Planned, postponed planned unplanned, series of yes and no, extension of leave from office, were the foundation of this much awaited and prescribed 3 days trip which was taken under consideration after a 2 day search and brief research on internet by 3 of us. Three school friends’, one swift and a short get away from day to day stress and strains of work affairs. The plan was clear that there was no plan. At times u enjoy the journey more than the destination and this break was chosen for this sole purpose
A less visited, idyllic, tiny hamlet hidden in the woods of pines and oaks, around 350 km from the kiln, called Delhi. Located in himachal Pradesh, Chail boasts of the rich flora, world’s highest cricket stadium and polo ground. In 1891, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala incurred the rage of Lord Kitchener. It led to the restriction of his entry in the Indian summer capital, Shimla. This incensed the Maharaja and he vowed to build a new summer retreat for himself.
Himachal is the fruit boulevard of India. You will find many orchards in himachal and while on the way you will find a lot of pickle, jam, juices and wine shops esp. at solan. Fresh Green apples could be purchased from this place at a good price. This would be the only shopping your wife would do while going to chail.
The route was pretty simple and straight and within no time we left behind the madding crowd, skyscrapers and smoky troposphere of the cities driving at an altitude of 2000mtr above sea level amongst the dense pine forest. The oxygen rich stratosphere was a tonic to the smoke filled lungs and our deliberate effort was to fill a lung full of it.
The roads were narrow with huge mountains on one side and deep dugout and grassy farmlands on other. The mountains were tall, vast and dead silent as if they are hiding many secrets within them. They were the witness of the harsh climate and survivor of the human attempts to make a new road. They are standing here silently since ages observing people come and go.
Step farming technique studied way back in class 2nd was brushed up here. After many crisscrosses, blind wild turns narrow roads with signs of landslides we reached to a place called sadhupul. We broke out in cold sweat while steering down to sadhupul. A narrow muddy road, almost lost the significance of bitumen due to heavy rain. Tyres skidding could easily be heard while small pebbles were rolling beneath them. This is the place where you can implement best of your driving skills in your own way and you will feel as if you have crossed the hurdles of an off road rally. A small hamlet with a narrow river and cots on both the sides meant for camping and picnic. You can have a night stay in camps for INR 500 per person but it is recommendable not to stay here with family because I doubt about the safety and security. Stepped down the car. The first whiff was more than enough to brush off the fatigue of driving 300 kilometers without a halt. We took half an hour break for breakfast. Food at this place was not very good but the site and waft was more than enough to forget the quality of food. Generally the tables and chairs are fixed in between the river as water is not very deep but the flow of water was on a higher side at this time of the year so they had arranged the seating on the side of the river. The junglee in me was active and took me to the mid of the river. The cold Himalayan water of river “ashwini” was as refreshing as a cucumber placed on tired, burning eyes. After a short break at sadhupul we moved to chail.
A small township with limited tourists and less population. Majority of the people are dependent on tourism and have shops there. Unlike the life of metros their life is slower and peaceful. They generally reside in house located in between the mountains surrounded by greenery from all around. Apparently it is an oasis of adventure for ghumakkars like us who face stress and pressure of a routine life and office affairs. Unlike other hill stations it is a small town without a mall road and less commercialization. It had a small market with very little variety of items. It would not be a place of choice for those who love to spend on shopping. As you enter the town you have to pay toll and he will guide you to hotel and can even get you a good deal. Most of the land is covered with temperate conifers and grasslands under forest reserve. The snow leaves the place at the beginning of springs and the flowers pop out in full bloom. This is the time when meadows are full of hyacinth and celandine, while the carmine and rhododendron trees are surrounded by forests of deodar and pine trees.
Hotels of all budgets could be found and august being off season for tourism in chail is the right time to bag good deals. We booked ourselves in Kailash hotel, in the middle of chail market. A small bag packer sort of hotel which was a house converted to hotel. The owner is a decent man with high values of hospitality. The services were quiet ok and in fact we were not in Chail to enjoy the luxury of a hotel. The hospitality was good and tariff was INR 1500 for an accommodation of 3 people. A classical room with a big window with netting that gives you the view of the forest reserve. People who go there with family, looking for a more safe accommodation and luxury can book themselves in chail palace as well with tariff starting right from INR 2000 – INR 17000.
The hills were dead silent with occasional laughter and cries of ancestors of the HOMO SAPIENS. These brave hearts have made tall and fragile pine and deodar trees their play grounds. They dare to walk on high tension electric wires and water pipes at a height good enough to claim your life, if you lose your balance. They generally reside in abandoned homes, towering trees and earn their living by robbing from homes and climbing tall trees eating seeds and fruits. They were the sole owners of these lands encroached by humans. Their voices might be a welcome to us and an agreement to live peacefully with them or they might be planning a revolution against us or maybe they have an attitude that they don’t care. Hills grow quieter as you glide down the day. Sky turns darker as sun takes your leave. You keep filling your lungs with the fresh air just to make sure that serene natural air reaches even to the last ruptured alveoli of your smoke and pollution damaged lungs. The mist is the best treat that you can give to your eyes next to actually snowing. We could not witness snowing as august is not the right time for it but mist descended down suddenly. It gives an elegant view at night with the distant lights of the surroundings creating its own magic pattern on the horizon. Day 1 ended with lots of gossips and away from the daily office reports, excel sheets, budget sheets, targets and routine call from boss. A few old songs of rafi and ghazals of jagjit singh made the environment all the more soothing and light. We were so tired by the end of the day that we comforted ourselves in our cozy bed and skidded off to the dream world. Provision of bonfire and pool table is also there in some of the hotels so one can look for hotel accordingly if you are fond of it. The guy at the entry toll can guide you in that case and help you out with a good deal.
Sitting on your bed in a cozy woolen blanket looking out of the window watching conifers and grasslands with occasional sips of tea and trying to identify different birds with their sounds hidden in the dense forest was the beginning of day 2. The early august air was fresh and clear. The first ray of sun welcomes you with warmth and gradually a bunch of rays takes you in arms. As the saying says new day come with a new beginning we started the day with spirituality. Mother Nature with her caress, woke me up 2 hours earlier than my alarm does. I was awake to witness the zephyr of chail at 5 30. People generally get up early in mountains as the days are short.
Steered to the kali ka tibba which is a temple approx. 5kms uphill with narrow and deserted road. The drive became more challenging while climbing from sunset point to kali ka tibba. It is a temple with utmost peace and divine aura. This temple is dependent entirely on solar energy for its electricity needs. We spent approx. 1 hr. admiring the architecture of the temple and on the way back spent some time at sunset point.
Nearly all hill stations have a place where you can spend some time with your loved one. Couples go there to admire the beauty of the nature and compare the beauty of nature to the beauty of their relation and take a vow to be with each other at all good and bad times. Do not forget to get clicked there with your loved one.
The most beautiful place in chail was yet to be visited and we reached the palace by 5 o clock in the evening. The entry ticket of the palace was INR 100 for non-residents. The palace was beautiful and witnessed the ancient architecture but the most beautiful place was lover’s lane. It’s the best place to propose your girl and undoubtedly the best place to tell your woman that you still love her after 50 yrs. of marriage. The place conspires to make that special moment even more special with your, someone special. As soon as you open up your heart with her, it feels as if the dense mist all around you has descended down and Mother Nature has hidden you both in her arms giving you ultimate protection from the harsh world. You are totally tranquilized. You feel like spending a life time on that lane in the lap of nature with mist around you and tall conifers as your guards standing silently witnessing many love stories. We were spell bound by the aura of the place. By 7 o clock we realized that it was almost dark. Mist had descended down to the ground and covered the grass. It was time to return to the hotel.
There is a wildlife sanctuary at chail which we could not explore due to lack of time.
I would have brought back the hues, beauty, mountains and everything from chail if I could but I came back with two mineral bottle and 6 beer bottles which were empty. Folks deep down imbedded in our heart and soul is a Sanskrit shloka ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ but some of us have torn the moral fabric woven in our heart. Kindly don’t leave your leftovers and garbage when you visit such heavenly place.
With heavy heart we packed our bags back home. On the way back mild to heavy rainfall was following us. I was sad that I was leaving this beautiful place but I don’t know why the sky burst into tears while we were going back. Still a mystery.