If you can’t beat the Chandigarh heat, escape it: From Barot to Karol Valley, scenic destinations for a quick getaway

4 min read

At a time when blistering heatwave is sparing none, the quest for off-beat locations in the hills has intensified. While popular hill stations like Shimla and Manali are already burdened with a large tourist influx, we have curated a list of lesser-known towns and villages in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, where one can reach within six hours. However, it’s advisable to plan the trip well in advance and make prior bookings to avoid hassle and disappointments.

An ancient structure standing tall in the heart of Shangarh village(Adobe Stock)

1. Barot

A quaint village in Himachal’s Mandi district, Barot is about 230 km from City Beautiful. This place, situated alongside Uhl river, boasts of hidden waterfalls such as one in Lapas village, pristine hiking trails, trout farms, and funicular railway track, one-of-its-kind cable railway system. Dev Pashakot temple and Nagru wildlife sanctuary are among other attractions near Barot. Options for staying in and around the village range from luxury tents to guest houses and home stays. Barot has good network connectivity and most of the properties also offer free WiFi, making it suitable for remote working as well.

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A reservoir in Barot (Shutterstock)
A reservoir in Barot (Shutterstock)

2. Thanedar

A quintessential apple basket, this hidden gem near Narkanda is three hours away from Shimla on the erstwhile Hindustan-Tibet road. Thanedar is overarched by Deodar woods with snow-capped peaks of upper Himachal and Uttarakhand in the backdrop. This hamlet also has multiple staying options, be it orchard retreats or rental homes. Tani Jubbar, a tiny lake; Nag Devta temple; and multiple stone fruit orchards will welcome you on the way to Thanedar, about 200 km from Chandigarh.

Tani Jubbar lake near Thanedar(Shutterstock)
Tani Jubbar lake near Thanedar(Shutterstock)

3. Shangarh

If you thought vast green meadows were a thing of Kashmir, you will be amused to see what Shangarh has to offer. This place took some time to mark its presence on travellers’ maps, but now that it’s there, no excuse can be made to skip this townlet, around 230 km from Chandigarh. In close vicinity of Great Himalayan National Park – a Unesco heritage site – Shangarh can be reached in a little over five hours by car. Lodging options include hostels, home stays, and hanging tents besides riverside cottages nearby. Visits to the ancient temple of Shangchul Mahadev, Raila fort and waterfall, and a trek up to Sara lake can also be added to the itinerary.

Shangarh meadows(Shutterstock)
Shangarh meadows(Shutterstock)

4. Shoja

Synonymous with serenity, Shoja, also called Sohja, ticks all the right boxes when it comes to being an off-beat chilling spot. This village, which falls in Tirthan valley, is about 220 km from Chandigarh. Over the time, it has attained a cult status among backpackers and lovers of cafe culture. It does justice to this tag and offers plenty of novel properties for a comfortable stay. Abundance of forest trails, water bodies, and historical places nearby make Shoja a must for your travel bucket list. Jalori Pass, Raghupur fort, Serolsar lake, and Jibhi waterfall are among the key attractions nearby.

A cabin in the woods of Shoja (Shutterstock)
A cabin in the woods of Shoja (Shutterstock)

5. Karol valley

You read it right. The valley of Karol, not Kasol, has found a place on this list for housing the highest peak of Solan. One of the most-accessible trekking points near Chandigarh, the moderate-level climb to Karol Tibba passes through thick foliage, pine trees, an ancient cave of Pandavas, and grasslands, before culminating at a temple atop the hill. The 360-degree view of the surrounding Himalayan mountain range from there is the treat one gets after treading for about three hours. There are two routes for Karol Tibba, one from Solan (70 km from Chandigarh) and another from Kandaghat (90 km from the city). Both these places lie on Chandigarh-Shimla highway. It’s a one-day trek and lodging options are available at both the base points.

The temple on the top of Karol Tibba(Shutterstock)
The temple on the top of Karol Tibba(Shutterstock)

Note to travellers:

1. Check the weather and road maps before embarking on the journey.

2. Don’t litter, and dispose of trash at designated sites.

3. Keep the volume of portable speakers and soundbars low.

4. Hire local guides if venturing into forests or going on hikes.

5. Don’t pluck fruits from orchards without permission.

6. Respect the local culture and communities, and don’t harm the flora and fauna.

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