The Instagram pictures of Khajjiar were tempting enough to make it on my top list, the day I boarded the bus to Dalhousie. During my exploration in Dalhousie, I had kept an eye on the roads leading to Khajjiar since Day 1. The direct road was closed due to snowfall and so I continued with my wandering at a slow pace, hoping for the snow to get cleared. Four days had passed and the weather showed no signs of improvement.
Sometimes, travel seems to be a futile pursuit in itself and I realized so as I woke up one morning, dazed and confused, not knowing my further plan of action. I was saturated after staying in Dalhousie for this long and felt the urge to move on. The road to Khajjiar was yet to open. A detour via Chamba meant travelling 75 km as compared to the former route which is 22 km. But, I had already made up my mind to visit Khajjiar and since I had enough time before returning home, I made a detour and boarded the bus to Chamba.
The bus halted right outside the ground and as I alighted from the bus, I noticed that the place was bustling with tourist activities that Instagram failed to display. I walked past the roadside stalls, tourists, horses that were lined up, with their owners looking straight into my eyes judging me if I could be their potential customer. I turned a blind eye to them and made my way to the ground to behold the beautiful sight. Rolling meadows with the view of the snow-capped Himalayas made me want to run, roll on the ground and lay on the grass. But, the grass was too moist due to the mist and the weather too cold to get wet. I saw children playing the same way I would imagine myself while some parents were running behind their children to stop getting them dirty and wet. I felt happy and content watching the kids that at least fears and reasons do not hold them back to follow their heart.
As I continued to embrace the cinematic-like experience, I found a nearby dhaba to satiate my hunger. It was an open setup with loosely arranged chairs and broken tables which was compensated with the cheap rates and delicious food that tasted just like home-cooked.
I took a stroll around the ground and clicked pictures post lunch to while away the time. As the light began to fade, boredom took its toll making me feel lonely. I found my accommodation and visited the Jagdambe Temple which was just a stone’s throw away from my hotel.
The temple owner was delighted to see a tourist in the off-season and asked me to stay at the guest house of the temple. I humbly denied the offer as I had already booked my stay.
Read: Kheerganga: Trek to the mystical land
He seemed to be not so talkative and was completely lost in the devotional songs that he was playing on his mobile. Even I found solace in the unspoken and the cold night as the music in the background played-
“ sukh k sab saathi, dukh me na koi,
mere Ram, mere Ram
Tera naam, ek sacha.. duja na koi!”
Translation- Everyone is a friend in happy times, but no one is there during sad moments. Oh Lord! only your name is the true one, no other.
How to Reach Khajjiar?
Khajjiar is approx. 20 km from Dalhousie. There are local buses from Dalhousie running up to Khajjiar daily. However, the roads remain closed in winter due to snowfall (December to March). During winters, one can opt for an alternate route via Chamba which is 75 km long but remains open throughout the year.
One can also hire a local guide from Dalhousie and trek till Khajjiar.
Where do I stay?
There is ample option for accommodation. If one is planning to visit the place in summer, I would advise booking hotel in advance as the place remains crowded in summer. The cost for the room of 2 people starts from Rs.800/night.
Low budget travellers can ask for a stay at Jagdambe temple. Though the guest houses in the temple premises are meant for the members of the trust, they do offer stay if the room is vacant. Generally, it is available in winters. The price for the stay is Rs.300/ night that includes one-time meal and tea for the breakfast. Also, it has to be noted that the use of alcohol/drugs is strictly prohibited in the temple premises.