Photographs: Ankit Rastogi Ankit Rastogi
What is the best place to escape the drudgery of a grueling office schedule? The answer to this I found in Dehra, a small hamlet in Himachal Pradesh. Dehra is not your ideal chock-a-block tourist destination but, instead, basks in the glory of a certain amount of idleness. It is one of the best weekend getaways I have had in recent times.
Dehra, around 450 km from Delhi, is well hidden from the glare of overzealous tourists who favour more "touristy" destinations like Dharamshala (63 km away) or Mcleodganj (73 km away).
Getting to Dehra is simple. On a Friday evening I hopped on to a Dharmashala-bound HPRTC luxury Volvo bus from ISBT Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, around 9 pm.
The bus, heavily loaded with a motley crowd of foreigners, dropped me at Dehra at 6.30 am next morning. The friendly conductor made sure I got down at the right spot. The good part about the journey is that you do not have to scout for accommodation, the bus actually drops you at the gate of the only hotel at Dehra -- the Riverview Resort.
The hotel follows a differential pricing policy. For a first-floor accommodation you have to shell out more than what you would for a room in the ground floor. I took the first floor room at the resort and soon found out why they charge more. The view from the balcony was fabulous. The lush green surrounds, the chirping of the birds -- everything about the place was so relaxing and invigorating. I suggest that everyone take a first-floor or second-floor room to get the best view of this idyllic place.
A welcome escape
Dehra, on the banks of the Beas, one of the Five Rivers of Punjab, is a tehsil of Himachal's Kangra district. There is nothing much to do or see here beyond visiting a few points. The whole place squeezes up in just a few square kilometres.
The Beas Bridge or DeraGopipur Bridge as the locals call it is the prime attraction. It's a long concrete bridge over the river that connects Dehra to Gopipur located on the other side. Standing by the railings of the bridge with vehicles whizzing past and gazing at the green waters of the river is an experience in itself.
I visited in the month of October, when the Beas was full from the feed of the monsoon rains. Coupled with that was the backdrop of the lower Shivaliks -- together they were a visual delight.
The river banks were another attraction. The boundless waters of the river were like a sea and presented no sight of the other end.
I loitered along the banks for a long time.
If you are not satiated with what Dehra has to offer, you could head for some nearby places of interest. These include the popular Chintpurni temple, Pattan (a picnic spot) and Pong Dam Lake.
The scenic Pong Dam Lake, rechristened Maharana Pratap Sagar, has the Dhauladhar mountain range as a backdrop. The Pong Dam Wetland is a bird sanctuary and has been conferred the status of Ramsar site. Angling opportunities are also available if you are a fishing enthusiast. The local Dusshera festivities here are supposed to be the best after those at Kullu.
A couple of points before I conclude. Food is not one of the strong points of Dehra, so if you get bothered by hygiene you'd be better off eating at the hotel itself. If not, there are regular dhabas dishing out all-time favourites like Aloo Paranthas, Chole et al. Secondly, you can board the bus bound for Delhi at the entrance of the resort itself. If you have not cared to book return tickets do not worry, the hotel can arrange them for you.
One thing's for sure though, after spending a weekend at Dehra, I can pretty much say for certain that you will be much better equipped to tackle those Monday morning blues.