One of the best places to visit near Chandigarh is Solan. Located in Himachal Pradesh at a distance of 45 Kms from Shimla, this sleepy hillside town has an elevation of about 5000 feet and provides some interesting landscapes and forested hills for nature lovers. It is situated between Chandigarh and Shimla, making it an ideal spot to travel to or stop at during your wanderings in these parts. Since it is not as well known as Shimla or Kasauli, the area is relatively peaceful and easy to visit.
Solan was once the capital city of the Kingdom of Bhagat. Thus, it has some ancient temple, monuments, fortifications and trails that are very interesting to explore and know about. The Shoolini Mala Temple and the Jatoli Shiv Temple are perhaps the most famous of these attractions and are visited by thousands of people every month. In June of every year, a great 3-day festival is held here in Solan to honor the goddess Shoolini, a name that literally means “goddess armed with a spear.” The festival is usually held at the Thodo Grounds and is open to visitors who want to know more about the region and its fascinating culture.
Solan is also famous for it mushrooms. It is called the “Mushroom Capital of India” as it produces the best mushrooms in the country and houses many businesses and institutions associated with Mushroom farming. The city houses the Directorate of Mushroom Research along with several research institutes and resources for mushroom farmers. The area is also famous for its tomatoes and is sometimes called the “City of Red Gold” for its prolific production of award winning varieties of tomatoes. Thus, if you visit Solan, don’t forget to try the locally grown mushrooms and tomatoes.
Food in Solan
Besides its natural beauty and historical sites, Solan is famous for its vibrant culture and advanced cuisine. The people here work hard and eat healthy food made from fresh ingredients that grow in the countryside. There are some distinct dishes made here that typify the cuisine in these parts that you must try if you visit the area. Here are some of the most famous things to try in Solan:
Lushke: This is Solan’s answer to the pancake. It is thick bread made from wheat, rice and baking soda, which goes incredibly well with most curried dishes.
Patande: This is similar to Lushke but is made with wheat, making it a huskier and healthier companion to all your favorite vegetable dishes.
Pachle: This is a seasonal dish that uses mashed sweet corn as a base which is then liberally spiced with various flavors and then steamed and served with ghee.
Askalu: This is perhaps the most popular bread eaten here. It is made from wheat and rice four and served in a special utensil called Askali, which is made out of stone.
Sidu: This is another type of bread stuffed with dal and special spices. It is kneaded with yeast and takes a long time to rise but once it is done, it is extremely tasty and fluffy.
Poode: This is a sweet dish made from a batter of wheat and jiggery syrup. The concoction is then fried in Ghee or oil and served hot.
Where to Stay
One of the best places to stay in Solan is the famous Timber Trail Resort. This is a great luxury resort that has an amazing architecture to match its incredible location amidst lush green forests and breathtaking views of the entire Solan Valley. The resort is also famous for its Ropeway, which is a great experience and is sure to provide an adrenalin rush every time you ride it.
The Ropeway goes all the way to the resort as there is a Station inside the property. The ride costs upwards of Rs. 1200 for visitors but is free for residents staying at the Timer Trail Resort. From the Cable Car, one can look down an incredible 5000 feet and see sights that would normally be hidden from view as you glide in the air like a bird.
The food at the Timberline Resort is also remarkable and includes local delicacies; lip smacking North Indian fare and very competent international selections such as Italian, Chinese and South Indian offerings. The breakfast spread for the morning buffet is truly impressive and suitable for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
For lunch, you can visit the critically acclaimed in house restaurant at Timber Trail called Mezza 9 or go to the Deck. You can also visit the Terrace Bar for a great meal surrounded by azure skies and majestic peaks. The in-room dining options is also very good and available 24 hours at the touch of a button. Besides the many exciting options on the menu, the chefs at Timer trail will be happy to make you something special upon request. All in all, this resort is the ideal place to stay in order to enjoy the best that Solan has to offer.