Location: About 55 kms from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
Weather: Pleasant in summers and chilly in winters.
Places to See: Chail Palace, Cricket Ground, Military School, etc.
Best Time to Visit: All round the year; peak season from April to September
Chail is a quaint hill station, located about 55 kms from Shimla, in the Shivalik region of Himachal Pradesh, India. With an altitude of 2,250 meters, Chail is celebrated for being the former summer capital of the princely state of Patiala. It is spread on and over three hillocks, namely Rajgarh, Pandewa and Sadh Tiba, covering an area of 72 acres approx. Encircled by forests of pine and deodars, Chail offers picturesque views of the countryside.
Taking the historical account into consideration, Chail was founded by the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh, when he was barred from entering Shimla for eloping with the daughter of Lord Kitchner, the then Commander-in-Chief of the British Indian Army. He, then, vowed to build himself a new summer capital, better than Shimla. Until 1891, Chail was a sleepy small mountain village; however, its beauty and charm was no less than Shimla. The Chail Palace, Chail Cricket ground and Chail Military School, found here, are all testimonies of the erstwhile royal house of Patiala.
The climatic conditions in Chail are mostly favorable throughout the year. Yet, if you’re keen on looking for best time to visit Chail; it is summers (April to June). Summers are quite pleasant here with an average temperature around 20°C. During daytime, it is quite warm; though quite cold during nights and early mornings. Monsoon season here extends from July till September, receiving about 150mm of rainfall. Since chances of landslides are always high in hilly areas, it is best avoided during monsoons. Winters are quite cold here; the temperature shifts between -2°C and 10°C. So, it is usual to find snowfall during winters, generally in December and January.
The foremost tourist place in Chail is the well-known Chail Palace, built by the Maharaja of Patiala. Now owned by the Himachal Tourism, this Palace has been converted into a heritage hotel where you can experience the royalty and hospitality. Another great attraction is the cricket ground which is said to be the highest cricket ground in the world at an elevation of 2,250 meters. Surrounded by thick forests of deodar, this well-maintained ground was built in 1893 for the Maharaja who was a cricket enthusiast. At present, this is used as the school playground by Chail Military School. And during school vacations, it is used as a polo ground.
Rastriya Military School is renowned for being one of the five Military Schools of the country. Chail Sanctuary, with the cover area of about 10,854.36 hectares, is a beautiful place with amazing flora and fauna. It is popular among nature lovers and photographers. Gurudwara is also one of the main attractions of Chail given to the fact that it was the first building to be constructed by the Maharaja.
Chail is a great place to rewind and relax in the lap of Nature. It is a great bet for hikers and trekkers. One can indulge in a number of trekking trails from Chail to Shimla, Choor Peak, Kali Temple and other places. Angling is also a popular activity at Giri River, a few kilometers away from Chail. You can head towards Sadhupul which is a small village known for its river restaurant. Lovers’ point is another vantage point about 10kms from Sadhupul. Kali ka Tibba is a hill, known for its Kali Devi Temple. From here, one can enjoy amazing views of Choor Chandni and the Shivalik Range.
Accommodation – Hotels/Resorts in Chail
Chail is still far from the crowds of Shimla. The Palace Hotel, earlier the Chail Palace, is a beautiful heritage hotel which is the best option to stay and enjoy the royalty in Chail. Else, there are a few budget hotels and modest resorts which have basic facilities for a comfortable stay. Most of the hotels have in-house restaurants that serve Indian, Chinese and Continental dishes. Apart from them, there are few local eateries offering basic Indian meals in Lower Market.
How to Reach Chail
At a distance of 62 kms, Shimla Airport at Jabarhatti is the nearest airport to Chail. The second nearest airport is about 110 kms in Chandigarh. From there, you can board buses or hire taxis to reach Chail.
Kalka railway station is the nearest broad gauge railhead about 145 kms from Chail. It is connected via major trains from different cities. Once you reach here, Chail is accessible via NH5. You can hire taxis and opt for buses as per the convenience.
Chail is accessible through NH5 and Kandaghat-Chail-Kufri Road. If you going Chail via Kufri, it is about 55 kms and via Kandaghat, it is about 59 kms from Shimla. There are regular bus services for Chail available from Shimla (55 kms), Chandigarh (108 kms) and Delhi (337kms).