BANGALORE: The Garhwal Himalayas, with many a hill retreat, has been a tourist paradise since the days of the British when the Burra Sahibs used to migrate to higher altitudes, unable to bear the heat of the plains.
After independence, many colonial bungalows and manors surrounded by thick foliage, vast gardens and stately parks have either been converted to resorts or hotels. The salubrious weather, fruit orchards, botanical gardens, pristine lakes and water falls attract tourists as well as people seeking adventure.
As we moved out of Mussorie and travelled for almost 50 kilometres, the terrain not only changed but also became stark with many hill ranges bereft of green cover. Overlooking this depredation, we decided to enjoy and make most of whatever was still left in the abode of the highest peaks in the world.
Even the ecology seems to have taken a beating with oak trees being replaced by pine while the unique flora and fauna too seems to have changed with locals complaining of early flowering and fruition.We then reached the small hamlet of Chamba that is scenic with panoramic views and a height of more than 1600 meters. Covered by pine and deodhar trees, this town in the Tehri-Garhwal district comes across as a relatively unexplored place.One can walk across the undulating ranges and take a peek at the pastoral life of the hill people. A few shops have the Garhwali traditional wear on display and one can get photographed wearing these colorful dresses.
One can relax here forgetting the day to day routine. Further up, one comes across a remote hill retreat where there are hardly any tourists. Situated at a height of 8,500 feet, the pristine green environs of Kanatal are breathtaking. It was so cold here that we shivered all along our trekking trail. However, a few minutes later, we managed to get hot snacks and steaming tea from a wayside vendor.