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Saturday, September 15, 2012

4 Days In Kasauli


 

The Shatabdi Express chugs in at  Kalka station exactly on the dot, and this sort of sets the  tone of the holiday , which is  –‘ this holiday will work’.  Kalka station is like any other station acting as a feeder point to a hill station – small, quaint and giving a tantalizing hint of the promised mountains. We hire a cab to Kasauli and settle back in our seats in  anticipation of the drive . Writing this  article, one can almost feel the movement of the sharp curves of the road, inhale the smell of the pine trees , feel the caress of  the fresh mountain air  and hear the distinct chirrup of the  hill birds….  

Just after Kalka is Parwanoo,  and this is where the drive gets interesting . The hills are full of flowering shrubs and trees  and a lazy yellow   merges with a burst of  sharp orange. At one point we are almost eyeball to eyeball with the passengers of the  hill train and the eye contanct is  broken only when the train disappears inside a tunnel.   

Further along the road is the town of Dharampur, which is in two parts.  One road turns off towards Kasauli and another towards the famous Lawrence School, Sanawar. Both roads meet below the school at Garkhal.  Another  road  climbs steeply uphill towards Dagshai. Dharampur  is famous because of  its many dhabas , most notable ( and most crowded ) being Giani da dhaba. The food is uniformly good, the crowd is also, almost uniformly , good but what is great, nee mesmerizing, is the speed with which the food is served.

Burping delicately we get back inside the cab for   the last leg of the journey , from Garkhal to Kasauli. Now,  beautiful old british style bungalows   come into view, some of them dating to the time of the Raj. The houses within the confines of the Army cantonment cannot be changed structurally, so most of them retain their quaint charm along with their quaint, old fashioned  names like Cloud 9, The Raj Villa, The Pine View ….

( A few days into Kasauli , and a few long walks , are  enough for us to see , and envy,  the beautiful  summer homes of  the Kasauli elite. We also chance upon  writer and journalist Khushwant Singh’s villa. Pretty exteriors, well manicured , lawns and long driveways are the common features of the summer residences.)

 
 
How did we spend time in  Kasauli  ? We went for long, lazy  walks, absorbed the atmosphere of the British built bungalows, took  in the panoramic views , steered clear of numerous monkeys and langurs, and ate amazingly thin and beautifully served crepes at a local café, Rudra. At  Rudra  we also heard a lot of Bob Marley . Evenings were spent at the rooftop restaurant of the hotel we were staying in. Picture this : a room with glass walls which offer a ringside view of the twinkling lights of Sanawar , the only light inside the room  is provided by the    paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling , Sanju, the inhouse  vocalist cum guitarist, who also happens to be a music teacher in the local school ,crooning hits of the seventies and eighties  and a ponytailed guy, who we discovered is the owner/partner of the hotel , giving moral support to the singer by slapping his right thigh  repeatedly with his right hand  in tune to the music.  ( Incase anyone out there is wondering why the right hand was in overdrive , let me explain. Simply put, his left  hand was holding his drink and so was incapacitated). Also, and this was the best part, a couple of good looking  local school teachers ,fetchingly dressed in shorts and jumpsuits , dancing in synchronization to ‘Dum Maro Dum…’ Will we go back to the rooftop restaurant ? yes, we will. The waiters were the best I have seen in a long time !

The Kasauli Model

One hears of planeloads of babus going to foreign lands to study  models which can be implemented back home .What needs to be done pronto , to save the hill stations in India , is to study the Kasauli model and implement it.  In all the days we were there we did not come across any litter. There are no pestering  touts / tourist guides badgering one at every step. There are no ice cream parlours, restaurants serving Mughlai and Chinese and continental. No restaurants means absolutey none.  Infact we hunted high and low for a bakery but drew a blank. The town retains its old world charm precisely because of the absence of all these factors. Kasauli has a strong army presence and much to thank the army for. The greenery here has survived only due to the presence of the Army .The discipline enforced by it is clearly evident. A case in point is the walk to Sunset Point- a place of tourist attraction. No  vehicles are allowed about a kilometre  or so before Sunset Point. At  ground zero there are no shops selling chips, no jhoolas, no ice cream vendors – absolutely nothing .Only the people and the setting Sun.

 The town  has two main roads, the Upper Mall and the Lower Mall. Both have bungalows and cottages along them .  Simla lights are visible on clear nights from the Lower Mall. The Upper Mall faces both Chandigarh and Simla and gets beautiful morning and afternoon sunshine. Like all cantonment towns, Kasauli  has an old bazaar . Here we  bought some asafoetida and rock salt   ( the only  bit of shopping we did )from a wizened old lady  who looked as old as methuselah  .If someone had told us she was a remnant  from the time  Kasauli had been built we would have swallowed it, so old did she look.

We heard from the locals that there are two annual  social  events  in Kasauli. The first  is in the last week of June and is called Kasauli Week.  During this week a lot of parties and socials are organized by the Army and  by  the Kasauli Club.  A dance party is held at the Kasauli Club as the grand finale. The second event is during the Founders celebrations of Sanawar  held in the first week of October when parents and Old Sanawarians swamp  the town.

File Fact  :

 Kasauli is located at a height of 1927 metres  and is  an army cantonment  town established by the British in 1842. It is located in Solan district in Himachal Pradesh, about 77 km from Shimla.

 History

According to mythology, Kasauli came into existence after Lord Hanuman placed his feet here in order to get the Sanjeevani  herb. It is  also believed that the Rajputs of Rewari took refuge in the jungles of Kausal village during 17th century

Best time to visit

Kasauli can be visited any time of the year. However, April to November is the best time to visit.

Climate
Kasauli has a moderate climate. Winter temperature is approximately 2 degrees celsius, with Summer temperatures rarely exceeding 32 degrees celsius.




Places of Interest
Central Research Institute
The CRI works as a Collaborating Centre’ of the World Health Organization, and as an immuno-biological laboratory producing vaccines for measles and polio and the DTP  group of vaccines.

The Parsonage

This  was built in 1850 for priests of the Anglican church.

Kasauli Brewery

The Kasauli Brewery and distillery, founded in the 1820s before the establishment of the Kasauli cantonment, is the oldest extant distillery for 'scotch whisky' in Asia.The brewery is also known as Mohan Meakins.

Kasauli Club

The Kasauli Club was established by the British  in 1880 as an accessible summer retreat. It is currently located within Indian Army premises and managed by a regular Indian Army Officer as 'Club Secretary', aided by civilian staff. Typical of hill architecture, the Club is constructed chiefly of wood.

Schools

Kasauli is synonymous with the Lawrence School , Sanawar . British official Henry Lawrence, who founded the Lawrence School at Sanawar, was one of the earliest inhabitants of the town. The cottage built by Lawrence still stands on the ridge. Other educational institutions,  in or near Kasauli , are the  Pinegrove School, St Mary’s Convent School   and the school at Kasauli's K.V. Air Force Station.





Christ Church and Baptist Church are amazing examples of classical Gothic style of architecture. Christ Church has beautiful stained glass windows, a common feature of churches built by the British during colonial area.


Flora and Fauna


Surrounded by dense forests, Kasuali is home to several species of Himalayan flora and fauna including endangered ones. Babblers, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Striated Prinias and Jungle Owlet can be spotted in Kasauli. Summer is the best time to visit Kasauli to watch the birds in the natural habitat.


.Where to stay


In Kasauli  most of the  resorts are located at the top of the hill. These  offer a  panoramic view of the surrounding areas. Budget hotels are located near the foot of the hill. There is a Himachal Pradesh tourist hotel ( very lost and forlorn ) and a few private ones (Alasia Hotel , Kasauli Resorts, Kasauli Regency , Baikunth Resorts etc), but the best place to stay in  is The Kasauli Club. It is a members-only club but visitors can get temporary membership for a few days and use the club facilities. One can also check out the few cottages which take in guests.


 


 




10 comments:

  1. Went to Kasauli many years ago( in 2006 i guess)...and loved it.....i agree with you , Kasuali is lovely and different coz of all the development not taking place!!


    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in/

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    1. hi sushmita - great you dropped by :)

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  2. Lovely write-up :) No matter how much days you spend in Kasauli, one will always want to go back to this beautiful hill town. To best enjoy in this town, stay st some of the best hotels in Kasauli and have a memorable trip.

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  3. Yeah. this is most beautiful place. I like to visit every weekend over there. i mostly visit AAA hotel in kasauli.

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  5. Your post is really inspiring for me, because honestly, I am a newbie to the blogger scene and I have just started my blog a couple of days ago. I really like the picture as well:) I hope I won’t give up!

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  6. What was the name of the hotel you stayed at?

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