Fact File : Chail – Himachal Pradesh

It might not be one of the Top 10 Hill Stations in India as per mustseeindia, but Chail
has all the makings of a perfect holiday in the hills. And the icing on the cake is that it’s not as crowded as some of the top 10!

Chail is about 350km from Delhi and it takes about 8-10 hr to reach there. We spent a day there last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed the drive especially from Kandaghat to Chail.

We started from New Delhi and took the route via Panchkula and basically traveled on NH1 and NH22. New Delhi –Ambala (250km on NH1) then turn on to NH 22 for another 100Km of driving distance. We crossed Panchkula- Kalka- Dharampur- Solan bypass- Kandaghat – Sadhupull – Chail.

So, What is unique about Chail?

Chail has always stood for the ‘alternative’ and owes its very existence to an impulsive decision by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala to create an alternative capital; a challenge to the British dominated Shimla. There is a legend that the Maharaja was facing an exiled from Shimla 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. So the Maharaja decided to create his own summer capital.

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh is perhaps the most famous Maharaja of Patiala. Did you know-  that he was the first man in India to own an aircraft, which he bought from the United Kingdom in the first decade of the twentieth century. He was also the captain of the Indian cricket team that visited England.

Chail main attraction is the Cricket Ground that is the highest cricket ground in the world. Well, as the Captain of the Indian Cricket team the least the Maharaja could do was to have a Cricket pitch in this back yard!

On the premises of the Chail Palace lies ‘The Shimla View point’. On a clear day on can see all of Shimla, although we could imagine it across the clouds when we visited. This is another one of the Maharaja’s genius (almost egoistic ideas), to be on a hill higher than the British, and keep an eye on them- literally.

And the Military School is also very famous. I was surprised to know that the Chail Military School was established after the First World War in 1922, the school occupies the second largest area in Chail after the Palace, they say!

What to do in Chail?

Nothing. Well, I know it’s not as easy as it sounds. But Chail is the perfect places to do noting, maybe, look out your window to admire the beauty of the gigantic Deodar and Oak forests. The other option is to take a book or your iPod and get lost in deep thought. If you are with family/friends it is a good idea to carry some board games.

For the wildlife enthusiasts there is a Sanctuary that one can visit. The monkeys and languor will come visit you in any case. Trekking is another option.

Where to stay in Chail?

We stayed at the Chail Palace that was built in 1891 so we could experience the grand architecture created by the Maharaja. Himachal Tourism, now owner of the gracious mansion has set up nice resort to suit visitor’s needs and budget. The rooms range from 3 to 10k. There is an option to stay in side the main building of the palace that has a bar, dinning room, lounge and a children’s gaming arcade (a couple of video games). There are also cottages and log huts to choose from. Beautiful lawns and thick forests surround the palace. It is perfect for quiet walks on something known as a ‘lovers hill’. Enjoy the badminton courts, lawn tennis courts, billiards and even a children’s park.

The room we stayed in was within the Palace. It was a large room with a nice bathroom. The service here is not awesome, as it is a government run hotel and you may find the service slow, The décor could be better, especially since they have beautiful furniture, wall hangings and ornate mirrors to work with. We had a nice breakfast; the dining room and the bar has the old world charm that we enjoyed.

There are other options like the Lion Hotel or if you prefer camping, Camp sights like http://www.rootsoutdoor.com/ are also available.

After spending a great day in Chail we are off to Kasauli… see you there! 

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