If one wants to go far away from the maddening crowds of the dense cities then the picturesque Chakrata is the right destination for you, more so if you happen to stay in Delhi and Chandigarh. There is strength in my words as I speak from experience. Living in these northern metro cities is a blessing in disguise as the neighboring states of Himachal and Uttarakhand offer great destinations for weekend getaways and longer vacations.
Chakrata, a beautiful small hill station close to Dehradun is one of the many areas blessed by nature in the state of Uttarakhand. Situated between the Yamuna and Tons river, at an altitude of 7000 feet it has the more frequented hill station, Mussoorie at its east and the beautiful Kinnaur to its west.
What to Expect in Chakrata?
A peaceful location, Chakrata offers the traveler an opportunity to drink in the placid beauty of nature alongside experiencing the thrill of its bounties. Biking, trekking, camping, rock climbing, waterfall rappelling, skiing or plain bird watching, Chakrata has something or the other to offer to every tourist. The tourist can then be an adventurist, a nature lover or any traveler who wants to go to the best weekend getaway from Delhi. Chakrata receives snowfall around the end of winter and offers great skiing opportunities to the tourists. The cascading waterfalls, colossal caves, and prehistoric temples are just a few of the many things to be explored here.
How to Reach Chakrata – Dehradun?
Chakrata is easily accessible from Dehradun and Dehradun is well connected with varied parts of the country.
By Road: Chakrata lies at a distance of about 90kms from Dehradun and it takes about 4 hours to reach by road from Dehradun. You can either avail of the luxury buses or cabs or drive down yourself. If you would be traveling from the capital city of Delhi then it will entail about 7 hours’ drive or so for you.
By Rail: The closest rail station is the Dehradun rail station and this is connected to all the big cities of the country through two major trains, namely the Mussoorie Express and the Shatabdi Express. Our recommendation is to take Shatabdi, as it offers great comfort along with hygienic food.
By Air: The nearest airport is Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport. Daily flights operate to Delhi from the airport which is well connected by motorized roads to Chakrata.
PRO TIP – Take Shatabdi from New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS) to Dehradun and hire a two-wheeler in Dehradun. There are a lot of two rental service providers ranging from 400 INR per day to 1200 INR per day. The road from Dehradun to Chakrata is full of nature and greens.
The Climate of the Region & Best Time to Visit Himalayas
The winter months are snowfall times for Chakrata and heavy woolens are a must if you are planning to visit the area around that time. The winter season extends from December to February and though it is extremely chilly there is nothing more heavenly than to witness this area turn into a magical white land. Winter times are the periods when you can experience tranquility and solitude at its best. The visions of the snow-capped Himalayas during this time alongside the warmth of the bonfires and delicious barbecues offered by the hotels at Chakrata will make your winter visit very fulfilling. At the same time, you need to be brave enough to face the winter chill.CHAKRATA WEATHER
The best period to visit is between March and June when it is summer times in the region. These are the times when the dense seas of blossoms take the breath away from every visitor. Summers are pleasant and the cool mountain air acts as a refreshing tonic. Carrying light woolens during summer months is advisable.
Monsoons enable you to experience the full glory of the wilderness in the region. There can be nothing memorable than relishing the sip of hot tea as you try to get a glimpse of the snow-clad Himalayas who seem to play hide and seek with the clouds. However, monsoon times can make you feel restricted as the roads can get slippery and risky to travel. Winter times and monsoons do become a little tricky for you to navigate around.
Types of Accommodation Available
Chakrata has different types of limited accommodation to offer depending upon the budget and preferences of the visitor, though the options are maybe a little less than the more commercialized hill stations. The accommodation ranges from hotels, guesthouses, lodges and none of them fails to satisfy the visitor. Some of the popularly frequented hotels include the likes of Blu Canvas Camp & Resorts, Hotel Snow View, Hotel Hill Knights, Hotel Sun Mount, Himalayan Eco Lodges and more. You can also choose accommodations close to places of interest like the Tiger Falls, Budher Caves, etc. Basic accommodation ranges from 1000 to 2000 INR per room while resorts start at a range of 3000 INR.
Places to Visit In Chakrata and around
Chakrata is endowed with many places that offer mesmerizing experiences to the traveler; then it can very well be the peace and quiet of the Ram Tal gardens, the intrigue of the Budher caves, gazing at the colorful birds or roughing it out on camping treks to Hathni Kund. An avid photographer will have no words to describe his delight at the varied photo opportunities offered by Chakrata. You can relive my experiences as I recount the places to visit in and around Chakrata.
The highest point in Chakrata, the Chilmiri neck is surrounded by dense greenery of the deodar forests and offers a fantastic view of the setting sun. The Sunset View Point as the place is known enables the visitor to trace the slow descent of the sun as it throws its last shimmering rays on the Himalayan peaks of Rohini, Bandarpoonch, and Swarg.
Besides offering a panoramic view of the terrain, Chilmiri is also a haven for bird watchers. It is like a large table-top with good enough space for groups to picnic and relax. And they do come in numbers being close as it is to the Chakrata market.
One of the charming places in the area, Deoban is a popular spot for trekking and trail-following. You cannot return from Chakrata without undertaking the Deoban trek. Situated at a height ofaround3000 meters above sea level, Deoban offers an unhindered view of the majestic Himalayas and also enables you to come close with birds like the Russet Sparrow, Himalayan Woodpecker, and white collared blackbirds. The several camping spots scattered in the area only go to show the popularity of the spot.
One of the highest waterfalls in the state of Uttarakhand, the gurgling clear waters of the Tiger waterfalls, that cascade from a height of around 300 feet or so never fails to overwhelm you. You ought to undertake a trek from Chakrata up to the Tiger Falls which is a mere 5 km distance. The trek includes trails moving through the dense greens of the forests with the chirping birds for company. Located in the Kanaser Range, the ambiance of the place is unmatchable.
One of the not to miss spots, the Budher caves which date back to the Pandava era will not leave you without being intrigued at their formation. Made out of limestone, the rocks mesmerize you with their stalactite and stalagmite formations.
Ram Tal Horticultural Garden:
Ram Tal Horticultural garden is a small scenic spot situated at about 12 km from Chakrata town along the Mussoorie road. The area has a natural pond that is surrounded by long expanses of greens and lots of plum, apple and rhododendron trees. It is the best location for a family or group picnic. The woody and flowering plants in addition to the varied climbers, ferns, conifers, and lichens are home to the famed Grey Treepie, Black-headed Jay and Oriental turtle dove.
A must-visit spot for skiers, Mundali ranks next to Auli as a popular destination for skiing. Ski-enthusiasts can receive training at the training school present in the region. Besides skiing the place also offers beautiful views of the dense foliage and nature endowed landscapes during the summer months. This is one of the many perfect places for undertaking nature walks here!
Besides the above, there are several more places around Chakrata which offer opportunities for a host of activities. You can do waterfall rappelling at the Kimona Fall or Moigad Fall, admire the beautiful architecture of the Lakhamandal temple, go temple visiting at Mahasu Devta Temple and Chinta Haran Mahadev Temple, etc.
Traveling In & Around the Place
If you have traveled up to Chakrata by an SUV, you have the option of riding a cycle or a horse for exploring the area. This will help you to soak in the fresh air, view the fresh greenery and the awe-inspiring Himalayas as you move around. However, horse riding is available only for a limited pathway.
Things to do in Chakrata
The trails that abound around Chakrata lead you through the secluded Jaunsari villages famed for their one of a kind wooden architecture. A village named Makhti Pokha offers unrivalled vistas of the rolling valleys. Other villages that you can visit to obtain a learning experience in some form or the other include Lokad, Mungad, and Koti Banal. You can also become familiar with the local customs, traditions, and ways of life; they are interesting bits of information that add to your store of knowledge.
There is ample scope for nature walks and hiking in Chakrata. You can come close to nature and click some unforgettable views on the camera of your mind.
Due to the limited accommodation options, many prefer to camp out in tents. This trend is more popular among the backpacker community. Tents can be obtained on rent or can be carried by you. Luxury tents are also provided by getaway planners if you avail of their services. You can have a fulfilling experience gazing at the night sky lighted with trillion stars.
One of the recent activities to have become a hit with the young travelers, rock climbing in the region is organized by the travel planners and done under professional supervision.
The Tiger Falls is the place to be if you are interested in waterfall rappelling. There can be no greater thrill than accomplishing this feat.
Horse rides can be availed of from Chakrata to the Forest Check Post and back. Be sure to don safety gear to protect you from the bumps on the road.
Cycling through the Snaky Roads:
Cycling through the snaky roads in and around Chakrata will offer you a refreshing experience. Moving through the adjoining villages will help you to have interesting encounters with the locals.
You can avail any one of the several tour packages that suit your requirements.
Take a break at Lokhandi!
While visiting Moila from Chakrata, you can take a break at Lokhandi. Lokhandi is a small village which is inhabited by 5-6 families and has a hotel as well. It serves the basic necessities if you are planning to stay here, which is not a bad idea. Lokhandi has a spectacular view and it is certainly a place to spend a few hours for those who love nature and peace. There is nothing much to do here except enjoying nature, walking and enjoying the serenity.
Mingling with the Locals & Relishing the Local Cuisine of Chakrata and Himalayas
The locals of the region are warm and welcoming and you can easily make friends as you move amidst them during your treks, walks, cycling or any other activity.
As for the food options, the choices are somewhat restricted. You can get a typical Indian food menu at some restaurants, including Chinese cuisine. Chinese cuisine can be obtained at ‘Dragon Inn’ which lies on the Chakrata road. Another restaurant named ‘Jeet’ serves authentic Indian food-fare. It is located on the Mussoorie Chakrata road. The ‘Pushp’ restaurant has good breakfast and lunch options and this lies on the Mussoorie road to Paradise 6.
One of the local cuisines you can try out is the ‘Gucchi’ which can be availed of from the local dhabas. This is a very costly dish which only super-rich can afford.
Chakrata is no doubt a small hamlet off the well-trodden path but that in itself is the secret to its charm! So, now that you know more about this charming hill station head-on here if and whenever you want to get away from the busy and hectic lifestyle that has become so synonymous with the modern man!