State: Himachal Pradesh
Distance: 287 km N of Delhi
When to go: All year round. Even summer is pleasantly cool
Tourist Offices: HPTDC, Kasauli
STD code: 01792
Air: Nearest airport: Chandigarh (60 km/ 2 hrs).
Rail: Nearest railhead: Kalka (34 km/11/2 hrs)
Road: Delhi NH1 to Ambala via Panipat, Karnal and Pipli; NH22 to Dharampur via Panchkula, Pinjore and Kalka; state road to Kasauli. The climb up to Kasauli from Dharampur is along a narrow hill road
Kasauli has been the well-kept secret of a few Dilliwallas who are jealously possessive of their Himachali beauty and regularly repair to this paradise in the Shivaliks for rejuvenation. Kasauliwallas, even more protective of their town, have set up a Society for Protection of Kasauli that has indeed succeeded – thus far – in keeping at bay the hideous over-development that has ruined other hill stations. A hill paradise, for there are few destinations that are as close to home, and as soothing.
Kasauli’s very existence has to do with the soothing of fevered brows. The town was developed as a conval-escence centre for the adjoining cantonment of Sabathu. And just as tranquil Kasauli helped many a soldier find his fighting form again all those years ago, the same invigorating climes today enable tired urbanites to head back to their offices refreshed after a weekend of divine relaxation.
Strolling down quiet country lanes lined with aged chestnut trees, with not a sound to be heard save for the sweet chattering of birds, Kasauli will help you rid your mind of its clutter and your body of its lassitude.
Things to see and do
Good news – there is practically nothing to do in Kasauli. If you do, however, want to get some exercise, drag yourself out of your comfy deckchair and trudge up the surrounding hills. Kasauli’s bracing, crisp air offers comfortable walks. You could also stroll through the town, from the Lower Mall to the Upper Mall, and around the Sanatorium. Viewpoints have been marked at different points, offering vistas of the always-popular Himalayan peaks in the distance.
Walks and Vistas
Follow the Upper Mall and wander up to Monkey Point near the Air Force base. The 4-km hike to the Shri Baba Balak Nath Temple on the top is a bit stiff, so take it easy if you are out of practice. People praying for offspring visit this shrine. Even if you don’t have such intentions, you can enjoy the splendid panoramas from this vantage point, worth the effort. Across the forested hills and deep ravines is the sleepy town of Dagshai. On a clear day, you can catch the sparkle of the River Sutlej as it curves along the plains in the far distance, views of the snow-clad Dhauladhar Range and in the northeast, the Choor Chandni Peak.
Birdwatching and Picnics
The charm of a leisurely picnic in virgin woodlands is yours to enjoy here. Binoculars and bird books are essential accompaniments, if you want to stalk humming-birds and flycatchers, minivets and magpies, among others. You might even get lucky and spot a deer or hyena loping through the undergrowth. The townsfolk say there are leopards too, but sightings are rare.
Where to stay and eat
Among the hotels right in town, Alasia (Tel: 01792-272008; Tariff: INR 4,000-6,000; www.alasiahotel.co.in) is the Grand Old Lady of Kasauli. Hotel Grand Maurice (Tel: 272074, Cell: 09736911304; Tariff: INR 3,000-5,500) was built a little after Alasia and dates to 1862. Enjoy the Raj-era feel of HPTDC’s Hotel Ros Common (Tel: 272005; Tariff: INR 2,500-3,700; hptdc.co.in), housed in a former Colonial bungalow. R Maidens (Tel: 272128; Tariff: INR 1,425-3,550; hotelrmaidenskasauli.com) is affordable and has a restaurant.
The popular Kasauli Resort (Tel: 273651-54; Tariff: INR INR 5,850-8,550; www.hotelkasauliresort.com) offers a restaurant, a TV lounge, table tennis and billiards. Baikunth Resorts (Cell: 09857166230; Tariff: INR 8,000-9,500; www.baikunth.com), about 7 km from Kasauli, has aesthetically designed cottages with balconies.
To ride the ropeway (return fare: INR 770 per adult; INR 650 per child, daily) break journey at the Timber Trail Resort (Tel: 01792-232340-43; Tariff: INR 4,000-6,000; www.timbertrail.in) on the highway at Parwanoo, and ride up to the Timber Trail Heights resort (Tel: 232340-43; Tariff: INR 5,500-14,000; www.timbertrail.in). Both places have a restaurant and bar.
There are a clutch of budget hotels near the bus stop and on the way to the Upper Mall, including the reasonably priced Anchal Hotel (Tel: 272701; Tariff: INR 800-2,500; www.anchalhotelkasauli.com) and Gian Hotel (Tel: 272244; Tariff: INR 800-1,400).
Eating options in Kasauli are largely limited to the restaurants in the hotels. Alasia’s restaurant has traditionally been the best choice for meals, especially Continental. Ros Common has pleasant garden seating. Baikunth Restaurant has excellent food and allows walk-ins.
The little stall-market near the cine-ma hall is a great place for bun-samosa and chai. Dharampur’s Giani da Dhaba (Tel: 01792-264066) is an old favourite for mutton curry and tandoori fare.
Dagshai (16 km)
The pretty hill village of Dagshai still has a lost-in-time feel. Even today, just a few visitors wend their way across the forested ravines as well as hills from Kasauli. We strongly recommend doing so, as Dagshai offers a walk into the past down old cobble-stoned streets lined with charming Colonial bungalows.