Situated at the junction of four Indian State borders namely Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, Paonta Sahib is a green valley located below the foothills of the Himalayas, surrounded by forest. The town is perched on the bank of Yamuna River and offers a gorgeous landscape and scenic roads for walking or driving. This place remains off the radar of most tourists visiting Himachal or Uttarakhand due to the location of the town. If you are looking for something offbeat and peaceful than the over crowed North Indian hill stations, then this is the place for you.
Things To Do
Visit Gurudwara Paonta Sahib
When tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh was 16 years old, he received an invitation from Medni Parkash, the ruler of the Nahan State, to select any place in the kingdom to settle permanently. The Guru traveled from Anandpur Sahib, got off his horse at a point along the Yamuna River, found the beautiful surroundings to his liking and stayed here for more than four years. From 1685 to 1689 he built what is now Paonta Sahib.
The Gurudwara is built on the bank of Yamuna River and the view of the River from the Gurudwara is very beautiful and relaxing for the mind.
Help yourself with generous servings of simple yet delicious meals in the ‘Guru Ka Langar’ (community kitchen in a Gurudwara). Free meals are served to all the visitors, regardless of their caste, religion, gender and ethnicity. The attitude of the volunteers serving food is very warm and friendly. These kind of experiences tend to make you appreciate more in life.
Take A Dip In Yamuna
As per Sikh history, Guru Gobind Singh used to host a special Kavi Darbar (poetic symposium) every month on the night of full moon bloom at Kavi Darbar Asthan, the place where the poets assembled to write and recite their poetry, in the Gurudwara. The Kavi Darbar consisted of 52 poets of great repute.
Kavi Darbar Asthan is an open-air setting along the Yamuna River at a spot where the Yamuna used to flow fiercely and noisily. The poets complained to the Guru that the noise disturbed their study, their writing, and recitation. So Guru Gobind Singh addressed Yamuna to pass through this place silently, without making any noise, which is being observed by the River Yamuna for the last more than 300 years.
Hike Up The Nearby Hill Top
This is my favourite activity in this town.
The hike to the top of the hill will take about 20 minutes. There is a Dargarh ( a muslim shrine) at the top. From this point you get a bird’s eye view of the whole town of Paonta Sahib. Just sit there and admire the beautiful landscape, consisting of colourful houses built in the lush green fields, along the bank of Yamuna River.
Sitting here is really different from sitting on a mountain top in a hill station as your view is generally blocked by surrounding mountains. But here the hills are in the distance, so you can see as far as your eye can go.
Bird Watching At Asan Barrage (lake)
The wetland at Asan Barrage, is situated about 5 Km from Paonta Sahib on the Paonta-Dehradun road, near the confluence of two perennial Rivers Asan and Yamuna. This lake attracts a large number of freshwater aquatic birds, both waders and divers. The birds listed as globally threatened species and in the IUCN Red Data Book have been observed at Asan.
Winters is the best time for bird watching as Asan Barrage serves as a winter halt for trans-Himalayan migratory birds. These birds are spotted here on their way to southern India (Oct-Nov) and again on their way back (late Feb-Mar).
I clicked the pictures above during an afternoon in April, so not too many birds were there!
Boating At Asan lake
Do it for the quiet landscape and to observe the migrating birds.
Asan Conservation Resort provides boating and kayaking services at dirt cheap prices and they also have ac huts and dormitories for accommodation. The Resort is situated on the bank of Asan Barrage and offers beautiful views of the lake, and surrounding mountains on the opposite bank of the lake.
Walk Along The Shakti Canal
This might seem not so interesting, but trust me, the walk along the canal is very pleasing to the eye. Lush green fields on both the sides, clear canal water and mountain views in the distance creates a beautiful setting. Observe the local villagers on the banks of the canal to catch a glimpse of the simple rural lifestyle here.
Shakti Canal flows from the Assan Barrage and helps run a power house, which is why it’s called Shakti (power) canal.
How To Reach
By Air: Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun is the nearest Airport which is approximately 80 Km from Paonta Sahib.
By Rails: Dehradun and Yamuna Nagar are the nearest railway stations, which are about 60 and 50 Km away respectively.
By Road: Paonta Sahib is well connected with all major cities by Road. Regular buses ply from Chandigarh, Dehradun and Shimla. From Delhi, Paonta Sahib is 250 Km and one can drive or reach through bus service via Karnal or Saharanpur.
Here is the google maps link to Paonta Sahib.
So what’s your favourite offbeat destination? Write it in the comments.
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