Places to visit in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh

by admin on April 5, 2012

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terrace farming Kasauli

A View of terrace farming Kasauli

When serendipity beckons and you need breathing space too, make no mistake, you need to get to the birthplace of Delhi’s famed mountain man –Ruskin Bond. Yes, it’s Kasauli where he was born in 1934. It is an ideal place for writers too, as Khuswant Singh has his own cottage here. Its unique feature is that the Indian army who rules here has strictly ensured no new constructions, preserving it, and stopping it from becoming another commercial hill station where the primary abundant species are Homo sapiens. So, the thing to remember here is to book early, in season or off season. I had already booked my space in Kasauli Resort, which offers an incredible view of the mountains and has all the amenities of the digital world too.

Even before Kasauli became a British hill station and cantonment area in 1842, Edward Dyer, a spirited businessman, brought with him some distilling equipment from England and Scotland with an ambition “to produce a malt whisky as fine as Scotch whisky” using the abundant spring water available there.  His distillery, the Kasauli brewery and distillery began making India Pale Ale and malt whisky in the late 1920’s. Thus, this is the oldest running distillery in Asia and one of the oldest whisky making distilleries in continuous operation around the world. The company exists today under the name of Mohan Meakin.

I had read somewhere that Kasuali had preserved its flora and fauna to maximum extent, there was a local deer called Ghoral, Jackals and many species of birds and trees. So off I went to see if there was something that would arouse my interest.

Indian red Chestnut trees are plentiful here. The term Chestnut red is an adjective often used to describe the plumage of birds. Otherwise, the foliage is mainly scrubby. Not being much of an ornithologist, I asked one person avidly staring through his binoculars about the birds over here. He gave me long spiel about flycatchers and magpies which sounded very British to me. Anyhow, I took the Upper Mall to Monkey Point and huffed my way to Balak Nath Temple where people pray to get their children blessed. Somebody en route told me about hyenas and leopards spotted here sometime back; I wished I was lucky enough to see them. Even though this hill town was one of the closest to Delhi at just 289 km, I was lucky enough to get a crystal clear view of the snow tipped Dhauladar Range with the highest peak being Dhaulagiri II at 25,430 feet above mean sea level. If wishes were horses, I would get there someday I thought.

chestnut trees

Chest nut trees in kasauli

I looked up the history of Kasauli and was amazed to find many variations –some said some Rajput families settled here in early 17th century in a village called Kasul which had a perennial spring. Other folks say the name Kasauli comes from stream called Kausalya, flowing between Kasauli and Jabli. The most apt derivation, I thought that it was because of flower called Kusmali, which blooms in the valley.

Wondering what to eat and where, I was surprised to find ‘Bandsamosa’ at Mohan’s sweet shop in the main market –it was mouthwatering to say the least.

Strangely, Kasuali boasts of sunrise and sunset points too! So decided to head for the latter, which was 100 metres ahead of the Kasauli Club. It was mind boggling.

Moving on, I visited the quaint little Anglican Church built in the 19th century and now under the Church of North India, affiliated to the Diocese of Amritsar. There are two Gurdwaras too, the first one being  Shri Guru Nanak ji  near the Gharkhal Bazaar, the other one I skipped due to tiring  legs. All in all, Kasauli is a place where tranquility reigns supreme.

Next stop Mussoorie. I told myself.

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