Breath clean air and relax in lap of nature

Hill Station
I had been planning to visit Kasauli for a long. So one September night I decided to check out this quiet hill station in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan district. I took an early morning train to Kalka the next day. From here I boarded a toy train to a small station called Dharampur, which is at an elevation of around 1500 meters from sea level. One can feel the effect of cool mountain air here. From here I got into a bus for Kasauli. The bus, which was, bit smaller than the ones one sees in the plain was full of students from some local college - going back to their villages.

The ride was part bumpy, part smooth and part scary when on sharp hair-bend turns the driver continued at the same speed with ‘Bhangra Pop’ blaring from the creaky bus ‘stereo’.I knew Kasauli was nearing when the bus began groaning while negotiating steep winding roads. Then suddenly it stopped at a small bus stop. I got down and began my search for a reasonably priced-yet-good hotel. It was unlike other hill stations where one could spot hotels everywhere. This military town has escaped the ‘touristification’, thanks to the army. Traffic is regularised, with no vehicles allowed into the small market, which still has a cobbled path. The two main roads the little hill station has been called the Lower Mall and the Upper Mall. It’s just the name, no rows of shops here. Just half a dozen or so makeshift shops run by Tibetans selling jackets, woolens, T-shirts and other usual stuff one finds at such markets everywhere.

There were few picnickers sipping tea and coffee, as monkeys walked by or jumped from branch to branch on trees around, at a biggish grocery store-cum-restaurant, which had a lot of space in front of it for the visitors to sit.

After trying a couple of hotels I knew names of I finally settled for a guesthouse situated at the end of the road near old Kasauli overlooking the valley below. The owner proudly told me that when the sky is clear I could see Chandigarh from the terrace!

Around 5 PM Kasauli was enveloped by the monsoon mist. It was pretty beautiful sight watching mist trapped in pine trees. I rested for sometime before I got out again and just walked on the roads checking them out where did they lead. I resisted going full hog because it was getting dark and I was not sure where I would end up.

At night I did some journaling, watched some masala flicks on cable TV and finally fell asleep around midnight.

I got up around 6.30 am and went out to see how Kasauli looks in the morning. The sky was clear so I could get some views, which I could not in the evening. There was a chill in the air but it was soft and sweet.

After taking a hot bath, I decided to check out the Upper Mall, which, as my hotel manager claimed, provides the best views. It is on this road that all the important buildings are situated. This road has the highest elevation in Kasauli, gives you the best views on both sides. My ultimate destination was ‘Monkey Point’, which is a temple on another mountain. I was advised to take this road as far as Gilbert’s Trail (a nature walk) and then take a left turn from near a Litter Box. When the hotel manager told me about this box, I thought he was talking about some Letter Box because he said it was of old-style and one certainly did not think of Litter Box being there. When I saw many of them I realized he meant Litter Box. And, what Litter Boxes! A beautiful small hut type box, which did not at all, looked like it contained garbage. It is on the Upper Mall road that grand old man of letters Khuswant Singh has his summer hideaway. No wonder every summer he runs away from the scorching heat of Delhi to indulge in some serious writing.

After I reached the signboard of Gilbert’s Trail, I took left turn and the short path connected me to the Lower Mall road. From here turn right takes one to the gate of Air Force Station. One has to collect pass go up to the Monkey Point as it is under the Air Force control. If you have a camera and mobile phones, you will have to leave them behind before you enter the Air Force Station. A 20-minute walk will take you to the Monkey Point. A small temple dedicated to Hanumanji (Monkey God) is situated there. Also, you can view snow-capped mountains from here if the sky is clear.

If you are going by car, then you will have to take the Lower Mall road. But the best way is to walk taking the Upper Mall road and then joining the Lower Mall road. While coming back, walk on the Lower Mall road to see the other side. The rest of the day I spent relaxing in my room and contemplated about past, present, and future. In the evening I walked down to Mashobra (Different from the one near Shimla) where some mela and dangal (Fair and Wrestling) was taking place.

It was finally time to get back to the real world. I reached Dharampur railway station to catch the afternoon toy train coming from Shimla. 

How to Reach: You can drive to Kasauli via Chandigarh and Kalka. Other option is to train. Kalka is well connected to Delhi and other cities.

Where to Stay: Kasauli has a limited choice of hotels. It attracts a lot of tourists on Weekends, so it is advisable to book in advance.

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