Traveling is a way to expand your horizons. You venture into the unknown and you see things you didn’t expect. For the eager and excited tourists, Chehni Village in Himachal Pradesh is a rare, hidden gem away from the chaos and crowds.
A vacation has different meanings for different people. Some want to rest, some want to see all the attractions, some want to try various sports and some just want to escape. Very few places in India can offer all of these things at the same time and Himachal Pradesh is one of them. The state is blessed with natural beauty, valleys, views and activities beyond belief. While the popular and conventional places like Manali and Shimla are always worth doing, there is something for the offbeat traveler. Like a proud beauty, Himachal still has her share of secrets and unexplored gems it doesn’t let the crowds know. The curious and the persistent tourists have tried and they finally stumbled upon the mighty and ancient village of Chehni. Called ‘Chehni’ or ‘Chaini’ by locals, it is located in Banjar Valley.
Banjar is a small town in the district of Kullu. The valley connects Kullu to Shimla and provides massive, sweeping views of trees, streams, and hills. You can access it by train or road from Shimla or Kalka. Local taxis and buses are available for you to take to the village. Or you can visit the serene hamlet of Jibhi and then make your way to Chehni. The best time to visit Chehni is between March-May or October-November. An uphill walk will lead you right to Chehni and it’s quiet landscape. Situated right on the top of the hill, you can see the entire valley from the village and what a view it offers! The valley is called Tirthan Valley after the Tirthan River that flows beneath and originates from the Himalayan glaciers. The village was initially called ‘Kuthed’ and renamed after ‘Chaini’ or ‘Chehni’, a local woman. The woman, Chehni was the widow of a famous villager and rebel. She led the villagers against the local Kullu ruler in rebellion. The Kullu ruler brutally killed her during an assault. As a reward for her bravery, the rulers decided to name the village after her.
Chehni, located at a height of 2000 m, is an escape and bliss for the tired soul. The village has a long tradition and history of producing woodworkers and creating exceptional wood carvings. That is evident as you see the houses possess intricate pieces of wood art on display. Stoneworkers also live in Chehni and practice their art and pass it to the next generation. Chehni is most popular for the towering structure standing right in the center of the village. A steep climb needs to be covered before you visit the ‘Chehni Kothi’ or ‘Chehni Fort’ or the ‘Two Towers.’ Supposedly 350 years old, the Chehni Kothi remains one of the tallest structures in Western Himalayas. 45 meters tall, the Kothi was a defensive castle built by a local king. It lost the top 2 storeys due to an earthquake in 1905. Foreigners or tourists are not allowed to climb the tower or the stairs because of the weak structure. The villagers decided to save the structure and restored the fort in times of need.
You can book a room at several homestays in the village and experience true Himalayan hospitality. The owners are warm and welcoming and will share the history of the region with guests. Guests will also get to savor hot, tasty meals prepared by locals. Chehni is the ideal place to go if you want to relax, hike and recharge. The Himalayan valleys envelop you in their warmth and you can see never seen before views.