Summers are for road trips. In the beginning, the bright sunshine of spring and early summer are a welcome sight but when the sun begins to beat down without respite or mercy, one looks for every opportunity to hop into an air-conditioned car or bus and head for the hills. If you live in Chandigarh, one of the best places to escape to is Chail in Himachal Pradesh.
Only about 3 hours away, Chail is a peaceful and quiet place that is ideal for a road trip with friends, family or that special someone. The road to Chail is quite good and is dotted with interesting eateries and scenic sojourns. It is an easy road to take for a quick weekend getaway or weeklong retreat that will change your perspective and elevate your mood.
On the way to Chail
The journey, they say, is more important than the destination. So instead of treating the road trip as a hassle that has to be completed as quickly as possible, relish this opportunity to be in the great outdoors. With a curious mind and the proper snacks and beverages, it can be loads of fun with unexpected rewards.
The journey to Chail has two main parts: the highway up to Kandaghat and the hill road up to Chail. The biggest stop in between is Kandaghat, where one veers off highway 22 and goes the last 30 Kms up to the final destination. It is advisable to break your journey here and pause before you start the second leg of your journey.
Kandaghat is a small town with a train station, bus stop and a few markets and places to eat. In many ways, it is a kind of base camp for Chail and usually a good place to stop, congregate and top up on supplies before the final climb.
In Kandaghat, there is an interesting temple called Karol Mandir, which is said to have been made by the Pandavas during their Banvas or forest wandering. The temple is dedicated to lord Krishna and is small but houses a mysterious tunnel network of unknown origin and purpose that also appears to be quite old.
The second leg of the journey is decidedly prettier and affords several opportunities to veer off the trodden path to rest up, picnic and admire the unique geography of these parts. The road here is mountainous so drive slow as you acclimatize yourself to the pristine and peaceful summer oasis that exists here.
The first thing one should do when you reach Chail is head for its main market. Unlike other hill stations, the smaller Chail does not have a Mall Road but does have a central market that is good for picking up rudimentary supplies and getting oriented with the local mood.
The most famous products available here are the many jams, jellies, preserves and squashes that are made from locally grown fresh ingredients. You can also buy some interesting fruit wines and concentrates to relish during your stay here or take back home with you.
For the avid and seasoned shopper, the Chail Market offers hand made custom designed leather shoes, solid wood utensils and lacquered woven baskets that are immensely useful and utilitarian. With luck, one can also pick up the odd genuine colonial artifact or antique collectable that will be the proud centerpiece of a mantle or coffee table.
Where to Stay
One of the best resorts in Chail is the Tarika Resort and Spa. With an activity area, pool, spa and spacious rooms, this resort is the perfect place to camp out as you discover the many places of interest in and around the area. The resort is well run and has interesting architecture with special accommodations for groups including interconnected cottages and “Domed Cottages.”
For a quick 2-day road trip, this resort offers an efficient and professional experience that gels well with the themes of adventure, exploration and discovery. Upon request, the Tarika Resort also organizes excursion and activities to areas in and around the resort town.
Places of Interest
Once you are rested and oriented, you can begin to explore Chail and its Myriad of mysteries. Overall, there are three main types of places one can visit depending on your interest. For nature lovers, there is an open border wildlife sanctuary that can be explored via drives, treks and conducted tours. There are also many places that are popular for their views and lush surroundings.
For the history buff, there is the Chail Palace, built in 1891 and the colonial era cricket ground, deemed the highest cricket ground in the world. There are also other remnants of the Raj here including some beautiful residences and official buildings built in an amalgamation of British Indian and Persian styles.
For the spiritual traveller, there are two interesting places of worship that should be included in any tour of the town. One is the Chail Gurudwara, built way back in 1907. It was built by the king in royal style and is worth experiencing. The other is the famous Kali Ka Tibba Temple. This is an ancient temple that has been beautifully restored and remodeled. It is perched atop a high hill with excellent vantage points and a plunge pool for devotees. The idol in the temple is said to be at least 1400 years old.
Besides these popular designations, there are many other places to that are worth discovering and venturing into. For the intrepid adventurer, there is much to be discovered and unearthed in this small and tenacious hamlet that holds its own against the much larger hill stations in the area. For the seasoned traveler, Chail is a town that never disappoints.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q 1. How many days are enough for Chail to Chandigarh trip?
Ans. Although there is enough to do in Chail for a weeklong trip, you can cover most of the most famous sights in 2-3 days.
Q 2. How much is the distance from Chandigarh to Chail?
Ans. The distance from Chandigarh to Chail is about 110 Kms, which can be covered in 3 hours.
Q 3. What are the best places to visit in Chail?
Ans. The best places to visit in Chail include: The Chail Palace, Cricket Ground, Kali Ka Tibba Temple, Chail Main Market and the Chail Gurudwara.
Q 4. Where to stay in Chail while taking a trip from Chandigarh?
Ans. The best place to stay in Chail is the Tarika Resort and Spa in Chail. This is a strategically located and comfortable resort with interesting architecture, excellent group accommodations and great food.