When I was younger, hills stations would mean places which find themselves on the glossy magazine pages or the Sunday edition of the news dailies. Thanks to social media, I (among many of my generation) are exposed to lesser visited destinations which are equally if not less, scenic and are rather more peaceful. And that is how I landed in Chakrata. It so happened that we were spending a few days in Dehradun at a family friend’s home when all of us planned a day trip to this hill town I had never heard of.
We managed to get a reliable car on rent in Dehradun. It took us almost three hours to reach Chakrata via Mussoorie, cutting through foliaged mountain roads and the earthy smell of pine forests.
Chakrata- an overview
Sitting on the westernmost border of Uttarakhand and Himachal, atop 7000 feet (and higher in some places) Chakrata was originally a cantonment of the British Indian Army. Presently it serves as a cozy mountain retreat for those who find the popular places over-commercialized. And rightly so.
Nestled between the Tons and the Yamuna rivers and surrounded by the scenic mountain ranges of the Himalayas, this quiet little hamlet was all about breathtaking views and wonderful climate, as I found it. A locale so gorgeous, we decided to stay over for a day at a local cottage. But first, we thought of taking a tour of the town and its surrounding areas, while the sun was still high on the horizon.
We headed to Kanasar in our cab. This was another 25 Km from the main town area. The roads here were narrower, forests were thicker, and the ride got bumpier. But nothing could overshadow the beauty of the conifers, rhododendrons and oak trees, looming over the hills. We were glad to have booked a taxi from Dehradun to Chakrata that could negotiate the hilly terrain.
Kanasar proudly boasts the best Deodar forest of Asia. There were wide meadows where the forests ended and served as picnic spots. There were camping grounds and forest rest houses on one side, while a herd of cattle grazed near the forests. I felt good and bad at the same time that this had not reached the prying eyes of modern retail and frenzied media.
On the way back, we stopped at Deoban- the highest viewpoint of Chakrata. The plateau-like locale was made up of rolling, grassy hills, and dense forests of Deodar. And all this was enveloped by the captivating views of the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, which at that time of the day, glistened under the afternoon sun. Usually, in peak winters the place receives snow but we were not lucky enough that winter. The highlight of Deoban however, was the surprise sighting of some of the most exotic birds like the red sparrow, yellow-crested woodpecker, cuckoos, and lots of partridges.
Next morning, as highly recommended by our hotel concierge, we went to see the Tiger Falls, a quite popular site in Chakrata.
The journey to the waterfall was more thrilling than the waterfall itself. There were two ways to reach there. One was to take a trek through the forests and meadows from Chakrata town and the other was to take the highway and a roundabout through the villages of Dakra, Sawara, and Kurad. A couple of us took the nature trail while the rest resorted to a car. The trek was about 5 Km long, with the added difficulty of uphill and mountain terrain. But by the time we reached, all the efforts seemed worthwhile. Hiding in an enclosure of pines, the frothy glacial waters cascaded down a cliff and into a small pond.
The misty pond overlooking the misty mountains, Chakrata was truly a mystical destination that I was glad to have discovered.