Chail

Chail reminds one of the deodars, the oak forests and lush grasslands. This former capital of Maharaja of Patiala, is 45 km from Shimla towards Kufri. In 1891, Maharaja

Bhupinder Singh of Patiala incurred the wrath of Lord Kitchener for flirting with his daughter, the then Commander-in-Chief. As a result, he was banned entry into Shimla, the summer capital of colonial India. This enraged the Maharaja and he vowed to build a new and better summer capital for himself that would rival Shimla. He selected the little village of Chail. It was surrounded by magnificent deodar forests, Shimla was in direct vision and Chail at 2226 meter was somewhat higher than the British Shimla.

A site was selected and the Maharaja began building his summer palace. Local legend has it that the moment anything was built, it would collapse overnight. Snakes would appear from nowhere and attack the laborers. Then the Maharaja had a dream. A sage appeared and declared that the site the Maharaja had chosen was where he was buried and his peace should not be disturbed. Bhupinder Singh moved to another site and at the original spot he had a temple built to the sage. The shrine is known as the Sidh Baba Ka Mandir.

The original palace was devastated in a fire, and the palace was shifted to a new building in 1951. This has now been converted into a premium resort and is run by the Himachal Tourism and can be experienced by everyone. The Palace hotel recently got a face lift and now offers all modern facilities. With comfortable log huts and cottages, dense forests and serene walks, sprawling lawns, a children’s park, a `lovers hill’, and sports facilities, The Palace is a resort in the real sense of the term. The Palace hotel carries an entry fee for the non residents.

Chail overlooks the Sutlej Valley with it’s massive Himalayan ranges, spectacularly gleaming in the sun and snow-covered. Shimla and Kasauli are also visible at night. Chail has also the highest cricket ground which also doubles as a Polo ground in the world. (2444.4 m) Well kept and well maintained the ground is surrounded by huge trees of deodar and pine.

Today, Chail is famous for it’s wildlife. Forests around Chail are protected and covered under a wild life sanctuary. One is sure to spot a Sambar, Goral, Kakkar, Sambhar, Red jungle fowl, and Cheer pheasant at Jhaja and Blossom. While trekking from Chail to Jhaja and Gaura one can spot the Barking deer and Kalijin in the forests. The sanctuary forest is maintained by the local forest officials and one has to seek permission before venturing into the forests. There are Machan-like sighting posts near Blossom at Khariun and Roda Tibba. Fishing is possible on the Gaura river 29 km from Chail. All in all, Chail is a paradise for nature and wild life lovers.

Getting There

By Air – – Airport at Shimla is the nearest. One can drive up to Chail, a distance of 68 km. Shimla airport is at a distance of 23 km from the city. The total journey time will be 2 hours from the airport. Cabs are readily available at the airport.

By Train – – Probably the best option to travel to Chail / Shimla. One must always take the train option if not rushing into the hills. Trains from Kalka, the last broad gauge station on this track, run on the narrow gauge track. Kandaghat is the station to get down and take a cab further for the remaining 20 km journey to Chail.

By Road – – Chail is well connected by road. One travels on the NH22 from Chandigarh / Kalka towards Shimla. This is a two lane highway. Stations in between are Parwanoo, Dharampur, Solan. At Kandaghat leave the highway and take a right turn towards Chail. If coming from Shimla, take the road to Kufri and there is a diversion to Chail from the Kufri bazaar.

Distances

Delhi to Chail via Kandaghat – 336 km, Chandigarh to Chail – 86 km, Kalka to Chail – 56 km, Kandaghat to Chail – 20 km, Shimla to Chail – 45 km

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