Come summer and it's almost customary to run away to the hills. The first reason is of course to beat the heat, and the second, which is true for most people, is to just find an excuse to travel. While there are many breathtaking hill stations in northern India, making your way to the 'less touristy' destinations calls for a good amount of days in hand, which isn't an option for all. That's when the need to find the perfect place - one that is not flocked by tourists and takes just a few hours time from Delhi - becomes an important quest.
Probably that's the reason why Kasauli is soon becoming a favourite pick among travellers who like the sound of 'offbeat'. The quiet hill station in lower Himachal has nothing much to offer other than nature's unspoilt beauty. Drive around through the hills and you will find yourself going deeper and deeper into a spellbinding pine forest. You may even start wishing for a cosy place to stay atop a hill where you can stare aimlessly at pine trees and soak in as much green as possible to feel alive. The best part is that kasauli gives you that option to live amidst a pine forest and completely cut off.
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There are good stay options available for all kinds of travellers. During my recent trip to Kasauli, I stayed at a beautiful English retreat called 7 Pines, which is tucked far away from the main town. My intention was to have a quiet holiday sans the crowd, stay in a gorgeous property at the heart of nature, and wander around aimlessly. 7 Pines ticked all the right boxes and even scored brownie points with their cheerful decor (in bright pink) and delicious food - all home-style and full of flavour. Talk about dining with a view, and there I was, biting into perfectly done roast chicken with brown sauce and mushroom risotto while overlooking the beautiful pine forest. It couldn't have been more perfect, to feel so close to nature yet enjoy the comfort of modern luxuries.
Other well known resorts in Kasauli that make for good stay options include Baikunth Resort Kasauli, Seclude Kasauli and WelcomHeritage Glenview Resorts, to name a few.
I firmly believe that there's no better way to enjoy the true beauty of a place than going out for a trek. So I wandered about aimlessly making my way through the pine forest, made friends with local dogs, discovered a bunch of wild birds and flowers, and found million reasons to feel inspired and recharged.
If you want more than nature loving, then you can head to Kasauli town, which is a cantonment area. Explore the Colonial church and take a tour of the oldest brewery and distillery in India and Asia - Mohan Meakin Brewery (which was established in the 1820s by Sir Edward Abraham Dyer) to witness the making of one of the finest malt whiskies.
There are quite a few small-time cafes and eateries in the town that sell noodles, momos, Indian street food, Punjabi food, pizzas, burgers and pastas. Two places that are popular are Narinder Sweets and Cafe Mantra. Narinder Sweets is famous for its out-of-the-world bunsamosas and jalebis, that you really mustn't miss at all. Cafe Mantra, on the other hand, serves a decent fare but is more popular as a chilling pad.
The shopping hub in Kasauli town is worth exploring to pick up knick knacks that are available at cheap rates. Things to look out for include Himachali woollen shawls, wooden wind chimes and home decor pieces. In food and beverages, you must try their local fruit wines if you haven't already. They are available in many flavours, but apple is most popular. Now they also have sparkling wine options. Other than that you can pick meat pickles, jams and marmalades. And don't forget to try the local fruit juice called Minchy's, especially the plum juice.
You can drive to Kasauli, which takes about 51/2 to 6 hours from Delhi. You can also take the Shatabdi to Kalka or Chandigarh (will take you about 4 hours) and then drive thereon.