Himachal Pradesh is the land of hill stations. The very term “hill station” was first coined to describe beautiful and strategic spots in Himachal Pradesh by the British Army, who set up small installations in these places to manage the flow of pubic and private visitors. Today, there are so many scenic towns and mountainside hamlets in Himachal Pradesh that one can go almost anywhere in any direction, and be surrounded by natural beauty.
Visitors and vacationers, however, need more than just natural beauty for a safe and enjoyable trip. They need a basic level of infrastructure and creature comforts that is still sadly lacking in many places in Himachal Pradesh, especially in the interiors. Even popular hill stations such as Shimla are overrun by tourists and lack proper facilities for world-class events. However, there are some hidden gems in Himachal that you can target if you want the best of both worlds.
The best hill station in Himachal Pradesh
If you want to explore Himachal Pradesh and are looking for a good base from where to do it, there are many hill stations vying for that title. However, most of them are already overburdened and at breaking point. Even if you get a good hotel room at these hill stations, your experience is likely to be more akin to a city stay than a natural retreat.
To get an exemplary and representative experience, you should target some lesser-known hill stations that are well developed in their own right. One such place is Chail, which developed not because of the British but despite them. This hill station was made and developed by the Maharaja of Patiala in defiance of the British and thus has a different vibe to it. It is also a lesser-known destination, making it ideal for those wishing to avoid the madding crowd.
Chail is so off the beaten path and away from the madding crowd that most people don’t now about it. It is close to Shimla and offers the same amazing views and lush forests that exist in Shimla but with a fraction of the tourists. Unlike other hill stations, Chail has Indian-looking monuments and buildings that are a welcome change from colonial reminders.
Best places to visit around Chail
A trip to Chail can be much more peaceful and restorative than other hill stations but in case you want some excitement and to explore the region, there is so much to do around Chail that you can spend a month here and not get bored. Lets take a look at some of the most famous and important attractions in and around this quaint destination:
Chail Palace: Perhaps the central and most important structure in the city, the Chail palace is also called the Maharaja’s Palace and was one the summer home of the government of Patiala. The lavish building is a museum today with authentic artifacts and impressive architecture. This is an experience that you won’t get at other hill stations in Himachal Pradesh.
Chail Cricket Ground: One of the most famous fixtures of Chail, the Chail Cricket Ground has been described as the “Highest Cricket Ground in the World.” Besides this title, the ground has a very scenic background and is used for ceremonies, festivals and sporting events.
Chail Wildlife Sanctuary: Many people come to Chail only because of its lush green forests and the many creatures who dwell there. From small boar and deer to large cats and beautiful birds, the protected forests of Chail are a great place to spot wild animals during your vacation. There is even a special place in the sanctuary that is reserved for birds and popular with birdwatchers.
Sadhupul Bridge: Perhaps the most famous landmark of Chail, Sadhupul is a vital bridge around which a colorful community has sprung up. There are small Dhabbas, tourist shops and places to picnic here that are worth checking out. If you want to meet the locals and socialize with other travellers, this is the place to go to.
Best Place to stay in Chail
One of the best resorts to stay in Chail is the Tarika Resort and Spa. This is a fashionable and modern resort that offers some interesting architecture including Domed Cottages for the best views of nature. These cottages have a completely transparent front, giving guests spectacular views of the jungles and forests of Chail while staying indoors in the warmth and comfort of their cottages.
Besides their innovative Glass Domes, the resort also has an able spa that provides authentic Ayurveda and western treatments designed to refresh and rejuvenate. The spa has an extensive menu if massages, scrubs, wraps, healing classes and more to keep you engaged in the mornings. Overall, this is the ideal resort to stay in Chail for an offbeat trip to the best hill station in Himachal Pradesh.