- The clouds, the hills, and the sprawling greens-all these signify
Chail, a honeymooners' paradise. It turns you poetic, transforms your
honeymoon into dream and a piece of land on earth into paradise.
Located in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, the small hamlet
called Chail is a place where time stands still. Nature is at her
exuberant best and words like pollution and deforestation have never
entered the dictionary of a person living in Chail.
2,150 m (7,054 ft)
Hindi, Himachali, Garhwali, English
Best time to visit
May-July and September-November
This small town, the summer residence
of the Patiala state rulers has a story to tell. In 1891, Maharaja
Bhupinder Singh of Patiala incurred the wrath of Lord Kitchener, the
then Commander-in-Chief. As a result, he was banned entry into the
summer capital of the Raj, Shimla. This enraged the Maharaja and he
vowed to build a new and better summer capital for himself. He looked
around and after quite some time realized it had all the while been in
his possession. Chail, a little village close to Shimla, was a 'slice of
heaven' surrounded by lush forests with a commanding view of the
snow-capped Himalayas. He rebuilt the city according to his requirements
and built for himself a wonderful palace. Today this palace is run as a
hotel. In 1972, it was taken over by the Himachal Pradesh Development
Corporation and has since been a luxury resort combining nostalgia with
modern-day conveniences. It is an experience well worth it, particularly
on one's honeymoon.
TIME TO VISIT
Chail and its surrounding areas is a
delight for tourists in every season. It is charming in summer,
fascinating in autumn when the fields and the forests are covered with a
cloak of russet and gold and, of course, in winter it is nothing less
than paradise. Everything about this place is as perfect as perfection
can possibly be. The air here is crisp, invigorating and there is some
kind of warmth in the snow.
With the majestic snow-capped Shivalik peaks in the background
and the beautiful orchards and sylvan pine valleys around reminding one
of the many wonders of nature, Chail is sure to cast a spell.
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh developed the highest cricket field in the
world in Chail. Well-kept and scrupulously maintained, more than the
excitement of the game, the pitch offers a picturesque view of the
surroundings, with tall forest trees all around it. Chail has everything
that Shimla doesn't. The proud ruler made sure that Chail matched Shimla
in every respect.
Located on a spur, on a clear day, Chail offers a magnificent and
splendid view of the valley. It is an out-of-this-world experience to
look down and see the River Sutlej winding its way between the
mountains, overlooking at the same time both Kasauli and Shimla (45 km)
further via Kufri. It is an even more splendid view in the night, with
the distant lights of the surroundings creating its own magic pattern on
has to see to believe what poets and writers have been describing the
Himalayas as since time immemorial. One is awestruck to see the massive
Himalayan ranges, their snow-capped peaks spectacularly gleaming in the
sun. It is definitely an out-of-this-world sight and one can spend hours
and hours together, admiring the magic it creates in the mind. The snow
remains there until the beginning of the spring when the flowers come
out in full bloom. This is the time when the meadows are filled with
hyacinth and celandine, while the carmine and rhododendron trees are
surrounded by solemn forests of deodar and towering pine trees.
A must see in this place is the palace of the maharaja. Built on three
hills, the palace is on Rajgarh Hill, while the Residency Snow View,
which was occupied once upon a time by the British Resident, is on
Pandhewa Hill. On the third hill, Sabba Tibba, is the township of
Chail. The maharaja had planned this palace as a retreat, replete with
all necessary things he'd need for relaxation, and therefore, he built
hunting and fishing lodges, which are open to the public.
BY ROAD - Chail is about 86 km from
Kalka via Kandaghat (roughly 380 km from Delhi). The approach of Chail
is along the Kalka-Shimla route. One has to take a detour from Kandaghat.
From Kandaghat, it is an hour and a half's journey by road to Chail.
BY RAIL - The ideal way of covering the Kalka-Shimla track is by
the toy train. It takes five hours from Kalka to get to Kandaghat. These
five hours mark the beginning of this sojourn into the world of
make-belief. The toy train with a maximum of half a dozen bogies chugs
through the most thickly forested tracks, breathtaking bends, deep
ravines and never-ending tunnels.
BY AIR - There is always the option of flying to Shimla. This
flight operates only when the weather is favorable, but that will be
like fast forwarding a wonderful beginning and landing yourself in the
middle of a story.
WHERE TO STAY
Chail is a very small town on the
hills with barely five to six hotels. Chail's Mall is worth walking down
on. It has precisely twelve shops and half a dozen hotels on one single
stretch and that is the end of it. Commercialization seems to be still
knocking at Chail.
There are, however, various categories of accommodation to suit every
kind of pocket ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 6,000 per day during the
tourist season (which is primarily the summer months). Each type of
accommodation has a specific name. There are Maharaja suites, Maharani
suites, Rajgarh cottages, Woodrose cottages, Monal cottages, Himneel
cottages and log huts.
The log huts can be a fascinating experience for those who love to live
amidst nature. They are situated about a kilometer away from the main
building and overlook a valley. From within these huts one can watch the
clouds settle down on the valley, the lights shimmering at night and the
cold seeping right into your bones. One can also experience total
silence and quietude.