Perched up at 5,774 feet Kotkhai is one of the lesser-known towns that enthrall its visitors with scenic surroundings, forested trails, a river stream of Gori Ganga and a magnificent mansion that is located right at the top of a cliff (belongs to the erstwhile royal family).

‘Kot’ means a Palace and ‘Khai’ refers to a Cliff, hence the apt name Kotkhai! And this offbeat destination won’t leave you dissapointed, no matter what season you go.

View of Kotkhai Palace
View of Kotkhai Palace

The people of Kotkhai region worshipped local deities referred as ‘Devta’ and most significant ones are Goddess Mahamai, The Laankra Veer, Ghunda Naag Devta, The Narsingh Devta, The Mahadev Pudag, Devta Baindra and The Doom Devta.

Devotees carrying the Local Deity during special processions and festivals at Kotkhai
Devotees carrying the Local Deity during special processions and festivals at Kotkhai

Most of the temples dedicated to them have a wooden palanquin covered with silver sheets. Interestingly till date animal sacrifices are part of important festivals and rituals and this is waht attracts lots of tourists from across the globe.

The delicious Apples of Kairi, Shimla
The delicious Apples of Kairi & Baghi, Kotkhai – Shimla

Just 2 kms from Kotkhai is a tiny village called Kiari known for its high-quality apple orchards, while Baghi produces the largest number of Apples. During the season, the entire place is just Apples! A good time to visit for Apples will be between August –September as that’s when they are in full bloom.

The Laankra Veer Temple, Kairi
The Laankra Veer Temple, Kairi

The temples of Goddess Mahamai and Laankar Veer are both located at Kairi.

Places of Interest In and Near Kotkhai

The Kotkhai Palace: is a magnificent mansion build by King Rana Saab during and is a prominent attraction in Kotkhai. Constructed in Pagoda style of architecture, the palace has incorporated the best of Tibetan Architecture that makes it look stunningly rare.

Kotkhai Palace
Kotkhai Palace

The castle is a vast continuous building mostly made up of wood and slate stones and encloses a long and narrow courtyard and stands wholly on a 3 storied heavy masonry walls. It looks as if the windowless basement was also used as prison cells during war times.

The Diwan-i-Khas or inner sitting area at Kotkhai Palace
The Diwan-i-Khas or inner sitting area at Kotkhai Palace

The Giri Ganga, a tributary of Gori Ganga flows beatifully along the cliff and offers a great view from the Kotkhai Palace.

Kiala Forest: offers a scenic forest beauty and is a popular day picnic options for many.

Trek to Dilon Pond – Nera Ghatti and Kuffar Ghat: this offers a great trekking experience for all age groups and takes you along the village of  Halai to Dhilon Pond.

The Sacred Pond the locals of Kotkhai consider holy!
The Sacred Pond the locals of Kotkhai consider holy!

Dhilon Pond is considered sacred and to hold mystical healing powers as per locals and is situated in the centre of the Kiala forest.From this spot the entire valley including Kairi, the Laankra Veer Temple and Apple Orchards can be viewed.

View of the surrounding Hills and beyond, somewhere near Nera Ghatti
View of the surrounding Hills and beyond, somewhere near Nera Ghatti

From Dhilon Pond, another 20 minute trek would take you to the serene Nera Ghati. Here you can get a clear view of the Choordhar Peak, Khada Pathar and Kuppar, all famous trekking zone in the upper Himalayan Regions.You will also get to see Narkanda, Hatu Peak and Baghi. Beyond this is the Rev-Ghati.

Winter Time at Kotkhai, Shimla
Winter Time at Kotkhai, Shimla

Mahasu Temple: is located at a distance of 9 km’s from Kotkhai and is closer to Mashobra. Situated along the River Tons, Mahasu is an enchanting place to visit no matter what the season. The Pandava’s (Mahabharata) celebrated Diwali here at a place called ‘Badher’ and recent excavations has shown evidence in the form of earthen artifacts etc.

Mahasu Devta Temple
Mahasu Devta Temple

Mahasu is also popular for its ancient Shiva Temple known as ‘Mahasu Devta’ located at village Hanol. Although there are plenty of Mahasu Devta temple scattered in Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, this temple is most significant of them all.

Tumbru ka Tiba & Bajoha Ghat: is located between erstwhile states of Jubbal, Bushahr and Darkoti. and is popular for snow view during winters and a picnic spot during summers. It’s a trekker’s delight and is approachable by trekking from Kotkhai via Bajoha Ghat, Tahu, Throla and Darkoti. Bajoha ghat is being considered to be developed for tourist destination soon.

Jubbal: With the River Bishkalti and the Kuper Peak guarding the place, the Jubbal Palace stands tall with all its grandeur and architectural marvel.

Jubbal Palace - Outer View Image Courtesy@Rahul Dutta - Flickr
Jubbal Palace – Outer View Image Courtesy@Rahul Dutta – Flickr

From the delicately carved Jharokas to impressive halls, one look at it and you are bound to stare at its beauty and perfectness.The Palace has a stunning memorabilia including artefacts, ancient artilleries like swords & shields and a huge collection of Kangra paintings.

Inside the Jubbal Palace Image @Google
Inside the Jubbal Palace Image @Google

You can also stay in the palace by connecting at 01781-252001/02 Tariffs: 4500/- onwards

The temple inside the premises is quite an attraction with its pagoda Style architecture that uses wood and slate stones. Read More HERE

Mori: is another fascinating place that is known for its River Rafting and adventure activities. Learn more about Mori HERE

Stay Options at Kotkhai

Dwarika Residency: is also known as Hotel Shelapani and is located near Mandhol and is situated amidst 240 sq. kms. of dense reserved forests.

Hotel Dwarika-Sheelapani, Mandhol-Kotkhai
Hotel Dwarika-Sheelapani, Mandhol-Kotkhai

Staying here is like living alone in the wilderness & part of nature. A place to relax, walk around and relive.
Tariffs: 6300/- INR all inclusive

Mahasu House: is a luxurious resort that makes for a lovely weekend getaway. Located near Mashobra (50 kms from Kotkhai), it can easily be reached via Kotkhai.

The Luxuriously opulent Resort - Mahasu HOuse
The Luxurious Resort – Mahasu House

From Nature Walks to Mountain Biking, the place has it all! The rooms at the Mahasu House have an old world charm and the thickly wooded region is sure to refresh and rejuvenate you.
Tariffs: 9600/- INR

Hotel Apple Crown, Dumehar: is a small place ideal for backpackers. Tel: 01783-255894, 255497
Tariffs:Rs 220-350

There is also a Forest Guest House at Kotkhai for which I am still collecting details.

For more options for stay please visit Tripadvisor

Distance Guide to Kotkhai

  • Kotkhai to Jubbal: 32 Kms via Theog – Hatkoti – Rohru Rd
  • Kotkhai to Mashobra: 50 Kms
  • Shimla to Kotkhai: 57 Kms  via NH22 and Theog – Hatkoti – Rohru Rd
  • Shimla to Jubbal: 92 Kms
  • New Delhi to Kotkhai: 404 kms (7 h 35 min) via NH 1 Best Route: Delhi – Chandigarh – Shimla – Kufri – Theog (Turn Right) – Chaila – Kotkhai
  • Chandigarh to Kotkhai: 158 Kms (3 h 51 min) via NH22 and SH 6

By Air: Shimla’s Jabarhatti Airport has few flights.


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