Himachal Diaries: Holi Spent in Kasauli
When my mom and dad were busy planning the festive weekend, I decided to pay a visit to Kasauli, a small village in Himachal Pradesh. So, here is what all I saw and the stories I collected. Hope you like it.
The fun begins with a ticket to the toy train
The cheapest option from Kalka to Shimla is the renowned toy train. Moreover, the Indian railways don’t operate on this route and Shimla can only be reached through these trains. In fact, to be honest, the most laudable way of travelling to Shimla is through the toy train. If you don’t do that, you miss the most aspect part of your Shimla diary. The mesmerizing view out of the window, the serpentine tracks, and the tunnels make it a value for money trip.
The tickets can be booked online on the IRCTC website, or from the Kalka railway station. The fares are really cheap: the cost of one ticket from Kalka to Shimla is just Rs 50., and the first train starts in the morning at around 6 am. The only drawback is, it takes 8 hours to reach Shimla. However, hopefully, if you visit Shimla during winters when the place is covered with snow, the slow speed of the train will turn into an advantage – allowing you more time to adore the beauty.
Life is happy and full of peace in Kasauli
Ideally, if you’re travelling for more than 2 days, the first place in your list should be Kasauli. Kasauli is a small town in Himachal, located around 70 Km from Shimla.
The nearest railway station is Dharampur, and you will have to use the toy train to reach there. You can cover the distance between Kasauli and Dharampur on foot, but you can choose to use the bus or the gipsies which are regularly available on the route. And, if you are visiting Kasauli, the first place you should see is the Christ Church. The church is one of the oldest in Himachal Pradesh, at least 150-year-old and still functional. The Christ Church located near the bus stand, in the heart of Kasauli, and it is one of the peaceful most places there. The same opens at 11 am and it is one of the most popular tourist attraction in Kasauli.
Things to do in Kasauli
When you’re done with the Church, take a stroll in the entire village. Reward yourself with beautiful views, the mountains and the fresh air. If you are travelling on a bike, take a trip to the jungle. You will have to trek downhill for few kilometres to reach the jungle, but the efforts will be completely paid off.
The second thing which I recommend you to do is, visit the entire village; roam around different small villages in Kasauli and add more to your travel memories. The entire village is very beautiful. The best part, it’s hardly crowded, unlike Shimla. Plus, it’s so small, it’s hardly going to take you few hours on a bike, almost a day if you’re travelling on foot. Besides, the hotels inside the village are cheaper than the others.
The Tibetian Market
The Tibetian market is just a few steps away from the Kasauli Bus stand and the Christ Church. The market starts at 10 am in the morning, though few shops open a little earlier. You can buy good quality woollens, bracelets, and other items from the Tibetian Market.
“Ladies and Couples Only” – The Cafe Mantra
The Cafe Mantra, owned by Mr Rajesh Dogar and Vanita Dogar, is one must visit place in Kasauli. The attractive interior and the chilled out aura inside the cafe makes it great.
I couldn’t get the opportunity to be in Cafe Mantra myself due to the Cafe’s rule – “Only Ladies and Couples allowed”, but I managed to discover the reason behind such a biased rule. I was having my lunch in a nearby Cafe and was continuously thinking about this place. The Cafe Mantra is the kind of place where you get those good vibes. How do I know? I went in to talk to the owner and find out the reason behind this anti-single men rule.
Five minutes inside the place and I was already feeling good. The place is nicely decorated and the owner is a nice guy. When I was talking to him, he shared the reason that I was curious about. It turns out, Cafe Mantra was normal once, open for all cafe. But, the cafe and the staff including the owner had a couple of bad customer problem. They had a bit of problem with some nearby youngsters and the owner decided to apply the above-mentioned rule. If you get the chance to visit Kasauli, do visit Cafe Mantra. And for myself, I hope they drop the rule soon and I get my chance to be at the cafe.
The finishing point: Sunset point and Manki point.
The journey ends after the Manki point trek. The sunset point lies in between the Christ Church and the Manki point, and it’s a must visit if you are in Kasauli. The Manki point is between 5-7 km from the Church Gate and is located 300 meters above the Indian Airforce Territory. So, if you have plans to visit necessary documents for the verification process. Also, the mobile phones are not allowed due to security reasons, you can keep them inside your car or taxi, or use the paid-lockers available in the Dhabas located just outside the checkpoint.
The best thing to do after you reach Manki Point is, take a peaceful power nap. Btw, did I tell you the Manki point is an old Hanuman Mandir? Yes, I guess I did just right now. Though, you can always gift your eyes the sweeping beauty of Kasauli from the highest point; manki point. The last but not the least, make sure you don’t carry any food items with yourself after you hit the stairs for the last 300m trek. The reason is hidden in the name itself. Don’t you think Manki point sounds like Monkey point?
The entire Kasauli is under the control of Indian Airforce. Therefore, to set up a camp anywhere in Kasauli, you’ll have to take permission from the army. But you can always set up your own camp outside the boundaries of Kasauli.
In the morning, thankfully all was well. As you can see, being scared in the night wasn’t bad after all. Look at the picture above, this was my reward: a picture of the mighty moon from inside our tent. The original view was far more stunning.
In our case, we camped in Sanawar near the Sanawar Nature Camp. Sanawar nature camp is a paid camping resort in Sanawar, which is 2 km from Garkhal. Now, Garkhal is in between Kasauli and Dharampur. Regular buses are available from Kasauli to Garkhal, and the bus ticket is just Rs 3. As you can see above is our camp. We had to trek down from the hill a bit and find a good place to set up or camp, but once it was done we hardly had any issues. Our camp was hardly visible from the road, thus no one objected. However, we would suggest travelling and camping in groups. This is due to the fact that very fewer people camp at the place where we camped. And I couldn’t sleep the whole night because of fear, we two were the only ones camping at that site.
Also, as we awoke, we got the opportunity to meet the Shepherd Boy I read about in Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”. He’s finally a dashing old man and has a higher number of sheep in his herd along with 4 guard dogs. (Just joking :p. He’s a regular shepherd).
Bottom line: Take risks, you’ll always return home with wonderful stories.