One day we planned to visit Shimla and Kufri. So I started the journey from Ludhiana and my friends from Delhi. We met at Chandigarh ISBT to catch a bus to Shimla. There are two major bas terminus in Chandigarh. One in Sec 17 and another one in Sec 43. You have to catch the buses for Himachal Pradesh from Sec- 43 bus terminus. We catched a Keylong Depot bus, that was going to Keylong via Shimla. It was early morning around 4 AM. The bus passes through the beautiful hilly terrain of Himalaya’s Shivalik Range. The beauty of nature is spread all around you on the way. En- route to Shimla bus stopped once for the tea and snacks. It is around 4-5 hrs bus journey from Chandigarh to Shimla. There were different types of people in the bus. There were tourists, local folks and students of ITI going back to their home after vacation. We enjoyed our conversation with the students, even some of them from Keylong invited us to visit Keylong and to stay at their places. Anyway, we thanked them and terminated our journey at Shimla around 9 AM.
You can also take narrow gauge train from Kalka Railway Station to Shimla. Kalka is well connected to the major cities in India through the Rail network.There are ordinary as well as AC deluxe trains available for Shimla. In my previous visit I went to Shimla by this train only. The train runs normally at the speed of 25-30 kms per hour and take around 5 hours from Kalka to reach Shimla. It passes through approx 100 tunnels and number of bridges. The slow moving train give you a lot of opportunities to enjoy the hills and take the photographs.
It was a pleasant beautiful morning in Shimla. We decided to stay in a hotel. So contacted a local person who came to ask if we were in the need of accommodation. When we were going towards the hotel, we changed our mind to stay there and decided to proceed further beyond Shimla. Since it was my second visit to Shimla, I too want to proceed beyond Shimla. We went to a restaurant at Mall Road, used their wash-room to get fresh and had breakfast there.
Meanwhile I met a travel agent, who offered a sightseeing package at the cost of Rs.1500. It included Green Valley, Jhaku Temple, Fagu, Kufri, Narkanda, Hathu Peak and some other places. In the month of March there was no snow in the Shimla. So the agent said us that there is some snow at Hathu Peak near Narkanda. I have earlier visited Sri Nagar, Gulmarg, Mussoorrie etc, but never able to find that exciting white piece (snow). So we said yes to the agent and bargained the package at Rs.1200.
It was a Tata India Cab and we started journey from The Mall, Shimla to Narkanda. First we went to Green Valley. It is a road-side beautiful green valley full of Deodar Trees.
From there we went to Kufri. It is around 19 kms from Shimla. It gives some great views of valley all around. There is a nature park upside the hills and you have to hire a pony (cost around Rs. 150 per person) to reach there soon. Otherwise this 2-3 kms climb on foot can delay your onward journey. Anyway, we skipped to go upside, clicked some photographs around and started moving further. In Kufri you can get an opportunity to ride a Yak. The owner of Yak will charge Rs. 10 or 20 for a single photo on the back of Yak.
Then we reached to Fagu Valley approx 3 kms from Kufri. It was a perfect place to relax all day away from the madness of the Shimla. We stopped there for half an hour to clicked photos and then moved to Narkanda.
There were apple garden all around on Shimla-Narkanda Road. It is the Himachal Heartland for the apple production.
Narkanda is a quaint sleepy town, 64 kms away from Shimla. When you are in Narkanda, you feel free from all the tensions of the world. At first glance, its look likes an ordinary town. But when u started climb on the hills to Hathu Peak, u get thrilled with the stunning beauty all around. It’s a very narrow road with dangerous turns, slips and only one vehicle can go from one side. My friend was very nervous through the climbing phase and started crying to go back.
Anyhow, we continued further and reached at a parking place. From there we have to climb on foot only till the temple on the top. There hills were covered by the snow, not fully, but at least we could enjoy that. This was my first encounter with snow. We climb further and enjoyed the snow. After 10 minutes of walk, we reached to a point from where you can see snow covered top of Himalayas clearly. It seems so near to you.
We spent at least two hours there and then returned back to the base of the hills at Narkanda. We did our lunch in a restaurant there and started downward journey.
We reached to Shimla by 6 PM in the evening. We walked on the Mall, enjoyed ice creams. There are lots of Ice Creams Parlors at The Mall and it seems like a tradition to enjoy the icecream, while walking on the Mall. This is not with the case of Shimla only; I have experienced this at Mussoorie, Dharamshala, Dehradun etc also. The ice-cream is the best way to enjoy the evening walk in the hilly areas.
When we went to bus stand to return back, we found that almost all the good Volvo or Express Buses had been already booked. So if you there in Shimla and want to return back by bus, book your return ticket in advance. Around 8 PM, we got a bus to Chandigarh and came back to our destinations. It was a wonderful trip to get more familiar with “Devabhumi Himachal”.