Chetru is a small village in the beautiful Kangra Valley. Almost every tourist bound to Dharamshala passes through this village, but anyone hardly stops to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Chetru. In fact, it is one of those hundreds villages in Kangra Valley, where life and natural beauties remain isolated from the rest of the world. I was there in Kangra 3 times earlier, but all previous trips were centred around the temples in the valley, Dharamshala and McLeodganj (Read: A Day in The Little Lhasa: McLeodganj) . During a trip in June 2009, I stayed in the Kangra Valley for 20 days. It was a great chance to explore the isolated corners of the valley.
My hotel was situated on the bank of a small river in the middle of nowhere, approx 2 km away from the village, on the main road from Gaggal to Dharamshala (Read, Dharamshala: Serenity in The Lap of Dhauladhar Mountains). As usual, I travelled on that road for initial few days without realizing what I always left in Chetru. One day, I left the bus 2 kms before the hotel and walked around Chetru. And then it became a regular habit for the rest of days at Kangra.
I used to leave my bus at Chetru and tried to walk on the road every time while going back to the hotel in the evening. The location of Chetru village is just perfect to enjoy the natural beauty- river valley on one side and hills on another side. Between the valley and the road, there are lot of small terraced fields of rice, beautiful gardens of Leechi and Mango all the way.
One crucial thing to enjoy the surroundings is the traveling season. I was there during the monsoon, so everything was lush green and the weather was pleasant. Since it was the rice cultivation season, the sighting of people working in the rice fields was very common. They were ploughing, planting, working hard in the tiny rice terraces of Chetru. Sometimes I have seen the villagers carrying stones on their head and climbing upside from the river valley. They used these stones to build home, to cover landslide-prone terrains etc.
The life in these villages is very tough. (Read: Some Beautiful Places in The Spectacular Kangra Valley) You have to fight against the nature to arrange your food and water always. Although government put an effort to make the drinking water available through the pipelines, but still you can see people carrying 2-3 buckets and climbing up on the high terrains or walking 2-3 kms for the water.
Interestingly, there is also a Buddha Stupa, known as Bhim ka Tila, at Chetru village. It is not like a traditional dome-shaped stupa, but it is a small hill (say, mound) surrounded by the beautiful flowers. From the common people perspective, it’s a completely neglected site and there is nothing interesting except the fact that The head and body of the Lord Buddha, excavated from this site is now at display in the museum of Lahore.
A proper restaurant or food joint is not available at the village. 2-3 small shops sell the stuff like biscuits, chips and cold drinks. A small momo shop near the bus stand of Chetru provides the delicious momos.
Overall, wondering around Chetru is an awesome experience, which will give you a pleasant taste of the village life, away from the crowded towns.
How to Reach There?
Chetru is on main Kangra-Gaggal-Dharamshala Road. It is 6 kms away from Kangra, 2 kms away from Gaggal and 11 kms away from Dharamshala. Gaggal is the nearest airport (4 kms).
Kangra is 90 kms away from Pathankot,a major rail head. Narrow gauge trains run between Pathankot and Kangra and goes further up to Joginder Nagar. Kangra Mandir is the nearest rail station. Sometimes these toy trains run too slow that you can even walk with them. The train journey passes through the beautiful hills, small bridges along-with the large portion of Pong Dam lake.
Where to Stay?
No accommodation is available at the village. Two hotels are there after passing the village, approx 2 kms away and that location is superb. Other nearby places to stay are Kangra, Gaggal and Dharamshala. It hardly required 2-3 hours of walk to explore around the village.
What to Expect?
Nothing. Don’t visit a small village in the Himalayas with any expectation. Just club a nature walk around Chetru with your visit to Kangra, Dharamshala and McLeodganj. You can walk along the terraced fields, in the river with very less water and pass through a dense bushes and enjoy the pine-trees while walking upwards on the hill. It will definitely be a memorable experience.