We kick started our Shimla trip with an excursion to Kinnaur Kailash. For the next day, we thought of exploring some of the local sights in and around Shimla. First on our list was the Churdhar Sanctuary. This is one of the more recently declared sanctuaries in India, formed in 1985. Home to the endangered musk deer and the magnificent Monal pheasant, we were looking forward to an exciting morning discovering nature’s treasures. While I love being pampered during my travel, I don’t mind exploring the outdoors either. And I was hoping to get a couple of good shots with my camera as well as I have a keen interest in photography.
The forest here is of a mixed coniferous type, so tall Deodar and Oak trees are aplenty. A short drive away from Shimla, this sanctuary is a very scenic one. It was named after Churdhar peak, which stands tall at 3647 metres (more than 11,000 ft). This peak is of religious significance to local people and it is not uncommon to find pilgrims paying their respects at the Churdhar temple here. One can easily spot a huge statue of Lord Shiva at the top of this peak. On clear days, it is said that one can see the temples of Kedarnath and Badrinath and the Sutlej River from the summit of Churdhar peak, its scenic route making it a popular choice among trekkers.
Churdhar sanctuary has the distinction of being the sanctuary with the highest elevation in Himachal Pradesh. It is home to a host of medicinal plants as well. Unlike other sanctuaries, this one can be explored on foot. While many prefer to trek up to the summit near the Lord Shiva statue, we chose to stick to the lower reaches for a relaxing walk. It did not take us long to spot the famed Monal pheasants, exclusive to the Himalayan mountains. I was thrilled to get some cool shots of a male and female pheasant as well! Towards the end of our miniature trek, we also spotted varieties of deer and were treated to spectacular views of the mountains. We exited this sanctuary almost towards lunch time. Our little band of explorers certainly had no clue as to how the hours had passed. The mini- trek had whetted our appetites and we were looking forward to some delicious food before we continued our sightseeing for the rest of the day.