A young Rabindranath Tagore wrote these tearful words in his reminiscences, when he had to leave his father and the little town of Dalhousie. He was but 12 years old.
The feelings of the great poet were echoed in my 64-year old heart when I had to leave Dalhousie to get back to work and the necessity of earning one’s keep.
We drove into Dalhousie through one of the most amazing and beautiful sights that I can ever hope to see – the meadow of Khajjiar. Think of a shallow green bowl, with a little stream meandering halfway through it, with a pool of rushes in the middle, surrounded on all sides with deodar (cedar) trees. A handful of little houses at the edges, a bunch of horses, a few purveyors of herbal medicines and supposedly ayurvedic cures for various ills, children playing, a handful of selfie-addicts, clouds hanging low, and a cool soothing breeze – this is the closest to heaven that I’ve been.
The rain that had been threatening for some time finally came down hard – it brought hailstones with it, and covered our garden a blanket of white. The temperature plummeted, the warm woollies came out, as did the stuff that cheers, warms and inebriates.
Our hotel was in two parts – the older section dates back to the 1890s, or so the staff said, while the new section was early 21st century. But, one thing in common between the old and the new – all the rooms commanded magnificent views of the valley in front of the hotel, which rose uninterrupted into two or three ranges of hills, with snow-topped mountains in the distance. No wonder the hotel is called the Grand View. Lived up to its name.
The older section of the hotel is really very pretty and quaint, full of charm. The rooms on the ground floor open out on to the garden with its charming sit-outs hanging over the valley: imagine sipping your tea or your whisky and soda looking out over the wonderful vista shown above.
The flowers in the garden were in full bloom and invited our appreciation. Ignoramus that I am, I can’t tell you their names.
The first floor of the old section opens out on to a large dining room, and a long corridor, opening out on to rooms on one side, and on the other – the valley and the mountain. It’s really a great viewing gallery.
I’ve spent such a lot of words on this hotel – maybe I should ask them for a fee in cash or kind. Seriously, though, I really enjoyed staying here and enjoying its character and charm. In my experience, most hotels lack these two words – character and charm.
It’s not as if I was hotel-bound all my time in Dalhousie. I did go around a bit – but I won’t write about that; you can read all about Dalhousie in all the various websites on this Queen of the hill stations of India. And I seriously think it is possibly the prettiest of all the hill stations I’ve been to.
The Chamera Lake, formed by the impounding of the River Ravi by the Chamera Dam, is not too far away from Dalhousie. A curious feature of the Lake is that there is no aquatic life in there, or so the brochures say. You can roam around this beautiful as a painting water body in a boat; or you can laze about on its banks, soaking in the sun or a cool day.
Dalhousie is one of those places which I plan to visit again and again. In all seasons. She’s like a woman who can hold you spellbound.