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Unlocking Chakrata: Your complete guide to discovering a hidden gem

 Unlocking Chakrata: Your complete guide to discovering a hidden gem
OFFBEAT

By Shwetha Vasan

17 Sep, 2023

Chakrata, Uttarakhand, beckons with its unique charm—an off-the-beaten-path gem waiting to be explored! Nestled in the Himalayas, it boasts the distinction of being the first place to embrace the season's initial snowfall. It's a true haven for bird lovers and an unforgettable destination for those seeking the road less travelled.

Read on to learn about this magical hill station tucked away from the mainstream crowd. Find out about the topography, popular attractions, weather in Chakrata and more - all of which come together to offer an unforgettable stay for all those who visit.

Why is Chakrata Worth Visiting? 

Stunning horizon from the Kharamba Peak

Stunning horizon from the hills of Chakrata (Picture Source - Tours and Journey)

Cradled between the Tons and Yamuna rivers, Chakrata is a hidden gem of Uttarakhand, where rolling hills are adorned with vibrant green foliage as far as the eye can see!

A diverse ensemble of snow-capped peaks stands tall in the distant landscape, including the formidable Kharamba peak. You'll also encounter pristine streams winding and carving their paths through the terrain and lush forests adorned with rhododendrons and conifers that make Chakrata, Uttarakhand, worth visiting.

Flora in Chakrata: In One Word? Vibrant.

Rhododendron Tree

Rhododendrons under the soft sunlight

Chakrata is a tapestry of vibrant and diverse vegetation, a beauty to behold. The forests are adorned with deodar, pine, and oak trees, along with blooming rhododendrons that drown the landscape in hues of pink and red. Anyone who travels in August will also see that it is home to wild orchids and a wide array of medicinal plants. In fact, several ethnobotanical studies have been conducted to understand the therapeutic and immune-system-boosting properties of plants in the area. 

Not just that, villagers use the plants widely in religious rituals where they ask for protection and betterment from gods, primarily Mahatsu Deva (a representation of Shiva) and his three brothers. Leaves of the "Bekal" plant are used for enchantments, whereas the branches are used for naming ceremonies and even tied to doors and windows to keep evil away.  

A Bird Watcher's Paradise  

Bird found in Chakrata

Discover the beauty of Chakrata with its vibrant birdlife (Picture Source- Tusk Travel)

Chakrata is a paradise for birdwatchers, where you can find various bird species in their natural homes. It's a goldmine for those wishing to glimpse Himalayan Monals, Khalij Pheasants, Red-billed Blue Magpies, Verditer Flycatchers, and many other captivating birds. Visiting Chakrata, Uttarakhand, is an absolute must for bird enthusiasts, offering a chance to connect with nature and witness these splendid creatures in their untouched habitats. 

The Intersection of History and Mythology  

The Hosteller, Chakrata

Aerial view of The Hosteller, Chakrata

Located a short distance from the town and in the hills, a splendid house made almost entirely of deodar wood was constructed in 1888 for the Divisional Forest Officer of Chakrata. Over the years, it served as a residence for successive English DFOs who found the climate and surroundings of Chakrata akin to the British weather. Remarkably, this house, exuding timeless beauty, still stands tall even after nearly 130 years. Within its compound lies a massive tree, planted in 1887, a year before the bungalow's construction. 

This two-story residence continues to serve as the official bungalow of the DFO Chakrata, now occupied by native officers from the Indian Forest Service. However, it has recently seen reduced occupancy due to a collection of intriguing tales associated with this otherwise exquisite bungalow. Most of these stories revolve around a diligent British IFS officer who served here extensively, making the house his home. Legend has it that the spirit of this officer lingers within the house, giving rise to numerous accounts of Gora Saheb's ghost wandering through the premises at night. Some even claim to have witnessed the apparition of the officer diligently working at his wooden desk, Illumina.

Some of the Best Places to Visit in Chakrata

Chakrata is a playground for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. From trekking to taking in the beauty of the Himalayan mountains, here are some of the best places to visit in Chakrata while you're here:

1. Moila Top

Moila Top, Chakrata

Ascend to the breathtaking Moila Top in Chakrata (Picture Source- Wikipedia)

Moila Top, nestled in the scenic hills of Chakrata, is a mesmerising vantage point offering breathtaking panoramic views of the Himalayan landscapes. The picturesque destination mirrors the charm of a Kashmiri meadow. You'll find horses leisurely strolling through the lush grasslands while the skies seem almost within reach, creating a serene and idyllic landscape. 

2. Tiger Falls

Cascading Tiger falls along a quaint stream

Cascading Tiger falls along a quaint stream (Picture Source - Xplore The Earth)

A 6 kms trek away from the town, Tiger Falls is one of the highest falls in the state and makes for a gorgeous view. Falling from a height of 312 feet, the crystal clear water creates a refreshing pool at the bottom too. The trek to Tiger falls is exciting, albeit a little difficult, but we promise it’s worth it. 

3. Chilmiri Neck

Breathtaking sight of the Chilmiri Neck

Breathtaking sight of the Chilmiri Neck "Sunset View Point" of Chakrata (Picture Source - Holidify)

For an unparalleled view of the Himalayas around, head to the Chilmiri Neck, which is also locally known as “Sunset View Point”. Its flat top makes it a great spot for a quiet sunset picnic, or if you’d like to spend some time bird-watching with your buddies.  

4. Deoban

Travellers enjoying a trek through the enthralling trail of Deoban

Travellers enjoying a trek through the enthralling trail of Deoban (Picture Source - Discoverhike)

With beautiful forest trails and sunlight that streams through the trees, head to Deoban, which translates to “God’s Garden”, if you’re itching for a day of trekking, or a night of camping under the stars - which is a must if you’ll travel in August. It’s also an amazing place to gaze at the surrounding vistas from.  

5. Ramtal Garden

The tranquil sight of the Ramtal Garden, surrounded by flora and fauna

The tranquil sight of the Ramtal Garden, surrounded by flora and fauna (Picture Source - eUttaranchal)

About 9 kms away, Ramtal Horticulture garden is a sanctuary to a diverse array of local flora including types of lichen, ferns, flowers, pines, rhododendrons and more. It’s also home to birds like the black-headed jay, oriental turtle dove and more, making it a paradise for birdwatchers and nature lovers alike.  

6. Budher Caves

Budher Caves in Chakrata

Embark on a thrilling journey to explore the breathtaking Budher Caves in Chakrata (Picture Source- zingbus)

Discover the mystique of Budher Caves in Chakrata, a natural wonder nestled amidst the rugged terrain. Delve into an underground adventure as you explore intriguing limestone formations and echoing chambers. An escapade for spelunking enthusiasts, promising an unforgettable journey into the heart of Chakrata's captivating subterranean realm.

7. Kanatal Bugyal 

Kanatal Bugyal in Chakrata

Discover the pristine beauty of Kanatal Bugyal in Chakrata (Picture Source- Himalayan Moments)

Kanatal Bugyal in Chakrata, a picturesque alpine meadow, offers a serene retreat for those seeking solace in nature's embrace. Situated amidst the Himalayas, it boasts lush expanses, panoramic vistas, and a salubrious climate. A destination for rejuvenation and exploration, promising an immersive experience in the lap of pristine natural beauty. 

Where Military and Mountains Combine

Aerial view of the Army cantonment in Chakrata

Aerial view of the Army cantonment spread over the hills of Chakrata (Picture Source - Savaari)

Chakrata stands as a unique destination in India with a rich history and present. Initially established as a British-Indian Army cantonment in the 1860s, it remains an access-restricted one. Remarkably, it serves as the permanent garrison for the exclusive "Special Frontier Force," also known as "Establishment Two-Two," consisting of ethnically Tibetan soldiers.

These elite and highly secretive units have led to stringent restrictions on foreign and international tourist visits to Chakrata, limiting entry to Indian citizens exclusively. Furthermore, strict regulations prohibit excessive photography or videography in the streets, making Chakrata the best place to visit to disconnect and unwind.

The Hosteller Chakrata

The Hosteller, Chakrata

The Hosteller, Chakrata

The Hosteller Chakrata is a paradise for wanderers, backpackers, and adventure enthusiasts. It boasts a harmonious blend of striking architecture, spacious open areas, a lush garden, and ample parking. Each room treats you to breathtaking vistas of mountains and valleys, immersing you in the tranquil beauty of nature.

Our communal spaces are thoughtfully designed to promote a sense of togetherness and connection. The in-house cafe is a welcoming hub where you can savour delectable meals while engaging in spirited conversations with fellow travellers. Meanwhile, our garden invites you to unwind amidst the soothing serenity of Uttarakhand.

The view from The Hosteller, Chakrata

The mesmerising sunset view from The Hosteller, Chakrata

Our design draws inspiration from the local birdlife of Chakrata, Uttarakhand's enchanting wildflowers and indigenous crafts' rich heritage. The interiors feature a colour palette reminiscent of lush forests and meadows, adorning the walls with deep green and mustard yellow shades. If you need a productive workspace, our common area provides workstations where you can strike the perfect balance between work and leisure. Whether relaxing with a board game, birdwatching through our telescope, or reminiscing on the swings, we cater to your every mood and preference.

Best Time To Visit Chakrata

Snow-covered conifers of Chakrata

The beautiful snow-covered conifers of Chakrata (Picture Source - TripAdvisor)

The weather in Chakrata, Uttarakhand, is blessed with a pleasant climate throughout most of the year, making it one of the best places for travellers in all seasons. However, Summer (March - June) is the best time to visit this quaint little town, densely covered with blossoms, a glorious sight to behold.

During November, December and January the temperature ranges between 8°C to 23°C which is usually considered off-season to visit Chakrata. If you are travelling in December, you can enjoy the snow-covered landscape, and visitors can enjoy various winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.

How to Reach Chakrata?

Delhi to Chakrata road

The scenic route to Chakrata (Picture Source- Holidify)

By Air

The town's nearest airport is Jolly Grant in Dehradun situated approximately 115 kilometres away. Jolly Grant is a domestic airport with excellent connectivity to Delhi, which serves as an international airport linked to several major cities in India and abroad. Regular flights operate between Delhi, Chandigarh, and Mumbai, ensuring convenient access.

By Train

The closest railway station is situated in the capital city of Dehradun, which is approximately 87 kilometres away from Chakrata town. Notably, Shatabdi and Mussoorie Express routes link Dehradun to major cities in India.

By Road

Buses operate from ISBT Kashmiri Gate, Delhi to both Mussoorie and Dehradun. The town is also connected to Himachal Pradesh via roads through Paonta Sahib. Situated approximately 311 kilometres away from Delhi, Chakrata can be reached in around 8 hours of travel by road.

What next?

Dehradun to Chakrata

The beautiful landscapes of Chakrata (Picture Source- Travel Tales of an Indian Blogger)

Once you are in Dehradun, the local bus that will take you from Dehradun to Chakrata main market, typically costs around 150 Rs. Afterwards, you can catch a shared taxi to Purodi village for approximately 20 Rs. We recommend arriving before 6 pm to secure a shared cab. If you prefer a more direct route to Chakrata, you can book a cab straight from Dehradun to your property. This option is estimated to cost around Rs. 3000.

Plan your trip

Purodi in Chakrata

Experience the charm of Chakrata (Picture Source- Mapcarta)

According to local rumours, there is talk of a potential relocation of the main market to Purodi, the area where our hostel is situated, due to security considerations. This move would make the destination, which already boasts abundant untapped potential and the unexplored regions, considerably more accessible than it is at present. And all this while, our hostel would be all set to roll out the red carpet and give you and your crew a hearty welcome!
 


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