Chail, a tiny wooded hill town, took birth out of an insult. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala had allegedly tried to elope with the British Viceroy’s daughter. Following this, he was barred from entering Shimla. Outraged by this, Bhupinder Singh decided to build his own summer retreat and that too at a higher altitude than Shimla. So, he built Chail at an altitude of 7,054 feet. Unlike other popular hill stations of Himachal Pradesh, Chail is devoid of any English elements like mall road, clubs, etc. In Chail, you can go for forest trails, climb up to hilltop temples or just enjoy the solace. So, Chail is one of the preferred travel destinations in Himachal Pradesh for the people who want a change from Shimla.
Attractions in Chail
To remind you of its royal past, Chail has only one monument – Chail Palace. This palace is now a heritage hotel run by HPTDC. It is said that the palace used to be lavish and the royals would live an indulgent life here. But today, you would find it hard to believe, given the inefficient management. As much as the exteriors are impressive, the interiors have turned shabby due to lack of proper maintenance. To make up for the loss, you have beautiful surroundings. The palace is part of a 75 acre estate which covers gardens, orchards and wooded hills.
Chail Wildlife Sanctuary
Chail Sanctuary is one of those sanctuaries of India where humans and wildlife co-exist. The 109 sq km area of the sanctuary is dotted by many hamlets. The fauna here is varied; the prominent animals are deer, ghoral and jungle fowl. The deodar forests of the sanctuary offer necessary shade for trail-seekers. If you are keen on animal sightings, you’ve got to wake up before day-break and take your position. The road to the famous temple called ‘Kali ka Tibba’ cuts through this sanctuary.
Kali ka Tibba
Kali ka Tibba is a temple situated on the top of a hill. To reach there, you need to walk 6 km from the Chail Bazaar. On a clear day, you can get a glimpse of the Choor Chandni Peak from here. A marle-and-cement structure houses the shrine of Goddess Kali.
The cricket pitch here is said to be the highest in the world. The Maharaja of Patiala had built these ground in 1893. While the highest cricket pitch in the world sounds exciting, the site is pretty dull. Go there only if you are out for a ramble, a special visit isn’t a great idea. Visitors aren’t allowed inside the gates, so if some match is on, you can watch it from outside. The site is owned by the Indian Army.
Sidh Baba ka Mandir
It is said that Maharaja Bhupinder Singh had chosen the highest hill in the area to build his palace, because he wanted to look down on Shimla. But he couldn’t execute his plan, as an ascetic claimed the ownership of the place. So, the king settled down for the second-highest hill. The temple ‘Sidh Baba ka Mandir’ is dedicated to that ascetic. It is near the cricket ground and is part of the army cantonment.
This gurudwara, built in the early 19th century, is revered by the Sikh community. It receives the pilgrims from the states of the North India. The building of the Gurudwara is small and yellow-coloured and is situated 1 km above the bazaar.
This is a beautiful picnic spot, 16 km from Chail on the road to Kandaghat. It is a bank of a stream, and the name of the place has been derived from a nearby bridge. Some innovative eatery owners have placed tables and chairs on the stream to offer a unique experience to the tourists.