Sometimes it’s going off the beaten path to find your own little secluded paradise. I’m talking about windows with snow capped views, warm quilts, roaring fireplaces and rumbling streams. That’s right!
I find immense joy in such remote unknown places away from any kind of civilization. I was planning my 2018 year end trip which included a long trip starting with Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Dalhousie. I was looking for an offbeat destination to spend my new year’s, away from the party goers and touristy places. And that’s when Chamba happened to me, while I was trying to zoom in and out of google maps, trying to find secluded, miraculous hideouts around Dalhousie. Chamba is about 50 kms from Dalhousie and most of them just make day trips to this mighty Himalayan kingdom.
The town of Chamba was founded in 920 AD by Raja Sahil Varman. Walled by the enormous Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges with Raavi River flowing in the valley, is known for the artistic traditions of its people and the architectural marvels that were built between the 8th and 10th century.
There is this miraculous little placed called H20 House tucked away in a small hamlet in Chamba, situated in Chimanoo village. H20 house is an ancestral property that is over a 100 years old. There is a river stream that flows through the house and that is precisely how the place acquires its name from the sound of water (H20). Infact, the loud rumble of cascading streams and gurgling rivers reverberates in the rooms and that is all you hear all day. It totally added to the beauty of the place.
Oh! And did I forget to mention about Romeo, the dog we met at H20 house – he will happily show you around the property. We spent a lot of time with Romeo and he is one of the most genial dogs we ever met.
H2O House promises you an experience like no other. It takes you back to a simpler times. It is an eco-friendly place and is a self-sustaining heaven in itself. There is also Sri Sri Ravishankar’s ashram right next to the property, where you have the chance to teach, if you intend to stay for a longer time.
We spent a good 3 days here with most afternoons spent by the river stream while listening to sounds of chirping birds and the gurgling river. And evenings, when the sun’s shift was up, we wrapped ourselves in shawls, sitting around the bonfire with glasses of rum and whisky. Special mention to the staff going the extra mile to ensure that we always felt at home and had everything we asked for.
If you are a traveler who loves going off the beaten track and exploring a hidden gem on vacations, you probably even love staying in intimate accommodation that is not crowded with people and offer something more than what you get in a posh hotel or resort – H20 house is the place to be! I cannot emphasize this enough, this is one of the most beautiful property I have stayed in. It is serene, pristine and absolutely beautiful.
Things to do/see in Chamba
- Chamera lake and Dam: We stopped by this place on our drive to Chamba from Dalhousie. Serendipitously encountered this roadside dhaba with stunning views of the Chamera lake. If I can recollect the name right, it was called Pir Panjal Dhaba. Look at that color of Chamera lake. So beautiful!
- Lakshmi Narayan Temple: The Lakshmi Narayan Temple is one of the oldest and largest temple in Chamba, which was built in around 11th century. It is considered as the main shrine of chamba people. The area includes six temples in a row from north to south and is dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva. It’s known for its architecture marvel.
- Rang Mahal: Not just natural beauty, Chamba has historical treasures to boast about. One of them is Rang Mahal, which is now been taken over by the Himachal Government and serves as Himachal Emporium, for beautiful local handicraft items.
- Chougan Ground: is the centerpiece for all activity in Chamba town and also the place where cultural festivals and Minjar Mela is celebrated. The annual Gaddi festival – Minjar Mela (held in August) has been celebrated every year since 935 AD.
- There are many other temples and other prominent places that you can visit, if you have plenty of time in hand – Hari Rai Temples, Sui Mata Temples, Chanunda Devi temples. You could also visit Bhuri Singh Museum.
- Try out the many specialties of Chamba
- Chamba Madra: While there are many dishes that can be tried, Chamba Madra is a local specialty, it is a rich, buttery mix of local rajma (kidney beans) and curd, to be savored with rice or rotis.
- Chamba Chappal: Another specialty of Chamba is the locally made Chamba leather chappals. The designs are artistic and the product is quite sturdy. There are a few shops in the local market to buy Chamba chappals and one can also see the artisans at work
- Chamba Chukh: Do try this out. It is a fiery pickle prepared in this region. We came back with 3 bottles of Chamba Chukh. It is prepared from locally grown chillies and is a generations old traditional preparation.
How to reach Chamba
Chamba is well connected with road network to all the major cities. There are direct Volvo and ordinary buses available from ISBT Kashmere Gate, Delhi to Chamba. The overnight bus journey from Delhi to Chamba takes around 12 hours.
The nearest railhead to Chamba is in Pathankot which is 120 km away. You can then take either a bus or a cab from Pathankot to Chamba. Alternatively, you can take a train to Chandigarh and then head on a bus to Chamba.
The nearest airport from Chamba is the Gaggal airport in Dharmshala, which is located at a distance of 124 km. Once at the airport, you can hire a taxi to reach your destination.