Garli - A place less travelled

By Priya Goswami

Once called the Switzerland of India for its beauty and wealth, Garli is now a notified heritage village tucked in the Kangra valley. A treasure of architectural marvels-Kangra, Colonial, Portugese, Rajput and Islamic, it is a beautiful mix of all these influences.

The lanes of Garli
This village was set by the Soods, an enterprising merchant community, in the early 19th century. Way ahead of their times in planning, they built their own houses and brought their own craftsmen and servicemen with them, including the cobblers, barbers, carpenters, etc. They also established the schools, hospitals, sarais, roads and the waterworks making Garli the epicenter of Punjab’s economics and politics by the 1920s. It is said that the location of village was also carefully chosen to receive good astral influence as the three shakti temples are also locatenearby-Chintpurni, Jwalamukhi and Brajeshwari (Kangra). 

Market of Garli
Garli is believed to have enough European influence and is also credited to its proximity to the summer capital (Shimla) of the British Raj back then. It was in the late 1950s that the village was completely abandoned, and when visited today, one can still see many buildings and mansions lying in distressed state. Some are as old as 200-300 years but speak of the village’s wealth back in those days. And this is evident in the grandeur of these structures made of exquisite wood, expensive balconies and intricate wall work. Garli has a small market for grocery, bakery, bangles, shoes and tailor shops. The village has a small taal as well.

The Abandoned House
Local Attractions

For Heritage enthusiasts-

The buildings and mansions all have a story. You can stop anytime and enjoy the architecture of these grand houses such as Bishnu Niwas, Bhagwan Niwas, the ‘Hidden House’, the ‘Mystery House’, and so on.
The Chateau Garli - A restored building

Hub of Temples-
Apart from the three shakti peeth- Chintpurni, Jwalamukhi, Brajeshwari (Kangra), one can also explore heritage temples within a radius of 50-60 kms like the Dada Siba Temple and Masroor Rock cut Temple. The Dada Siba is also called the temple of Radhe Karishna and is revered for its mural paintings all across, which have been restored and delicately coloured. The rock cut masroor temple is the only monolithic rock structure in northern India and said that to have been made by the Pandavas in just one night during their "incognito"exile. 

For Nature Lovers
Just 20 mins away from the Garli main market is the Chamba Pattan Bridge over Beas where most of the people tread to enjoy the sunset. Another nature lover's delight is the wetlands of pong lake, an hour and a half drive from Garli,  is a seasonal habitat and stopover for migratory birds that enter India from Central Asia. It is also one of the 25 international wetland sites declared in India by the Ramsar Convention. Needless to say, it’s a photographer’s dream destination as well.
Pong Dam Wetlands

Food & Stay
If you like to discover the local flavours, you cannot miss the malai barf sold by Mr. Satpal Sharma. His forefathers have been selling this since 1890. On a leaf plate for mere Rs. 30/, it is made of milk, khoya, cheeni, and badam. Other local delights included Mandra (kidney beans in gravy of kaju & kishmish), Chana Daal with amchoor, Mhani (black chana, jaggerry & amchoor), Maa ki dal, Mittha (made with urad dal).

Famous Malai Barf of Garli
The Chateau Garli-a 95 year old heritage boutique hotel in Garli has all the modern amenities you can ask for. 
 Naurang Yatri Niwas-also known as Naurang Sarai and  The Judge’s Court-a 300 year old heritage property built in a country manor style in Pragpur are a few options for one to stay.

A Local Bakery Shop

Author Bio: Priya is a  professional baby and portrait photographer who left her full time corporate job as a marketing and brand professional with an MNC to follow her passion. When not clicking, she loves to travel and explore places. You can follow her on  Facebook  or visit her website:


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