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Where to stay in Chamba

Exploring Chamba, Uttarakhand

One of the lesser known hill stations in India’s ruggedly handsome Himachal Pradesh region is Chamba. Perched at an elevation of 1,676 metres above sea level, Chamba is a tranquil hideaway of pine forests, deodar trees, and big mountain views. It’s also a superb base for checking out the ancient temples and palaces in the area or for making casual day hikes into the Chamba Valley.

Many travellers stop at the hill station of Mussoorie some 60 kilometres away. But Chamba offers a much more relaxed atmosphere compared to the backpacker bustle that dominates Mussoorie. Chamba is actually an ancient town that dates to around 500 AD. Well known for its arts and handicrafts, it hosts two major regional fairs each year, in March and August, which are well worth planning a trip around. It’s this blend of outdoor trekking, recreation, and traditional northern Indian culture that makes Chamba such an engaging destination. It takes a bit of time and energy to get to this remote mountain town, but the rewards are well worth it.

Sights nearby

The Tibetan influence is obvious in Chamba’s ancient temples, artwork, and even the cuisine. There are some wonderful historic sites to explore right in town that complement the superb hiking and trekking opportunities in the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Champavati Temple
Of the many ancient temples dotting the valley around Chamba, Champavati is considered the oldest and the most significant. Built in the 10th century, this temple is thought to mark the foundation of Chamba as a town. Its intricate stone carvings and huge wheel on the roof make it very interesting. Situated right in the heart of town, Champavati is both a Hindu pilgrimage site and a popular tourist attraction.

Lakshmi Narayan Temples
This group of six 10th-century stone temples is the other big historic attraction in Chamba. Its various courtyards, towers, walls, and inner sanctums create a perfect backdrop to the mountains. This temple complex contains all the classic elements of ancient Hindu temple design and is well worth a visit.

Chamba Valley
Chamba makes a great base for day hikes into the neighbouring hills and for slightly longer excursions into the Chamba Valley. You can also arrange a multi-day trek with one of the local travel agencies if you want to venture further afield to the Kalatope Khajjiar Sanctuary, the Pangi Valley, Parbati Valley, or Killar. All of these areas are within a couple of days’ walk from Chamba and are absolutely stunning, remote mountain paradises.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

Chamba is a fairly big town and caters to a small but steady trickle of tourists so there are plenty of options for a meal. Many of the cafés serve Tibetan fare, such as noodle dishes, dumplings, and soups with a slightly Chinese edge to them. Chamba has always been a haven for traditional craftspeople and artists. Their workshops also serve as stores which sell unique local handicrafts, musical instruments, art, and jewellery. Accommodation ranges from modest guesthouses to reasonably comfortable lodges like the Classic Hill Top Resort and the Aranyam River Retreat.

Public transport

Reaching Chamba is the hardest part of a trip to this region of northern India. Since it lies at one end of Chamba-Mussoorie Road, there is good transportation from other major towns like Mussoorie and Dalhousie. Mussoorie is about 60 kilometres from Chamba and is a suitable onward point for hiring a private taxi or hopping on a local bus. Once you reach Chamba, you can walk pretty much everywhere, but there are always taxis around to ferry you to more distant destinations.