Chail is a village and hill station in Southern Himachal Pradesh, India at a height of 2,250 m above sea level. It was built as a Summer Capital by Maharaja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh when he was exiled from Shimla by British Lord Kitchener. Besides being a tourist hotspot—for which reason whatsoever, Chail features one of the more important military schools in India, the Rashtriya Military School up the hill towards one of the world's highest cricket grounds.
At the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, Chail is just 45 km away from Shimla, surrounded by thick deodars and at a higher altitude. Chail is a resort. It has several historically tourist attractions. It was built by the Maharaja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh as his Summer Capital, and the residents here are basically from the Pahadi Community. Chail is higher than Shimla, in the Shiwalik region and surrounded by tall tree forests of chir and deodar pine.
Many hotels and resorts spot the hills around the village, and it sometimes feels a little bit overly touristy. Many locals seek out this place for the weekend to flee from the bustling cities and during the festival season. Therefore prices in Chail can feel a little bit overdrawn for what's actually on offer.
Languages spoken in Chail include Hindi, Pahadi, Punjabi and English.
- 1 Chail Bus Station. Connects to Shimla, Kandaghat and many local places nearby.
There are about 5-6 daily buses running the 38 km (2½ hr) from and to Shimla's IGMC Bus Station in each direction 8AM–4PM, for ₹92 (as of Aug 2023). During the weekend the amount of buses drops, but there are at least the 8AM and 2:30PM buses going in each direction.
Also, there are hourly buses 8AM–5PM connecting Kandaghat, which lies at the main Shimla-Chandigarh highway.
Kufri is the nearest roadway connecting Chail and Shimla, which is 29 km away.
Kandaghat is the nearest train station on the narrow-gauge Kalka-Shimla railway.
Chail can be explored easily on foot. Also, further away sights are great for a half-day hike or stroll.
Nearby villages connect with local bus services 7AM-7PM.
Taxis are affordable like anywhere in India.
- 1 Chail Wildlife Sanctuary (███). Chail Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the largest areas covering forest with Deodar and Oak tree. It covers around 10,854 hectares of area with grasslands with the village at its center.
- 2 Chail Palace (1 The official tourist entry is north of the palace, but there are many routes. Especially late, no one will bother you.). Chail Palace is the Summer Capital of Maharaja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh when he was exiled from Shimla by British Lord Kitchener. It accolades the pristine culture of the royal family from Shimla. Nowadays it is open for tourists to enthusiast the culture and structure of Chail. It is also a hotel, and if you ever wanted to stay in a palace, the prices are quite affordable and not much more expensive than what else it is on offer in Chail for similar luxury. ₹200.
- 3 Cricket Ground. Built in 1983, the Chail Cricket ground is one of the highest (if not "the highest") cricket grounds in the world. This cricket ground is located at a height of 2,144m, and is also used as a Polo and Baseball ground.
- 4 Sidh Baba ka Mandir. A hindu temple built by Maharaja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh. A saint appeared in his dream and said that this was the place of his meditation that cannot be used for residence or personal purposes after which the construction of the Palace stopped to make the temple of Siddh Baba has its own importance in the heart of Chail’s local residents.
- 5 Mountain Viewpoint (just 1 km SE of the center). In case you want to avoid hiking the whole way to Kali Tibba to get a good view onto the Himalayas, this viewpoint on the way to Sidh Baba ka Mandir also offers excellent views in case the weather is clear.
- 6 Stone Kumbh (A Temple in My Dream) (5 km from Chail on the way to Shimla). An extraordinary temple that you must visit. It lacks all the typical features of a Hindu temple that you might have grown weary by now. Instead it is devoted to the nature of dreams, with beautiful statues, colourful interior, a secret tunnel to the nightmare cave, and lots of places to just sit and hang out. It feels more like an haunted house by positive spirits than an actual temple.
- 7 Kali Tibba Temple (About 6 km south of Chail, near the Tarika Resort). A nice Hindu temple on top of a small mountain of the same name with great views, also of the Himalayas, in case the weather is clear.
- Hiking to any of the Hindu temples in the surrounding area and/or the Cricket Field is a nice day activity.
- Rope Walking over the tree trunk high above the ground level
- Rock Rappelling to feel the adventure of life and climb the mountain
- Burma Bridge – Cable-made bridge crossing activities
- Tyre Bridge and Commando Net.
- Woollen garments like sweaters, gloves, and pashmina shawls.
- Jams/jellies made from hand-picked fresh fruits.
- Hand-made shoes
- Kinnauri mufflers
- Himachali caos
- Hand-made rugs and carpets.
- Apple and plum wines, kiwi squashes and fresh handmade pickles are a few of the specialities of the Himachal government-approved outlet in Chail.
Himachali Kadi is a special dish that everyone must try, otherwise, Indian, Chinese, and Continental dishes are also available.
Most accommodations in town will offer food, so it is easy to find something. A few dhabas offer typical Himachali Cuisines at reasonable rates—try the one at the "locals-only" entrance to the Chail Palace.
For drinking, apple and plum wines, kiwi squashes and fresh handmade pickles are a few of the specialities of the Himachal Government-approved outlet in Chail.
There are sufficient options to choose from, including many mountain resorts, even though budget options like hostels in Manali, Rishikesh and Dharamsala will be hard to find here, especially out of low season (September 14th to May). Rooms in Chail range from ₹200–25,000. The rooms in the center near the bus station start at ₹700–1,000 in low season. Many places are a few kilometres away and require transportation, best to book online and request transport.
- 1 Gurudwara Sahib Chail (Up the hill road behind the bus station). This Gurudwara isn't a proper Gurudwara with volunteers, nor food and accommodation on donation basis that you usually see. As a matter of fact there isn't much space for any volunteers here. Instead it seemed they have picked up the overly touristy vibe of Chail and charge people (tourists!) for staying here. In addition, what you get is just a dark shed with a few mattresses on the ground—not particular appealing. Also, there is no food included. Somehow this Gurudwara seems to be kept mentioned in various tourist guide books and websites as "the place" to stay ("for free" even) in a Gurudwara in India. However, you are better off going to a proper Gurudwara like in Rewalsar, Anandpur Sahib, or Amritsar, which are actually ready to cater for pilgrims and any people that come by, instead of ripping of tourists. Either way, in case you are stuck in Chail, this is the cheapest option. Watch out for the 4 dogs that belong to this place! ₹200/night (without food).
- 2 Bhagsu Home Stay, ☏ , , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: noon. A nice place with two amazing rooftop rooms with decent views. Contact ahead to inquire the current price. In case you get stuck in Chail and don't want to get depressed in the Gurudwara, head to this place, run by a friendly couple, and explain your situation. They are very welcoming and will find an inexpensive solution. They also have a restaurant downstairs. Otherwise, WiFi, hot water, and kettle. From ₹500 (negotiable).
- 3 PWD Rest House (H.P. Public Works Department) (Along the Chail-Shimla road, between the public and the local entrance to the Palace). Another budget option if they have place and are willing to be open for tourists. From ₹1,020.
- 4 Chail Palace, ☏ , , , email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Bar/lounge, free parking, restaurant, suites—breakfast included. If you ever wanted to stay in a palace but not pay a fortune, this is your chance. They offer 20% discount in off-season, especially July to September 14th, and sometimes even 50% in case Chail is deserted due to bad weather or so (Monsun). Call ahead directly at the Palace to inquire their current rates. Note that the Maharaja Suite, which is the most expensive one, actually has two bed- and bathrooms, i.e. if you are travelling in a group this could be an amazing deal if you get the discount ontop. The palace also includes cottages at the hills around the palace, which can also be reserved and give an interesting colonial feel—they feel quite dated though and seem to be only available for extended period rentals. Himnel Block room ₹3,500, Log Hut reg/dlx ₹3,900/4,700, Monal Cottage ₹10,400, Rajgarh Cottage full/room ₹20,700/5,175, Wood Rose Cottage (3 rooms) ₹12,700, Palace rooms ₹5,200–10,400, Palace Maharaja Room/Suite ₹11,500/25,300.
Many stray dogs (compared to the amount of villagers) roam the few street of Chail. Stay distant and do not engage.
The area dialling code for Chail is 0179. From overseas, dial +91 179 XXX-XXXX.
- Kufri – On the way to Shimla
- Shimla – The summer capital of Himachal and once the summer capital of the British Raj, with an interesting and vehicle-free downtown area on top of a ridge and amazing views
- Solan – A city with many tourist attractions, mostly commercial ones
- Kasauli – Another hill station at 1,927 m, more buzzing than Chail, but less touristy