Tea Garden Palampur, Himachal Pradesh
Around 38 km away from Dharamshala, in the eastern Kangra valley is
a hill town that derives its name from the term pulum This term means
water. It has become a source of the name of the town because there
are plenty of streams and brooks that make their way through the
landscape. This town is Palampur.
Palampur came into existence in the middle of the 19th century when Dr. Jameson, Superintendent Botanical Gardens, North-West Frontier Province, introduced tea bush from Almora. At that point of time, the Britishers were so fascinated by the aroma of tea leaves that they planted tea wherever the land was found suitable. Palampur progressed as a tea plantation area and soon found a place in the international map. 'Kangra Tea', with its centre at Palampur became hugely renowned by 1883. Today, tea from here are marketed under names like Darbari, Bageshwari, Bahar and Malhar. All these brand name have been drawn from the ragas of Indian classical music.
Tea plantations then, no wonder, are the prime attraction if you are visiting Palampur. The vast expanse of greenery is simply refreshing. One glance at them is enough to cheer you up. Adding more charm to the town is the magnificent Dhauladhar range that rise from behind. The peaks remain snow covered for most part of the year and provide some really fantastic views for you to enjoy. Colonial architecture in Palampur too have their distinctive charm.
Around 2 km away from the town is this 300 m wide chasm from where the Neugal stream passes. The place is a popular picnic spot with Dhauladhar range rising just ahead. Quiet closeby is the famous five centuries old, Bundlamata Temple. You can sit in Himachal Tourism cafe here and enjoy the wonderful view of the high rising peaks and gushing stream while sipping a cup of tea or coffee.
Bandla Tea Estate covers an area of 4 kms and has a modern tea factory where you can see how tea is processed.
A small village around 13 km away from Palampur, Andretta was the home of two famous artists - painter Sardar Sobha Singh and the playwright Ms Norah Richards. Today, the village offers a pleasant retreat specially for artists or art lovers. There is the mud bamboo house of Norah Richards which has been converted into an open air theatre. Every year students from Punjab University come here to stage plays on her birthday. The Andretta Pottery and Crafts Society is the perfect place if you wish to pick up some pottery. There is also a terracota museum that exhibits pottery from various parts of India. The Shobha Singh Art gallery is also an attraction here.
Situated at a distance of 13 km from Palampur, Gopalpur has a mini zoo as its main attraction.
This monastery is located around 12 km from Palampur and has Taragarh in its close vicinity. The monastery is amongst those that were built after the Dalai Lama made Mc Leodganj his home. You can purchase carpets, Buddhist tangkha paintings and other Tibetan craft from here.
Chamunda Devi Temple
The Chamunda Devi Temple is one of the most important one in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located at a distance of around 25 km from Palampur and is believed to be around 700 years old. The main temple is dedicated to Chamunda Devi while a smaller shrine honours Lord Shiva. The highlights of the temple are the artistic carvings on the lintel, pillars and the ceiling. A platform in front of the temple shaded by two peepul tree provides shelter to the coming devotees. The temple is currently under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India.
Bir And Billing
Bir is around 29 km away from Palampur and is known as the paragliding capital of the country. Bordered by tea gardens and low hills, it also has four Buddhist monasteries worth visiting. Most prominent among these are Choling. You can also pick up Tibetan handicrafts from Bir. The village of Billing is 14 km ahead and has a spot ( a cliff) from where paragliders take off. However, you must remember that Billing is not suitable for hang gliding fresher. Moreover, there are neither courses offered nor any equipment available here.
For adventure lovers, Palampur offers sufficient opportunities. You have options to undertake trekking, paragliding, hang gliding and fishing. Trek routes from Palampur are interesting and lead to destinations like Holi, Dharamshala and Manali. Anglers can try their luck out between the months of March to June or September to October. Mahasheer are found in and around Dehra Gopipur, Nadaun and Pong Dam.
Kangra Tea make for a good buy in Palampur. Apart from this, other purchases from here can be Tibetan handicrafts, carpets, woolens, thangka paintings and prints.
The closest airport is Gaggal, around 35 km away. From there, taxis are available to bring you to Palampur.
Closest railhead from Palampur is Maranda, which is 2-km from Palampur and on the narrow-gauge line between Pathankot and Joginder Nagar.
The main bus station is situated around a km south of the main bazaar. From here frequent bus service are available to Dharamshala, Mandi and Pathankot. Taxis are also there to take you to these towns.