Saptdhara - a spring outlet divided into seven streams.
At McLeodGanj, I woke up early, around 7am so I could get to Dalhousie
as soon as possible. After packing, I took the last opportunity to have some more authentic tibetan style momos. Took a rickshaw to the bus stand in Dharamsala. Took the next available bus to Dalhousie. It left at 8:30 am and was instantly crowded when we passed through town. The bus made only about 2 long stops. Except for maybe some 40 km stretch most of the road was winding and through the mountains. The road to Dalhousie passes quite close to Pathankot
, which is the closest city. I reached Dalhousie at 13:45.
There was no public cloak room to keep my stuff, and taking a room was going to be kind of stupid since I didn't plan to spend the night there.
View from Dalhousie.
So I decided to keep my stuff with me and take a short taxi tour of the local attractions after a quick but sumptuous lunch of tasty paneer. Hired a taxi that would take me around to the 4-5 sightseeing spots. The major sightseeing very close to Dalhousie is just a couple of natural springs and a martyr memorial. Most tourists to Dalhousie however like to go to Khajjar, which is over an hour away but has a fantastic view of the valley and mountains. I've heard great things about Khajjar, but just didn't have the time to make that trip. The next higher town after Dalhousie is Chamba, which is also a popular destination for tourists going to that area.
Near "panchpulla" (the martyr memorial) a trail goes into the forest. Found this trail, and I followed it into the forest, as it climbed up towards the mountain top.
Climbing up from Dalhousie.
The top wasn't too far and I walked a few kilometers but missed the right path to reach the top, so I decided to cut it short after I reached a dry stream bed. Relaxed there for a while, in the utter quiet calm that is characteristic of the Himalayan forests, and then climbed down trying hard not to forget the path. The trek had been only an hour, and I hurried back to Dalhousie by around 15:00. After some shopping at Gandhi chowk (the main square in the town) I trekked back to the bus stand. I could see snow-clad peaks of the Pirpanjal range in the distance even from the path down. At the bus stand I found out there was only one last bus that day that I could hope to get for Pathankot. I reached Banikhet, which is the next town lower from Dalhousie by bus and waited. Around 17:45 I left in this crowded bus for Pathankot.
Look at the nearby peak
Had to stand for an hour or so till I got room to sit. A bumpy as expected, and that too in the twisting meandering mountain roads.
It was around 9 pm by the time I got to Pathankot main bus stand - only to find out there were no more buses that day to Amritsar
. I had planned on staying at Amritsar that night and was quite disappointed - didn't need another wrench in my plan and Pathankot seemed like a dull dirty good-for-nothing city. On asking some of the tour/private bus guys near the bus stop I ruled out taking a taxi it would be too expensive. Train was also not an option, they were mostly in the early morning. Someone suggested one place on the highway from where all the buses to Amritsar pass. I got the the place by rickshaw.
A path under a tree in the forest.
It was just the highway - no bus stand or anything like that. Its a point on the bypass highway for passing through Pathankot, called some naka. Apparently all the buses from Jammu
side that do not have a stop in Pathankot do pass through here. I waited for a while to hail any bus that looks like public transport, and thankfully one bus stopped and they asked me where I wanted to go and picked me up. This bus had no passengers at all, completely empty... but like I cared if I was the only passenger. It was not too late, just 22:00 then, the ticket wasn't expensive, and they would drop me at Amritsar by midnight.
Amritsar is a place where cycle-rickshaws are still plentiful. I had no clue where the bus dropped me, and one of the rickshaw guys took me to some hotel closeby. Hotel was a bit expensive considering the really crappy room he gave me. Oh well, didn't care to walk around at midnight with luggage just to find a better place to crash for just one night. Atleast it was pretty close to the railway station, as I found out later, turned out to be a bit convenient while leaving on the next day.
-- Ashish Bhambhani.