Barely 65 KMs from Shimla, lies the small town of Narkanda. At around 2700 m ASL, it offers some of the most beautiful views of the snow clad Shivaliks. It is a busy little place with a bustling market. It lies on the erstwhile Hindustan Tibet road that was an old trade route between India and Tibet as well as being the route to Spiti. Even today, it serves as a great transit stop for a trip to Spiti or Kinnaur Valleys.
The value proposition of Narkanda lies in its location as well as the available amenities. For people who do not wish to compromise on creature comforts and yet enjoy nature in reasonable solitude, Narkanda can be an ideal stop over.
Along with many private hotels, HPTDC has an excellent property here – The Hatu. We always prefer the Hatu over anything else as it offers great views, good food and the staff is just fabulous.
Most people stop by Narkanda on their trips to Kinnaur or Spiti along the Hindustan Tibet road.
During the winters, one can ski around the slopes of Hatu peak. So I am told. The amount of snow Narkanda usually receives, it can’t be dismissed outright. If you have been to Narkanda in winters and skied around these parts, let us know in the comments below.
Places to explore near Narkanda
The top things to do when in Narkanda are a visit to the Hatu Peak and Temple. Walk along the Tanajubbar lake and Sheshnag Temple on its banks. The other, and most satisfying experience would be a walk in the woods.
It lies at an altitude of around 3400 m ASL. The road from Narkanda to Hatu Peak is around 7 or 8 kms. It’s very narrow, so drive carefully. The road snakes its way up to the peak through forests of Pine and Spruce trees.
You can stop by the Gujjar Dera, a water body, enroute. This is the same place television commercial of Tata Nano was shot at.
Vehicles are not allowed up till the PWD guest house now unlike earlier. You have to stop almost a KM away from the temple. There was some work going on to build a fence and gate near the temple, but don’t have information on whether it is complete now.
The temple is dedicated to Hatu Mata, and is constructed completely of wood. It was under extensive restoration for the last few years.
Just ahead of the Temple is HP PWD rest house. Before you start looking for contacts to book it, let me tell you that it is not operational yet. And has been in this same state for the past many years.
The 360 degree view of the distant snow clad peaks from here are outstanding.
Tanajubbar Lake and Sheshnag Temple
The lake is approx 10 KMs from the Narkanda market and lies off the road to Thanedar. A smaller road branches off to this lake and villages further ahead. When approaching the lake, this turn off is almost like a u-turn. There are boards telling you the direction, so no worries about losing your way.
At one corner of the lake is the Sheshnag temple, the local deity. It freezes completely in Winters. You can see it partially frozen as early as November.
The lake is now completely cordoned off by a fence along its periphery. As per local legends, when it was unfenced, the villagers lost many of their cattle to it who would walk upto it and simply walk in!
Typically, it takes around 9 to 10 hours (with breaks) to complete the 450 KM+ distance between Delhi and Narkanda (provided you start at midnight and cross Shimla before 8 am). Bad traffic can easily stretch this to 11 or even 12 hours.
The route is pretty straight forward from Delhi.
Delhi – Panipat – Ambala – Zirakpur – Shimla – Fagu – Narkanda
If you want to bypass Shimla completely,
Delhi – Panipat – Ambala – Zirakpur – Kandaghat – Chail – Kufri – Fagu – Narkanda
If you are looking for a place for a quick weekend dash to escape from the daily grind, look no further. The nature all around Narkanda is sure to provide that much needed relief. For me, it was no different. Morning trek in the woods and a lively evening with friends and bonfire was the perfect stress buster!
Have you been to Narkanda? What are places you visited? Drop us a note in the comments below, we would love to hear from you!