Things to Do in Dalhousie: Dalhousie is a historical hill town in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Situated in the lap of the Pir Panjal mountains, the city was founded in 1854, when the British bought five hills namely Kaithlog, Potreyan, Bakrota, Tera, and Bhangora from the rulers of Chamba. He then developed them into a hospital for his soldiers recovering from leprosy and named the town after the British Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie.
Although overshadowed by the more popular hill stations of McLeodganj, Dharamshala, and Shimla, the city has retained much of its colonial charm and offers many attractions and breathtaking landscapes for a long weekend. Here are the top things to do on your next trip to Dalhousie.
Top 10 Things to Do in Dalhousie, India
- Go on a Trek to Pohlani Mata Temple
The highest point of Dalhousie, situated atop the Dainkund Peak, is the abode of the Hindu goddess Pohlani. While the trident at the temple is revered, a trek along the ridge on the way to the shrine offers stunning views of the rivers of Punjab, the Chamba Valley, and the snow-capped peaks of the lower Himalayas. From uphill, trekkers often trek up to Jot, a hilltop village that offers wide vistas, or downhill to the grasslands of Khajjiar.
- Plan a Visit to Mini Switzerland
The picturesque Khajjiar is a small hill station in Himachal Pradesh. With a landscape that is topographically similar to Switzerland, it was dubbed the “Mini Switzerland of India” by the then Swiss envoy Willy P. Blaser in 1992 (the name has since gained momentum). Located at a distance of about 14.3 miles from Dalhousie, the saucer-shaped meadows of Khajjiar are surrounded by deodar, deodar, and deodar forests, with beautiful views of the magnificent Dhauladhar peaks in the background. While here, visit the age-old, wooden Khajji Nag Temple, dedicated to the lord of serpents.
- Admire the Architecture of Sacred Heart School
Over the decades, Dalhousie has turned into an education hub, and one of the oldest and most residential schools is the Sacred Heart School. Started in 1901 by Belgian nuns, the sprawling 21-acre complex features a century-old cathedral, colonial cottages with well-maintained lawns, and Victorian-era buildings. It is the perfect place for architecture lovers.
- Cross Five Bridges to See a Waterfall
Located at a distance of about 1.9 miles from Dalhousie, Panchpula Falls is a popular destination among the locals. (Panchpula, which translates to “five bridges” in Hindi, is named after the five stone bridges that one has to cross in order to reach them). You can participate in many adventure activities in the area including trekking and camping, or simply pack a picnic and enjoy the waterfalls and waterfalls. While you’re here, consider visiting the memorial to revolutionary leader Ajit Singh.
Travel Tip: On your way to Panchpula, make sure to stop by and take in the views of the Satdhara Waterfalls.
- Browse the Markets Around the Mall Road
The Mall Road, a circuit around the Moti Tibba hill, is where you will find most of the shops and food joints of the city. Starting from Gandhi Chowk; Right in the heart of Dalhousie, this plaza has several street vendors, kiosks, and food stalls selling everything from dosas and momos to sweaters and jackets. Nearby is a Tibetan market full of handicrafts, jewelry, and woolen clothes. Shop for knitted Himachali socks and shawls, rhododendron vines, and Himachali pickles called “chukkas”. From Gandhi Chowk, a short walk along the hot road leads to Subhash Chowk and Sadar Bazar markets.
- Go, Church Hopping
The city of Dalhousie is dotted with beautiful churches, stained glass paintings, and centuries-old wooden interiors. St. Francis and Sacred Heart are located near Subhash Chowk, although St. John’s Church is only a short distance from Gandhi Chowk. Meanwhile, the old St. Patrick’s and St. Andrew’s churches are nestled inside the ancient Balun Cantonment, a few miles up the hill from Dalhousie.
- Hike the Bakrota Hills
Home to beautiful cottages, brooks, and deodar forests, Bakrota Hills is one of the five hills that make up the city of Dalhousie. While its healthy surroundings are perfect for bird watchers, it also attracts history buffs because of its association with some of India’s most notable figures. Named after the Indian freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, Subhas Baoli is a perennial waterfall that is said to have cured him. Similarly, Nobel laureate and social reformer Rabindranath Tagore, inspired by his long stay in Bakrota, praised Dalhousie and its pristine beauty in his books.
- Walk Through the Forested Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary
Spread over 19 square miles, the forested Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Expect to see Himalayan black bears, martyrs, pheasants, and serows while trekking the rough road leading to the sanctuary. With a tea stall and snack bar inside its premises, Kalatop Sanctuary, located 8 miles from Dalhousie, is perfect for a leisurely stroll on a lazy afternoon.
- Go on a Picnic by Chamera Lake and Rock Garden
Located at a distance of about 15.5 miles from Dalhousie, Chamera Lake—the reservoir of Chamera Dam, which is built across the Ravi River—is an ideal water sports spot and picnic spot. Boat rides and canoeing, a small park with eateries, and strolls over the dam attract children as well as adults.
Travel Tip: If you’re looking for another great place for a family picnic, check out the Rock Garden on the way to the dam.
- Re-Visit a Bygone era at Chamba
Situated on the banks of the Ravi River at the crossroads of the Dhauladhar and Zanskar ranges, the city of Chamba is home to ancient palaces and temples dating back to the 6th century. A former princely state of the Chamba rulers (from whom the five hills of Dalhousie were bought by the British), this heritage city has retained its illustrious medieval past. While in Chamba, visit the exquisitely built Laxmi Narayan Temple, which has six massive shikhara-style shikharas and smaller shrines.