When you start seeing pine trees all around, feel the cool breeze on your face and start breathing clean countryside air, you know that you are in Kasauli. Located among the foothills of the Himalayas, it is one of those places where the journey to reach the place is as much promising as the destination itself!
Because it is the nearest town in Himachal Pradesh that we encounter while travelling from Delhi/Punjab and offers a perfect weekend getaway from that corporate work life.
Situated in Himachal, this formerly British Cantonment town away from the urban hustle bustle is in the midst of pine forest thus offering a treat to the eyes. The pleasant weather offers not just a respite from the heat of the plains and a quiet atmosphere but also maintains a reputation for cleanliness (Yes! It attracts a fine for littering around).
Established by the British Raj in AD 1842, this place still carries the essence of the British culture (but the cuisine is more of Tibetan, mind you) which can be seen in the sloping tin roofs, the smock stacks among other things.
What to do in Kasauli
When I asked a local “What are the major tourist attractions in Kasauli”, he came up with this reply: The best tourist attraction in Kasauli is that there is no tourist attraction! People come here only to enjoy the weather and the scenery.
Nevertheless, this small town has more to offer than many of those “great tourist places”.
The unexplored little towns of India never disappoint a traveler. And its con that it has no tourist attraction in fact becomes a pro in that the place is not crowded and you can enjoy the serenity of the place without being disturbed by the selfie-taking flock.
Here is the list for those who love to absorb the true essence of a place while having a quiet time by the mountains:
1. Gilbert’s Nature Trail: With mountains on one side and the gorge (with pine trees) on the other, it is one of the most exhilarating experience in Kasauli. The end of this trail is a suicide point which in itself is quite dreary and looks like a place in the middle of nowhere!
The feeling of cool breeze ruffling your hair while you walk along this trail is beautiful.
There is a sunset point near the trail. Unlike most of the “tourists”, do not waste your time over that point for the sunset time. Head over to the Gilbert’s trail instead. The entire upper mall area is the sunset point in itself and offers majestic view of the valley, the sky and the forest.
2. A walk in the cantonment area/ upper mall road: Give a pleasure to your senses by taking a walk along the upper mall area. The journey in itself is so exciting that no one dares ask what is at the end of this road. Beginning in the stone cobbled path, it offers picture-perfect view of the valley.
Breathe in the pleasant air, listen to the chirping birds, and discover various variants of flowers, butterflies and trees as you go.
3. Explore the town from the lower mall area onwards. It has shops, houses and other structures established around the time of the British era (Yes, that old)! Go out and look for that Green handpump and the Red letterbox (which even has a Victoria cross!) which have been there since the British times.
The houses carry architecture influence of the British taste, so do the beer shops ;)
There is a Daily Needs shop which was established in the 1920! Go talk to the owner of the shop for some stories about the town, the best one being how the town got its name Kasauli.
4. Lake along the Chakki mod: This is a hidden gem indeed about which even some of the locals in Kasauli are not aware of. Situated near the main town of Kasauli, it is a pristine lake which even has a dwarf waterfall! ¬¬
Surrounded by big rocks, it is a kind of meditation point.
Go grab a rock, contemplate on top of it, listen to the murmur of the flowing water and try to get some life changing enlightenings
Play with the water, sit on the rocks, lay with stones, listen to the birds, look at the scenery, enjoy your "me-time".
5. A walk in the pine forest: Since the entire town is the pine forest in itself, go along the side of the road anywhere and you would find yourself in the woods! Get mesmerized by the tall, strong pine trees and also don’t forget to get that small little pine souvenir for your living room.
6. Get awed by the British era railway bridges and tunnels: Yes, this small town proudly flaunts the British era railway bridges and tunnels which cater to the toy train that runs from Kalka to Shimla. The toy train in itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and takes you through the mountains offering panoramic view of the valley and the surrounding villages.
Take a ride from from Dharampur to Barog if you are lucky to get the tickets (I wasn’t so lucky).
7. 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 (Source: Wikipedia).
Since, I do not drink I kept it at the bottom of my itinerary which eventually got out of the itinerary. But, otherwise it would be a nice experience to know about the wine brewing process of this antique brewery.
So, before you sink into that hectic work life once again, go get refreshed by the aura of that quiet little (former) British cantonment.
The pines are calling!