Mountain Walking

Legends of Chadwick Falls Shimla

After planning my visit to the not-so-well-known Chadwick Falls in Shimla for quite some time, I finally got to go there a few days ago. Located about five kilometres from Boileauganj (four from Summerhill), the Falls are located in the heart of the jungle that lies between Heun Village and the Potters Hill forest.

Depending on your pace, it usually takes about 1-2 hours to walk from Boileauganj to the Falls; one can even take the motorable road till Heun village. There are two major bifurcations along the way: one at Summerhill Chowk (from where one needs to take a right and then left onto the Sangti Road) and another right onto the Seri-Neri road (which bifurcates after traveling for about a kilometre from Summerhill Chowk in this direction).

On a clear day, as one drives along this route, one can see the mountain ranges towards the north as well as the northern half of the city including the Annadale ground.

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The road on the left going down towards Sangti while the straight one goes ahead to the IIAS gate at Deodi; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Looking towards Summerhill Chowk from the diversion on the right going towards Sangti; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Drive through the oak forest along the Sangti road; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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The road going down on the left towards Heun village; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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View of the northern parts of Shimla; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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An old house along the Seri-Neri road; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Remnants of the old road; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

Beyond the Seri-Neri Road, a fairly wide trail moving through the thick and dense forest (Oak, Long-needled Pine, Deodar, and Rhododendron, etc.) eventually meets at the Falls. As it was a bright and sunny mid-summer day when I undertook the walk, the excruciating heat had the potential to make it hard to walk. However, the dense vegetation and the huge trees made the walk quite pleasant, with enough shade to enjoy the fresh cool breeze blowing though the forest, refreshing the senses.

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Reaching an opening in the dense forest along the trail; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Pretty wide and well defined trail to Chadwick Falls; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

It was also noticeable that there were many young trees amongst the huge ones which meant that the forest was thriving here. A few wild flowers along the way also caught my attention as they stood out of the green with their vivid colours. It got even better as there were plenty of raspberry bushes along the way, and I didn’t hesitate to savour the berries as they quenched my thirst. Excitement grew on hearing the sound of water echoing in the forest while we were still a few meters away from the waterfall.

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A young long-needled pine tree; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Daisies along the way; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Refreshing hue in the scorching heat; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Wondering what these tiny ones are called; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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My favourite orange raspberries; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

The name Huen is derived from the word ‘him’ which means snow. Legend has it that the demon who resided here used to terrorise the people of the village and destroy their crops. So the people invoked Gandevta ,who along with Nagdevta killed the demon and pushed him inside the massive rocks of the waterfall. The waterfall is said to have been named after an Englishman about whom not much is known.

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Continuing along the trail; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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And on along with the trees and the breeze; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

I realised how big the Falls used to be, compared to the present day trickle of water, pouring down the cliff, struggling to reach the bottom. It was also disappointing to see the garbage lying all around the waterfall. I remember my first few visits here during school years when a very few people knew about the Falls and even fewer tourists visited the place. It used to be much cleaner then. Though keeping all my thoughts aside, I just sat and enjoyed the views of the waterfall and the forest. I even caught glimpses of a few Himalayan Barbets or the Great Barbet, which can be spotted like crows here. Just looking at the thick and dense forest, one realises that it provides the perfect shelter for animals no matter how big or small.

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A small crowd already as I arrive at Chadwick Falls; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Chadwick Falls (or what remains of it); Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

While on our way to Chadwick Falls, we had taken a trail that cuts from the hair pin curve just before Heun village. For the return journey, we decided to take the other route which leads straight to the village, ending a few meters from where we had parked our vehicle. The trail which we had taken while coming was much easy to walk on as it was straighter, while this one on the way back included a slight descent and a climb. As soon as we reached the road, we suddenly realised that a huge fire had broken loose in the forest, with a thick cloud of smoke rising from the forest floor. The number of forest fires has risen in recent days with many being spotted everyday just around the city, let alone other parts of the state. While most of the fires are caused due to human negligence, the rising temperatures and heat are also a cause.

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A natural barrier that needs careful negotiation; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Such openings in the dense forest are a relief; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Back amidst bushes and creepers and trees old and new; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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More refreshment as the walk is about to end; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Back on the unpaved road to spot a forest fire in the area around Chadwick Falls; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

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Smoke sifting through the dense forests around Potters Hill; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

After the walk, it was even tougher getting back inside the car as it felt like one was being cooked in an oven.

I hope it rains soon…!!

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