SPRAWLING OVER five hills that Orange in height from 1,525 in to 2,378 m (5,003 ft to 7,802 ft), Dalhousie still retains its Raj-era ambience, with spacious, gable-roofed bungalows and churches flanking its leafy lanes. Originally conceived as a sanatorium for the expatriate population rather than as a fashionable summer retreat, it was founded in 1853 and named after Lord Dalhousie, the governor-general of British India between 1854 and 1856. The most popular walks are the twin rounds of Garam Sarak (“Warm Road”) and Thandi Sarak (“Cold Road”), so called because one path is sunnier than the other. A shorter walk from the Circuit House to Gandhi Chowk – the central part of town where a school, church and the post office are situated – offers spectacular views of the Fir Panjal Range. From Gandhi Chowk, another pleasant ramble, about 3 km (2 miles) long, leads south to the pretty picnic spot of Panjpula or “Five Bridges”.
For Raj aficionados, a track leading off to the right from the main bus stand moves past the old British cemetery in the woods, before reaching the cantonment. One of the two churches here boasts pretty stained-glass windows and sandstone arches.
ENVIRONS: A scenic road through dense forests of pir deodar, oak, horse chestnut and rhododendron leads to the Kalatope Wildlife Sam tuary, about 8 km (5 miles) east of Dalhousie. With pric permission from the wildlif authorities at Chamba it is possible to take a diversion at Bakrota and drive to a rest house deep inside the sanctuary. About 26 km (16 miles) east of Dalhousie is Khajjiar , situated at a height of 2,000 m (6,562 ft). This saucer-shaped expanse of green meadow, bordered by towering deodars, has a picture postcard beauty, comparable with the finest views in Kashmir or Switzerland. In the centre is a small lake with a golden-domed Devi temple built on a floating island.