Where the hills are quiet

Where the hills are quiet

Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-10-11 12:31 Mohan Meakin Kasauli BreweryBeing an ardent fan of Khushwant Singh, it was my desire to visit Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh, where he lived during summers. Just 65kms from Chandigarh and located on Shivalik hills, Kasauli is about 2000 metres above sea level. Being a cantonment during the British rule, the town has a serene 19th century air, with its ‘fauji’ character still intact.  Kasauli has a pleasant climate and its surrounding hills have unmatched beauty. Most buildings have gabled roofs and little gardens bursting with flowers. The cobbled streets and little shops selling knick-knacks at once remind us of Europe. Like in other hilly places, Kasauli has mixed forests of pine, chestnut and oak trees.CRI - KasauliHouse of K singhBeing a small town, Kasauli’s life revolves around two roads - the Upper and the Lower Mall. Every resident of Kasauli or a visitor is normally seen around the Mall in the evenings. In fact, many locals begin their brisk walks at the Lower Mall, go to the Upper Mall and return. The walk itself is highly exhilarating, not only because of the fresh mountain air but also because of the beauty of the place.Kasauli ChurchKasauli clubFrom the Upper Mall, the vast plains of Punjab and Haryana are very clearly visible. The town of Shimla can be seen clearly on cloudless nights. At night, the lights of Shimla appear like a carpet of twinkling stars. The sunset point, situated 2kms further away from the Upper Mall, offers stunning views of the setting sun.The most popular spot in Kasauli is the Monkey Hill. As one crosses the Air Force station, the steps to the hill become visible. A steep climb brings us to the top of the hill (which is shaped like a foot) where a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman is situated. According to locals, when Lord Hanuman was returning to Lanka with the ‘Sanjeevani Mountain’, his foot touched this hill. One gets to see stunning views of Chandigarh from here.Lower and upper mall - kausauliManki Pointsunset point viewTeaching block of Lawrence school Evenings in Kasauli normally revolve around Kasauli Club, a typically British-looking building.  Established in 1880, it is now managed by the Indian Army. The summer abode of Khushwant Singh, Raj villa, is very close to this club. A literary festival is regularly held in Kasauli in memory of Khushwant Singh.Kasauli is also known for its old distillery. Founded in 1820, it was known as Mohan Meakin Brewery. This is the first distillery where Scotch whiskey was made in India by a man named Edward Dyer. A tour inside the distillery was quite informative.Another significant building in Kasauli is the Christ Church.  Built in 1853, this church is famous for its stained glass windows depicting various Christian saints.The Central Research Institute is also located in Kasauli. Founded in 1905 to manufacture vaccines, this institute is known all over the world. Incidentally, the first president of Kasauli Club was the director of this institute.  Situated close to Kasauli is the town of Sanawar, which has been made famous by Lawrence School, a co-educational public school run by the Central government. It is probably the first co-ed residential school in the world! Established in 1847, the school has distinguished itself as one of the best residential schools in Northern India, becoming the first school in the world to send a team of students to climb Mount Everest. A visit to this school made me very happy, as many of my friends had studied there.Since Kasauli is still developing as a tourist resort, there are not many good places to stay, though there are more than 20 hotels. Himachal Pradesh Tourism runs a small hotel, Ros Common, which, during the British era, was said to have been a police station-cum sub jail!Those visiting Himachal Pradesh think only of Shimla, Kulu, and Manali. And precisely because of its relative obscurity, Kasauli has not become too crowded. Hence it offers lot of privacy and solitude. Kasauli is accessible only by road. The nearest airport is Chandigarh and the nearest railhead is Kalka. Kasauli is close to the industrial town of Parwanoo, which is on Kalka-Shimla route.