Perched atop a hill on the peripheries of Shimla, the Chail Palace is a luxurious abode which was one the home of the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh. The palace was built in 1891 and was the maharaja's refuge after being expelled from Shimla by Lord Kitchener of the East India Company.
The royal summer retreat of the maharaja was later given to Himachal Tourism, who converted it into a luxury hotel giving ordinary people like us a chance to live, even if for a day, as the kings did!
Surrounded by the lush Himalayan deodar forests, Chail is a cozy yet luxurious escape from the popular tourist destination of Shimla. Despite the town itself gaining popularity over the years, the Chail Palace still remains a precious gem hiding in plain sight.
The Chail Palace is perfect for travellers who are in love with the mountains and want to live like royalty without spending too much money.
The grandeur of Chail Palace is reflected in its interior design, which is done with the utmost detail to perfection. The glorious mansion is adorned with ornate furniture, custom woodwork and carvings, as well as a respectable collection of paintings from around the world. Adding to the appeal of the palace is the facilities it offers such as log huts, lawn tennis court, badminton court, elegant lawns and even a children's park. The thick forests that surround the property are perfect for hiking, trekking and angling.
Several types of accommodation options are available at the palace; there are economical rooms in the Himneel Block, and luxurious suites that are named and designed after the royal hierarchy, such as the Wazeer Room, Dewan Room, Rajkumari Room, Rajkumar Room, Maharani Room and Maharaja Room. Private cottages (Log Huts, Woodrose, Rajgarh and Monal Cottage) are also available at the palace but their distance from the main building is around 300 to 1,000 meters.
The following rates provide access to facilities of the palace such as the restaurants, bar, cafe, conference hall (capacity 50 pax), drive-in parking, cable TV, billiard room, lawn tennis, badminton, table tennis, video games, gift shop, laundry service, taxi on demand, children's park and a doctor on call.
If you are interested in any of the private cottages, then here are the rates.
The restaurant serves a variety of continental, Mughlai and Indian cuisines. But the restaurant is best known for its offerings of local Himachali dishes such as madra, dham, khatta etc.
You can visit the Chail Palace throughout the year. If you like snow, then stay here from November to February and see the place transform into a winter wonderland. And during summers, head here to escape the heat. Monsoons might be tricky given the condition of the roads, so make a call and check with the hotel before booking.
Hiking: Over a dozen hiking and trekking trails start from Chail to places such as Choor Peak and the city of Shimla. You can even go fishing at Giri River at Gaura, which is just 24km away.
Located approximately 1.5km from the hotel, the places is known as the original site of the palace, the temple here was built by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh after a saint appeared in his dream and asked him to do so. You can hike up to the temple or ask the hotel to arrange a taxi.
To entertain the royal family and the British aristocracy, a cricket ground was built in 1893 after levelling the top of a nearby hill. The cricket and polo field is now one of the highest in the world and is located just 3km from the hotel.
The Chail Wildlife Sanctuary, renowned for its ghoral, kakkar, sambhar, red jungle fowl and cheer pheasants, is in close proximity to the palace. You can ask the hotel to arrange for a safari or walk through the sanctuary, and they will happily oblige.
The nearest metro city is Delhi.
By air: The nearest airport to Chail is in Chandigarh (120km). From the airport you can take a taxi straight to the hotel or take a bus till Chail town.
By road: Chail is approximately 336km from Delhi, which can take upto 8-10 hours of driving. If you are driving from Shimla, then the town is an hour away.
All pictures are taken by Akhil Verma.