Far From The Madding Crowd

As told by Niladri Paul to Meenakshi Kumar, Hindustan Times

I spend six-month traveling and the rest in the city, painting. Last year in June, I was just itching to go somewhere. Some friends told me about this nice, quiet place in the Himachal Pradesh called Chail and even before I knew it, I had decided to check it out. With my wife and son in tow, I set off on an early Saturday morning, driving first to Chandigarh, where we stopped for a break, and then proceeded to Chail. It took us nearly eight hours to reach. I prefer to take small breaks, not just to eat but to take in natural beauty around.

We had already booked into a small hotel which is close to the Chail palace but decent and homely enough to spend a day. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t anything great, they had just regular stuff like dal makhani, rajma chawal. Now I am a foodie and also love cooking. So I decided to cook the evening meal from whatever was available. So Saturday evening we had a ‘grand’ candlelit dinner consisting of fried rice grilled paneer with honey and lemon topping, steamed vegetables and salad. It turned out a great affair as the hotel staff also joined in and enjoyed the food.

Unlike Simla, which is so crowded, Chail is quiet, serene place with a small little market and no noisy crowds. Mighty oak trees line up some lovely walks. Chail has an amazing jogging track. I spent a lot of time going for long walks, visit Kali ka Tibba from where you can see the entire Chail and also Kasauli. Given a chance, I would like to spend more days here, so that I can paint in peace. Nature is a great inspiration for me. This time as I had less time. I ended up doing a few sketches. Hopefully, next time will be more exciting.

Quick Facts:

Once the summer capital of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, Chail is a serene hill station tucked away in the Himalayas. It has fine tennis and squash courts and a putting green. There are excellent spots along the River Gaura for anglers to tangle with the Himalayan mahaseer. Chail has the highest cricket ground in the world- 2,250 m above sea level.