Earlier this year, we made a family trip to Palampur, to celebrate my husbands grandfathers 90th birthday. 90 years, can you imagine! And nanaji is a legend, if I may say so. Hale and hearty, and ready with glorious stories of his past, it’s always a treat to spend time with him. For his 90th, he wanted to visit his village in Palampur, the place where he grew up and went to school as a boy, and his home where he had countless memories of play and family.
For the family this was the easiest gift ever, mainly because all of us are avid travellers and this was like a return gift for us too (in birthday parlance); we didn’t need any convincing to pick up our cars and get, set, and go. I was super excited about the trip; I was in India after 2 years and plus I was heading to Himachal, my glorious home state. Life could not get more beautiful. All that fresh mountain air, the smiling people, and the yummilicious food that was going to be savoured. yum yum. EVERYONE was thinking about the food. haha.
We spent a wonderful 3 days in Palampur, walking around the hilly town, exploring nanaji’s village Garh-Jamoula, and trying out the wonderful eateries all over the small town.
One of the most famous places in Palampur is Neugal Cafe, a quaint little cafe run by HPTDC and provides spectacular views of the Dhauladhar ranges. Nanaji and Naniji, plus my mother in law and her sister were so excited about going back to it after ages, but when we reached, their first reaction was of disappointment. And I could see why. The spectacular panoramic views of the Dhauladhar were now obliterated on one side by newly constructed glass buildings (who constructs glass buildings in the hills?!), and on the other side, the cafe boundaries had been cordoned off by 6 feet high brick walls. Nevertheless we made our way to the cafe and while the elders ordered food, and tea, the husband and I ran to dip our feet in the fresh water of the Neugal river (or khadd). Brilliantly refreshing, and bone-numbingly cold. We returned and had a super delicious platter of crunchy pakoras (aloo, gobhi, paneer, pyaaz – the gobhi pakoras were to die for), and a big glass of cold coffee. And trust me when I say, no one does a desi cold coffee better than small cafes in our little towns in India; lots of milk, lots of coffee, and lots of sugar :D
We tried a lot of the restaurants in Palampur, and following are the ones that were brilliant, and deserve a visit if you are ever that side
- Taj Restaurant: I cannot get over the flavours in the food served here! We ordered a variety of dishes; matar mushroom, channa masala, kadhai paneer, shahi kofta, and lots of rotis. We requested them to make the rotis soft for the grandparents sake, and they were kind enough to take care of our request. The dishes were all flavourful, generous, and there was this hint of smokiness in them that I associate with pahadi dham. We loved every bite. Must Visit when you are in Palampur
- Skyroom Bar and Restro : Indo-chinese is a cuisine in it’s own well-established right, and Skyroom Restaurant supposedly serves the best chinese in Palampur. Having tasted their chinese food, I have to admit that they do know what they are talking about. Their hakka noodles was the winner of the night, which we had with generous portions of chilli chicken, and vegetables in garlic sauce. The husband and father in law also split a sweet corn chicken soup between them which had wonderful flavours.
- The Kangra Rasoi: My personal favourite, the Kangra Rasoi was a small dhaba located a few kilometres outside of the town, and they served us a steaming hot plate of a pahadi thali. The thali had kadhi, rajma, khatta/maani served with steaming hot rice and you could get unlimited amounts of food, all for Rs 75. The food was simple yet it was the tastiest meal we had ever had since coming to Palampur, and I think the simple flavours is what we remember the most. Sometimes all you need is hot rice and kadhi and no fancy kadhai or shahi gravies to fill your stomach.
- Hotel Teabud: We stayed in Hotel Teabud for the duration of our holiday and were impressed with their breakfast. Super quick service, yummy and thick parathas, poori aloo, and one of the best cheese omlettes I have ever had in an Indian motel. We decided to host nanajis birthday lunch at the hotel restaurant itself and so glad we did. The restaurant staff cooked up a meal for 20-25 people on a days notice, and served us a smorgasbord of delights. They even accommodated our request to make a pahadi dish, khatta, however if I can be a bit honest, the khatta at Kangra Rasoi was much better. But we couldn’t fault any of the other dishes they served. And the steaming hot gulab jamuns they served at the end of our meal were to die for. Plus their location is also a big plus as they are situated right next to the tea bud estates and provide gorgeous views of the tea estates in the front, and spectacular views of the dhauladhar ranges at the back of the hotel.
So in a nutshell, this was our trip to Palampur. And of course for me the fond memories of a place are defined by the food I had there, and considering I had an amazing array of delights in Palampur, I am raring to visit it soon, and hoping you make plans soon enough to visit this gorgeous town.
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