Sunday, June 5, 2011

Holiday Spirit - Pack Up Head Out

By Rajesh Krishan (ht magazine)
During summer holidays, take your family to western Himachal, an adventure playground. Travel to remote destinations in the Greater Himalayas such as Chamba, Dalhousie and Kangra or closer spots of the Shivalik range like Shimla, Chail and Morni Hills.

Fresh Mountain air, majestic mountains and peaceful valleys, this hilly retreat, situated at the lower reaches of the Shivalik range at an altitude of 1220metres, is literally just around the corner for those living in the plains of Chandigarh or Panchkula. Located in Haryana, Morni is a great spot of trekking across picturesque paths through cool pine forests, picnicking on lakeshores or hours of bird watching.

As you reach Morni, you will come across Mountain Quail, which provides accommodation and F&B. Explore the ruins of the Old Fort, which was recently renovated located near Mountain Quail and the Hindu temple on the lakeside that dates back to the 12th century. Ten kilometers away is tourist hot spot Tikkar Taal, home to two lakes. A short distance from here is Hosh and Josh Thrills Adventure Park where you can enjoy river crossings, Tarzan swings, tree houses, a maze, a haunted house and restaurant.

Trek from Mountain Quail to Tikkar Taal (about a 10km trek) and take a relaxing stroll along the lake. Adventure seekers can trek to Ghaggar River, which flows past Morni. The fairytale pine forests are home to intriguting wildlife like langurs, jackals, hyenas, and sambar. Birdwatchers can spot kingfishers, tree creepers, quails and Himalayan bulbul.

Journey There
If you are traveling to Morni from Zirakpur or other parts of Punjab, you can take Naraingarh Road (where Gurudwara Nada Sahib is located). Morni Hills is just 30km from here and 45km from Chandigarh.

Overnight options
Mountain Quail, run by Haryana Tourism, provides accommodation from Rs. 1100 – 1800 a night. Morni also has a forest rest house called Lal Munia and a PWD rest house and hotels like Morni Resorts. At Tikkar Taal, Haryana Tourism provides a dormitory and tents at nominal prices. There is also a forest rest house besides other private hotels. Tourists looking for low budget options can opt for a homestay at Morni village.

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