"But the trees seemed to know me. They whispered among themselves and beckoned me nearer. And looking around, I noticed the other small trees and wild plants and grasses had sprung up under the protection of the trees we had placed there."
-Ruskin Bond in Rusty.
-Ruskin Bond in Rusty.
Indeed, oak, pine, chir pine and horse chestnut trees were the true residents of Kasauli. Greeting the new comers, swinging along with the wind, these trees were everywhere. They stood there looking at the passers-by like they owned the place. Ruskin Bond, who was born in Kasauli, described this feeling so beautifully. If it were not up to these trees to stand there, one’s eyes will certainly slip on the mountain slopes all the way down to the valley.
Kasauli is a sleepy little town, secluded and very peaceful, located in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh. The best way to reach there is via Kalka. Reach Kalka by Indian Railways and then take a bus or cab from there to Kasauli. At Kalka Railway Station, we saw the Kalka-Shimla Railway trains and for a moment we thought to abandon our plans of Kasauli, instead, go to Shimla. Breathtaking views from Kalka-Shimla train would have been memorable, but then we weighed in favour of Kasauli. A trip from Kalka's Gandhi Chowk, where we boarded the bus, to Kasauli had all the typical traits of a Himalayan safari. Traveling on narrow, curvy roads with deep gorges on one side we could get a beautiful view of a village from the bus at the top of a hill. Also, we saw how life can be so difficult for small school-going children who had to go to schools at Parwanoo, a town between Kalka and Kasauli, and who could not find a seat in the crowded bus.
We reached Kasauli at around 9 am and then had a chai at the bus stand. A chai is always pleasant in such a weather. The weather was very soothing and extra comforting given that we came from Delhi where mercury was continuously in the forties. Then we started the search for a hotel to stay when we found one more new thing which was particularly pleasant to ears. It was the loudspeakers installed along the roadside at Mall Road. There were Hanuman's and Krishna's bhajans being played at a decent volume. Then we found our accommodation. The view from the balcony was good. Clouds came towards us and disappeared. We stayed there a little before we started wandering in the roads unknown to us.
The Kasauli town was situated in a thick forest cover. There were no signs of any rush. Kasauli also houses an army cantonment which covers most of the upper town. Painted in olive green, the houses and other buildings in the shape of a hut had architectural resemblance with other small hill stations. The architecture was predominantly British. It was easy to spot people donning military fatigues here and there. Walking further we reached town's end and, yes, it is a small town. Then we started hillside walk with beautiful scenes. There were some interesting boards put up instructing not to litter. Then we reached sunset point. I accede that 1 pm is not the ideal time to reach to a sunset park, but we were exploring the mountains and next thing we saw was this sunset point. From this place, one can see cities situated in plains like Chandigarh, Ropar and Jalandhar etc. In fact, there is a concrete structure where one can see the directions of all these cities mentioned. Due to fog and clouds, we could not see places far away, but Chandigarh and Sukhna Lake could be seen as they were nearer.
Then we walked further and took a shortcut on a steep slope to reach a road down the hill. After sometime we reached gates of Air Force Station, Kasauli which encircles the Manki Point. Although there is a temptation to call it Monkey Point, I will stick with Manki Point as this was the name mentioned in all signboards and in the gate pass issued to us at the entrance. Before we could reach there, heavy downpour started. We took shelter in a canteen and had some parathas. When rain stopped we reached Manki Point, an ancient temple situated on a hill top. As soon as we reached rainfall started again. Legends were that while taking Sanjeevani Buti from the Himalayas to Lanka for unconscious Lakshman, this hilltop was hit by Hanuman's toe. This also gives the hilltop its present shape. Later local persons erected a temple at that place. The lawns of the temple have a helipad. From this place you can have a breathtaking 2700 view of the surrounding hills. We were not able to see too far because of the rain but whatever was visible was mesmerizing.
The evening walk in Lower Pine Mall was nice again. This time loudspeakers played Bollywood’s golden oldies. We sat there on a bench to enjoy the beauty of the moment. Due to shortage of time we could not visit many places like historical churches, but whatever we visited had a long-lasting effect. This whole town was so close to nature that it would be no exaggeration to say that nature itself took care of this town. Hidden was the message that we should also take care of the nature. One signboard put this beautifully:
Only when the last tree has withered
The last fish caught
The last river poisoned
Will we finally realize we cannot eat money.
|a long walk|
|alone and beautiful|