Kalatop - The Wild Life Sanctuary
Kalatop and Khajjiar are best explored if you take a three days walk from Dalhousie to Kalatop, Khajjiar and back Dalhousie. The trek is more or less level and requires good health, a pair of sturdy walking shoes. Kalatop is 10 kms from G.P.O. at an altitude of 8000 feet. Walking along the secluded and forested road through upper Nakorota hills, one reaches Lakkarmandi. Between G.P.O. and Lakkarmandi lies the Dalhousie water system, Tibetan Handicraft Centre and Dalhousie Potato Farm at Ahla. Lakkarmandi is nestled between 8600 feet high DayanKund peak on its right and Kalatop on the left. Dayan Kund has military installations and is closed to civilians except the local people who visit Bhulwani Mata temple near DainKund.
Lakkarmandi is home for dhogri families that are engaged in charcoal making. Most of the dhogris have been driven to plains because of the fall in the demand for charcoal. At Lakkarmandi there is a Wildlife Barrier to check movement of vehicles on the unpaved but narrow level road that runs 3 kms to Kalatop Forest Rest House. The walk from Lakkarmandi to Kalatop is through dense forest of pines and deodars. The solitude is occasionally broken by singing birds. The blissful solitude of Kalatop is ideal for the honeymooners. Permit for the rest house is obtainable from DFO, Wildlife, Chamba.
KALATOP KHAJJIAR SANCTUARY
This small sanctuary lies in the catchment of the Ravi River, and contains patches of good coniferous and Oak forests. A lovely bowl-shaped meadow at Khajjiar, with a lake and a ‘floating’ island, is a popular tourist spot. There is a ‘golden’ domed temple at the edge of this meadow, dedicated to the deity ‘Khajinag’, from whom the area derives its name.
AREA AND ZONING
2026.89 ha (20.27 sq. km). No zoning.
District Chamba; Latitudinal range 32°02´ to 32°04´ N; Longitudinal range 76°01´ to 76°06´E; Nearest Town Dalhousie (06 km); Nearest railhead Pathankot (86 km). Situated at the Altitude of 1185 to 2768 meters Temperature –10°C to 35°C; Mean annual rainfall 672.3 mm.
Forest cover 1962.84 ha. Of the some area of the forest types being Ban Oak Forest 12/C1(a) over 120 ha., Moist Deodar Forest 12/C1 (c) over 1047.24 ha., and Western Mixed Coniferous Forest 12/C1(d) over 795.60 ha., Interspersed with these are some Alpine Pastures 15/C3.
The best period for visting the sanctuary are March-May, and from September to November, when the weather is favorable. Khajjiar meadow and lake, and the Khajinag temple, and places of tourist interest. There is one watchtower for wildlife viewing.