By Somrita Ghosh
New Delhi, March 29: The mesmerising snow-clad mountain peaks stood tall right before me, the silence of the valley wrapped my soul and the enchanting view comforted me as serenity got a new meaning the moment I reached Palampur.
Nestled in Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh, the first glimpse of the small "pahari" town is enough to make you fall in love with it. Known as the tea capital of northern India, Palampur offered me the solace and respite I was craving for from the hustle-bustle of daily, mundane city life.
The sunrise at any hill station is an ecstatic moment and so it was while I moved ahead from Kangra to Palampur. The pinkish hue paved path for the morning sunshine, making the snow-covered peaks glitter like gold.
The mountain range became my constant companion as I moved towards Palampur; at times playing hide and seek as clouds often covered the peaks. Nevertheless, the momentary glimpses of the peaks from the vehicle embraced my journey.
Whatever remorse was left, all came to peace the moment I reached the Palampur bus-stand. The topaz blue sky, the serenity of the valley - pure and ecstatic - drifted away the melancholic mood which I was carrying from Delhi.
Not opting for a hotel stay, I opted for a home resort run by a retired armyman Thakur Sher Saklani and his family. The overwhelming hospitality of a holiday home made me feel like I am really at home.
Without wasting much time, I decided to take a stroll on the streets. Walking aimlessly and listening to Porcupine Tree's "Lazarous" song, I passed through the tea-estates of Palampur and headed towards Neugal Cafe, a government-run eatery as suggested by the locals. They were so right about the coffee and snacks on menu!
On way to the cafe, one can only hear the whispering of gentle breeze tickling the pine and spruce trees, making the dead leaves fall which appeared like a drizzle. The rustling sound created a sweet and rapturous mood as the Dhauladhar range of Himalayas kept appearing on the way.
As I crossed the meadows and the pastoral highlands of Palampur, I saw a lady collecting tea leaves, instantly reminding me of famous poet Wordsworth's poem "Solitary Reaper". The lines, "Behold her, single in the field, Yon solitary highland lass, Reaping and singing by herself, Stop here or gently pass," became alive in front of my eyes.
I stopped in my tracks and listened to her humming some "pahari" song -- completely engrossed in her work in solitude.
Later, I witnessed the peaks get painted in red and the sky enveloped in reddish hue while enjoying local Kangra tea. The day ended with an evening stroll across the market and gulping down hot momos as the temperature dropped suddenly after a fresh shower.
Mornings at any hill destination is a pure bliss and looks no less than a painter's imagination stroked in paint. So was Palampur.
The green highlands with a cluster of huts from where fumes were coming out of kitchens bordered by the snowy mountains, cattle roaming around freely and the sun basking in glory - it was like a perfect canvas framed by a painter.
The town is also home to several ayurvedic treatment and yoga centres. Retreat your soul and rejuvenate yourself amid the lap of nature with ayurveda.
With vacation time coming to an end, I was left with no choice but to leave Palampur with a heavy heart -- promising to come back soon.
How to reach: Palampur is well connected from Delhi, Kangra, Chandigarh by bus and Pathankot by train. One can take toy trains from Kangra to Palampur.
Places to visit: Though there aren't many places to visit in Palampur, there are nearby tourist spots. If time permits, one can even take a trip to Dharamsala as well as Mcleodganj which is well connected from Palampur.
Where to stay: There are many hotels and resorts in Palampur.
What to eat: Most hotels provide good north Indian food. There are small restaurants as well. Go for local food and Kangra tea.
Journey time: Delhi to Palampur is nearly 10-12 hours by road.
Time to visit: Winters are harsh. Summers are comfortable and the best time.
Update: 29 March, 2016