Without really realizing it and a bit of a smear on my trip planning abilities we really lucked out so far with our travels in the north. Little did we (I) know that this time of year there is typically a lot of snow where we are and have been. Lots and lots of snow but this year has been an anomaly. The temperatures dip below zero in the night but warm up nicely during the day. There is only snow in the higher altitudes so we have been lucky to see this area without snow and without tourists. Come late April and onward the northern areas start to fill up with Indian tourists, first the out of school kids and family crowds and then in June and July the rest of the Indian tourists from Delhi head up to escape the sweltering heat. The roads and towns become packed and the traffic is supposed to be horrendous so although it would have been nice to be here when it was warmer I think we were able to see the best without the crowds and without freezing our butts off too but best to ask Joyce her opinion about the freezing our butts off part!
Today we made our way out of the Himalayas. It was another long winding drive through steep mountain terrain, switchbacks, road construction and an average speed of 35 km/hr (if we’re lucky) so rather than driving in the dark, which is not recommended, to our original destination of Dharamsala we stopped in the very picturesque town of Palampur, the tea capital of northwest India in the Kangra Valley surrounded by pine forests and snuggled up to the Dhauladhar mountain ranges.
The town derives its name from the word palum which means lots of water and the surrounding greenery and tea plantations are an obvious result of the numerous streams that flow from the mountains however the snow pack is extremely low this year and if there isn’t any rain or snow within the next couple of months things may be quite different this year. The mountains themselves are very impressive and we have a great view of a massive ridge of snow packed peaks from our hotel room balcony.
Below is a map of our journey thus far starting in Chandagarh. I skipped the Delhi-Chandarh portion. The stars on the map that are present to the West and are not connected by lines or dots are our next destinations with our final destination being Amritsar. I cheated and used Google Maps to plot our course this time.