Kasauli for Serenity in Himanchal Pradesh

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Recently, I was absolutely confident that I needed to take my ‘wandering shoes’ out of Delhi for some fresh breeze but I wasn’t really sure to where. My idea was to spend some time in peace keeping at bay from the swarming tourist destinations. I was being accompanied by one of my friend (let’s call him ‘G’) and we had lot of discussion and disagreements as to the destination.

Finally, I had to surrender to G’s choice and we backpacked for a short weekend trip to Kasauli in Himanchal Pradesh. We commenced our journey on Friday night via train, changed two buses in morning to reach the renowned hill station. Initially, when we had decided to head to Kasauli, I was a bit disappointed as I didn’t expect the peace I urged for due to its proximity to ‘Queen of Hills’ (Shimla). However, by the end of the voyage, all my pre-conceived expectations were completely shattered by this serene hill station.

We reached this cantonment town at around 7.30 am in the morning. The pine trees spread across the town were still covered by the morning dew. The roads were absolutely mute as if vehicles never existed in this town. The fresh morning breeze gently landed again and again on my face leaving me refreshed and contended to the core. This small hill town had excelled beyond my expectations and completely took my heart with its natural quietude and elegance.

We immediately started the search for some suitable accommodation but none was available within our financial reach. The weekend had surged the prices enormously and secondly it was early morning and most of guest had not checked out yet. We rambled aimlessly around the city, inquiring every hotel, querying the locals but nothing seemed to materialize until one local guided us to a homestay on one extreme end of the town.

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The Green City Dwellings

The Green City Dwellings

Although the location was little far away from the main town area but it was all worth it. The windows of the room opened to the spectacular view of Chandigarh, Kalka and nearby hills. We had already trekked a lot up and down the hill town by now and were completely exhausted. The soothing silence that prevailed in our room slowly healed all the exhaustion. It was so quiet and calm that I could listen the tickling of my wrist watch when I closed my eyes and lied on the bed. The only sound I could hear in my room was of us talking otherwise, the whole neighborhood was tranquil like heaven.

We got fresh, took some rest, had delicious home cooked parathas and set out for strolling across the hill town. Our morning rambling helped us to acclimatize with the changed weather enabling us to stroll without losing our breath. As we moved towards the main market (also known as ‘Heritage Market’), I could see some movement across the streets. The shopkeepers were starting to roll out their shops displaying the vivid itineraries from woolens to antique looking chimes.

Heritage Market of Kasauli

Heritage Market of Kasauli

I candidly laid my eyes on the itineraries and then moved forward as I was travelling on a strict budget. Soon we were in front of the Kasauli’s oldest church – The Christ Church. This is oldest church and its foundation was laid around 170 years back by      Dr. Daniel Wilson in 1844, the Bishop of Calcutta. Its gothic styled architecture to which   many additions were made at regular intervals was an absolute winner of everybody’s heart. The Church stands in middle of town and is open tourist all days. It is not dazzling like many similar ones in Europe but its charm lies in its simplicity. The fading grey colors of its walls and never-stopping tower clock are witness of its long presence. Being in center of the town, it always has admirers who would relentlessly pose in every corners of this old Church. Like others, we also added to its list of admirers and posed for few profile pics.

Christ Church- Oldest Church of Kasauli

Christ Church- Oldest Church of Kasauli

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From there, we marched towards the Upper Mall Road. The upper mall road takes you in the interior of the famous Centre of Research Institute and further connects you to cantonment area which occupies the major portion of Kasauli. While I rambled on the mall, I was frequently encountered by boards displaying the words – “Private Property, Do not Trespass”. Surprisingly, this small town is hub of private estates and summer retreats of elite class. We spotted these private estates in abundance in the area which belonged to the retired army generals and famous personalities such as the veteran writer Khushwant Singh. Such lavish estate amid lap of beautiful serene mountain ranges made me envy their owners every time I passed them.

View of the Kasauli city &TV Tower

View of the Kasauli city &TV Tower

We moved further on the road and came across the lovely Kasauli Club. This club set up in 1880 is the oldest one in town. In 2001, it was burnt to ashes in an accident and it took many years to renovate it completely. However, like many pleasant things in Kasauli, entry to this famous club was also restricted. The guards even didn’t let us stand in its vicinity. Although, I liked the overall ambience of the surrounding but the frequent “Private Property” boards and such guards tend to spoil all the fun. The most dismaying part is that all good places in the town is either a ‘private property’ or under the army regime. But, there was nothing I could do to change that.

Kasauli Club

Kasauli Club

I rambled further on the mall road until I came across the board showing way to ‘Gilbert Trail’. The rough track seemed to snake unendingly deeper into the mountains flanked by the streak of tall pine trees on one side.  It was engulfed with mixed colors of dry grain colored pine leaf and other green leafs. We decided to take this off beaten path only to discover that it was not so ‘off beat’. We met several youngsters and secluded couples on our way.

Lovers Point

Lovers Point

The trail ended on a stone bench placed on the cliff tucked with mesmerizing view of Kasauli and nearby mountain range. The mountains covered with thick green flora and clusters of white dots (those were dwelling) scattered all across it made a perfect end to this short trail. There was heavenly peace and calmness in the air which hardcore city dwellers like me dearly hunt for in such trips. I sat on the stone bench facing the wide horizon in front of me with an empty mind. I stopped all my thought process and engaged myself with the charm of what lied in front of me. It was so comforting and relaxing experience that I find no words to match it. I and G spent some time in silence without talking and it was really a comforting and soothing experience.  Later on I discovered that it’s the famous ‘Lover’s Point’ of Kasauli which aptly justifies the reason for spotting some secluded lovers on our way.

One of the many private villas of town- this one belonged to Retired Major General

One of the many private villas of town- this one belonged to Retired Major General

The sun was on the brim to bid goodbye for the day when we decided to move back to our accommodation. When we came back, the market was teeming with tourists in all directions. The momos joints were attracting dumpling lovers by its steamy mild aroma and we too could not stop ourselves. We spent some more time in the market and then returned back to our room. The view from our window had changed by now. Now we could see numerous tiny lights glittering from the ‘City Beautiful (Chandigarh)’ which made the view even more impressive than day time.

Chandigarh view from my room

Chandigarh view from my room

Silent Roads leading to Manki Point

Silent Roads leading to Manki Point

The next morning, we checked out and trekked through the lower mall road for paying   visit to the famous temple at ‘Monkey Point’. The lower mall road houses more ‘private property’ boards than the upper mall and it continued to envy me as earlier. As we progressed further, I didn’t find a single monkey (I expected a lot considering the name) until I came across the board showing the way to ‘Manki Point’. Everything made sense now. We candidly trekked 4 kilometers watching the alps, trees, lavish private estates with long alleys until we reached the Air Force Base. The ‘Manki Point’ on which the Lord Hanuman temple is located inside the Air Force Base and no electronic gadgets are allowed inside the base. The climb to the temple is steep but the uninterrupted view from the top is worth all the exercise.

 

Kaushal Mathpal
Kaushal Mathpal is an Advocate practicing in Delhi Courts in India but also has a flair for travelling. When he's not in a courtroom, he enjoys exploring various parts of India and the surrounding region. He also writes on his blog http://rediscoveryourdreams.wordpress.com/ and you can follow him on Twitter @KaushalMathpal.
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