Chail was built after Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of the princely state of Patiala, a handsome ladies’ man, was banned from Shimla for life by the British, for making overtures to an Englishwoman. The lady in question was Commander-in-Chief Lord Kitchener’s daughter, hence the collective moral affront.

Chail is popular in the summer, but for the rest of the year, one can enjoy the place as the royals left it and revel in the surviving cedar tree cover, endogamous forest and wildlife in the countryside.

Gireesh GV
Road through a cedar forest in Chail
Road through a cedar forest in Chail

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Chail does not have a Mall, just a huddle of shops. Come here for leisurely walks in summer and autumn, fun in the powder snow in winters. Spread over three hills – Pandhawa, Rajgarh and Siddh Tibba – Chail is ideal for picnics and short treks.

A Matter of Faith

There are three popluar places of worship in Chail. Gurudwara Sahib, built in 1907, attracts devotees from far and wide. Located around a kilometre above Chail’s bazaar, on Pandhawa Hill, it is a small building with a tiny courtyard.

Siddh-Baba-ka-Mandir, situated on the hill sandwiched by Rajgarh and Pandhawa lies in the army cantonment area. The third temple is the Kali-ka-Tibba, located atop a hill from where you can see the Choor Chandni Peak and the Shivalik Range.

Born to be Wild

Stretching from the Krishna River to Giriganga is a small wildlife sanctuary, which includes roughly 200 small villages besides the wild langur, leopards, bear, hogs, deer goats and wild pheasant (including the endangered kaleej).

For angling, head for the Giriganga River (29 km from Chail on the Gaura Road) – but be prepared for small catch only.

Walk the Walk

Chail is all about walking in pairs, with sticks and hands otherwise empty – that is, if you wish to avoid the marauding monkeys, who are not averse to attacking walkers. Treks to Shimla and Kandaghat take you along village short cuts, whereas the trek to Choor Chandni requires a two-day march to the base camp at Hamirpurghat (roughly 80 km from Gaura via Rajgarh).

Gireesh G.v
The Palace at Chail
The Palace at Chail

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

The most regal place to stay in Chail is HPTDC’s The Palace (Tel: 01792-248141-43; Tariff: 2,400-17,000). The hotel has one dining room, a bar called Silver Bangle and a café on the lawns. Himneel Hotel (Telefax: 248141-43; Tariff: 2,400), in The Palace Annexe, is also run by HPTDC.

Jungle Livinn (Cell: 098160-48798; Tariff: 5,500, with meals) and Tarika’s Jungal Retreat (Tel: 248684; Tariff: 8,600-45,000, with meals) are good resorts on Chail’s outskirts. Hotel Deventure (Cell: 09816222555; 09416392122; Tariff: 1,500-3,000), has great views of the Shivalik Range.

Most hotels offer Indianised versions of Continental and Chinese dishes, besides the regular Mughlai and Himachali fare.

When to go All year round Location This wooded royal retreat sits at a height of 7,054 ft, 84 km from Kalka ir Nearest airport: Chandigarh Rail Nearest rail: Kalka