Hindi, Himachali, Garhwali, English
Best time to visit
May-July and September-November
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.
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.
Best 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 the horizon.
One 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.
How To Reach
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.