Narkanda is 65 km away from Shimla, the summer capital of British India. Today it is well known for its skiing slopes and an integral part of most Himachal Tour Packages. Located on the Hindustan Tibet Road, the view of the snow-covered mountain ranges is breathtaking.
At 8,100 feet (2708 meters) it is slightly higher than Simla (7400 feet). The road from Simla to Narkanda runs almost near the crest of the mountain, gradually ascending and offering spectacular views of the different valleys twisting and turning from one spur to another. The delightful village of Fagu is a welcome stop for some hot tea and a breath taking view of Narkanda.
Narkanda is located on the ridge of the last watershed before the Himalayan range. Below it lies the Suttej Valley to the north and the Giri River and beyond it is the snowy massif. It is difficult to believe that the sleepy town of Narkanda sits astride the watershed between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Hattu Peak is a great attraction. 2000 feet higher than Narkanda it is a trekkers delight.
The hilly curves near Hattu Peak are dotted with age-old churches. You might even catch a glimpse of a Buddhist temple in the style of Tibet. In summer it becomes a favorite camping site. Stay at a camp here and be one with nature, enjoy spectacular views of the sunset while you relax and de-stress. Visit the Devi temple located on Hattu Peak. Dedicated to the mother goddess, it is a “must visit” for visitors. In May an annual summer fair is held at the temple. Hundreds descend on the temple and its surroundings adding colour to the scenic hill side.
It you enjoy walking through the jungle, take a well marked track from the Devi Temple. You will reach a mountain top meadow called the Joh Bagh. Rest a while and eat a picnic lunch.
The little resorts amid pine trees like Tethys are very popular with visitors. It is from here that you set out for outdoor adventure. Trek or hire bikes or motorcycles to discover the hills but go easy on the hairpin bends which come up ever so often and add to the thrill. After a hectic day spent outdoors, spend pleasant evenings inside the resorts. Great conversation goes with bonfires and Tandoori food and hot drinks.
Perhaps the best time to visit is in the autumn. The setting sun casts a golden glow on the snowy peaks around. The area around Narkanda hums with activity, as this is the orchard region of Himachal with apple being the chief crop. Crates of apples lie on the roadside to be picked up by trucks headed for market.
In winter it is the skiing destination of Himachal. In December, skiing enthusiast flock to Narkanda looking for adventure. The skiing season goes on till March. Ski trails are aplenty, both for beginners and for experts.
Narkanda is only 16 m from Kotagarh where Satyananda Stokes, an American, began apple farming. So put on your walking shoes and explore the Kotgarh area, dotted with apple orchards.
Narkand a lies on the National Highway connecting Simla to Kinnaur (the famous old Hindustan – Tibet road) to Shipki-La. Simla is only a two hour ride away and is connected by a good road to Kalka where several trains await you. Alternatively ride the Simla-Kalka Toy Train to the Shatabdi and other trains from Kalka.