The Ultimate Travel Guide To Dalhousie & Chamba

Surrounded by green pine and deodar trees, Dalhousie is a pristine hill-town in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. It offers distant mountain views with a quaint hill setting. British-era churches, charming wood cottages, palatial Victorian bungalows, and elite boarding schools adorn its sylvan roads. And the moment you set foot on Dalhousie’s ribbons of tarmac, the coffee-infused aroma from nearby cafes and the refreshing scent of pine trees will take over your senses. That’s Dalhousie for you, a dreamy little town with many offbeat pockets of natural beauty around for you to explore.

Founded in the mid-19th century, the magnetic town of Dalhousie still conserves that old-world charm. Travellers from all walks of life flock here to rejuvenate and indulge in adventure activities for their summer holidays. And while the pleasures of strolling the mall road and picnicking at Khajjiar never get old, offbeat regions of Ser, Banikhet, Chhananu, and Chamera Lake host you for a non-obvious experience of Chamba.

In this Dalhousie travel guide, we handpick some of the finest hikes, water activities, and off-the-map recommendations. If you have never been to Chamba, this Dalhousie travel blog gives you many reasons to plan a trip. And for seasoned travellers, this guide lets you in on the finest offbeat experiences of a popular holiday destination.

Best time to visit Dalhousie

Dalhousie in summer, between March and June, offers a much-needed respite from the scorching city weather. The temperature never exceeds the 30° mark, making Chamba a sought-after holiday destination through spring, summer, and even monsoon.

It receives a fair amount of rain between July and September, so if you are planning to unwind and relish the rains, Dalhousie makes for a charming choice. However, be careful on the roads while driving.

Dalhousie in winter, from October to February, has temperatures ranging from 0° to 13°. During peak winters, snowfall is pretty common here, adding to the town’s beauty.

Adventure activities in Dalhousie

From lazing out in the meadows to indulging in adventure activities, Dalhousie has something for all kinds of travellers.

Speed boating at Chamera Lake: One of the most adventurous activities in Dalhousie, speed boating at Chamera Lake will take you the closest to Chamera Dam. A 5-minute speed ride costs INR 500 per person, and boats are available from 9 AM to 6:30 PM.

Speed boating in Chamera Lake near Dalhousie
Picture by Ankit Gupta

Hiking & Trekking: Several treks start from Dalhousie and offer the most magnificent views of the Himalayas.

  • Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary to Khajjiar. It is an easy to moderate hike that takes 5-6 hours to complete, and the trail goes through deep jungles. The entry fee to the sanctuary is INR 250 per person.
View from Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary trek
Picture by Sanketh Sampara
  • Dainkund to Jot: This trek starts from Dainkund Peak, the highest peak of Dalhousie, and it takes 3-4 hours to complete this easy trail. The earthy path goes through green pine valleys and vibrant grasslands. Exotic birds fly from their nests on dense pine trees, and buffaloes can be seen dipping in small puddles. Many viewpoints along the trail treat you with panoramic views of the Chamba mountains.
  • Ganji Pahari: The hike to Ganji Pahari is the best of both Dainkund and Kalatop Sanctuary, ideal for travellers looking for a comprehensive experience of Dalhousie. The 1-2 hour long trail goes through rugged and uneven terrain and offers mesmerising views and landscapes.
  • Paragliding: Paragliding in Dalhousie will take you to 5000 feet and offer the most breathtaking views of Dalhousie from the sky. The cost of a single flight is approximately INR 1500, and it is available from 10 AM to 4 PM. The activity isn’t open due to weather fluctuations.

Things to do in Dalhousie

Dalhousie offers many activities to travellers seeking to explore the Himalayas. Here are the best things to do in Dalhousie:

Panchpula Waterfall: The gushing waterfall of Panchpula is one of the best places to visit in Dalhousie if you like to spend time outdoors. Families, couples, and solo travellers come here to pay their respects at the samadhi of the great freedom fighter Sardar Ajit Singh.

Meadows of Khajjiar: Khajjiar is covered by lush green forests of deodar and pine trees with snowcapped peaks in the backdrop. All kinds of travellers flock here for picnics and to indulge in the best adventure activities in Khajjiar.

Meadows of Khajjiar in the Chamba district
Picture by Rishu Bhasale

Satdhara Falls: A crystal clear waterfall claimed to have therapeutic properties, Satdhar Falls are yet another tourist attraction in Dalhousie. You can stop by the seven streams for an added adventure on your way.

Chamera Lake: Formed by the construction of the Chamera Dam over the Ravi River, Chamera Lake is a calm water body in Dalhousie. Here, you can indulge in kayaking, angling, speed boating, paddle boating, and rowing.

View of Chamera Lake from Zostel Homes Chamera Lake
Picture by Ankit Gupta

We now have a homestay right by this lake, offering an impeccable view of the valley and the waters. Check out Zostel Home Chamera here.

Mall Road: A vacation in Dalhousie is incomplete without an evening stroll at Mall Road. A majestic view of the Pir Panjal range is one of the best things to see in Dalhousie. The entire road is sprinkled with souvenir shops, chic cafes, and dainty little spots to just sit and enjoy the vibe. You can also visit St. John's Church, St. Patrick's Church, St. Andrew's Church, and St. Francis Church on your day walk around Dalhousie.

Zostel has a vibrant backpacking hostel a little away from the bustling crowds of Dalhousie, offering a very social vibe and distant valley views. Have a look at Zostel Dalhousie here.

Banikhet: Only 10 km from Dalhousie, Banikhet offers an offbeat setting to visitors. A gateway to the Chamba district, Banikhet is surrounded by dense forests. From distant mountain views to verdant meadows, this place is one of the best to places visit near Dalhousie.

Zostel homes Chamera Lake
Picture by Ankit Gupta

A minty fresh hostel from us, located in the peaceful setting of Banikhet village, offers a friendly burrow, a bar, and a fully-equipped workation area. Check out Zostel Banikhet here.

Places to eat in Dalhousie:

Dalhousie offers a variety of local and fine-dining restaurants spread across the town. Here’s our pick of the best cafes and restaurants in Dalhousie.

Kwality restaurant: Located at the always moving Gandhi Chowk, Kwality restaurant specialises in Asian and Indian cuisines. From healthy breakfasts to late-night dinners, Kwality Restaurant serves it all. The options here are vegetarian, non-vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free meals from 9:30 AM to 10:30 PM.

Bon Appetit: A heaven for non-vegetarians, Bon Appetit is famous for serving delicious snacks at affordable prices. The fries and grilled sandwiches taste best with their dips and sauces. This roadside cafe serves wholesome lunch, dinner, and snacks from 10:30 AM to 9 PM.

Moti Mahal: The famous chain of restaurants can be easily found at narrow Subhash Chowk. From paranthas for breakfast to pizzas for dinner, Moti Mahal serves a wide variety of cuisines from 10 AM to 10 PM. Vegetarian thalis are a must-try here.

Tiffin’s restaurant: For a fine dining experience, Tiffin’s restaurant is the best choice. The restaurant prepares Chinese, Indian, Italian, and continental dishes with options for buffet and a-la-carte from 9:30 AM to 10:30 PM. In addition, the in-house lounge bar enhances your dining experience here.

Cafe Dalhousie: One of the oldest and most popular eateries in Dalhousie, Cafe Dalhousie is located inside the premises of Hotel Dalhousie. This quaint cafe welcomes food lovers to its well-preserved old-world charm. From South Indian dishes to a North Indian fare and Chinese snacks to desserts, the restaurant prepares vegetarian and non-vegetarian food from 9 AM to 9:30 PM.

Cafe Dalhousie in Dalhouse

Bawa’s Cafe: This eatery is another hidden gem of Dalhousie, located at Subhash Chowk. It’s run by a chef and has a varied menu ranging from Turkish to Tibetan cuisine. You can eat all you want, from cold hazelnut coffee to cheezy brizza, from 10 AM to 11 PM. Options here are vegetarian, non-vegetarian and beverages from their in-house virgin bar.

Choose your stay options

Zostel has not just one, not two, but three different properties for all types of travellers in and around Dalhousie. They all offer a different experience of the region.

Dalhousie Town

Our backpacker hostel is located right in the heart of the bustling hill town of Dalhousie. The expansive balconies and terraces open up to panoramic views of the distant mountains. The indoor cafe serves lip-smacking food, and the bonfire area keeps everyone entertained.

Check out Zostel Dalhousie here.

Cafe area of Zostel Dalhousie
Picture by Ankit Gupta

Banikhet Village

Our newest addition to the backpacker hostel in Dalhousie is situated in the offbeat setting of Banikhet village. Located 10 km from the humdrum of Dalhousie town, the vibrant hostel offers a lively pool area, spacious cafe, in-house bar, multiple bustling common areas, and quick access to nearby nature hikes.

Check out Zostel Banikhet here.

Pool area of Zostel Banikhet
Picture by Ankit Gupta

Chamera Lake

We have the most luxurious homestay located at the banks of the tranquil Chamera Lake, offering unparalleled valley and lake views, an organic kitchen, and the most peaceful environment to rejuvenate your senses.

Check out Zostel Home Chamera Lake here.

Luxury room of Zostel Homes Chamera Lake with 360 view
Picture by Ankit Gupta

That’s all for now. For regular travel updates from us, follow us on Instagram or head to our YouTube channel for informative videos.

Writer, Vineet Gupta.