Bilaspur (673m):Daming Satluj River by building the concrete Bhakra Dam did deluge the old township of Bilaspur in 1963, capsule but in winters as the water level of Lake Gobind Sagar recedes, buy shikaras of submerged temples dramatically surface and link the new lake side township with the historical one, now submerged.
The old princely state of Bilaspur had survived as an independent state for over 500 years (half a millennium) till it surrendered its entity to sub-continentalIndia. The large man made water body has become a game centre where both adventurous water sports and fishing thrive side by side.
The Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports – Manali water sport centre at Bilaspur provides training to enthusiasts in water skiing, rowing, sailing and kayaking. Tourists can hire paddle boats or can speed through in a motor boat on the Gobind SagarLake. All necessary equipment is available at Bilaspur. The ridge top of Banda overlooking Bilaspur has become vantage take off point for the adventurous paragliders to fly down into Luhnu ground as the landing site.
Vyas Goofa at Bilaspur did not submerge with the construction of Bhakra dam. Vyas, the legendary author of the epic Marbartha is said to have meditated in this cave.
On the left bank of Gobind Sagar Lake, HPTDC runs a way side café
Swarghat: On a ridge of the Shiwalik mountain range, Swarghat (1220m) 40 Kms from Bilaspur had remained the summer resort for the royal family of Bilaspur. A night view of the lights shimmering in the distant Punjab plains is a worthy sight. A temple dedicated to Laxmi-Narayan is worth visiting.
Hotel Hill Top – Swarghat/Bilaspur
Newly built HPTDC’s Hotel Hill Top commands a breathtaking view of the vast Indo-Gangetic plains to the south west. It appeals as a stopover destination to explore the countryside around Bilaspur and thick forests of the pine.
Address: Hotel Hill Top, Swarghat – Distt Bilaspur (HP) Pin. 174011 Tele 01978-84112
Accommodation; 1 Family suite, 7 double bedrooms.
Facilities: The rooms are well furnished, airy spacious and have attached bathrooms with running hot and cold water. Parking within premises and the restaurant serves varied cuisines. Fast food counter and a TV in every room.
How to get there
Swarghat is on Chandigarh– Manali highway. Regular motor transport and as well personalized taxi service is readily available fromChandigarh, Shimla or Bilaspur. The nearest airport and broad gauge railhead at Chandigarh, is 186 Kms away.
Climate: Winter temperatures are mild and do require heavy woolens but summer is pleasant and cottons are recommended.
Places of interest around Swarghat:
Naina Devi Temple (1177m) is 29 Km from Swarghat and 69 Km from Bilaspur. Resting on the highest point of the range the revered temple attracts thousands of pilgrims regularly. The main fair is held in August.
On the north western end of the same range is Kot Kahlur, the ancient capital of Bilaspur state and a old fort still marks the spot. One side offers a panoramic view the holy Sikh site of Anandpur Sahib (birth place of Khalsa) and the one overlooks the vast Gobind Sagar lake.
Bhakra is 37 Km from Swarghat and 108 Km from Chandigarh. At Bhakra is one of the worlds highest straight gravity dam.
The 285 meter long Kandror suspension bridge that is 60 meters is considered a engineering marvel.
Markanda is about 20 Km from Bilaspur. Named after Rishi Markandaya, an annual fair on Baisakhi day is held at Markanda. The water of a legendary spring at Markanda is reputed to have curative effects on children suffering from skin diseases.
Forts: Relics that witnessed history the Bilaspur region is dotted with many hill forts that are worth visiting. Bachhretu Fort (1980m) which is 64 Km from Bilaspur, Baseh Fort 6 Km north of Bachhretu Fort; Kot Kahlur Fort 40 Km from Bilaspur and Rattanpur Fort 21 Km from Bilaspur are some of the prominent hill forts in the region.