People usually have bachelor parties before getting hitched…but me being me, things have to be different…so a month before my wedding, I went for a bachelor’s trip! And to a destination that is usually a honeymooner’s paradise! Kasauli! My last trip before my wedding and last trip with buddy…but considering the beauty of this place, I will stick to the trip as everything about the place was just fabulous!
My niece had been recently packed off to a boarding in Kasauli & in her summer break my sister & I decided to surprise her…we packed our bags and boarded the Delhi Kalka Shatabdi. Airlines give you magazines to pass time while our good Shatabdis stuff you with food, food and more food! In a span of 4 hrs…the only thing consistent was the yelling of the bachha party in our coach and the constant stuffing…first welcome drink, then tea, then breakfast and all this while didi & I discussed everything from the pests in her office to my wedding trousseau to her worries about what hostel life would have done to her innocent kid…she kept talking her heart out while I saw Tare Zamin Pe reloaded! And so, gorging and talking, we reached Kalka….within 4 hours we were away from the heat and dust of Delhi to the lush green, cold & hilly Kalka…and buddy who waited at Kalka to take us to Kasauli said this was just the trailer…the scene was to get more magnificent as we drive uphill to Kasauli!
We were still enroute Kasauli, and the route itself took my heart away! Every now and then, the toy train route gave us a hit and miss…as if playing hide and seek. It was the first time I had seen a toy train & suggested lets take the train instead to Kasauli…however, I was told that toy train would take double the time than the car so the choice was open…considering the fact I had been eating all the while & abstained from using the Oh so clean Shatabdi loos, I preferred the quicker option!
Going round and round and up and up, we saw some amazing houses of Army personnel who have settled there post retirement. Kasauli, with its laidback life is a post retirement haven! I also saw the famous train tunnel built by the British. At a height of 5,900 ft, Kasauli was established in 1842 by the British colonial rulers as a hill station. No wonder, the British have the taste for the good things in life! As the TV tower on the hill came close, we knew we were there! The place has such a colonial feel to it, with its British architecture. We reached the Army mess and quickly refreshed ourselves. After all, my niece was desperately waiting to be picked up & any delay would meet her ire!
In less than an hour, we were at Pinegrove school, Dharampur…a place surrounded by the fragrance of Pine trees, that’s why the name PineGrove…my niece least expecting me, jumped in excitement and hugged me! It was my 1st visit to a boarding school & it was fun exploring the dorms, playground, all so well planned in such a hilly terrain…all this while, my niece kept flaunting me to her friends & teachers…also telling everyone that I was getting married in a month! Kids…phew!
Back to our mess, we gorged on whatever the buffet offered and decided to take a nap so that we can walk to the mall in evening…walking is the preferred mode out there as that’s the only way you can relish the beauty of that place. We took a leisurely walk to the mall road in evening…the Tibetan market is a must visit and offer some really cool tees & hats. There are small tea shops with wooden benches where people are seen chit chatting in the evening over a cup of chai. On our way back, we also spotted the Baptist Church, built in 1923. Made of wood and brick in true colonial style, it takes you back in time. Back to the mess, tired and hungry, a quick dinner & we dozed off.
An early start for me next morning as I took buddy’s amazing fauji binoculars and explored everything from the nearby window to the road on the hill far away. Would have loved to spend more time with the binoculars but we had to leave for Monkey Point.
Monkey Point, the highest point in Kasauli is also a high security area and one has to furnish identity proof at the checkpoint. Unfortunately, I have no pics to show you a camera and mobiles are not allowed in premises. The place takes your breath away, literally! I had never been on a trek before so my lungs were in pain & it almost seemed they would come out of my mouth! My niece and I felt like ponies being dragged to the top and every 100 steps meant a 10 min break to catch our breath! But once on the top, the hardwork was worth it! Monkey point offers breathtaking view of Chandigarh. There is an Airforce helipad & a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. It is believed that when Lord Hanuman was returning with Sanjivni herb, his foot touched the hill which gives the top of the hill a foot shape. We re-energized ourselves with the Prasad at temple & maggi at the local eatery. Niece & I prayed to Lord Hanuman to enable us to fly the way back as we were fatigued by the climb uphill. But Lord gave us strength and the way down was much easier.
Kasauli, being a honeymoon destination has its sunset point, sunrise point & the lover’s point. But I feel that in a place like Kasauli, there is a lover’s point everywhere where you can hold hands and enjoy the love and fragrance in the air!
We also visited a haunted house! A property of the Army now, its wooden flooring and the basement refreshed all my memories of horror movies I have ever seen & niece & I insisted we get out.
Also caught a glimpse of the house of Rahul Bose from a distance but my wish to meet Ruskin Bond remained unfulfilled. “Better luck next time”, I said to myself.
When your host is a fauji posted at Kasauli, the best deal you can get is access to the Kasauli club. With its wooden bar, royal dining hall, and the colonial décor, the place is perfect for evening get together and we saw many club members and faujis enjoying their drinks discussing everything from politics to golf!
I bid adeau to Kasauli next morning & promised my host I would be back for a romantic getaway post my wedding!
Next on our itenary was a stopover at Timbertrail, Parvanoo. Surrounded by beautiful Shivalik hills, a cable car connects 2 hills. The cable car experience is an experience beyond words. The thought of a cable car hanging on a rope initially scared niece & I, but assured by the staff, we finally got on the car. I was reminded of old hindi movies songs shot on cable cars as we approached the adjacent hill. On the other side is the timber trail resort. Cable cars don’t run after sunset, so usually people take a night halt in the resort & return next morning. But we had to catch our evening Shatabdi & could only afford a lunch at the resort. We quickly checked out the tennis court & hurried for our next destination.
Last on our agenda was Pinjore garden & considering we had a train to catch in evening, we had to make it fast. Originally built during Aurangzeb’s reign, it was lyng a ruined jungle till the rulers of the Patiala dynasty restored it. The gardens built in terrace form with its seven terraces is a unique blend of Rajasthani & Mughal arcgitecture. Every terrace has a palace – 1st terrace has a palace of glass, 2nd a rang mahal, 3rd a jal mahal & the lowermost terrace has an open air theatre. Trees lined up on the sides welcome you to each terrace and the fountain (sans the water) gave it a very mughal feel. I felt like a mughal princess taking a stroll in the gardens…just that my prince was in Delhi. I wish we could have spent more time, but that would have meant missing the Shatabdi. So, we had a quick lunch at the nearby restaurant & rushed to Kalka, just in time to catch our train. The good old Shatabdi showered its culinary love on us & stuffed with juice, tea & a heavy dinner, we hit the New Delhi Rlwy stn at 10:30. Outside the station, there were auto & taxiwallas in action…who swarmed around like bees…We managed a prepaid auto & got home.
Its been 3 years since I have been married, my niece is now back from her boarding & I didn’t get a chance to return to Kasauli but my spinster's trip will always be special in my memories & any mention of Kasauli still brings a twinkle in my eyes!