A starry hilly adventure

Vinaya Patil
Saturday, 8 July 2017

The small hill station in Himachal Pradesh, 50 km from Chandigarh, Kasauli offers an amazing retreat from city life and lets you soak in its
natural beauty

If peaceful sunsets, winding roads and a sky full of stars are your thing, then Kasauli is the place to be. Located in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, this tiny hill station is a mere 50 km from the beautiful city of Chandigarh and yet miles away from city life and deafening noises.

If there’s any sound here, it is that of some birds you have probably never seen before, of the rustling leaves and of the pleasant wind. Around 300 km from Delhi, Kasauli is named after a flower called Kasool.
While the ones travelling to the North from other parts of the country must include it in their itineraries, others living in and around Delhi can do a weekend trip to the hills, similar to the one we took — four girls in a hired car.

That said, starting for the trip at 4.30 pm from Delhi wasn’t a great idea in terms of safety, but it ended up being convenient in terms of traffic.

We had crossed the city crowd well before peak traffic , also gaining the advantage of clearer roads beyond city limits since people get home earlier in the rural regions.

The road to Kasauli that goes across Haryana, is any driver’s delight. My friend and I took complete advantage of them and covered a large distance before 10 pm. The stretch from Delhi to Chandigarh is lined with enough and more dhabas and restaurants for your snacks and meal halts. We took one too and reached Chandigarh for dinner.

After a filling and amazing Punjabi dinner, we had a big decision to make — whether to do the last 50 km to Kasauli at 10.30 pm or halt in Chandigarh and start in the morning. The over-enthusiastic Mumbai girls that we are, we decided to do it. And were soon enough rewarded for our bravery. A few miles into Himachal Pradesh and 12 km before Kasauli, we stopped the car for a break. My driving hands, used to city driving, felt sore and tired on the hills. But what we saw on alighting the car is a scene we could never capture in our cameras but is etched in our memories forever — a sky full of stars is an understatement. We could not see the sky behind the thick blanket of stars, is a better description.

We stood there for a good 10 minutes in the December cold, and gazed without a word spoken.

Kasauli, the next morning, only delighted us further. The sunrise and the morning that followed was a beautiful sight, providing a great start to the day that saw us strolling through the quaint town. Among the many little delights that Kasauli offers, are a few churches, a monastery and a mandir that requires you to climb a few hundred steps.

But what takes the cake is simply walking through the beautiful landscape of the town, eating momos, hot parathas and sipping tea on the benches installed across the town. The Gilbert hill is famous among hikers. There is also a small Indian Air Force station in town which thus has a typical cantonment feel to it, adding to the discipline and beauty of it.

What you will find on your trail are artistic colonial style houses and the warm and welcoming locals of Kasauli. Most of these bungalows are surrounded by well-kept gardens and pretty tiled pathways leading to entrances. It is a sight to behold for us city-dwellers and a photographer’s delight.

While any time of the year is a good time to visit this town, the rainy season offers the best view and weather. A good idea would also be to escape to this place in the otherwise hot Indian summers, while winters are for the more adventurous ones like us!

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