“Would you like to visit Dalhousie’s Cottage?” asked Prithvi.
It was our first tour group’s first evening at The Hotel Grand Shangri-La, Kalpa and we were having dinner. Prithvi, the Managing Director of the hotel, was offering suggestions with regard to places we could visit.
“Dalhousie? As in Lord Dalhousie?” I asked.
“Yes, the very same. His cottage is about 8 km from here,” was Prithvi’s reply.
“But what was Lord Dalhousie doing here? I mean, he has a place named after him, Dalhousie, in another part of Himachal Pradesh, right? Or is this the Dalhousie you’re talking about? I’m a little confused now,” said someone from my group.
“Dalhousie, the place, is quite different from what I’m talking about. This is a cottage that Dalhousie built for his stay whenever he came to this region. Kalpa was his favourite hunting ground, you know,” Prithvi said.
“Hunting, as in, shikaar?” asked another person.
“Yes. Kalpa used to have a lot of wildlife, including snow leopards and Dalhousie was particularly fond of hunting them. He used to sail up the Sutlej and then set up camp in the area. The cottage was built later, when his wife came here. Local legends say that she had an incurable disease and was dying..”
“She must have had TB,” piped up another voice from our group.
“So, would you all like to visit Dalhousie’s cottage tomorrow? It is a nice level walk on winding roads and under beautiful trees… It is only after we cross Roghi village that the climb begins — just the last 2 km, in fact. Those who cannot do the climb can stay back and rest in the village,” Prithvi said most persuasively.
Our group didn’t need much persuasion and there was a resounding yes from all of us and next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we set off for the trek with Prithvi leading the way.