Exploring Himachal Pradesh
21.09.2008 - 02.10.2008
As the Pachim Express chugged out from the Bandra Terminus that fateful September 2008 morning, just could not believe that our 2nd odyssey to the “Land of the Gods” - Dev Bhumi – Himachal Pradesh, was truly unfolding. I pinched myself to feel it for real, as Mitali made herself comfortable, reclining her body in the lower berth of the AC compartment.
Excitement was quite visible in our faces as we chugged ahead almost touching the foothills the next afternoon. As we passed by Chandi Mali, the penultimate station before our destination Kalka, I caught the first glimpse of the green mountains ahead. The train halted for a final time on Platform 1 of Kalka station at 4.05 pm. Soon we took a taxi and started for Shimla. I called my local contact, Mr Satish, who was waiting for us in his pick-up jeep opposite the Shimla Raliway station. We boarded down from the taxi and drove in Mr Sharma's company to the Osceen Hotel for the night’s stay.
Friend, Philosopher, cum Guide
We woke up the next morning early at 7.20 am, excited as ever – we were really in Shimla. As assured, Mr Satish arrived sharp at 9.30 am. Accompanying him was a sturdy person in a Kinnauri cap, jeans and jacket. “This is Surender Singh Thakur, he would accompany you both in your trip,” Mr Satish introduced, as I shook hand with him saying he would be “our friend philosopher and guide for the next 10 days.
Checking out of Osceen Hotel and parking our bags in the boot of the Thakur Bhai’s Tata Sumo, and we started off at 9.45 am. Soon, we passed by Chotta Shimla and gradually the atmosphere started becoming serene. We stopped at Fagu and picked up some apple wine and bowed our heads in a Durga temple. The weather was a bit cloudy as we proceeded ahead.
Half and hour drive ahead we reached Kufri, a popular destination known for hiking and trekking trails. “Thakur Bhai” stopped the car and we alighted. We saw lots of saddled horses taking excited tourist up the steep climb on to some breath-taking trekking trails. As we did not wanted to waste time going up on horse back, we decided to experience the horse back trek on our way back and moved ahead. Soon, we passed by Theog and Narkanda. The views of the tall mountains were simply amazing and we just could not stop clicking the camera to glory.
Of Landslides & Bulldozers
Going some few odd kilometers ahead, passing by Oddi, we saw ahead of us a long line of vehicles in a stand still mode. “Thakur Bhai, what might be the case, can we expect traffic jam even here?” I inquired in exclamation. “Hope it is not a landslide ahead,” Thakur Bhai replied with a grim look, as he boarded down and said he’ll check and return.
Soon he returned back with some real bad news. His assumption about landslide turned true. “There was a very heavy landslide, earlier in the morning today and bulldozers are at work currently, but I presume it would take time for sure to clear all the rubbles,” Thakur Bhai informed sadly. We got down from the car to gauge first-hand the situation and what I saw ahead made me very unsure and disillusioned. The whole road was full of huge boulders and debris, it seem as if the whole hill has fallen down on the road. Despite two bulldozers trying to clear the rubble, it became amply clear to us that it going to take some bit of time. To idle away the time, Mitali started experimenting on some photo clicking sessions – the subject surely the beautiful landscape.
Stranded on the Highway
As the hours passed by, our restlessness kept surging and by now we were feeling hungry as well. Thakur Bhai, came back from the landslide site and suggested we walk back a few hundred meters, and grab some quick bite in a few dhabas situated alongside. For the dhabas situated at Oddi, it surely was brisk business, as loads of Army personnel, truck drivers, and stranded tourist like us flocked together. The menu offered was simple: dal, rice, hot chapattis, and curry. Hungry as we were, we gorged on the simple hot nutritious lunch - very tasty indeed. Having our fill we made our way to our vehicle and waited and waited.
Around 4pm, we noticed Thakur Bhai trotting back from the landslide sight and offered some bad news again. It seems some more debris caved in and the situation has worsened. “It is not going to get cleared today. We better head back to Narkanda and seek accommodation.” Thakur Bhai suggested.
Soon we reached Narkanda, and we checked in the cute Harsh Villa, wherein we got a very decent room with a very nice view of the supposedly Himalayan range ahead, which was now covered with thick grey clouds. The heavy downpour outside continued and as darkness set in it started becoming very chilling indeed. We huddled in the room and prayed for the skies to clear, “Please God, no more landslide ahead!”
One Step Forward, Two Steps Backwards
Next morning, I woke up with apprehension whether the weather is still cloudy or gloomy. But lo, what I saw was a bright ray of the sun falling on the window pane. Jumped out of the bed and opened the door and behold, in front of me were line upon line of snow clad mountains with fresh icy wind brushing across my face. I just could not stop my excited soul to see a clear sky.
Oddi, the place from where we returned back the previous day was about 30 minutes drive ahead. Reached there only to get the news that the landslide has not been cleared and it would take another 5-6 hours before the road clear. Dejected just stayed in the car and I pulled out the laptop to key in a few meaningful words.
Tasty Lunch Tasty No More
As the clock ticked away, like the previous day, we had to satisfy ourselves with the usual lunch consisting of the dal, chapatti, curry and rice in the local dhaba. Surely, it did not taste as tasty as it did the previous day. Already, we have lost almost two days; sad indeed was how we both felt.
Late afternoon, we heard a few more dynamite blasts and soon we saw Thakur Bhai pacing up towards the car. Igniting the engine, Thakur Bhai said, “This is not likely to get over soon, it is not going to be of any use waiting out here, my friend had just called saying that the other route via Vitthal has been opened for small cars,” as he turned our vehicle.
Soon, we moved past the pine forest and drove towards Narkanda. From Narkanda we saw two roads forking out, one towards Shimla and the other towards Nirath via Vitthal. It was a very narrow road and we started serpentine our way ahead slowly and carefully. It was late afternoon and it was as if we have literally entered apple country. We crossed numerous apple orchards. The road condition was not good and it was wet with slush and mud in most areas. Soon, dusk crept in and we kept moving ahead finally reaching Nirath. There was another Tata Sumo of Thakur Bhai’s friend, which too was following us in the same route, with six middle-aged Bengali couple.
Temple of the Sun
As we waited, Thakur Bhai suggested that we visit the Sun Temple, situated just over the road. He further said that this was the only Sun Temple in entire Asia. We trotted towards the temple in the darkness. My torch light came very handy, lighting up our path. The temple as we had contemplated was closed, but we bowed our heads at the door step and after spending a few minutes came back to our car.
Soon, the other car arrived and we started, with them following us. The road ahead was smooth and we could hear the gushing currents the Sutlej flowing alongside. Thakur Bhai informed that there was another big landslide ahead in Jhakri and we would have to use a different private road, going through the Sutlej Naptha Jhakri Hydel Project.
As we trudged ahead it seemed we were the only people on the road that night. Occasionally, a solitary truck passed by the opposite direction breaking the silence. Around 9.30 pm we approached a diversion. One road leads to Rampur, which ahead was blocked by landslide. We took the diversion, and after crossing the Bailey bridge, we drove into the rugged private road of the Naptha Jhakri Hydel project. It was a treacherous track, and slowly Thakur Bhai maneuvered the wheels. It was a very narrow track and one wrong maneuver would surely prove fatal.
Jackals on the Prowl
As we took the final turn to the entry gate of the Jhakri project, we saw ahead of us a line of 10 to 15 trucks and a few other vehicles. We boarded down to see what the matter was. To our utter disgust, the lone CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) security person was refusing to lift the barricaded gate, saying that he has orders from his higher up not to open the gate and allow the private vehicles pass through the core project area.
There was great commotion of the stranded people with the security personnel who kept insisting, “My hands are tied, there is this new rule effective from today that traffic would not be allowed to pass through the project area after 10 pm. The gate will be opened only at 6 am tomorrow.”
We all huddled up and decided to walk up-hill to meet the Officer-in-Charge and request him to oblige. It was a very steep hike and we had to ascend about half kilometers vertically up. On the way up, we all saw a pack of jackals on the prowl a few meters ahead of us. Thakur Bhai said it is a mating pair, and as they heard our voices, they soon melted into the darkness. After the arduous exhausting up-hill hike, we finally we made it to the main office.
A Cold Long Night
But sadly, the Officer-in-Charge was not willing to budge. Frustrated, we returned downhill to our vehicles and the only option for us was to sit through the night. By then it was past mid-night and our dinner comprised biscuits and chocolates that we had carried for emergency munching.
It was very cold outside and both of us made ourselves as comfortable as possible in the rear seat, covering ourselves with the emergency blanket that I insisted on carrying, to Mitali’s reluctance. Undoubtedly, it was very uncomfortable to sleep in the car and it indeed proved to be a cold long night. The hours passed by in agony and frustration. Around 5.30 am, it was still dark; I got down from the car and made my way to the barricaded gate to have a word with the security personnel. He said his duty would be over at 6 am and his reliever would come and soon the gate would be opened.
Gradually, one by one the other stranded passengers’, after their sleepless night, came towards the gate in anticipation that it would soon be opened and we could finally move ahead. By now it was 6 am, and the reliever too came but he was simply not willing to open the gate. Adding as if salt to or already wounded body and soul, he was maintaining that he’ll open the gate at 9.30 am.
After passing through the long night in the vehicles and that too without any food, the stranded passengers could not take it any more. Heated arguments followed, and finally at around 6.30 am the gate was opened and our vehicles were allowed to pass through.
Pangs of the Night Melts
Wasting no more time, as we already lost two precious days, we decided to head straight to Sarahan. Driving about and hour and half we reached Jeori and halted for some refreshing tea in a road side dhaba. Sipping the hot tea, Thakur Bhai pointed his fingers vertically upwards and I could see high up in the mountains, a settlement. “That’s Sarahan, 17 kilometers up.” The early morning drive from Jeori was extremely fresh and scenic as we traversed through high mountains flanked by steep cliffs on one side and deep ravines on the other.
As we snaked our way up, at one curve we saw the gorgeous snow-covered Srikhand Mahadev Peak (5155 meters) along with the entire Himalayan range high in the horizon. All the pains and pangs of being on the road for over 30 hours by now – the time we started from Narkanda - as if melted at the awesome sight of this majestic peak. Pulled out the camera and simply could not stop clicking all the best possible shots. We passed many a sleepy villages and finally, in an hour’s time we entered picture-perfect Sarahan.
At the Feet of Holy Mother
Basically, Sarahan is a small sleepy hamlet providing the best view of the Srikhand peak. It is also in Sarahan, the much revered Bhimakali Temple is located. It is said that back in time, human sacrifice used to be carried out in this revered ancient temple.
There were quite a few hotels and guest houses in Sarahan, checking a few, we decided to stay in the posh HPTDC run Srikhand View. Refreshing ourselves we a hot bath, we made our way to get a darshan of Bhimakali Mata. The wooden Bhimakali Temple is a grand specimen of hill architecture in a unique blend of Hindu and Buddhist styles. This beautifully carved temple has three stories topped by an awesome roofline, typical Buddhist monastery style.
A 200-yr old gold image of the goddess Bhimakali is enshrined on the first floor, which is actively worshipped only during the Dusshera festival. And, how lucky we were, the day we arrived it was the first day of ten days long Dusshera festival. We prayed from the bottom of our hearts at the feet of Bhimalaki Mata.
Saying our prayer in this divine temple, we walked back and after having a sumptuous brunch crashed to the bed tired. Woke up late afternoon and we decided to go exploring the Bushahr Palace located just adjacent to the Bhimakali temple.
There Once Lived a King
Sarahan was the capital of the Kings of Bushahr, who had build the empire with the lucrative Pashmina trade. Pashmina shawls are known world over for it warmth and softness.
According to legends, the Bushahr dynasty was founded by “Pradhuman”, the son of Lord Krishna. In order to marry the daughter of Banasur, the local chief of Shonitpur (Sarahan), Pradhuman is said to have come to that place. He had an encounter with him, in which Banasur was slained. Pradhuman became the chief of Bushahr and Kinnaur regions, since Banasur did not have any son to succeed.
In 1914 Britishers recognized Padam Singh as legitimate heir and was crowned Raja of Rampur Bushahr. Ultimately in March, 1948 Rampur Bushahr joined the Indian Union to become part and parcel of province of Himachal Pradesh.
The wooden Bhushahr Palace is an example of marvelous architecture and craftsmanship. It was build by His Highness Padam Singh in 1917. The caretaker warmly greeted and took us around the palace. We were simply bowled out to see it richly carved wood works.
After a thorough rendezvous in the palace we made our way to the small market, with Kinnauri girls luring passerby to buy various items. We bought some Kinnauri caps as well as some Kinnauri shawls made of sheep wool. Finally, we returned to Srikhand View and sipping some hot coffee, we saw a heavenly sun-set in the backdrop of the Srikhand peak.
Meandering Sutlej Rumbles Along
Woke up at 7.10 am the next morning and having a lazy breakfast we were ready to make our move to our next destination Sangla, situated at a distance of 54 kilometers. Traffic on the road was sparse expect the few odd dumpers plying. The Sutlej flowed alongside rumbling along, breaking the silence.
Slowly we moved ahead, with Thakur Bhai carefully nudging the curve path ahead. Soon we saw ahead of us rows of snow clad mountains again, but this time around they seems just at a hand reach from us. The landscape was simply way too beautiful to describe and with the meandering Sutlej alongside us, we moved ahead. Soon we reached small town of Bhavanagar. Passing by Bhavanagar, we reached Tapri where we stopped for some tea.
Most Beautiful Valley of All
Moving up from Tapri, we entered the Baspa Valley, with the turquoise fast-flowing Baspa river meandering below. We were soon bowled out with the mesmerizing rear view the Kinnaur Kailash peak. The frontal view can be seen from Kalpa, which we plan to reach in a couple of days.
The entire range of Kinnaur Kailash stood is front of us - too very near to be true. It was sunny and the white snow-covered peaks in the backdrop of the deep blue skyline. It was too heavenly and beautiful to be described in words.
As we moved into Sangla, we passed many apple orchards, with red apples clinging literally in every branch. We stopped at one of the orchard and Mitali could not resist plucking an apple straight from the tree. Truly, it was the tastiest apple I ever had till date in my life.
Sangla, situated at a height of 2,700 meters, is a small picturesque town hamlet in the Baspa Valley, which is also known as the Sangla Valley. The entire Sangla Valley with thickly forested slopes of Pine and Deodar trees, is widely acknowledge as one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. We checked in Madhu Guest House, having the best views of the entire Kinnaur Kailash range on one side and the meandering Baspa river on the other.
Dropping our bags in the allotted top floor room, we decided to go exploring Sangla. We tracked down and made our way towards the Baspa river. Going down the crisscrossing lanes and by-lanes of sleepy Ru village was confusing at times, but the sweet Kinnauri locals were ready to guide us the right track.
We were amazed at the architecture of the wooden houses with the roofs covered by black slate sheets, as we made our way downhill through the steep path. Finally we reached the river. We just sat down at one of the rocks to simply gaze at the greenish-blue water gushing across.
As it was already late afternoon, we decided not to venture that further to the famous Trout Farm, and gradually made our way back. We hiked up and visited a famous Buddhist temple, of amazing wooden craftsmanship, situated alongside the locally much-revered Hindu Bairang Nag temple.
We watched another heavenly sunset sitting from the balcony. As the last rays of the sun touched the Kinnaur Kailash peak, the plethora of colours that it created would be etched in our minds forever. Having an early dinner, after watching some TV, we called it a night.
From Kamrupa to Kamru
Next morning post breakfast, we decided to visit the Kamru Fort and Thakur Bhai dropped us at the base of the Kamru Village. The famous Kamru Fort is located high up the village and one has to trek up to visit this high altitude temple.
Mitali was experiencing the step climb very tough and I had to coax and cajole her to keep pushing. Mid-way, we halted at the 15th century Badrinarayan Temple, situated alongside another Buddhist temple.
Finally, as we are approaching the main gate of the holy Kamru Fort, a person rushing down from the temple premises offered us some prasad - thick bajra roti layered with yak butter – saying it is the offering to the Goddess Kamakshya Devi. We really felt blessed at the timing of the “holy prasad” being delivered to us by the holy mother - just as we at her gates - after an arduous climb of over one hour.
The caretaker of this temple, Rajender Singh, welcomed us warmly and said that as per local tradition, one has to cover the head and tie a saffron thread around the waist before entering the temple. Sweetly, he offered us two Kinnauri caps which we adorned and tied the thread around our waist as informed.
The tower-like Kamru Fort standing tall in this scenic landscape looks daunting indeed. The main holy deity of the Kamru Fort is Kamakshyi Devi. It is said that the idol of Kamakshyi Devi had been brought form far away Guwahati, in Assam, known in ancient time as Kamrupa.
Incidentally, the name Kamru perhaps had its origin from the ancient name of Kamrupa. Being a person from Assam, I surely felt proud of this unique connection.
Offering our prayers to the holy mother, we silently sat at the premise of this serene place of a by gone era, and encapsulated the sights both in our minds as well in the camera.
The Last Village
Our next destination was Chitkul, perched at the height of 3600 meters – the last human habitation in the Hindustan Tibet Highway - ahead of which lay sheer wilderness towards the borders of China (Tibet).
Though Chitkul, situated at a short distance of about 26 kms from Sangla, road condition was not that good and driving naturally had to be slow. Gradually, we passed by the sleepy Karcham village which seems to be in a suspended state.
Driving ahead of odd kilometers, we reached a clearing after a steep climb and the view in front of us was too good to be true. The road ends here. Ahead of us was an open green meadow, with the turquoise water of the Baspa flowing alongside and high snow-clad Himalayas all lined up just a couple of kilometers ahead. A signboard reads Chitkul – population 610. On our right side was the cute Chitkul in these idyllic settings, the last village of India.
The serenity of the place was immediately felt by us – the sheer feeling of oneness with nature. As per Thakur Bhai’s suggestion we checked into Panchali Resort.
Having placed out luggage we ventured out. Straight away we headed out to the meadows, ever nearer to the snow-clad mountains. We trekked ahead and having reached the Baspa river, we splashed ourselves in the icy cold crystal-clear water. Dipping our legs into the water, it did not take more than a minute to make them numb. We just while away quite some time in this solitude before trotting back to our room.
After a late lunch we rested a while, and soon it was evening. We lighted by a camp fire outside and heard many a local myths and legends. After a sumptuous dinner we crashed out.
We woke up early next morning to be greeted by the white mountains from the bed. Basking in the morning sun, we sipped a refreshing hot cup of tea. Soon, we freshened up and having some delicious puri bhaji we were ready to move out to Kalpa, our destination next.
Gave a final look at this heavenly place and we moved out, wondering when we can return back again. Passing through those scenic alpine meadows that we had crossed the previous day, we crossed Sangla and Karcham, finally reaching Rakcham. It is here the Baspa merges with the Sutlej and flows ahead together.
We took the road leading towards Rekong Peo and moved ahead. We were wondering whether we would be able to make it to our last target Kaza or may be upto Losar in Spiti – whether roads would be open. As we approached Rekong Peo we had the first glimpse of the Mt Kinnaur Kailash standing tall at 6050 meters, holy to both the Hindus as well the Kinnauri Buddhist.
We were awestruck at its sight. As our vehicle moved ahead, we too moved closer and closer. Amazing as it was, at this high altitude, so much away from modern civilization, we halted at an SBI ATM to pull out some cash as our cash stock was gradually getting depleted. No credit cards work out here.
On our inquiry at the Himachal Pradesh State Transport Station of Rekong Peo, we got the bad new that the road to Kaza was closed due to landslides ahead and it would take a few more days to clear it.
Gods by the Roadside
Hoping against hope, we consoled ourselves, perhaps the next day we might get some good news and soon we started our way up to Kalpa formerly known as Chinni Village, situated about 13 kilometers vertically up from Peo. All the way up to Kalpa we passed through thick pine and rhododendron forest.
En-route a few kilometers ahead we saw a huge crowd assembling besides the road on a field. On display were three local deities in their colourful best, adorned with matted hairs of yak. On enquiry we were informed that the deities were brought down so that all the village folks could gather around and seek their blessings.
After taking a few snaps and bowing our heads as well we proceeded ahead.Finally we reached Kalpa around late afternoon and checked into Rakpa Residency. The view from this hotel was simply amazing. Just across a deep ravine lay the entire daunting Kinnaur Kailash range. After settling in the hotel we trotted down the criss-crossing small alleys of the village, we say many a smiling children greeting us aloud. We visited a Buddhist Gompa and the ancient Narayan Nagini temple.
This magnificent temple, built in traditional Tibetan Pagoda type architecture, is an exemplary piece of Kinnauri workmanship. We were told that there were many a lingams (pinnacles) in the entire Kinnaur Kailash range and in the entire day depending on the position of the sun, its colour keeps changing. We did manage to see it transform from deep yellow to dark grey.
Coming back we stood at the balcony of our room. As the late sun rays were getting reflected in the snow-covered peaks, a dazzling array of colours was emanating. We just stood and just kept gazing on and on for how long we don’t know. Only when dusk set in we pulled ourselves inside the room. Soon we put on the heater and I enjoyed a long hot bath. The icy Himalayan wind howled outside as we kept ourselves indoor. By 8 pm hot dinner was dished out and having a sumptuous meal we called it a night with anticipation of a beautiful sunrise ahead.
Presence of the Lord
It was still dark as the alarm sounded in my cell phone woke me up, dawn was approaching soon. Reluctantly, I got down from the warm bed opened the balcony door and stepped outside feel the chilly atmosphere. Mitali still in her slumber and after a few unanswered calls, she just tossed the other way and continued sleeping – oblivious of what she is missing.
As the 1st rays of the sun dashed into the Kinnaur Kailash peak, the contour of colours it emanated kept me spell bound – in sheer ecstasy. I just kept gazing on, as more rays of the sun gradually engulfed the peaks of the entire range. A glittering array of colours that it created would remain etched in my mind forever.
Alone as I gazed on, that cold dawn, I surely felt the warm presence of the Lord in front of me. How I wished in the bottom of my hearts, can we not stay back here forever – away from the mad city where we live to – to work.
With these thought in mind, I stepped back into the room and was moved to see how blissfully Mitali was sleeping away. Huddled myself into the bed again and stayed on till room service brought in some hot refreshing bed tea.
Welcome to Bhava Valley
Freshning up, we had breakfast in the lawn outside inhaling the fresh mountain air. Soon I checked with Thakur Bhai about the latest status of the road condition ahead. He did not had good news to offer and informed us that the landslide in Spello is yet to get cleared and naturally our way to Nako, Tabo & finally Kaza could not materialize this time around. Seeing my dejected face, Thakur Bhai suggested he would take us to a different route instead – to the Bhava valley – Kafnu.
With no other alternative, I gave a reluctant nod and we soon were out on the road again. Thakur Bhai suggested we visit the Ribba village before we make our way to Kafnu. It was yet another quiet peaceful village with the innocent locals proudly showing us around their small hamlet.
Thereafter, we moved ahead and soon passed by Powri and stopped at Tapri for lunch. Crossed the same dusty landscape, courtesy the many hydel projects – pollution at its peak – it was dust and dust all around.
After a simple lunch at a roadside dhaba, we moved on. Reaching Karcham, we took the road diverting towards right, going to Bhava Pass. From there on we climbed the serpentine hairpins for about an hour till we reached a welcome arch, “Welcome to Bhava Valley”.
This picture perfect valley was very scenic with the green mountains all around as the turquoise Bhava river meandered below. We crossed many a waterfall on the way – one literally falling over the road as we glided passed underneath.
Finally another half and hour later, we reached Kafnu, the last village on this route. Checked into the Lake View resort, the only visible hotel, we just rested. Late afternoon we trotted out and visited an apple orchard situated besides the quite Kafnu lake. There was nothing much to see in Kafnu, except to soak oneself in the serene environment. Beyond Kafnu there is no motorable road ahead. Of course, there are a few treks for the adventurous souls that pass through the Bhava Pass and connect Kaza. Coming back we ordered an early dinner and crashed out.
Woke up the next morning and having a sumptuous breakfast we started back to Sarahan. Passed by Karcham and reached Jeori from where we could see up the steep mountain the green roof of Srikhand View. Drove past the serpentine path up 17 kilometers, the now familiar sight and sound and checked in HPTDC Srikhand View.As dusk crept, in I went to join the evening arti (prayers) in the Bhimakali temple. Having said my prayers to the divine mother, joined Mitali outside as I saw her carrying on her photographic experimentations.
Next morning we started off back to Shimla. As we made our way back we surely felt Kinnaur truly turned out to be the land of fairy tales and fantasies, with a spectacular terrain from lush green valley, orchards, to barren snow-clad mountains.
Reaching Shimla late afternoon around 3.30 pm, I requested Thakur Bhai to get us a place away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. And apt to our request, he got us accommodation in the Firhill Hotel, situated in a quite locale of the Shimla town, with close proximity to the famous Mall Road.
Soaked in History
Having rested the night, post breakfast the next morning, we ventured out to explore Shimla. Our first stop was the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. The sprawling campus of this institute is sure to impress one and all. The architecture of the blocks in the campus took us to a trip to the Victorian era. The main attraction of this campus is the erstwhile residence of the Viceroy of British India – the Viceregal Lodge.
This building was completed in 1888. In fact, the whole of Indian subcontinent was ruled from this very building. The Viceregal Lodge was witness to many a historical events. In fact, as we were taken around the building, we were indeed intrigued to see many a historical art, artifacts as well as photographs on display, each having its own share of history. Visiting the conference room, we were informed that it was this very room our politicians including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammed Jinnah deliberated and chalked out the Partition of India.
After our rendezvous with this historical place, we moved back towards the Tibetan Market and did some bit of shopping. Loitered around the Mall Road in the afternoon. Late afternoon, we boarded the Shivalik Deluxe Express steam train to Kalka and finally from Kalka we boarded the Pachim Express and made our way back to the plains. As we chugged back towards Mumbai, we reflected our Walk on the High Himalayas and wondered when can return to be on her lap again.
Note: To travel to these interiors, company of a dependable person is utmost and who else better than Thakur Bhai (Mr Surender Singh Thakur, Shimla). I assure he'll stand by the thick and thin of the trip, Contact Number: 09418072724