Warning: It is a spooky little piece we have put together for HALLOWEEN!
It was a sudden trip and a sudden turn which we decided to take and ……that one turn took us to a dark forest expanse which was stunning yet chillingly eerie. It looked like a set from a horror movie and this realization was not comforting. The board in front of us said “Welcome to the Kalatop forest and wildlife sanctuary”. The sight was more like a haunted mansion seducing us and daring us to enter!
Forgot the introduction
Didn’t I? Well, it was the rainy season right after my brother’s wedding in the month of July. We were in the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh, India which is nestled comfortably in the mighty Himalayan range. I guess it was the chaos of wedding when we all decided to take a break and escape from the realities of life which at that time was all about running around with wedding and post-wedding functions! The “want to escape” bunch included the bride and the groom too! So right before their honeymoon, they came with us to a pretty tiny hamlet of Dalhousie where after literally begging, we managed three rooms to stay in but only for a night. The next day arrived and before the hotel staff could throw us, we decided that we could go to Khajiar and stay there the next night. For those who are not aware, Khajiar is officially annointed as the “Switzerland of India”.
The Wrong turn......to the woods?
So we hired an SUV and began our journey towards Khajiar. Suddenly we came across a direction board which showed the way to Kalatop sanctuary. Now this sanctuary is named Kalatop because the woods here are really dense and appear black in color. Kala, in the local lingo, means “Black”. Since it was still pretty early in the day, we decided that we could make a quick trip. We asked the driver and he said that the forest looks really dark and dense and hence the name. Never to shy away from a new adventure and new place, it was time the crazy bunch set foot in the forest. Frankly speaking, I have never seen the landscape, atmosphere and colours of a place change so suddenly. A thick blanket of fog settled around us as we entered the forest. The woods were bathed in greenery and the air was laden with monsoon moisture. Moss laden Himalayan cedar vegetation looked like it was enjoying a deep slumber, it was all quiet. Forests are not supposed to be quiet...right? Well, this one was! And no it was not comforting or soothing kind of stillness. It was scary and the only thing keeping us sane was that we were in a large group. So were those kids in evil dead and there it was…..one scary thought after another. Post some pictures and images….as you can see below we did manage smiles and laughs, the driver suggested that we go to the forest guest house. We leapt at this chance of seeing other people.
Just another guesthouse? NO!!
Guesthouse in Kalatop is located in a dream location. Flanked by luxuriant lawns with tall forest cover surrounding it, guesthouse sure is a place you would love to stay at! There was a small café that served steaming hot tea and an Indian snack Pakoda (deep fried gram flour dumplings), we all leapt to guzzle it all down. Food made us forget the sinister eeriness we had experienced earlier, for a while. Frankly, the cold wet weather with some masala chai was something we were now enjoying. We asked the guys from café if we could contact someone and stay at the guest house. Then it happened, the guys exchanged weird looks and told us “it is better not to”. No one stays there in the night and even if we stayed, we would be alone. Well yes, it was few of us but the idea of being there all by ourselves was something we were just not interested in. We went back to the lawn admiring the spectacular flower beds and sat on the benches that gave a peek into the woods. The beauty of the woods here is indeed bewitching, except it feels that a witch might be lurking somewhere behind those thick trees. Blair Witch anyone?
Ready Steady Go!
We gave ourselves half an hour and decided that we would leave after that. Our mindless banter started and amidst all this, we forgot all about time. And suddenly we all at once realised, that crowd had thinned around us. In fact, there was no one. The spine-chilling quiet was back as we all looked at each other, took a look at our watches to see that we had spent almost two hours sitting in the lawn already. Without another word and almost like reading each others’ minds we got up and started for the car. The vehicle was there but the driver was not. Needless to say, we were in panic mode. It was 3 PM and already felt like 7, with darkness enveloping the great expanse of the gorgeous woods. We looked around frantically and ran towards the café. The café guys were packing up for the day and there we found THE guy who would drive us out of here!
I cannot tell you how relieved we were that day when we crossed the barrier out of Kalatop and emerged under some glorious sunshine. Kalatop is an experience that will always remain with us. Whether we will go back? Yep may be and this time we will surely stay in the guest house and create some awesome vlogs for the spook-freaks here! On a serious note, this is a place one must visit because the pristine environment here is something you will surely cherish. A walk along the trails in the woods and sitting on those huge stumps of fallen trees is something we absolutely enjoyed even though we were a little spooked.
How to Reach Kalatop:
By Car/ Local bus: Kalatop is about 7-miles (11 Kms) from the pretty town of Dalhousie on the Chamba-Dalhousie road. Check out cars for hire at the best rates on our ca ental page. You can reach Dalhousie by any of the means below:
By Air: Nearest Airport is Jammu Airport which is 66 (106 kms) miles away. Gaggal Airport in the same state is about 87 miles (140 Kms). Book your flights from our flight search engine for the cheapest fares
By Bus: Regular buses ply between Delhi and Dalhousie. You have a choice of ordinary, deluxe, Volvo and luxury buses to come here.
By Train: Pathankot is the nearest railway station which is just 46 miles (75 Kms) from Dalhousie.
Where to Stay
Definitely not the guest house! Well, stay there by all means and the bookings can be made through the Himachal Pradesh tourism website. Most of the people who visit Kalatop actually make a day visit from Dalhousie, following are our top picks:
There are many other options to stay at Dalhousie to suit your budget
So this was Bohotraveller's gift to its lovely readers on this Halloween. Now we are absolutely loving this 'Spookalicious' week and would actually like to hear from you! Tell us about the spookiest destination you ever went to or some place you have heard can make anyone pee in the pants. Ha! If this spook story has still not satiated the spook freak in you then check out the most haunting destinations around the world! We bet you would not want to be alone after this one!