Chakrata – The Pristine Hill Station
This blog post is a beautiful memory from 2011. A memory quite close to my heart. A memory that fills my heart with sheer joy every time it passes through the mirror of my mind. The memory of a beautiful hill station – Chakrata. It was when four girls sitting in the office cafeteria decided to go on a trip for a simple reason that the dinner break in office wasn’t sufficient for our girly talks. We shortlisted a couple of hill stations and agreed upon a three-day trip. We wanted to go for some offbeat location with lesser people and more nature around.
The discussion went on for a week but no destination was finalised. I was married a couple of months back and my worried husband, who was helping me with my packing and arranging a taxi for us, kept on asking for the decided place to which I had no answers. Finally, we booked a cab and informed the driver that it would be a three-day trip to a hill station in Uttarakhand. We packed our bags and boarded the cab from Delhi at around five in the morning with no idea where exactly were we going. ‘Chakrata’ was the place we finally agreed upon after a discussion of half an hour in the cab. I’m glad we chose that place! Located at a height of 7000 – 7250 feet, Chakrata is a beautiful cantonment town in Dehradun district of Uttarakhand. It is a mystical hill station – unspoiled, untainted and pristine. With all its green glory, it looks like Wordsworth’s poetry wrapped in mist and dew!
It was long journey of more than seven hours. Although our chit chats and laughter made it easy and we even stopped for lunch and snacks, the last two hours were still tiresome. When the city roads were replaced by narrow paths surrounded with lush green forests and terrace farming, we knew our destination has arrived. We were dying to get out of the cab and enjoy the mesmerising views. By the time we reached the town, it was already evening and all we wanted to do was relax in a cosy room with a beautiful view.
Since the destination was a last moment decision, the hotel wasn’t pre-booked. Our expectations were shattered when we started looking for hotels around. Chakrata is not commercialised, therefore, finding a good hotel was a tiresome job, especially with weak internet signals. We found hotels and guest houses in narrow streets with no view and disappointing rooms. After trying for almost seven hotels, we kind of accepted the fact that the trip is ruined. It is when we were about to give up and settle for what is available, we found this beautiful path leading to ‘Hotel Snow View’, that happened to be our trip-saver.
We were offered a neat room with a small balcony and a beautiful view. The hotel rooms weren’t like one of those beautiful well-equipped hotels but they were nice and clean. Although the menu was limited, the food was great! Hotel staff was friendly and cordial. It was more than what you can expect from a hotel in a non-commercialised place like Chakrata. I highly recommend this hotel because of its location and hospitality. The best part of this pristine hill station was that you feel like a child in the lap of nature. The weather was pleasant and there wasn’t much noise around except for the chirping of some wild birds. The place was so tranquil that you begin to feel a connection with the energies of Mother Nature.
All we wanted to do was relax in the hotel. However, to our surprise, we rather chose to explore the place. So, after settling our luggage in the hotel and giving a retouch to our make-up, we walked out of the hotel to explore the streets and markets of Chakrata. We cherished the beauty of the place and clicked several pictures. We also bought some snacks from the nearby market, that only had a couple of shops. It was already dark and we decided to return to our hotel. Chakrata is quite safe being a cantonment area. There is no night life here but who needed that! We played some nice hip-hop music on our cell phones and started dancing in the street. There was no one around except for a couple of locals passing by. It started drizzling and we enjoyed our rain dance. Nights are fairly cold here. Although we wrapped ourselves in blankets and quilts to stay warm, we left a window open to avoid suffocation.
The morning was a pleasant surprise. When we opened our eyes, we found the clouds filled our room due to the window left open last night. We couldn’t believe what we saw. It was damn beautiful! However, there was another side to it. We could hardly get the voice come out of our throat. It was frozen. Thankfully, some hot beverages fixed our throats in less than half an hour and we were ready for the day’s adventure. Yes! We were heading to the main attraction of Chakrata, the mighty ‘Tiger Falls’. However, we didn’t realise it was an adventure until the journey started. After the breakfast and some photo session, we boarded the cab and left for Tiger Falls. The road was narrow and dangerous – start of the adventure. Tiger Falls is approximately one hour downhill trek (8 Kilometres) from the road. So, we parked our car near to the starting point of the trek.
As we started descending on the hiking trail, we realised the intensity of this adventure. It was an undeveloped narrow and steep road with wild plants and terrace farming on one side. To add some more adventure to it, the stones on the road were slippery due to the frequent rains in the area and natural waters oozing out of the mountains. The four girls helped each other getting through the journey. We tumbled down multiple times on the way because of the slippery stones, laughed at what happened and then carried on with the journey. The place was fascinating, calm and of course photogenic. After a trek of almost 40 minutes when we were losing our energies and patience, we heard the sound of gushing waters. A stream of fresh energy started running within us as we could sense our destination was not too far.
Although the trek was dangerous and tiresome, the first sight of waterfall compensated for that. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the jaw-dropping sight. There stood the ravishing ‘Tiger Falls’ proudly flowing from a spectacular height of 312 ft. It is named ‘Tiger Falls’ because the water sounds like the roar of a tiger. It had enough power and force to scare you. It was more beautiful and fierce than we ever expected. We had to cross a little stream (with slippery stones) to reach the falls.
We dare not stand under the waterfall as we felt there was no one to save us in case something goes wrong. There were just four of us, our driver and a couple of local little children, and no network to make calls. However, we enjoyed taking a dip in the pool made with its flowing waters, sat on the stones in the water and chit chatted for more than 2 hours. The menacing waterfalls on a small table land surrounded by greenery, mountains and open sky – everything untouched by commercialism. Tiger Falls is considered the highest direct waterfall in India and is a must-visit for adventure lovers.
We suddenly realized that we had to trek back to our vehicle and this time the trek is uphill. We gathered our energies and started the trek leaving the roaring Tiger Falls behind and carrying unforgettable memories with. As I’m writing this post, I can visualize the awe-inspiring beauty of the place and hear the roar of the mighty Tiger Falls.
We left for Dehradun the same day and spent the evening in a city hotel, talking and giggling about the day’s adventure. The next day we visited the famous Buddha Temple in Dehradun and headed back to Delhi.
Tips for People visiting Chakrata
- Hire a cab rather than going in local buses from Dehradun to Chakrata. Local transport is a nightmare.
- Do not expect great hotels as it is a non-commercialized area. You can expect great views though!
- Pre-book hotels if possible and ask for a room with a view and a balcony. I recommend Hotel Snow View as we stayed there and had a nice experience.
- There are no restaurants in Chakrata. So, hotel food is the best option.
- Although the place is very photogenic, it is a cantonment area and photography is prohibited at certain areas. So, check for the notice boards or ask a local when in doubt.
- Chakrata doesn’t have any petrol pump. The nearest one is in Vikasnagar, at a distance of 50 Kilometers. So, make sure you fill up your tank before visiting the place.
- Visit to the ‘Tiger Falls’ is tiresome although the beautiful view and the waterfall itself compensate for that. So, carry a light backpack.
- There are changing rooms and toilets near the falls.
- There is a small shop near the falls where you get tea and Maggi. (It wasn’t there earlier).
- There is no network downhill. So, make sure you make your important calls before starting your trek for Tiger Falls.
- Be careful of the slippery stones while hiking towards the Waterfall.
- Avoid visiting Chakrata in Monsoon as the route is slippery and the region is prone to landslides.
- Since Chakrata is a military cantonment area, Foreigners are required to obtain a permit from Commandant 22 Force c/o 56 APO to visit Chakrata.