out of reach for those who are seeking quick getaways. Yet, I would recommend taking the time to make this trip. We did a wise thing; we stopped over at Chandigarh for the night and set off for Palampur the next morning at 6 am.
The drive is beautiful -- long winding roads banked by lush green fields and barely any traffic. On our way, we stopped at a dhabba near Anadpur Sahib (a famous gurudwara where the Khalsa was started) and had mouth-watering aloo paranthas.
The best thing about the dhabbas in the north is that you spend a total of around Rs 100 for delicious food for four people and leave feeling completely satisfied. When we finally moved on, we had to cross Nangal (of Bhakra Nangal dam fame) and enter the ghats.
The gradual climb suited even someone like me who always gets vertigo when in the hills. Finally, just in time for lunch, we reached the beautiful town of Palampur.
Where to stay
We had the good fortune of knowing people in Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, a renowned research institute there, so we stayed at its guesthouse. The windows of our lovely big suites opened towards the mountains; it was a great experience and it just cost us Rs 150 a night. The only way of getting a room here is if you know someone in CSIR; the rooms are not open to the general public.
However, there is also a Hotel Yamini that is supposed to be the best here. The tariff averages to around Rs 3,000 per night for a double room.
Journey of discovery
The first day, we decided to just relax and take long walks.
Most people don't know Palampur has large expanses of tea estates. Acres of land growing leaf tea perfume the environment and are a feast for the eyes. In fact, my three days in Palampur left me addicted to the special brand of tea here!
During our walks, we discovered a naturotherapy centre called Kaya Kalp. Excited with our find, we returned the next day to be pampered and rejuvenated. I went in for their full body massage and steam bath (cost: Rs 100 per person).
I must confess -- those 50 minutes were nothing less than pure bliss. When we stepped out of there, I truly felt lighter and more beautiful!
The centre is relatively new and does not have an Internet presence yet. The best way to contact them is to walk in; you don't really need a prior appointment.
The evening was spent visiting the Sobha Singh (a famous artist who is best known for his paintings of Guru Nanak) museum. Located in a room within his own house, and now run by his niece, it was a lovely collection.
The sunset in Palampur was worth dying for. Snowcapped peaks, pine forests and the sky ablaze -- it was a moment of silence and beauty.
Besides the tea, you can also take home the fruit wines they make in this region. These include delicious, beautifully presented kiwi wines, peach wines, apple wines, etc. The price ranges from Rs 150 to Rs 400 for a 750 ml bottle, which is quite a steal when compared to Indian wines like Sula.
A perfect evening in Palampur is about putting up your feet, sipping wine and watching the sun set between snow capped mountains. It makes one realise this is what life is all about!
Finally, on our last day, we packed our bags and looked back at this quaint little town one last time. It was with a heavy heart but rejuvenated mind that we started on our journey back to the hustle and bustle of city life.
Besides the famous tea and wines, we carried back with us a humble sense of gratitude towards Nature for allowing us to witness her in all her glory.
Phone: (1894) 230631
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