'Panchari ' A Road Less Travelled By

When we think of a weekend getaway in Jammu region, we often restrict ourselves with a couple of choices like Patnitop, Mansar, Surinsar, Vaishno Devi etc., these places have become crowded in recent times. Though the region offers great scope for tourism but most of the places have not been explored by the travellers yet. One such place is Panchari, resting in the lap of nature, with natural water bodies, filled with the fragrance of Himalayan Deodar is a perfect place for thrillophilic youngsters.

Panchari is a small hill station, situated 40 kms away from Udhampur.  It is surrounded by Ladha Dhar on the east, dense Deodar forests of Saroli Dhar on the west, Sankhpal Dhar on the north contains some breathtaking rare scenic views and Kainth Gali ridges on the south popular for terrace farming. The place is soaked in the natural beauty, surrounded by forest of Deodar, Pine chestnut along with trees laden with Almond, Pear, Plum and Pomegranate. Riding through the lower middle Himalayas is itself an enthralling experience for the travellers. The enchanted beauty of this place gives you a perfect example of simple yet healthy life in the lap of nature. The place has the most bewitching landscapes in the region. The fact that it is lesser known among people makes it an apt place for relaxing holiday.

Since the place is situated neatly away from hustle and bustle of city life, it is an attraction for yoga, meditation, adventure junkies and trekking enthusiasts. The trail from Panchari to Moungari is endowed with sprawling views of Himalayas, silvery brooks and rows of pine trees. It is also home to many wild animals like leopards and jackals. There is no dearth of viewpoints where one can enjoy sunrise and sunset. Forest hikes, night treks, and bonfires can be arranged in Dabb Gali (around 16 kms away from Moungari), the last point where the motorable road ends. It is a good place for tent pitching or one can choose to stay at local homes which are available at cheap prices. Dabb Gali is also known for its local delicacy, the Kaladi Kulcha with morning masala chai. It is perfect for the artist who love painting scenic beauty as the place is rich in it. The place also offers fresh organic fruits and vegetables, grown locally, in small cabin like shops. Many shops are build using planks and tin. The walls are decorated with beautiful designs using different colours both natural and artificial.

The region is sparsely populated with majority of Hindus living in the area, along with Gujjars. The region, therefore, witnesses many temples and holy shrines in the nearby areas. In Panchari, one can pay homage to the famous Shrine of Sankri Devta that is situated amidst of forest cover and is a local deity there. Saroli Dhar is densely covered by Himalayan Deodar forest which clads the place and gives it a perfectly serene ambience. The Saroli Mata Yatra which opens for fifteen days in the month of June is gaining popularity among the pilgrims. The temple of the famous deity is in north of Saroli Dhar. One can reach the holy shrine by taking a tempo from Moungari and travel uphill for one and a half hour and then trek for three hours among the wild dense deodar forest opening into green meadows to reach the shrine. Other than above mentioned holy places there are many local deities that one can visit.

People are humble and kind hearted. If you are looking forward to know more about the place, do not forget to arrange a bonfire with them. The hospitable nature of the villagers fills you with happiness. It is in simplicity that their happiness lies. These simpletons can mesmerise you with their local stories and songs.

The best time one can make their footfalls is from May till September. The region usually experiences snowfall during winters. The trail through the mountains is best explored by riding a motorbike here as road and terrain is not suitable for a car. The calm and soothing effect of nature, snuggled around the bonfire under the clear starlit sky leaves an enchanted effect on the soul and you would like to travel this road not taken by many again and again. With the increasing number of commercialized tourist spots in Jammu, Panchari an offbeat destination, is a perfect weekend getaway.

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