So I have written about the law a lot, of late. Because it has been on my mind a lot.
This blog is not strictly about anything though, and today’s post is about a place called Chail, where I went this weekend.
Firstly, the place is marvelously beautiful, and if my photos and words don’t do justice to it, it’s probably my fault.
Secondly, I lack that knack of making my most mundane actions sound interesting to the world. So I will keep this post short.
Chail is a hill station located in Himachal Pradesh, India. We got to it from Delhi, by taking the Kalka Shatabdi express. The Shatabdi is my favorite train because..well mostly because they simply do not stop feeding you, and when you try to get off the train they insist on you taking all the food with you.(This is not to be confused with the Jan-Shatabdi, where they feed you squat.)
The Kalka Shatabdi takes you to Kalka, but we got off at Chandigarh. From there we took a Taxi to Chail. We had the pleasure of being driven by a gentleman named Happy, who while he did not have the sunny disposition his name suggests, could drive really well.
A tip for others who would wish to go to Chail, make sure you reach before the sun sets.The distance between Chail and Chandigarh is 120 km (approx) and it took us three hours. A part of the road (last 20 kilometers) is a single road, and it runs through the sanctuary. In the dark this can really give you the willies.
We stayed at the Chail Palace, which is now run by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation. When I heard that the place we would stay at was called the Palace, I thought what a terrible idea it was to name your hotel a Palace, since you are creating expectations that are very hard to meet.
Turns out this Palace was a literal ‘Palace’. It was built by the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala in 1891 and looks quite regal. The hotel has been maintained well, though it is extremely touristy, with several families coming to see the gardens and to eat at their restaurant the ‘Kings Dining’.
The woods around the hotel are beautiful and rather quiet. There are trails that one can climb down, though in the monsoons the ground can be a bit slippery. A little way away from the hotel is a hillock called the lover’s hill. Why it is named so, I don’t understand, given that the plateau at the top of the hill is full of obstacle-course components such as tyres, nets,and wooden plank ensembles. But as they say, love is a mysterious thing.
The Kali Ka Tibba is another famous location, near Chail. It is a Kali temple located on a hilltop. The drive is a bit steep, and I would advise people to only go with experienced drivers. The temple, whose picture I have given, is a white paint and marble affair and looks extremely bright.
While I am not particularly interested in temples, this place commands a brilliant view of Chail and all the places surrounding it, and is a place worth visiting. If you have time, you might try hiking up the hill.
Much to our surprise the Sadhuji at the temple was a Bengali gentleman. It was a strange feeling to be talking in Bengali with a sadhu many many miles away from West Bengal.Later we found out that all most all the Sadhus from that region have come from Bengal. How true this information is, I do not know. Some of my more enterprising readers can verify it.
I hope some of you visit Chail after reading this. I would also love you hear from you about your hill experiences.
I remember reading Ruskin Bond as a child, and his imagery stuck with me even before I actually saw the Himalayas. Now every time I see them afresh I want to return to them. I remember reading in one of Mr Bond’s books:
“It is said that if the smell of the Himalayas creeps into a man’s blood, he will return to the hills again and again, and will strive to live amongst them always”
A truer thing has not been said.