Discovering Kalsi: A Tiny Hamlet in the Himalayas

There are many places in India which have never managed to come to the media limelight but are historically significant nevertheless. One such place, as I discovered last spring, is the cozy little mountain settlement of Kalsi. This village sits in the foothills of the Shivalik Mountains in the lap of the Himalayan plains, just an hour from Dehradun town. It was a completely unplanned trip which just fell into my itinerary out of nowhere. Some cousins and I were exploring the entire Dehradun-Mussoorie-Dhanolti belt when our minivan had a major breakdown. It was taking hours to get it fixed so we decided to do a little detour. We asked around where we could go in the vicinity and were recommended Kalsi. After managing to hire a cheap and comfortable Dehradun car we headed towards this almost obscure village.

A dreamland called Kalsi

Perched atop 780 meters from the sea level, this destination is a meeting point of the Yamuna and the Tons Rivers. But what defines Kalsi is its ancient monuments and sites of historic significance.

Spring had brought about a more saturated shade of green, complemented by the sparkling blue sky and the yellow mustard flowers dotting the fields. The sleepy hamlet appeared to move slower than time, resting against the misty mountains and verdant fields. We walked through the fields and woods, crossed the stream on foot, and landed at the bamboo bridge, literally dangling on the gurgling mountain river. It was quite a challenge to cross the wobbly bridge. But the view on both sides was spectacular. The crystal clear spring sky was like the perfect contrast to the bright green foliage bathed in sunlight. And it was complemented with a serenity that one yearns for. We finally managed to cross over after pausing multiple times to take photos of the landscape from every possible angle. Exhausted from all the hiking, we later took a little break on the other side. Sitting on the banks looking over the sparkling waters of the river as the crisp alpine breeze brushed our faces, felt no less than a dream; an experience one can only cherish and cannot explain in the most articulated words.

A trip down history

The only existing site of the historical significance of Kalsi, as we learned, was the Ashoka Rock Edict. And perhaps the most popular tourist attraction of the village. The Edict is a huge rock of 10 feet long and 8 feet wide with inscriptions by none other than the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, somewhere between 273 and 232 BC. There are 14 inscriptions which are a compilation of reforms and advice written in Prakrit and Brahmi script which laid down the core philosophies and principles of Buddhism. It is said (and believed) that Ashoka’s empire extended till this village and he created this edict when he adopted Buddhism.

The Ashoka Rock Edict sits in corner of a lush meadow, surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens. The red brick dome-like structure was a colorful contrast to the greens and blues. We had to walk down a hilly slope to reach the premise. I had never seen a historic site so peaceful, without a single human soul in sight. Surrounded by the fragrance of fresh grass and alpine flowers and the symphony of the wind with the rustling water of the Yamuna, this place took me back in time and put me in a place which was beyond this world.

Overall, it was an experience that seldom happened with me and I truly relished every moment of the magical little land called Kalsi. After all, the best things come by when we don’t plan them, isn’t it?

Pro Tips

Book an affordable Dehradun airport taxi service for a better traveling experience through the hills.

There’s no place to eat or lodge in this village. So, if you are trekking, hiking, or just roaming around, stack up some food and water before you leave for Kalsi.

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