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9 July 2018

Fagu and Chail

Fagu is a quiet hill village 20 kilometres from the crowded and noisy Shimla, where the smell of diesel fumes hangs in the air.

The one-hour-long drive to Fagu from Shimla opens up a great view of the green foothills below. There is nothing much to do in Fagu. It’s the ideal place to sit back and relax with a cup of tea or your favourite poison. The view, however, is much better than the one you get in Shimla.

In the distance, the sun comes up behind the faint blue hills in Fagu and in early morning you can see it quite clearly, as the same way in which you can see the sunrise in Kanyakumari.

There are only a handful of places to stay. You will see some good places on Airbnb and OYO Rooms. There is a small market in Fagu that sells fruit and vegetables and that’s it.
There is no reason why you should not stay at Fagu if you went to Shimla. You can always drive down to the bigger hill town for the usual activities and then head back to Fagu.
If you’re driving to Fagu from Delhi, it would take about seven-eight hours with two stops on the way to cover the distance of 370 kilometres. The route is Delhi-Chandigarh-Shimla-Fagu.

As of July 2018, road construction is going on at three places and there are some short diversions, but nothing that would stress you out:

The first stretch of under-construction road is just after Murthal (60 km from Delhi).
The second bad patch comes 20 kilometres after Chandigarh.
The third diversion is near Solan before you reach Shimla.

One of the perks of staying in isolated Fagu is that you can go to Chail, 37 km away, to check out the palace there. It takes a little over an hour and the road is nice. The drive takes you on a road surrounded by tall trees and you can stop anywhere on the road to take in the view of the hills. Do keep in mind the road to Chail is a bit twisty here and there and might induce motion sickness to some people.

So, Fagu and Chail are for you if you want to skip Shimla and go somewhere nice not very far from the hill city.

A man tends to his garden at Fagu, Himachal Pradesh.

Sunrise at Fagu.

The road that connects Fagu and Shimla, 20 kilometres apart.

A mist usually covers Fagu in the evening like clockwork everyday. It's not that cold in July, but the mist gives an impression that it must be time for woollens to come out of the cupboard.

Two boys carry water at Fagu.

This structure has a pipe that brings water to Fagu from a stream up the hills. The house-like structure is glued to the side of the hill. At night, the locals say, the 'house' with the sound of running water will give you the creeps.

Messenger of FMCG, or MOF.

The only market at Fagu.

This is the lobby at Chail Palace, 37 kilometres from Fagu. It's simply a hotel marketed as a palace. You can book a room in the building, or one of the cottages on the palace's grounds. There's a large dining hall that serves popular north Indian food. They charge a Rs 100 fee to enter the palace maintained by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, or HPTDC. Chail Palace is good for families who want to stay there for a couple of days. The grounds are large and there's a play area for children. For the rest of us who are looking for an authentic Himachali experience, an hour or less here would be enough.

Chail Palace grounds.

Three men diverged in the green woods at Chail. And miles to walk before they reach home.

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Journalist. Taking a walk in India. | Email to journeybasket[at]gmail | Special thanks to M.S. Gopal | All rights reserved. No commercial use.

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