So we had a warm sunny day after three months of incessant rains and what did my family decide to do? No, it wasn’t sitting in the warm sun and spending the National Holiday being lazy. We decided to take a road trip to the “Heritage Village” of Pragpur in Himachal Pradesh. Of course like everyone else we ‘googled’ and found all reviews to be amazing. We packed our umbrellas, for rains are ever pouring in this part of the world, cuddled in our beloved ‘WagonR’ and drove off. The drive from Dharamshala to Pragpur is indeed very beautiful. The terraced fields with the backdrop of Dhauldhars are the stuff Ruskin Bond books are made of. The villages are still sparsely populated. All along the way we found enough food vans and dhabas so you don’t really need to carry your own food. Small village markets with locally grown fruits and vegetables were a delight.Going right after the monsoons gave us the best of landscape, flowing ‘khuds’, seasonal waterfalls, and vegetables along the road was awesome. So we reached Pragpur after a good two hours drive. All of us expected “The Heritage Village” to be a village enclosed in a particular area, clearly marked for the tourists to see. Well! That was certainly not the case. We seemed lost and drove around to find our first stop Judge’s Court, a 600 year old mansion that has been restored to a luxury resort. We stopped to look around, but unfortunately the staff was not very willing. We moved around the area a little bit but could sense that we were not very welcome. They wanted us out of there. We inquired if they were busy which they did not seem to be, as no guests were staying in. Our request to see the rooms was also declined. Probably it was time for their lunch and we intruded. Well, we moved to see the village further down.
First natural thing to do was to ask people if we were at the right place as we could barely see any buildings as ‘Google’ had described them. Most of them had a sly smile on them telling us ” You are right in the googled heritage village… so?” OK. We asked, where could we see the heritage buildings and houses. Another smile saying “All of the houses are heritage, just move around the village and see the ones that are left standing.”
Right!! That’s what we did. We started walking through the streets. Now it seemed rather rude to pry into other people’s property. We craned our necks to see houses that did look old but whose gates were closed. The ones which were accessible had people living in them, giving us weird glances. The village streets were dirty and we had to shove away the street dogs who were as curious about us as we were about their village.We did manage to find few old houses to click pictures.Next we arrived in a typical village bazar which did look of the pre-independence era, the kind they show in movies. Small shops, wooden doors with iron hinges were fascinating to the kids. But that was about all the village could offer. since there were no plaques or signs telling us what we were seeing and the local people were most disinterested in answering questions of complete strangers, we decided to move further down to Garli, another heritage site.Here we visited The Chateau Garli. An amazingly beautiful place. The staff was courteous as opposed to Judge’s Court. The old world charm exudes from this place. We had our lunch here, which was sumptuous. Also had the privilege of being taken to various rooms and lovingly told stories about them. Beautiful place to relax and unwind and made our trip worthwhile!The water reservoir in the villageOne of the old heritage homesThe Chateau GarliKitchen at ChateauThe restaurant at Chateau