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A flock of sheep on the road to Chakrata (PHOTO: Manoj Dabral/SNS)
Time stood still. The untouched dust that neatly covered the oval wooden dining table with not a trace of a chip or scratch drew my attention. It stood there where it always was. It took my mind far away to a time when the Colonel's wife ensured every piece of crockery was placed perfect to welcome her guests to a grand dinner. Her hair perfectly combed and dressed in her best, she sat there prim and proper in her gentle demeanour, softly speaking or quietly listening to her husband entertaining the guests with stories of great battles won… My flight of imagination took over my urge to wipe away the dust that settled all over the place and the once prized furniture. The caretaker ensured to keep everything as it used to be — the house where the Colonel lived here – Chakrata.
Green and misty, the summer retreat of the British officials Chakrata town lies about 98 km away from Dehradun. The once small village was called Jansur Bawar, populated by Jaunsari tribe. It is said that the Chakrata cantonment was set up in 1866 by Colonel Hume of the 55 Regiment, British Indian Army. Later in April 1869, the army came and occupied it.
The road to Chakrata, at an altitude of 2,118 metres above sea level, winds through the snow covered meadows and misty mountains. Forested with oaks and conifer trees, the place remains peaceful and far from the madding crowd with no sign of commercialisation yet. The flock of sheep that you keep coming across on the rather quiet and less travelled road seem like a subtle reminder of human habitats up here.
Red rhododendrons are in abundance in this forest. On reaching the cantonment, we were treated to fresh, temptingly red rhododendron wine. It could be finer and sweeter than strawberry wine. But it was the night spent here in the winter's cold that was beautifully haunting and thrilling. Dinner around bon-fire in the dark of the night with not a sound other than our loud chatter and the fire crackle was quite a haunting experience.
Cool and peaceful, the place makes for a refreshing summer visit. Places you can visit while you are in Chakrata are the thickly wooded Deoban, Tiger Falls, which is just 20 km away from it, the green Budhar and Mundali meadows, Kanasar picnic spot, and the sunset point at Chirmiri, just about 4 km from Chakrata,
Chakrata town can be reached from Dehradun and also Mussoorie. You can stay at tented accomodation on prior bookings or the forest rest house.
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