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Narkanda or Kufri – A Comparative Overview

Both Kufri and Narkanda are very beautiful small villages around Shimla, Himachal Pradesh and are known for their picturesque beauty of snow laden mountain peaks and top skiing spots in the country. While Kufri is located at a distance of about 15-20 Kms from Shimla, Narkanda is located at a distance of 61 kms from Shimla. The distance between Narkanda and Kufri is 49 kms by road.  Road, train, or flight is the different mode of travel available between Kufri and Narkanda.

While both the hamlets have a beauty and charm of their own, Narkanda clearly wins over Kufri in case you wish to visit only one place out of the two. Let’s take a look at the tourist attractions of both Kufri and Narkanda, to enable you to choose the destination of your choice. However if you are visiting the Shimla belt in Himachal, we suggest you visit both Kufri and Narkanda since they are closely located to one another.

KUFRI

The following are the main attractions of Kufri

Fun World

The fun world is one of the world's highest amusement parks, with an altitude as high as 9100 ft above sea level. It is home to the world's highest go-karting track and placed at one of the most picturesque locations in the world, right in the heart of frosty Himalayan peaks.

Mahasu Peak

This is the highest peak in Kufri and since the route is very soggy and messy, it is not possible to cover the distance by foot. Therefore horse riding is the best option to reach the mountain. The spectacular views from the top together with the Nag Temple on top of the peak are both breathtaking. The horse ride up to the mountain is enjoyable and completely harmless so there is nothing to worry there.

The Green Valley

The Green Valley is a stunning mountain range that lies between Shimla and Kufri on the way to Kufri. On all sides, the Green Valley is ringed by lush hills covered in dense pine and deodar woodlands. Yaks can be seen wandering and grazing in the valley on a regular basis. Despite the fact that the area is not really developed much for tourism, yet the dense deodar and pine trees that line the majestic hills continue to draw crowds and catch their interest. Rare animals have been seen here off and on. The Green Valley has also been featured in a number of Bollywood films due to its captivating sights. Apart from clicking beautiful pictures on a morning drive, through the valley, you can also visit the nearby market and sample the piping hot Maggi prepared by the local sellers.

Jakhu Temple

Jakhu temple is an ancient temple associated with "spiritually," and is located on Shimla's highest peak, Jakhu Hill.  This is one of Kufri's most tranquil destinations. It attracts devotees from all over the country because it houses a gigantic statue of Lord Hanuman, which is one of the tallest in the world standing at a height of 108 feet.  The Jakhu ropeway is a cable car ride that takes 10mins of travel to reach Jakhu Mandir and it’s the most spellbinding and enjoyable sight from an altitude of 8100 feet. Once you reach the temple, the environs are beautifully serene and spending some time serves as food for the soul. The temple is well kept and offers restroom and water facilities too.

Indira Tourist Park

Named after the former Prime Minister of India Smt. Indira Gandhi, this park is located near the Himalayan National Park, offers a great deal in terms of a relaxing atmosphere, delicious food, and coffee. The Himachal Tourism-run Cafe ‘Lalit’ is a charming coffee shop that is sure to brighten your day.

Himalayan National Park

For the wildlife fans and trekkers, the Himalayan National Park is a bargain. It is famously called the Kufri Zoo and has a densely wooded environment where it houses Himalayan species such as snow leopards and brown bears. Besides that, roughly 180 species of birds and exceptionally rare mammals can be found in the park. The park also houses pretty looking Himalayan birds which are unseen and unknown. Though it’s not compulsory, it’s advisable to have travel insurance that covers an emergency helicopter evacuation for the trek, which is organised by Sai Ropa Tourist Centre with rangers. The trek lasts five to eight days and is the best way to get a sense of the Park's diversity.

Best Time to Visit in Kufri 

For those planning for a vacation in winter to Kufri for the pleasure of skiing, it is ideal to visit  November onwards as there are strong chances of snowfall with the months of December and January as peak months for snowfall. The town is usually covered in snow until the end of March or even early April.

How to Reach Kufri

Shimla airport in Jubbarhatti is the closest airport to Kufri at a distance of 22kms. However if going by flight people choose Chandigarh Airport as flights the city has better connectivity with cities all over the country. Flights such as Delhi to Chandigarh, Dehradun to Chandigarh, Indore to Chandigarh, Jodhpur to Chandigarh, Jammu to Chandigarh, Mumbai to Chandigarh, Kolkata to Chandigarh.

Kufri is about 13 kilometres from Shimla's railway station and is connected by well maintained roads to Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Manali.

NARKANDA

Encircled by jungles and lush rainforests, Narkanda is a charming little town in Shimla located at an altitude of 9000 feet.  Urban residents fantasise about verdant pastures, clean air, sunny skies, and an escape to the hills, Narkanda epitomises all of that along with some gorgeous apple orchards. It attracts tourists due to its unearthly natural beauty and absolutely gorgeous apple orchards. It was one of the first places in India to be attributed with skiing an absolute must-see destination for Himachal Pradesh visitors. Narkanda houses a lake known as Tannu Jabar Lake, tourist destination and also a temple near the lake that all tourists and devotees visit. Narkanda also has a number of trekking routes including Hatu Nag, a beautiful hill in Narkanda that is a pleasure for adventure lovers.

Hatu Peak

Narkanda is located on the Hindustan Tibet road and provides a stunning view of the snow stretches. The slopes of the hill town, plonked at a height of 12000ft are ideal for the beginners as well as the experienced skiers. Hatu Peak is the highest peak in the Shimla region, ringed with green rolling hills and blanketed in a lush forest with a mix of cedar, fir, spruce, deodar and blue pine trees. Together with this, the vibrant apple orchards easily make it heaven on earth. The Hatu Mata Temple, which honours Mandodari, King Ravana's wife, sits atop Hatu Peak and is highly revered by the natives around the area. The location is lovely and serene, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, traffic jams and pollution. Hatu peak has a proud heritage, and all of the festivals, such as Holi, Diwali, Dussehra, and Lohri, are celebrated with joy and grandeur here. The site's scenic beauty is beyond words, and hence it draws the attention of those who pass by. It is best to visit Hatu Peak during the summer to experience the place in all its majestic splendour.

Tannu Jabbar Lake

This Lake is surrounded by trees on all sides and is an ideal picnic spot as well as a place to unwind with the clear reflection of trees in the water. The twin towns of Kotgarh and Thanedar, are only a short drive away.

Stokes Farm

This is a huge apple orchard in a small village by the name of Thanedar and is well-known for its massive apple cultivation. A man named Satyanand Stokes brought apple cultivation to Narkanda from Philadelphia.  An American by origin, who adopted Hinduism and settled there for good, trained the farmers to grow apples, thereby also reviving the town's economy. Presently the region is famous for its fascinating apple orchards, and a stroll through them is one of the town's most interesting and fun activities. You can walk in and get to see the apple washing, grouping, and wrapping machines with ease. Further, you can also meet the caretaker and request a factory tour while you're there. On their farms, you'll find a variety of apples as well as a number of experiments being conducted in partnership with top agro technology manufacturers. The sight of Sutlej River flowing in the neighbourhood is soothing

The Mahamaya Temple

This temple stands in honour of Goddess Kali and is located 7 kilometres from Narkanda. This temple is a renowned tourist attraction in Kacheri. Constructed by the ruler of Sundarnagar inside the palace, the temple’s aesthetic design is similar to that of a fort and the materials used to construct the temple's doorway include silver, wood, and aluminium boards. It is set in a staggeringly beautiful environment with a sense of peace and tranquillity making it ideal for spiritual practice and self reflection.

Jau Baug

Jau Baug is a popular tourist destination in Shimla and stands at a distance of 8 kilometres from Narkanda town and just 15 minutes away from Hatu Peak. The picturesque highlands and grasslands are simply breathtaking and a trip can be arranged through local operators or organizers. You are welcome to come here with your friends and family to enjoy the divine beauty. Jau Baug is also associated with the Pandavas ‘Vanya Prastha’. Strolling past is the best way to view the beauty of Jau Bag and other gorgeous mountainside locations in Narkanda as the roads are constricted and not friendly for cars.

Derthu Mata Temple

Derthu Mata Temple, near Narkanda, is a magnificent historic Hindu temple sitting at an elevation of 8500 feet, the Derthu Mata Temple can be found. Derthu Mata is said to be the Mother Goddess of the Kumharsain and Sangri people of the region. The breathtaking scenery and spiritual ambience of the temple make it an unforgettable experience to visit the site. You must first report to the reporting point near Narkanda Bus Stand to begin your trek to Derthu Mata Temple. The distance between Narkanda and Derthu Mata Temple is approximately 10 kilometres and takes about 5 hours to complete the journey and local camp organizers can help you plan your trek.

Koteshwar Mahadev Temple

One of Shimla's most popular temples is the Koteshwar Mahadev Temple. It is situated in Mandoli, a lovely hamlet ith a picturesque and heavenly ambiance. The deity Koteshwar is thought to be an embodiment of Lord Shiva. Locals believe that God Koteshwar emerges from the temple once in every four years.  During the months of August and September, the village hosts a divine festival which lasts for nine days and is the most cherishable experience if you happen to visit that time. Koteshwar Mahadev Temple stands at a distance of 2.5 hours from Shimla Railway Station. If you choose to stay in that area, there are a few guest houses within a radius of 2 kms.

Narkanda is picturesque in the spring. During the monsoon season, there are small green apples everywhere which turn into a shining crimson red by September and it’s a visual delight to see apple laden branches touching the ground.

Jalori Pass

Narkanda and Jalori Pass are approximately 106 kilometres apart by road. On their way to the pass, visitors go through the Sutlej Valley, passing through the beautiful Kullu Valley scenery of Luhri, Ani, and Khanag. After a brief walk of 30 minutes from the pass, you can reach Lake Sarolsar, which is cradled in the middle of thriving green forests. In close location to the Pass is the Shringa Rishi Temple, an eminent Banjar Valley worship site. Kullu Valley is connected to Rampur, Shimla, and Kinnaur by this pass. Travelling from Shimla to Manali via the Pass provides an unforgettable mountain biking experience in the region.

Best Time to Visit in Narkanda

Between November to May. Winters in Narkanda are bitterly cold and blanketed in snow, and the town is swarming with skiers just in case you are a skiing enthusiast.

How to Reach Narkanda

Narkanda does not have its own airport. The Shimla airport in Jubbarhatti is the closest airport to Narkanda. Since this is a small airport, flight options are limited. Chandigarh International Airport is the closest major airport (175 kms) Cheap flights are available from Delhi to Chandigarh, Dehradun to Chandigarh, Indore to Chandigarh, Jodhpur to Chandigarh, Jammu to Chandigarh, Mumbai to Chandigarh, Kolkata to Chandigarh.

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