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Home >> Hotspots >> Dharamsala


Jul 28, 2005 at 06:36 AM
Kangra district has a myriad of roads and footpaths, and although comprehensive maps are not available, great walks can be devised with a bit of commonsense and a sense of direction by keeping track of where the main roads are. Here I present suggestions for some favourite birding areas and list some of the characteristic birds that can be expected on each particular route, depending upon the season. Distances given are one way and approximate.
Dharamkot Hill roundtrip.
Distance roundtrip from Mcleod Ganj: 5 km, altitude: 2,000 to 2,200m
A kilometer or so above McLeod Ganj lies the well-forested Dharamkot Hill. Various paths lead to the Ghalu Temple at 2,200m, and this is also the first leg of the trek to Triund. Dharamkot Hill can also be approached from Naddi and from Bhagsunag.
Trek from Dharamkot to Triund
Distance: 10km; altitude: 2,200 to 2,900m
A clear-cut path leads to the mountain pasture of Triund. The entire walk from McLeod Ganj takes four to six hours. During the summer season there are tea stalls at Triund but to stay overnight accommodation has to be booked in advance with the Forest Office in Dharamsala.
Trek from Triund to IIaka
Distance: 4km; altitude: 2,900 to 3,300m
The route to IIaka is easy from Triund. Start going straight up and look for a clear, fairly broad stone path starting to the right, just below the prayer flags. The paths ascends gradually and leads you to IIaka in one-and-a-half to two hours
Trek to Indrahar Pass
Distance from IIaka: 10km; altitude: 3,300 to 4,200m
It is not advisable to attempt this trek without a guide, if you are not familiar with the mountains and the sudden climatic changes of this particular region.
Dharamsala Tea Estate at Khaniyara
Distance by footpath from McLeod Ganj: 5km
Dharamsala Tea Estate has tea gardens at Dharamsala, between Kotwali Bazar and Sarah and one above Khaniyara. The tea garden above Khaniyara can be approached from the Dharamsala-Khaniyara road or from footpaths down from McLeod Ganj that cross Bhagsu stream and then cross the ridge opposite. Footpaths lead through the estate down to the Dharamsala-Khaniyara road.
Dirnu-Sidhpur and Norbulingka Institute
Distance from McLeod Ganj by road: 15km
The area between Khaniyara road and the main road to Yol is an interesting mosaic of terraced fields, village growths, hedges and lines of trees. It is an area full of birdlife with many altitude migrants in winter. The gardens of Norbulingka Institute harbour many birds that are accustomed to humans, as they are in the groves of the surrounding villages.
Pong Wetland at Nagrot Surian
Distance from Dharamsala by road: 50km
Pong Wetland is best approached via Nagrota Surian, a small town near the flats around the lake, which has access by rail. This historic narrow-gauge train, running from Pathankot to Jogindernagar, is in itself a great way to see the Shivalik, particularly en route from Kangra to Nagrota Surian where it passes through beautifully rugged valleys and canyons, crossing rushing rivers. Nagrota Surian can also be reached in two hours by road from Dharamsala.

Reaching the actual lakeshore still involves a one-to-two hour walk from Nagrota Surian, depending on the season. Taxis from both the train station and the bus stand can drive you to the waterline across the barren flats depending on the state of the unpaved roads. In late autumn the lake should be reached in less than an hour, but by early spring it takes more than an hour to reach the waterline.

Take plenty of drinking water because, during most of the year, daytime is hot and the walk towards the waterline passes through fields and over flats of boulders and mud without trees or other shade.
Pong Wetland at Haripur
Distance from Dharamsala by road:65km
A few kilometers to the east of the historic town of Haripur with its ancient ruined fortress, along the Haripur-Dehra Gopipur road, there is a turn off to the left if one drives towards Dehra. This minor road passes through a small village called Bangoli from where the shoreline of Pong Wetland can be reached in about half-an-hour on foot. At Haripur, one can experience more village groves and orchards.
Sarah Valley
Distance from Dharamsala by road: 15km
The valley below Sarah, on the west side of the village, is a beautiful area with several well-forested hillsides. There are several footpaths down from the road that crosses Sarah and up on the forested slopes on the other side of the valley. The higher one is in this valley the wilder the vegetation and the more difficult it is to find suitable tracks. Particularly in monsoon, tracks get overgrown but the path towards Gaggal is easily found through the bottom of the valley following the streambed.
Jan Willem den Besten
For more details consult the excellent Birds of Kangra (Mosaic Books)
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Dadri - Posted by Anand Arya
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Dadri - Posted by Anand Arya
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Dadri - Posted by Anand Arya
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