Before last year, I got a chance to visit Thanadhar, the upper sidearm of the fertile and scenic Kotgarh Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Although interlinked and part of the same valley, the road to the settlement of Thanadhar branches off the link-highway, from Narkanda, a few kilometres before the settlement of Kotgarh. In about 30 minutes flat, we were able to cover the distance of 16 km between Narkanda and Thanadhar.
It was late evening and drizzling when I reached the Kotgarh Valley, popularly named as Apple Valley. Being an off-season, I didn’t face much trouble in fixing an accommodation for myself. More than the quality of property, I would remember the place for the extraordinary culinary skills of its cook. Later that evening, having consumed a copious amount of Rajma – Rice (one of the best I ever got to taste), I wondered about the next day’s activities. I was half expecting the views to be clear the following morning and accordingly I tentatively planned out a birding trail for myself.
The mountainside of Thanadhar commands a panoramic view of the Satluj Valley against the awe-inspiring Great Himalayan Range far in the distance rippling above Dhauladhars. Also billed to be Himachal’s horticultural heartland in the travel circles, Thanadhar (or Thanedhar) is located a little higher (2300 m) than that of Kotgarh (1950m). While key travel-activity areas would remain the same at both locations, most of the olden landmarks are located at Kotgarh. Full of significant evidences of the pre-independence days, a day-long stroll in the valley is sure to kick alive the fading memories of Raj era. Not only an annalist but the unobtrusive wooded groves of the valley would undisputedly entice a hiker, birder or a photographer.
The entire Valley started to prosper after the remunerative variety of apples was introduced to this region here in 1919 by Satyanand Stokes, an American missionary who later took up Hinduism. Ever since he initiated the commercial plantation of apples in one of his orchards on the slopes of Thanadhar, economically the region has not looked back. The protruding limbs of the mountainside all around us were terraced and channelled into myriad orchards of different sizes and shapes. Not only apples, the locals have productively engaged themselves in cherry farming, another speciality from the region.
Although, the hillside offers countless prospects for an enthusiastic birder, my favourite would always remain the one which connects the settlements of Thanadhar with that of Kotgarh in about three hours at a leisure pace. The trail, in part, passes through fertile apple orchards as well as the forest cover. On the way, one would notice forest-wealth in the form of Silver fir, Birch, Oaks, Deodars, Rhododendron as well as wild flowers. I would consider myself lucky because I spotted a Himalayan Weasel as well as a Yellow Martin. I would admit that I was fortunate to have got the best of both worlds on my way down to Kotgarh.
The smartest among the villages of Kotgarh Valley, Thanadhar has tapped the tourism potential better than most other settlements of the region. Apart from the splendid Himalayan vistas it offer, the credit of increasing tourism activities should also be given to the promotion of “fruit tourism” activities by the state. Led by a few commercial entities and some enterprising locals who rent out rooms and cottages, as part of their side business, the accommodation prospect has been aptly tapped to support the growing need of tourists and holidaymakers.
Famous for the annual festival at Nag Devta temple built along its shore, the Tani Jubbar Lake is located at a distance of six km from the market and feasibly could best be visited while coming from or going to Narkanda. The artificial water body may be tiny in size but offers quiet and scenic picnic spots around it. Other popular activities at Thanadhar include taking a walk to the Harmony Hill, Saroga Range, etc. Be it Rudyard Kipling’s reference “The Mistress of the Northern Hills” or the picturesque setting in Ustad Sultan Khan’s “Piya Basanti” remake video, the splendid charm of the valley continues to attract visitors from far and wide. For those who are still curious about the mountainside’s touristy bait, there’s absolutely nothing to do but eat, sleep, and soak up its antiquity and sheer natural beauty in the form of mountain-scape with birdlife.
Average Altitude: 2300m
Best time to visit: Throughout the year; particularly after monsoons
Travel Lure: Landscape, Orchards and wooded trails
Accommodation: Limited but usually available
This is so beautiful! Himachal is full of hidden places. It’s sad that people limit their visit to Shimla, Kasauli and Chail.
Absolutely true. In fact it is better elsewhere. Keep visiting. 🙂
Thanks Niranjan for being a constant source of encouragement. Keep visiting 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and for the appreciation Jay. Keep visiting. 🙂
Stunning photography! And beautiful writing too!
Thanks for dropping by my blog and for showering it with appreciation. Hope you’d want to visit again. 🙂
I am back here and absolutely loving it. Love the photographs and the description. I have been in this area but reading about it here has given me a completely different persective of the places. Will be reading your other posts too. Are you a member of The Himalayan Club page on FB? Take a look if you are on facebook.
Thanks for showering bNomadic with appreciation. I am on Facebook and part of the club page as well but belong to a totally different world on FB. Keep visiting bNomadic.
Excellent. I will.
Wow! Not sure how far I would be able to make it with my bike, but this is just awesome. Captured beautifully. I always thought you just had Shimla, Kasauli and Manali! Thanks for opening my eyes!
Thanks. Thanadhar is easily accessible on a mobike. Comfortably, a day’s ride from Chandigarh. Hope you’d want to visit bNomadic again. 🙂
Beautiful pictures. Great article on Shimla.
Thanks. Keep visiting 🙂
Loved your pix and your descriptions of your travels. Those birds pose for you! We love Himachal specially beyond Narkanda. Favourites are Sarahan and the fantastic drive thru the Satlej gorge to Kalpa. Specially when the fruit trees are in bloom. We’ll do Thanedhar next.
O yes. That route, now NH22, is full of Himalayan charms. Share some of your trips no? More from that region would be on bNomadic soon. Keep visiting. 🙂
Thanks for the visit to my blog and like my post Photography 101: Double – Aruvithura Church – Banka Church. your photos are beautiful
Thanks. Keep visiting 🙂
Himalayas is always an enchanting sight. Your photos are equally beautiful. I loved the photos of the birds too. So colorful.
Thanks Suyash for stopping by and showering it with appreciation. Hope you’d want to visit again. 🙂
Absolutely. Thanks 🙂
beautiful! the colors are all so vibrant
Thanks Phyllis for stopping by bNomadic. Keep visiting 🙂
This place looks beautiful! How far is this from Shimla? I was there earlier this year, but spent my time in town only, revisiting childhood haunts – I’d definitely like to head here next time I’m in the north.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Thanadhar is about 80km from Shimla ridge. Keep travelling and visit bNomadic more often. 🙂
Thanks. Keep visiting 🙂
Thank you for sharing your diary, I found it very interesting. And congratulations on the great photography.
Thanks for dropping by my blog. I am glad you liked it. Keep visiting for more. 🙂
To wander nomadically in the wilderness settles the soul. The photos are incredible.
Thanks for dropping by my blog admin. Keep visiting for more adventures and travels. 🙂
Thanks for the comments and I will be following like wise. Happy travels and remain safe, bNomadic
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