Himanshu & I have never planned a single trip beforehand, we both enjoy spontaneity and the quirky surprise element involved before leaving for a destination. Never the less, a little research on where and how is essentially covered always. A basic heads up on the weather, helps a great deal while packing. So we are left with nothing but to wake up on time in a few hours to hit the highway.
Will you agree, if I say that nothing goes in accordance to your pre-planning, be it waking up to the alarm after a tired night of packing and havoc. And if you have a child under two, she will make sure that she follows her mid night routine and specially stay up for an extra hour. But determination always gets you through.
Delhi to Chail
So this is it, from a 4 am to 7 am is not much delay and we are all set to go. We exit Delhi by 8 am. We stopped at Mc Donalds across zhimil Dhaba near Karnal, and picked up some burgers and hash browns, from their breakfast menu. Off the highway, behind Mc.Donalds is the Karni Lake that also has boating facilities. We took NH1 from delhi for the first half of the trip and flowed into NH22 later on until Kandaghat. The roads are smooth between Delhi and Chandigarh. The Punjab traffic police is really strict so stick to the seat belts and traffic signals until you take the bypass from Chandigarh.
We reached Chail in 7 hours with few tea breaks here and there. Chail has a perfect reflection of Himachal beauty and you can experience it while driving through the beautiful valley of Kandaghat.
The tranquility makes it perfect for a holiday and against everything loud in your city. We stayed at Hotel Oakwood, located at the main Chail road. The hotel has comfortable rooms backed with good services and a very helpful staff. They serve only vegetarian food which is totally fresh and delicious.
In the evening we took a half a kilometres walk to the local market which had very little traffic. We picked up few Fresh vegetables and spoke to local people looking for a meal outlet. We chose to eat out in search of local food but there aren’t many options. We could sight only two restaurants and both serve basic popular food. The market has specific items of utility for sale and limited to daily requirements only.
The flowing clouds over the streets, amused the kids and delighted their experience too. The city sleeps early and shops close down by eight in the evening. The hill station gets colder by evening. We came back to our hotel pretty early finished our food by ten and planned to visit the Chail Palace, Sadhupul, the Chail cricket stadium and a Temple next day.
The next day was equally beautiful, the dense pine, deodar and oak trees carpet the hilly slopes beautifully, and you might want to stop at places to click few pictures, and of course for a cup of tea from a dhaba. We started with the Temple and drove ahead to the military school. Chail is not only famous for its peaceful abode but also for the highest cricket ground situated here. This although is closed for any public viewing. We further drove to the Chail palace and walked down the Palace property and its garden, open for tourists.
The Palace has rooms available for rent and restaurants for residents only. If you fancy your stay here, you would have to book your room in advance. So there wasn’t much to do for us, and we moved on to Sadhupul. This is a stretch of fresh water from the hill river Ashwini, flowing through Chail, which is very shallow and attractive enough to dip in for some fun.
This place is accordingly commercialised with few things only, you can include vegetable Maggi and chilled beer also some soft drinks.
Apt for nature lovers, this is a less popular hill station with a lot to offer. Inspite of being a small and less visited hill station, Chail has few good hotels that offer basic amenities ranging from free wifi, guest parking, on site restaurants, a 24 hour front desk, free toiletries and slippers towards a comfortable stay.
Chail to Kufri:
Leaving Chail behind was a sad bye bye until we drove through the dense forest reaching the wildlife sanctuary at Kufri, here you can grab a sight at Himalayan black bear, barking deer, jackals and if lucky then you might sight the Himalayan panther too.
Take a 20 minute horse ride to the hill top at Kufri, and enjoy the scenic beauty while you can treat yourself to some more Maggi and omelette. There’s a Yak ride too, but I was too scared of the big furry mammal so dropped it. You can take a look at the snow capped Himalayan peaks from here. Kufri is much celebrated as it is one of the first few hills to receive snow on the onset of winters.
Kufri to Shimla:
Kufri to Shimla is a passage blessed with natural beauty, apart from the pine and oak wood trees, the colourful hues of maple trees will welcome you with a bundle of monkeys on the road side, expecting some nuts from the visitors. We took a lot of pictures while driving through this route and it further connects to the Ambala-Shimla highway.
Crowning the trip, Shimla starts to bling from a distance, spreading out in a huge area over the hill. The crowd welcomes you to this favourite summer destination but the pay back is rewarding, as I went shopping at the Mall Road and sipped my coffee outside the church, while the kids found some open space to stretch out and even play.
Picked food from Shere Punjab at the Mall Road who claimed to be one of the first, only had a lot of chilli in the food to offer apart from taste. We packed some breads and packed food for the next day and drove back to our hotel at Chail which is about 2 hours from Shimla. Next day we started early for Delhi and headed straight to the Ambala-Shimla highway calling off the holiday. Foodies have a lot of options even during the drive down, the Punjab style Chole kulche made like a bun with a pocket full of chick peas filling is located at small distances, until Solan.
It was a small trip with loads of adventure, fun and good times spent together. And nothing seems wrong specially if you are travelling with your favourite people.