WORDS: NADEZNA SIGANPORIA
PHOTOGRAPHS: KRISHNA ANGIRA
GREAT FROM: New Delhi, Chandigarh
GREAT FOR: Family vacations, quiet time and fresh mountain air
Imagine waking up to the sun filtering through the trees and through your large picture windows, to a cup of tea waiting on a spacious verandah, bordered with pretty flowers. To days where you have nothing more pressing to do than go on an easy trek in the mountains with Aloo, Lauki and Bhindi, three happy dogs that live at 7 Pines.
Kasauli is one of those delightful hill stations from the British era that is ripe with local flavour, devoid of Shimla’s crowds and the perfect place for a break with the family, and 7 Pines, a boutique property nestled among pine trees about half an hour from the town, makes for a great base. The eclectic rooms are filled with colourful furnishings, antique furniture, restored treasures and a bevy of curios collected on owner Nila Mehta’s trips around the world.
You’ve got to walk the winding roads of Kasauli to really enjoy what it has to offer – colonial bungalows,the quaint Christ Church, a bustling Tibetan market. And the spectacular mountain views. There is no dearth of viewpoints to drive to – Sunset Point, Sunrise Point and Monkey Point – but really, any stop along the winding roads in the area offers pleasing views (see Good to Know for details). To get to Monkey Point, you will dodge a dozen or so hungry monkeys, and climb what seems like a million steep steps carved into the hill, but the sprawling views of the Shivalik Range, the pine-tree-covered valley and the River Sutlej are worth it all. Sometimes referred to as Manki Point, this is said to be the highest point in Kasauli and a place where Lord Hanuman set foot while returning from the Himalayas with the magical herb Sanjivani booti. You might just believe the legend too – the magnificent views make it easy to see why he’d choose this spot. After working up an appetite, head to Shaan-e-Himachal in Dharampur where you can mop up massive bowls of creamy butter chicken with soft, buttery naans.
Devote your days here to discovering the peaceful offerings of Kasauli on foot and spend your evenings at the old-fashioned retreat, lazing around in the cosy niches of the main cottage or getting some quality family time in the games room. Snuggled close around the bonfire under a clear sky that’s lit up with stars, your tummy full of delicious treats whipped up by Prem the chef, and enveloped in the calming sounds of nature and silence – it’s quite conceivable that you may never want to leave.