Dalhousie (2036 m) is a hill station full of colonial charm that holds lingering echoes of the Raj. Spread out over the five hills (Kathlog, Potreys, Tehra, Bakrota and Balun) the town is named after the 19th century British Governer General Lord Dalhousie. It was popular with the British Army personnel in 1860's. The town’s varying altitude shades it with a variety of vegetation that includes stately grooves of pines, deodars, oaks and flowering rhododendrowns. Rich in colonial architecture, the town preserves some beautiful churches. St. John church is the oldest one built in 1863, St. Francis was built in 1894, St. Andrew in 1903 and St. Patric in 1909.
Places for INTERSECT
23 kms from Dalhousie by road and 13 kms from Kalatop is the mini Switzerland of India i.e.
Khajjiar, at a height of 6400 ft. Hutchison writes, "Khajjiar is a forest glade of great beauty, 6400 feet above sea level".
Khajjiar is often reffered to as "Gulmarg of Himachal Pradesh". The lush green meadows are surrounded by thick pine and cedar forests. Grazing herds of sheep, goats and other milch cattle present a prefect pastoral scenery. There is a small lake in the center of the saucer shaped meadow which has in it a floating island. Much of the lake has degenerated into slush because of heavy silting during rains. Still the landscape of Khajjiar is picturesque and a photographer's delight.
The town of Chamba, the district headquarter of Chamba district is situated in the western Himalayas between north latitudes 32°10' and 33°13' and east longitudes 75°45' and 77°33'. The town stands on a plateau on the right bank of the Ravi river valley between Dhauladhar and Zanskar ranges south of the inner Himalayas. This town was founded by Raja Sahil Varman when he conquered the lower Rani valley from the petty chiefs called Ranas and Thakurs in the beginning of 10th Century. It seems the original name of the town was Champa as mentioned in Kalhan's Rajtarangani. In the bansauli or genealogical rolls of the Chamba Rajas a reference occurs of place which was adorned with highly fragrant Champaka trees and guarded by Goddess Champavati or more popularly known as Chameshni. The temple was built by Sahil Varman in the honour of his daughter Champavati who is worshipped as a goddess in Chamba. Champavati temple became the family temple of the ruling family.
Kalatop and Khajiar are best explored if you take a three days walk from Dalhousie to Kalatop, Khajjiar and back Dalhousie.The trek is more or less level and requires good health, a pair of sturdy walking shoes. Kalatop is 10 kms from G.P.O. at an altitude of 8000 feet. Walking along the secluded and forested road through upper Nakorota hills, one reaches Lakkarmandi. Between G.P.O. and Lakkarmandi lies the Dalhousie water system, Tibetan Handicraft Centre and Dalhousie Potato Farm at Ahla. Lakkarmandi is nestled between 8600 feet high DayanKund peak on its right and Kalatop on the left. Dayan Kund has military installations and is closed to civilians except the local people who visit Bhulwani Mata temple near DayanKund.
Laxmi Narayana Temple
Laxmi Narayana Temple, which is the main temple of Chamba town was built by Sahil Varman in the 10th
century AD. The temple has been built in the Shikhara style. The temple consists of Bimana i.e. Shikhara and GarbhGriha with a small
antralya. Laxmi Narayana Temple has a mandapa like structure also. The wooden Chhattries, the shell roof, atop the temple were in
response to the local climatic conditions as a protection against snowfall.
There are several other temples within the complex. The temple of Radha krishna, Shiva Temple of Chandergupta and Gauri Shankar Temple are among these. The temple of Laxmi Narayana continued to be embellished by the Rajas who succeeded to the throne of Chamba. Raja Balabhadra Verma perched the metallic image of Garuda on a high pillar at the main gate of the temple. Raja Chhatra Singh place gilded pinnacles on the temple tops in 1678 as a reaction against the orders of Aurangzeb to demolish the temple. Later Rajas also added a shrine or two, thus enriching the complex.
St. John's church
This Church stands on the Gandhi Chowk approximately 2 kms. from the main bus stand of Dalhousie. This Church was the first to be built after the town of Dalhousie was founded. Prior to 1863 a wooden structure stood at this place. The idea to build a stone structure took birth with the arrival of Rev. John H. Pratt who came to Dalhousie on 11-04-1863 and inspired the Christian community to build a permanent church building at this place. Building of this church is a copy of Roman Catholics church of England but this church belongs to Protestants. The church building stands in a good condition but its surroundings demand much better care. Service is conducted on every Sunday.
St. Francis Church
This Catholic Church is a very prominent monument on the Subhash Chowk. This Church was built in the year 1894 from the contributions made by Army and Civil Officers and Civilians. This Church is managed and maintained by the Cathoilic Diocese of Jalandhar. St. Francis' Church on Prtrain hill is believed to have been built on the lines of a certain church in England. Beautiful glass work and intricate stone work can be seen in the Church. Service is conducted every Sunday.
Panchpula, a beautiful spot, is barely 3 kms. from G.P.O. On the way to Panchpula is Satdhara springs gurgling with refreshing water, believed to contain some medicinal properties. Panchpula stream is the main source of water supply to Dalhousie and Bahloon. The stream springs from the north side of DayanKund and runs down a picturesque ravine to the waterworks of Panchpula. There is an elegant monument erected at Panchpula where several streams meet at one point. This monument, a samadhi was built in memory of great revolutionary Sardar Ajit Singh who breathed his last in Panchpula. There is a Tourism restaurant and several chai shops in Panchpula, that offer hot and cold beverages and snacks.
65 kms from Chamba is the land of legendary Gaddies, i.e. Bharmaur. Known as Brahmpur in the 6th century,
was the seat of power of Chamba state for some 400 years till AD 920, when a new capital was founded at Chamba by Raja Sahil Varman.
Bharmaur is known for some very old archaeological remains, primarily the temples. All these temples stand on a level area which call
the Chaurasi after the 84 Siddhas who are believed to have meditated in Bharmaur over 1000 years ago. These Siddhas hailed from
Kurukshetra and visited Manimahesh.
The oldest temples in the complex are those of Lakshna Devi and Ganesh. Both these temples are made in the hill style with gable roofs and rubble masonry. The outer facade, the inner facade of sanctum, circum ambulatory path and the ceiling are exquisitely carved. The idol of Lakshna Devi in her incarnation as Mahisasurmardini is magnificent.
The tallest temple in the whole complex is of Manimahesh built in Shikhara style of architecture. The temple has a Shivalingam on a raised platform. The other temple in Shikhara style is of Nar Singh. Lord Vishnu in his avtar as Nar Singh has been cast vividly. There is a bronze Nandi of life size which stands facing the Manimahesh temple. Inscriptions on the pedestal of the bull and on the idols of Lakshna Devi and Ganesh date back to the reign of Raja Meru Varman. These idols are believed to be the work of master craftsman Gugga. There is a small water source called Ardh Ganda in a corner of the temple complex. Bathing in its water is considered religiously significant. The country around Bharmour is regarded as belonging to Shiva and is sometimes called Shiv-Bhumi. Being the home of nomadic shepherds Gaddies it is also called Gadderan.
The 9th century temples at Bharmaur are among the most important early Hindu temples in the Chamba Valley. According to legend, 84 (chaurasi) yogi's visited Bharmaur, capital of King Sahil Varma. They were so pleased with the king's humility and hospitality that they blessed him with ten sons and a daughter, Champavati. A cluster of shrines commemorates that visit. The temple square is the Centre of all activities in the little town of Bharmaur and the Lakshmi, Ganesh, Manimahesh and Narsing temples, the main shrines, are splendidly set off by the dramatic mountainscape.