After the long journey from McLeod Ganj, we reached our hotel in Khajiar, The Royal Residency. However once inside we realized that it was buzzing with people and activity. The hotel staff showed us the rooms located on the second floor. They were very spacious with a large double bed at one side, wall to wall cupboards along the wall to the left. Immediately opposite the entrance door in the middle of the wall was a study table and a chair. The wall mounted LED beside the study table made a very decent view from the bed. Beside the LED was a large mirror and below it was a small dressing table with a shoe box in between the study table. On the far opposite side 2 extremely comfortable sofa chairs faced each other separated by a table. They overlooked beautiful hilly landscape outside with large glass walls. The room was very inviting and I immediately felt like staying here forever!!
Breakfast and dinner were included in our package. We arrived just around dinner time and being completely famished, made our way to the dining room in the first floor. It was a huge room with about 12 tables each having a seating capacity of 4. All but one were occupied, which we grabbed! There was variety in the menu including non-veg dishes. We thoroughly enjoyed the fare. After dinner and refreshing, I spent some time on open space on the second floor between the stairs and the passage to the rooms. Although the hotel was located in a deserted stretch, there were a couple of more hotels bang opposite to ours. After my eyes settled in the darkness I could make out the contours of mountains. Some lights in the distance showed places high up where people lived. Some moving lights indicated roads in the hills. The weather was just comfortable. My phone navigator indicated that this was the east direction and then and there I decided to return at dawn to view the sunrise.
Next morning I got up to the beeping sound of my phone alarm. Wrapped with a light shawl I stepped out of the room noiselessly. It was still dark outside but it was disappearing slowly. I took my seat on the cane cushioned sofa and eagerly looked in the eastern direction. As dawn slowly changed the view I realized with disappointment that there were no snow clad mountains within my view. I kept hoping against hope that once the sun was out, I would get a glimpse. This mountain range is the famous Dhauladhar range. However, that was not to be. The sunrise happened all of a sudden but there were no white peaks or golden glow on white peaks. The thrill had reduced significantly. By now the hotel staff had commenced duty and some guests had also come out. It was a bright day. Soon we were ready to move out. The breakfast was sumptuous to say the least! With a full stomach we left for the day’s sightseeing.
The first stop was Jagdamba Devi temple. The towering copper statue of Lord Shiva is visible from quite a distance. As you come closer you realize its beauty. The temple complex was well maintained except that closer to the statue there were monkeys hindering the path.
Thereafter we moved to Khajiar ground. It is a huge flat green area, more than double the size of a football field. Surrounded by deodar trees this was simply the centre of attraction of this place. In the middle of the ground there was a small water filled body. It is believed that many years ago a meteor had crashed at this site causing a crater. The mist played hide & seek with the sun making it comfortable and hot alternatively. When the mist enveloped the deodar trees, it made a sight straight out of fairy tales. Locals have created various activities here such as clicking photos in traditional dress, horse riding etc. and various eatables are easily available.
After spending around 2 hours at this beautiful spot we made our way down to Chamba city. It was about 22 kms away but the winding road with sharp turns and hair pin bends took more than an hour and made it a memorable journey down the hill! Chamba, crowded and congested, was in stark contrast to Khajiar. There was not much to see here. The late afternoon heat was also getting to us. The only place of interest to me was the Bhuri Singh Museum which had some ancient artifacts, paintings and sculptures.