State: Himachal Pradesh
Distance: 282 km NW of Delhi
When to go: Best in the winter months and, if you cannot resist the rains, in the monsoons
Tourist Office: HPTDC, 36, Chandralok Building, Janpath, New Delhi
Tel: 011-23325320/ 4764
STD code: 01795
Air: Nearest airport: Chandigarh (55 km/ 11/2 hrs).
Rail: Nearest railhead is Chandigarh
Road: Highway driving all through. Take NH1 to Ambala, then NH22 to Pinjore via Zirakpur and Panchkula. From here, turn left on NH21A to Nalagarh via Baddi.
As you drive out of Chandigarh, away from the Great North Indian Plains, the spectacular Nalagarh Fort, rising on a spur of the Shivaliks, heralds the end of the flats and the onset of the highrises. A royal welcome, one most appropriate for the regal experience here, awaits you.
Historic Nalagarh in the Himalayan foothills, capital of the erstwhile Chandela Rajput kingdom of Hindur, was founded in 1100 CE by the same clan that built the famous Khajuraho temples. Today, the current scion of the royal family, Maharaja Vijayendra Singh, lords over the luxurious hotel he has crafted out of the crumbling castle of his forebears.
If discovering such a romantic history, punctuated with the erstwhile Maharaja’s anecdotes of court intrigues and royal dalliances, isn’t enough to keep you occupied, there are treks over the rugged terrain and in the jungles below the fort as well as the prospect of picking kinoos in the royal orchards.
Things to see and do
Here you can choose to laze about and indulge your taste for luxury, or pull on your hiking boots and head outdoors to explore the green surrounds.
Stroll through the 20 acres of lush royal orchards and forests attached to the Nalagarh Fort. The trees are weighed down by kinus, and the citrusy fragrance pervades the air. The fruit also attracts lots of birds, so you are bound to spot a few beauties.
Nalagarh has many options for some waterside fun – the River Gambar and Sutlej Barrage are brimming with fish, the Ropar Boat Club has paddle and row boats, and the Gobind Sagar is a manmade reservoir formed by river waters trapped by the Bhakra Nangal Dam. The Nalagarh Heritage Resort (see below) will arranges fishing permits for the river and barrage from the Bilaspur Fisheries Department at approx INR 200 for a full day.
Where to stay and eat
The plush and luxurious Nalagarh Heritage Resort (Tel: 01795-223009, 223179; Tariff: INR 4,500-9,500;nalagarh.in) is the only option here. The rooms are well-appointed. There’s a spa, bar, a swimming pool and lawn tennis among other facilities. The kitchen runs from 7.00 am to 11.00 pm. Cuisine options range from traditional Indian to delectable Italian.