Winter 2007 Narkanda

It was one of those trips which are a balance between impulsive and planned trips. Decided to go just a day before departure, it was in fact made possible due to HRTC Advance Online Booking website. The website not only allows booking 6hrs before the departure, but it also allows one to choose the seats in Volvo, Deluxe buses running between Delhi-Shimla-Delhi, Manali and Dharamshala. I had traveled in Delhi-Manali earlier and so while traveling to Shimla this time when I was given a mineral water bottle and Kurkure/Lays packet, I was pleasantly surprised. Volvo is definitely the best way to travel into Himachal Pradesh, even better than one’s own vehicle, especially considering the traffic jam in Panipat, Kalka and de-tour in Zirakpur (near Ambala). Of course, once NH1 is free from the diversions and traffic jams after the completion of construction work, one’s own car would be better than any bus! But that’s not gonna happen before Summers’08 I suppose. I was again delighted by the HRTC folks when they canceled an online ticket just by an email request of cancellation when I was unable to do the same through their website. A quick service is what travel industry must provide.
Hatu TempleI had heard about Narkanda as being a small hamlet on NH22 – the old Himalayan-Tibet Road which one can take to go to Kaza. Winters is definitely the best time to go there. We found lot of snow in the last 2-3 kms on our trek to Hatu Peak (3400mtrs), the highest peak in the region. Its the snow which made the trek worthwhile, else it is just a nature walk on proper road. Hatu Peak, in summers, is a tourist spot with vehicles racing to the top. We were lucky to be stuck alone in the snow though – quite away from any sign of civilization (apart from the temple and guest house at the top).

Tani Jubbal Lake

There is not much to do in Narkanda, especially if you have skied in Auli. They do boast of skiing, but it isn’t any better than skiing in man-made snow parks before January. There are only two main hotels which were fully booked during our stay near the new year, something that doesn’t happen even in tourist seasons. We were smart enough to have stayed out of crowded places and enjoyed the beauty of small town. In fact the very purpose of going to a place like Narkanda should either be to take a stopover while going into Spiti, or to explore around in a non-tourist spot. One can’t expect fun to be served here like a decorated Mall in Shimla or Golf ground in Naldhera. There isn’t anything to do, but to jump into a local bus, hike up for 10 mins and reach a small pond (which they call Tani Jubbal lake) besides the temple and play cards there while enjoying the sunset! Or you can just start to climb up the hill, reach the top and come down half-sliding-half-treading in between the apple orchards, which btw are stark naked this time of the year. The best thing about Narkanda is being away from the crowd, and thats all! Of course the more adventurous kinds can always find a trail to trek upon.

Being upon a good height of 2700 mtrs, it was icy cold at night. Unfortunately our rooms didn’t have any heaters either. It is advisable to carry your own room heater if you traveling by your car. Also, it is a good two hours drive from Shimla by your own car. If you take a bus, be ready to be on road for another 3 hours, with a halt in between. The last local bus from Shimla is around 4:30-4:45 pm from the Lakkar Bazaar. After that there is one bus at 6:30 pm from Main Bus Stand which is a long-distanced night bus on NH22 till Kaza. So if you are starting from Delhi, your entire bus journey amounts to more than 12 hours, discounting the halt in Shimla.

After going to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund trek during peak season, I had an altogether different experience at this time of the year in Narkanda. It felt great to be left alone in the snowy routes and it reminded me of YHAI treks.


14 thoughts on “Winter 2007 Narkanda

  1. @varun
    would love to! tell me which place(s) do you want to be covered. I can write in details about any of these places: Naggar, Dalhousie (YHAI trek), Narkanda, Shimla, Chail, Naldhera. These places are fresh in memory still. Let me know what kind of write-up you want.

    by the ranges seen on from the shepherd’s hut on the way to Hatu Peak, to be precise :P


  2. I sincerely appreciate this one. Felt as if I was reading an article from some good travel magazine!
    Would have loved to see some more pics though.


  3. I have never felt more jealous before..just cant express my feelings right now..awesome pics..awesome blog..

    Just to add to this…
    “Unfortunately our rooms didn’t have any heaters either. It is advisable to carry your own room heater if you traveling by your car.” or to carry “old monk” rum as they did :P


  4. @varun

    mast movie hai na blue umbrella.. vishal bharadwaj is just unbeatable! whenever i spot an isolated small chai shop on a hilly path or on highway, i m always reminded of the movie!


    i know why you let the secret out – coz you want the credit! old monk aur rajat ka purana rishta hai! lo – ab poori duniya ko pata chal gaya.. :P


  5. Hi

    Narkanda is my hometown and it was nice to read such a beautiful article about Narkanda. It snowed here yesterday and we had 18 inch of snow. Everyone is invited to enjoy lots and lots of snow here at Narkanda


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