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Millennium Post

Of hills and history

Of hills and history
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Hill stations have always been classic summer getaway options to escape being fried like the proverbial egg and get baked in the scorching sun. A million people perhaps have the same notion and every year, thousands throng India’s hill stations to avoid the scorching heat and experience freshness of the hills and get rejuvenated.

Dense woods, sparkling mountains, lush green valleys, splendid weather all amount to a lovely getaway for the tired mind and the weary body. Heavily influenced by the British origins, the cantonment town Kasauli in the picturesque Himachal Pradesh is an ideal place for such a visit.
Established by the British Raj in 1842, Kasauli became a very popular Colonial hill station and in every nook and corner of the town there are still remnants of the old world charm. Heavily influenced by British origins of Kasauli, an important landmark of the town Christ Church imitates most of the Anglican built structures across India and locating the structure is pretty simple. The structure rises above tree tops and tall buildings of the hill town of Kasauli. Its grey stone structure and brick exterior assembled in pure British gothic architecture sits in a cross-shape pattern on a rock spur next to the bus station. Ascertaining the origin of the church is difficult and the date is unconfirmed but can range anywhere from 1844 to 1884. Construction most likely began within the decade after the town came into shape as the population of the area rose and demand for a place of worship among the Christians grew. Until 1970, the church was under the organisation of the Church of England and after that it has been under Churches of North India. But the church exhibits signs of disrepair. The tinted glass window panes, painted with images of Mother Mary, Jesus and spirits of the Almighty, are broken and discoloured. Surrounded by chestnut and fir groves, the greenery used to be the church’s pride once. But now, the trees mix with natural overgrowth and cut a sorry figure. But still, to this day, the silence at the altar can fill the mind with the carols once sung in school and the melted candles can make you feel the intensity of many promises that were once made and granted there. Today, the church stands as a dilapidated structure but as an evidence of glorious days. Christ and the Baptist Church are examples of Kasauli's colonial architecture.

Kasauli has dense woods that make it an ideal destination for trekkers. Located in the Solan district, it is also popular as an abode of endangered species of Himalayan fauna that lures a large number of travelers every year. Its fascinating alpine paddocks and mesmerizing fir groves provide a perfect ambience for long, refreshing walks and that too in the heart of nature. Kasauli is well known for its snow clad mountains, opaque forests and verdant foliage which traits to the perfect beauty of this hill station. This little hill town offers a splendid view of the Himalayas and Dhauladhars through the dense pine forests. Tourism has huge opportunity in this region and hotels have diverse suites designed according to individual’s choice and preference. Kasauli has a rich cultural history with a legend that Lord Hanuman landed on this town before progressing to fetch Sanjeevani herb for Lord Rama’s brother Laxman to treat his illness.

A walk down the Lower Mall can be truly rejuvenating, especially for shopaholics and even for foodies. From grocery shops to Tibetan artifacts, this place has it all. Barely a stretch of less than half a kilometer, Lower Mall is a major attraction and full of activity. Tibetan cloth, woolens, tees with various messages, colourful scarves, prayer wheels, candles of all shapes and sizes are available.
A number of lip smacking delicacies are also available in the eating joints and street side shops. The people selling these stuffs are very friendly and cheerful and are bound to convince you with their persistence and patience in buying the product. The Upper Mall, on the other hand, is suave and sophisticated. It is the poshest area of Kasauli and lies on the higher side of the town. Beautiful bungalows and breathtaking views of the valleys make it a treat to watch. You can find one of the best heritage buildings of the area in the Upper Mall, including the royal Kasauli Club.

A beautiful 3.5 km walk through scenic views and old heritage buildings, goes up-to the Flag Staff House (HQ 95 Infantry Brigade's Brigadier Residence). You can also reach Manki Point or Monkey Point via the Upper mall. Sunrise can be viewed at it’s best with no obstructions from this place. Formerly called the Hawa Ghar, this place witnesses an all year round air currents through it. A lot of monkeys may be spotted here, hence the name. Controlled and maintained by the authority of the Air Force of India, one has to take prior permission to visit Manki Point and cameras and mobile phones are not allowed in this region.

A mixed forest of pine, oak and huge horse-chestnut encircles the town. The colonial ambience is reinforced by stretch of cobbled road, quaint shops with charming facades and scores of neat little gardens and orchards. In order to discover Kasauli’s nature secrets, it is a must to take a walk down Gilbert Trail. The Central Research Institute established in 1906 by Dr. Sample prepares various vaccines. It was established as an organisation working in virological and immunology research field. The institution works like a collaborating hub of WHO as well as immune-biological laboratory which manufactures the vaccines for polio and measles. The anti-rabies inoculation was invented and is still being made here. Also many anti snake bite vaccinations are being made here.
Situated on top of the hill is the very famous Lawrence School in Sanawar, just 6 kms away from Kasauli. Henry Lawrence and his wife Honoria were the founders of this school. It is almost 150-year-old and is considered to be one of the best public schools in India. He also built the first cottage in Kasauli known as Sunny Side in 1848. The school was honoured by the British Empire with the Kings of Colors in 1853. The beautiful campus of the school is surrounded with pine and deodar trees, chapel forests, ivory bell-shaped flowers and bright golden-yellow blossoms. The Bon Monastry which is just 53 km from Kasauli is the world’s second oldest monastery in the whole world. A lot of travelers and Buddhists visit it throughout the year.

Mohan Meakin is a large group of companies started with Asia's first brewery incorporated in 1855 (but established much earlier) by Edward Dyer at Kasauli under the name Dyer Breweries. The brewery and distillery were established in 1820 by him. The location was selected because of the climatic conditions and fine spring water, similar to Scottish ambience. Distilling and brewing equipment of Scotland and England including pot stills are still utilised to this day. It is also known as the oldest existing distillery for the 'scotch whisky' in Asia.
Kasauli is very close to Chandigarh and a favourite hotspot for tourists. The smell of freshness, of pine and oak trees, the blowing winds, the chirping of birds and the beautiful sky make it look like a wonderland, with clusters of clouds spiraling along your way providing constant comfort and bliss.
How to reach Kasauli

By air: The closest airport is Chandigarh, located almost 70 km away from Kasauli. From outside the airport, you can easily find taxis to Kasauli that are within budget.
By road: Travelers can avail state owned transport buses which connect Kasauli to major cities in and around Himachal Pradesh. There are numerous super fast and super deluxe buses which have a stop at Kasauli. These buses generally ply from Chandigarh (50 km) and Delhi (295 km) to other cities like Chail (64km) and Shimla (84 km).
By train: The nearest rail head is located in Kalka, almost 40 km away from Kasauli. There are many prepaid taxis available from Kalka to Kasauli. Kalka railway station is well connected with all the major cities in India such as Amritsar, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai and trains ply at regular intervals throughout the week.
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