The highest mountain peak in Shimla hills, Chanshal (altitude 4,520 meters) is largely an unexplored gem that servers the nomadic appetite of travelers seeking adventure, beauty and some days of seclusion. When on the summit, it feels possible to touch snow clad peaks in the distance, and if one looks down onto the Pabbar valley, it appears like a painting of streams and brooks laden landscape that runs amuck into forest lands before discharging into Pabbar River.
En-route to Chanshal heights, which is around 150 km from Shimla, via Theog, Khara Pathar and Jubhal, at a distance of 105 km, travelers get to visit the famous Hatkoti Vajreshwari Devi Temple. At the gateway to Chansal, this beautiful wood carved temple houses a deeply revered meter high idol of an eight armed goddess made from rich alloy metal.
About 20 Kms from Hatkoti, Rohru is central to exploring the region. This growing town is nestled on the banks of River Pabbar, a tributary of the Tons that drains into Yamuna River. The countryside around the region is plush with apple orchards and the flowing waters are toasted for its trout fish. It is also the starting point for several treks in the valley.
Despite being in close proximity to Shimla, the region has largely remained unexplored because of lack of good roads. It was only in 2006 that the government managed to link the trans-Chanshal region of Dodra – Kwar after constructing a road over Chanshal pass.
Although, the road has made Chanshal valley accessible, but due to heavy snowfall it remains cut off from November to February. Ideal time to visit the region is during the months of May-June and September-October for during the rainy season of July-August, the valley may not be travel friendly as otherwise and one is advised to avoid trekking to the summit.
There is also a saucer lake atop the hill. One can trek to see the lake and several other beautiful spots where nature is at its best.
In past few years, the Chanshal has been recognized as one of the best spots for skiing in Himachal Pradesh. This region has ideal slopes that stretch from 2 to 12 kilometers. The government has even drawn up plans to found a ski resort in the valley.
Chanshal is 50 km from Rohru. In between there are many smaller stations on the way, which include Seema, Chirgaon and Tikkri. To get to the hill top one has to trek from the Chanshal Pass.
On the route to the untouched valley, Himachal tourism has constructed hotels at Rohru, Khara Pattar and Hatkoti. Besides there are PWD and Forest Rest houses at many places that need to be booked in advance.
The drive on the route, especially one along Pabbar River is very scenic, often tempting the traveler to stop by, step out of the vehicle to savour the views around.