The Land Of Apple & Cherry Blossom: Narkanda, Himachal Pradesh
Narkanda is a small village situated at an altitude of 8885 feet above sea level (2708 M) in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The village is around 65 kilometres from Shimla and is surrounded by the Shivalik range. Narkanda can be easily reached via public transport or by driving down there. It is a skiing resort in winters where apple culture actually started. Because of that, it is also known as ‘the land of apples and cherry blossoms’.
With a total population of approximately 2712 people, Narkanda has a few guest houses and home stays, small vegetable shops and road-side restaurants. People there offer warm hospitality and welcome visitors in typical Himachali style.
The place is far from the maddening crowd and is not a ‘hot-spot’ for tourists. It is hence, perfect for solo-travellers and those looking for quiet, serenity, solace and relaxation. Narkanda is a perfect escape from city life with its narrow roads which have a charm of its own. The surroundings are silent and the view is panoramic.
The place receives heavy snowfall during winters and the temperature drops down to -10 degrees. Skiing and other adventure sport lovers can definitely add this place to their bucket-list.
During winters, Narkanda offers pleasing and easy-going weather. Nights are generally cold. The valley offers different views in every season. It’s all snow during winters and its all maple leaves during the monsoon. Every season is apt to visit Narkanda, but the most preferred one is from April to June and from October to November.
The valley never fails to provide one, a magnificent and dramatic view of the mountains. Narkanda is an ideal retreat for the backpackers and those seeking seclusion and tranquillity. Fruit orchards on the surrounding hills provide travellers with a dual treat – a trek and fruits besides the beautiful view.
About 8 kms from Narkanda is Hatu Peak, a road surrounded by pine forests. It is completely off-road and is a sheer pleasure for people who love to drive in the mountains. At a height of 3400 metres, on the top of the hill, there is an ancient Hatu Mata temple, which according to local beliefs, is the temple of Mandodari, the wife of Ravana.
One can go to the peak by either taking a taxi or by trekking through the forest. The trek and the peak offers a spectacular view of the entire Himalayan range, green fields, apple orchards, sheep grazing and snow-clad mountains. Hiking is recommended to reach the peak. It’s not a very difficult trek and one can cover it in 3 hours.
At the start of the journey to Hatu Peak, there is a famous Chinese van, which serves the tastiest Maggi and a complementary story from the chef! These are very interesting tales and a perfect start to the 3 hour climb. In the mid-way, a very famous momo stall in front of a small lake, a stone hut and dense forests provides refreshments to trekkers on their way to Hatu Peak.
Accommodation in Narkanda and Hatu Peak is not a challenge. One can easily get an economical guest house and there are Himachal Tourism resorts available too for those with deeper pockets. On Hatu Peak, Hotel Agyaat Vaas offers a variety of accommodation options to choose from like huts, rooms or camps. Spending a night there is a beautiful experience as the stars and the heavens are close and the beautiful Himalayas envelope one. The early morning view is splendid waking up to the icy mountains and the beautiful valley below.
Narkanda is a small, must-visit, weekend getaway from Delhi and other nearby cities. Buying apples and cherries from here should not be missed as they are cheap and also very tasty.
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Text & Photography: Heena Raheja