Fatehveer Singh Guram, Travel@The Hush Post: Chail was Maharaja Bhupinder Singh’s answer to the British Shimla. But how it happened is even more interesting. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, the ruler of the princely state of Patiala, was banished from Shimla by the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, Lord Kitchener. The charge on the Maharaja was of making flirtatious overtures to the daughter of the Commander. Enraged, the Maharaja vowed to build a summer capital for himself and built a palace on the land gifted to him by the British, as a result of the former’s assistance to the latter in the Anglo-Nepalese Wars. Thus, the sleepy village of Chail was transformed into a royal residence.
Located in Himachal Pradesh, Chail is surrounded by dense forests of deodar and pine. Forming a part of the Golden Triangle of Shimla, Kufri and Chail, the town was built by the Maharaja with an aim to rival the beauty of Shimla. While in Chail, visitors can experience the charm offered by Shimla while being able to escape the mad rush of the summer capital.
Situated at a height of 2,250 metres, the town experiences a pleasant weather in the summers and becomes cold in the winters. The area around Chail also boasts of abundant wildlife as the virgin forests around the town are still relatively untouched.
Places to Visit:
Chail is a major tourist destination and also boasts the highest cricket ground in the world. While there are a few popular places of worship in the town, the wildlife parks and walkways also provide one a chance to reconnect with nature and rejuvenate one’s soul.
Built in 1893, the Chail Cricket Ground is the highest cricket ground in the world. Now serving as the school ground of the Chail Military School, it was built by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, who was an avid cricket lover. It now serves multiple purposes, as it is used to play a wide variety of games like polo, football, basketball and cricket.
Built in 1891, the Chail Palace is spread over an area of 75 acres. After independence, the Palace was given to the government, which converted it into a luxury hotel. The classic furniture and historic interior remind visitors of a historic era.
Spread over nearly 27,000 acres, the Chail Sanctuary was notified in 1976. Sighting posts have been built in the Sanctuary, from where one can spot various Himalayan birds and animals like Himalayan goral, kakar, sambhar and leopards.
The gurudwara in Chail is over 100 years old, and was built in 1907. It is built in the shape of a church and was the first building to be built after the construction of the Palace. It also offers free accommodation to visitors in dormitories.
Kali Ka Tibba:
Also known as Kali Temple, it is located at the top of a hill and offers breathtaking views of the Shiwalik Range. Activities such as horse riding and angling also take place at the temple.
Siddh Baba Ka Mandir:
This temple, dedicated to Siddh Baba, has an interesting story behind it. According to legend, the Baba visited Maharaja Bhupinder Singh in a dream and told him of the place where he meditated. The Maharaja consequently ordered the construction of the temple at the site told to him by the Baba.
A perfect hangout spot, the lake restaurant situated on the river bed is popular among tourists who love to enjoy hot servings of magi while relishing the cool mountain breeze.
How to Reach:
The nearest railway station is in Kandaghat, which is 30 kilometres away.
The nearest airport to Chail is in Shimla, at a distance of 62 kilometres.
Chail is well connected to cities like Shimla, which is 55 kilometres away and Chandigarh, which is 107 kilometres away. The distance between Delhi and Chail is 336 kilometres.
Time to Visit:
During the summers, Chail is frequented by people who are looking for a quiet getaway in the serene hills of Himachal, away from the burning heat of the plains. The best time to visit in the summer is from March to June.
During the winters, Chail experiences snowfall and tourists throng the hill station to enjoy fresh snowfall. The best time to visit in winters is from December to February.