June 2008
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Chail in Himachal Pradesh

Altitude: 2,250m
Best Time To Visit: May-July & September – November

Chail is a beautiful hill station 43 km from Shimla, spread over 3 hills. Chail was developed as a sort of rebuff to the British, and was probably one of the few hill stations that were not developed by the British. It was developed as the summer capital of the erstwhile Patiala Maharajah, who built a grand palace here since the British did not grant him permission to do so in Shimla.
Chail was essentially a sleepy little mountain village set in a beautiful locale till the 19th century. Originally, it was a part of Keonthal State. Then it came under the sway of the Gorkha warrior Amar Singh. Finally it became a royal resort and summer seat of Maharaja of Patiala. More detail: It was captured by the British and then handed over to the Maharajah of Patiala after a few years; its transformation began in 1893, when the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala decided to create a new summer capital which would be ‘better’ than Shimla; all this for a bruised ego, after he was banished from Shimla for eloping with Lord Kitchner’s daughter. Lord Kitchner just happened to be the Commander-in-Chief of the British Indian Army at that time.
The present Chail is spread over an area of 72 acres on three adjacent hills – the Rajgarh Hill where the Palace is built, the Pandava Hill where the old Residency ‘Snow View’ is located and where the British Resident lived, and finally the Siddh Tibba, where the temple of Baba Sidhnath is located at a height of 2226 ft. Chail, with its stunning landscapes, rolling hills, lovely gardens, fast moving rivers and the magnificent mountains, is the perfect holiday destination. It also has the highest cricket ground in the world.
Surrounded by thick deodar forest, it is a must for people interested in hiking and trekking, especially in places that are somewhat pristine and less touched by tourists. The drive to Chail is a spectacular one, winding its way over the slopes of Kandaghat, past green conifer forests and pretty orchards. On one side is the towering snow-capped Himalayas, and on the other side is the Sutlej valley, with the lights of Shimla and Kasauli visible at night. 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.
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.
Chail is a very small town on the hills with barely five to six hotels. Chail’s Mall is small and a big contrast to Shimla, which can seem very crowded during the tourist season. 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 and is some distance away.

Places to see in Chail:

– Chail Sanctuary, covering an area of 110 sq kms, and notified in 1976 as a protected area, it is home to many animals and birds. It is also known for its Chir Pheasant breeding farm. You can get a glimpse of animals and birds like Sambar, Goral, Common Langur, Leopard, Rhesus Macaque, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Deer, Silver-White Oak, Barking Deer, Indian Hare, Yellow Throated Marten, Indian Porcupine, Common Giant and Kashmiri Flying Squirrel and Pheasants. The Chir Pheasants breeding and rehabilitation Programme was introduced here.
– The Chail Palace is located atop the Rajgarh Hill and was built by Raja Bhupinder Singh who was banished from Shimla. This beautiful mansion is now converted into a heritage hotel, and offers the best rooms to stay in Chail.
– Sidh Baba ka Mandir is built on Sadh Tiba, the original site of the palace chosen by the Maharajah. However, he stopped construction of the palace there as he was visited by the Baba in a dream who told him to build a temple instead.
– Visit the famous Cricket ground, encompassed by Deodhar trees and located at an altitude of 2,144 mts. It also doubles up as a polo ground. Also visit the village of Sadhupal, 14kms from here for a nice picnic.
– Maharaja’S Palace: The magnificent Rajgarh palace, with elaborate furnishings, built in 1891. With comfortable log huts and cottages, dense forests and serene walks, sprawling lawns, a childrens park, a `lovers hill’, and sports facilities, Chail is a resort in the real sense of the term.
– Sadhupul: Halfway between Kandaghat and Chail is the tiny village of Sadhupul, along with the bridge over the Ashwani stream, it is a popular picnic spot.
– Kufri: An enjoyable drive through beautiful forests and small villages takes one to the small but popular hill station of Kufri. Its main attractions are the Himalayan Nature Park, and the exciting trek and horse rides that leads to the divine Mahasu peak.

Things to do:
– Chail is a hiker’s paradise. The area is very peaceful, seemingly very far away from the hustle and bustle of Shimla.
– There are quite a few high-altitude trekking routes for trekkers: Kandaghat-Chail, Chail-Rajgarh and Chur Chandini and Chail-Shimla via Junga.
– The more adventurous can go angling at Gaura or take one of the trek routes
– During winters, skiing is possible at Narkanda.

How to get there:
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’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.
By Air :- The nearest airport to Chail is at Chandigarh, located around 120 kms away from the hill town of Chail.

Places to stay in Chail:

1. Jungle Livinn
2. Chail Palace (Heritage Hotel): Built in 1891, it is spread over 75 acres of land. It appears endless with vast stretches of land neatly manicured along cobbled pathways.
3. Log Huts: 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.
4. Hotel Grand Sunset: Hotel Grand Sunset Chail is located 3 kms from chail on highway connecting Chandigarh to Chail.
5. Rashi Resort: Nestled in the thick pine forests (total of 13 rooms)
6. Tarikas Jungle Retreat (link)
7. Hotel Monal
8. Hotel Ekant
9. Hotel Lions Chail (link) – Ph: 91-1792-248990/91
10. Hotel Oakwood (Near bus stand), Ph: 91-1792-248315, 248040

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