A quaint small town situated at the foothills of Dhauladhar range(Part of Himalayan chain of Mountains) that flaunts its tiny hills covered in tea gardens. Outlined with pine trees and like the lines of our hands, criss-crossed by several streams that carry the purest form of water straight from the glaciers.
Palampur is a town which is proceeding towards modernization keeping well in balance with the beauty of nature that it is bestowed with. The upcoming trends and developments are happening in the fair parallel grounds with preserving its natural beauty. Where the town’s market is flanked by the Dominos and CCDs and Reebok showrooms (yes, we take pride in it that our town too have these chains now! ) , you just need to go 3 KM to the outer area and you will see Kutcha houses with cows and buffalos in the barn, the rustic touch of ‘Pahadi’ in the attires of people, the chitter chatter in the local language and of course the kull ( smaller version of stream) going haywire from anywhere.
The simple lifestyle of people where one exchange the wellbeing with every vegetable vendor, where the poojari knows the name of every child that visit the sanctum, where you get lift to your destination even when not asked for because people know you, people know each other here, it is a small town. I remember when as a kid, if I happen to take a leave faking my sickness, I would not go to market or any marriage function happening in town or even to play outside because I knew someone from school will spot me, this town is so closely knitted!
With the population of just 70,000 and no malls to hang out no clubs or party places, you will never feel lonely in Palampur, contrastingly people are more lonely where 1.84 crore people are dwelling in the sky shooting buildings of Mumbai.
There are number of places that are worth your time which I’ll be listing here but apart from that there are few experiences that you can have only in Palampur, which I lived almost every day of growing in this town.
Places to Visit:
Saurabh Kalia Van Vihar:
Built in the fond memory and honour of Capt. Saurabh Kalia who fought in Kargil war, this place is situated alongside the Nugal Khad( Neugal water stream). The best part about this place is its location. White water stream flowing right from the heart of closed valley. Saurav Kalia Van Vihar is an interesting pick-nick spot where you can take long walks amidst the pine trees, children can enjoy the swings and small ponds and then of course the boat riding right in the middle of valley!
Jakhni Mata temple:
Do you ever wonder why most of the temples are built at the mountain top? That’s another wide area of discussion but did you also feel that the height adds to some peaceful vibes, calmness in the aura of the place? If you want to feel any such thing, visit Jakhni Mata temple. Situated at the top of the hill and accessible via road, the journey winds into numerous hair pin bends alongside the gorges and cliffs.
Bir Billing Paragliding:
Bir Billing is a world-famous site for Paragliding. 2015 World Paragliding Championship was conducted at this place. Visit to Bir Billing Paragliding spot while at Palampur is a must to-do thing and even if you do not want to jump off that cliff, at least visit the place for its amazingly wide grassy table platform at the hill top and an open view of Dhauladhar mountain range covered in snow.
Palampur has everything, it is naturally beautiful, it is mediocrely developed but it gets its artistic touch from the place, Norbolinga. Norbolinga is a self-sustaining community dedicated in practising and preserving the Tibetan art. The place is constructed in the Tibetan style low ceiling houses with colourful paints and small garden in the front. Low floor dining tables and monastery in between the residential area. Norbolinga also conducts various courses in wood art, metal art and many other art forms.
Baijnath Temple, dedicated to lord Shiva is a must visit place not only because of its monolithic rock cut architecture and the stone carvings but also the historic story that goes along with this place. It is believed that the yagya(offering) performed by Ravana(the Hindu mythology Demon) in which he dedicates his 10 heads to impress the Shiva(Hindu mythology God) was performed here. Since he was a dedicated disciple of lord Shiva, people of Baijnath never celebrate Dhusherra(Festival that is celebrated for the defeat of Ravana by burning his statue) here. It is believed that if someone burns the statue of Ravan in Dhusherra celebration, he dies within one year.
That was about the places that you must visit. And now the experiences that you must have that only a localite can tell you. Here is list of 6 must have experiences in Palampur:
Sleep under stars:
Well that is the favorite part of my home town. Of course, it has to be done in summers only because winters are freaking cold. Get your mattress and pillows and blankets to the terrace and once all the lights are off it is going to be pitch dark with thousand starts staring at you from above and moon traversing slowly around the Earth. Feel your each muscle getting relaxed under full moon light and the sweet summer breeze soothing you and softly pulling you into deep sleep. That is the magic happening here!!
Go for morning walk along the Neugal khad:
When you live in cities and enter Himachal, you feel that you are getting all the oxygen in your lungs that you were deprived off in cities. The walk from SSB chowk to Neugal Park is roughly 2 to 3 KM where the road winds along the stream that is flowing in deep gorge below and you are walking in that narrow laid path with one side covered with trees and tea gardens and other side the valley opening to the enigmatic view of sun rise.
Try Shakti Soda:
The old wooden shop painted in dilapidated blue paint gives a queer chill and tells the tales of old Palampur. I am seeing this shop as it is from past 26 years, well that’s when I was born. Who knows how old it is. It is located right in the center of Palampur’s market, have under gone just very minimal renovation and serves the best Soda(Squeezed lemon with aerated water and homemade salt) .
Check out this video by Him Mail TV to know how famous this Shakti Soda factory is:
Deepu’s momos from Chaupatti and having it at Neugal Khad:
Get the momos packed from Deepu’s momo shop which is located at Chaupatti and head towards Saurav Kalia Van Vihar. Right at the entrance of the place there is Neugal stream flowing at its might. Choose any boulder and sit and have your momos there dangling your feet in the water, enjoying the sunset happening down the valley and the whole enclosed valley being lit up by the golden sun dust of evening sun.
Stroll through Nehru chowk at 11 PM and have Angelica’s ice cream cone:
The small town like Palampur becomes really dead after 10 PM. Nearly all shops shut down by maximum 9 PM, people return to their home, even the restaurants starts closing by 11 PM and driving through the town when everybody is asleep is a different experience. Pin drop silence, the only lights that will be burning are the street lights. Take a good look at the town at night and to make the experience even more amazing, Angelica Ice Cream shop keeps its ice cream parlor open till 11 PM during summers. This shop has the most creamy, delicious ice cream cones, make sure you have one.
Ariel view from Birni Mata:
For the people who like trekking, you have to climb just 3 mountains(haha!) from Jakhni Mata to reach the Birni Mata which would take roughly 2 to 3 hours for climbing and 1 hour for descending down. The climb is fairly steep but worth the view that you will get from top. You can see the settlement of this small town amidst the valley with numerous streams flowing through it.