Shimla – Kufri – Jakhu Temple and Back Journey

Hi Friends,

Our hotel was at equal distance from Rly Station and Bus Stand. (Click to enlarge)

Our hotel was at equal distance from Rly Station and Bus Stand. (Click to enlarge)

You might have read from my previous post that starting from Saharanpur (U.P.) at 6.00 a.m. by own car, we i.e. my wife, son, nephew and myself reached Kalka at 10.30 a.m. and after leaving the car at the railway station parking, got into Kalka Shimla train in general compartment which looked like Kumbh Mela site within 5 minutes of arrival of Delhi-Kalka Queen at another platform.  You have also learnt how historic this narrow guage rail route is. This hillward journey from Kalka to Shimla started at 1.00 p.m. instead of 12.10 p.m. and after crossing 102 tunnels and 988 iron-less bridges, we reached at Shimla at around 8.00 p.m.  at an altitude of 2076 meters.   No sooner we stepped out of railway platform, a fevikwik type of hotel agent  securely stuck to us and could only be gotten rid of after  we rejected three hotels and finally checked in at Hotel Victory which is above Victory Tunnel .  Please continue…

Two-tiered bed in our hotel room - big enough for adults too.

Two-tiered bed in our hotel room – big enough for adults too.

All the members of my family fell in love with the room at first sight and felt happy that the stay would be a pleasant one.   In the meantime, I have been at the window of the room which gave excellent view of several hill ranges across the valley.  After settling ourselves in the room, we decided to have a walk and find some good place to eat.  At the Reception, the hotel Manager asked us if we would need a taxi in the morning for local sight seeing? We looked at each other and then I said, “May be.  What places should we include in our itinerary?”  He produced a pamphlet from his drawer  and told us that these are the sites he would take you to and these are the rates.  Since you are staying with us, we will offer you 10% discount.  You would get Indica taxi in excellent condition.  As far as I remember, he had told us Rs. 800/- for the full day sight seeing, which appeared quite reasonable to us in view of the itinerary given in the pamphlet.  As we learnt later,  there is a tendency to include as many places in the list as possible – how-so-ever insignificant or trivial they may actually be.  For example,  if we go from Shimla to Kufri, they would include five or six locations – all of which are enroute  just to make the list substantial.  However, we accepted the offer and went out to have a stroll on Mall Road feeling quite elated.  Shimla didn’t seem to us costly at all.

It was perhaps 9 p.m. when we reached Mall Road. At that point of time, very few shops were open. Looking at Sagar Ratna Restaurant on our right, all of us agreed without even uttering a word that we will dine there only.  For vegetarians who relish South Indian food,  Sagar Ratna is like an ISI marked food joint.  The dining area was aesthetically pleasing and the food  (my favourite Rava Masala Dosa) was yummyeeee!  Everything was fine except the air which was over-burdened with very strong incense burning there in front of Lord Ganpati’s idol.

At around 10 p.m.  when we came out of Sagar Ratna, it was practically midnight and we marched back to our hotel since there were no street lights also.  However, nothing untoward happened and we reached our hotel safely.   The taxi was to arrive at 8.00 in the morning.  I spent some time reviewing my pics and put the camera battery and mobile on charging and soon we drifted into sleep.

SIGHT SEEING

Can you correctly count the number of hill ranges?

The first view of Himalayan hills from our hotel room.

At the end of its life perhaps!

Early morning at around 6 o’ clock, when rest of the family members were still asleep, I  attended to daily routine and then decided (as usual)  to wander and acquaint myself a bit with the geography of Shimla.  The first important thing I discovered was that one didn’t need to go through the Victory tunnel to reach other side of the hill. The tunnel was meant for automobiles only (but you won’t be fined if you do venture into it). There were some lanes to my left which connected to other side of the hill. I walked roughly 1 km. in opposite direction of the railway station and found the Bus Stand there.  Wow! I was as happy at my discovery of Bus Stand as Vasco-de-gama must have been after discovering  Bharat Varsh aka India! It was enough achievement for the morning and I decided to come back to the hotel room. Early morning Sun peeped into the room and blessed us with its exhilarating and invigorating rays. Technically, these were not first rays of the Sun because when the Sun ascended high enough in the sky to defeat the hills and was able to throw its rays directly into our room, our watch was already showing 8 a.m.

Is it Victorian architecture?

Is it Victorian architecture?

For how many years more can he manage to carry this load?

For how many years more can he manage to carry this load?

Narrow Guage Rail Track continues after Shimla Station. But upto where?

Narrow Guage Rail Track continues after Shimla Station. But upto where?

Everyone was found awake when I returned. My wife knows me too well to ask where I have been so early.  I went to the window and found a denuded tree across the road and many more which were fully clothed with thick green leaves which I hope were Deodar trees.  However, please confirm anyone.

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Posing for me!

Posing for me! Showing the hotel room from the road!

By 8.30 everyone was ready to leave the room for our much awaited sight-seeing of today. We came down at the reception and then found our way to the dining hall.  Dahi, parantha followed by tea seemed obvious choice for a quick breakfast.  We registered our ‘great disappointment’ at the Reception that the taxi was still nowhere which should have arrived an hour before as promised to us.  They told us to enjoy sunshine on the road side and the taxi would arrive within 300 seconds.

When the taxi did arrive, it was an Alto and not Indica but since the condition of the car was excellent and the driver also seemed quite amiable type,  we didn’t make much fuss and got into it.  Indica offers much more room space but none of us occupies more space than is due, so no issues.  After all, we were here to enjoy and not to get irritated every now and then and spoil our mood.

The first thing the driver did was to reach other side of the hill through the Victory tunnel.  It seemed to me that unless you pass through a tunnel in Shimla, your journey would be as incomplete as a Hindu marriage would be without Sapt-padi ! A mandatory item on all taxi cars was a rear view mirror fitted at an angle of 45 degree at the back of the vehicle so that driver may see the road immediately below the vehicle through the rear view mirror fitted in front of him.  This helps the driver in parking his car in such a dangerous manner that a driver of Indo-Gangetic planes would immediately have a heart attack merely by having a look at it.  Not more than 10 mm. space is left between the edge of the road and the rear wheel of the car and delay of just one second would see the car doing somersaults into the valley.   Even if you have parking sensors fitted at the back of your modern-generation high-end car, it is useful to detect a wall, another vehicle or some other obstruction only.  It can’t tell that there is no road beyond this point.  Well!

The driver told us that we were going to Kufri and to start the journey with a good omen, he demanded 500/- to make his Alto satiated with petrol and happily agreed to defer the balance of Rs.300/- till the end of our tour.  Kufri, as every human being knows from countless bollywood movies, is a winter sports point where people do skiing during and after snowfall.  However, we were going there in the last week of March so no snowfall and no skiing either.  Actually, we wanted to know how glamour-less skiing slopes could look when there was no snow to cover their nudity!   Kufri is 16 km. ride from Shimla city at 8,600 ft. altitude.

It was perhaps half way up towards Kufri when our driver-cum-guide stopped the taxi and asked us to enjoy that place.  When we came out of the vehicle,  it was certainly a very strategic location full of countless pine / deodar trees reaching dizzying heights from the valley.  He had perhaps named this place as “Silent Valley” or something similar.   If one has an eye to appreciate the heavenly charm of panoramic natural landscape, this certainly appears to me a great location to spend a few hours doing nothing except staring at the vast expanse of trees and the endless depth of valley.

Countless trees in the hills - a godly arrangement to preserve eco-system.

Countless trees in the hills – a godly arrangement to preserve eco-system.

Silent Valley - Shimla Kufri Road.

Silent Valley – Shimla Kufri Road.

Shimla - Kufri road embellished with endless rows of pine.

Shimla – Kufri road embellished with endless rows of pine.

Chaat preparation at Silent Valley.

Chaat preparation at Silent Valley.

Silent Valley - on way to Kufri

Silent Valley – on way to Kufri

Well, we ate some tikki, chhole, fruit chaat besides taking some photographs before settling down in our respective seats in the Alto to continue the tour.  The next stop was the base camp of Mahasu where taxi cars are to be parked and the tourist continue either on foot or on the back of mules to reach the Mahasu peak.   It may be 2 or 3 km. from the base camp to the peak and the route is muddy and full of loose stones.  There are perhaps 500 or more mules serving the tourists by taking them from the base camp to the peak and bringing them back after a few hours.  Through some inexplicable magic, they can identify you correctly among thousands of tourists when you decide to come back to the base camp.  It is therefore needless to worry as to how you would identify your mule for your return journey. Even if you can’t recognize your mule, your mule will certainly recognize you! And why not? Who would forget his tormentor? The only thing a poor mule is allowed to offer you in return of your loading yourself on his back is some crap which doesn’t smell like fresh roses!

An uphill journey with all pervading smell of mule's crap

An uphill journey with all pervading smell of mule’s crap

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Yes, yes, shoot him!

Yes, yes, shoot him!

'Gora aur Kala' - the two yaks.

‘Gora aur Kala’ – the two yaks.

No problem of network at Kufri.

No problem of network at Kufri.

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A gift for your 'saali'

A gift for your ‘saali’

This vast expanse of slope should look beautiful during/after  snowfall.

This vast expanse of slope should look beautiful during/after snowfall.

You can beg for money in a number of ways!  ’साब, ये सांप तीन दिन से भूखा है!’

You can beg for money in a number of ways! ’साब, ये सांप तीन दिन से भूखा है!’

Entrance to the Fun World, Kufri

Entrance to the Fun World, Kufri

All tall as Himalayas !

As tall as Himalayas !

Making Veg burgers for us at Kufri

Making Veg burgers for us at Kufri

Enjoying 'Gudia ke baal' a sweet children enjoy very much - Kufri

Enjoying ‘Gudia ke baal’ a sweet children enjoy very much – Kufri

Please don’t ask me what we saw in Kufri because I have been wondering about that myself ever since I returned from there.  There was perhaps nothing important to see there in that part of the year.   But when I look at the pictures that I took there, well, everyone of us appears to have enjoyed there. It seems we don’t have very tough demands to feel happiness. Almost anything can make us happy!   When you are with your favourite people, your happiness doesn’t depend on some external factors.  It comes from within.  With such mindset you can even laugh away the foul smell of mule’s crap which was in such abundance that through proper use of it, our government can ensure sufficient production of CNG to cater to entire Shimla!

If there is no other reason for you to scale towering heights of Himalayas, visiting a temple at the peak of a hill can be a perfectly valid reason to undertake an arduous journey.  We found not only a Fun World up there in Kufri but also a temple with a curiously shaped dome.  We also stumbled upon a young couple with whom my wife and nephew  had played cards for several hours in the toy train. Since they didn’t have any child yet, we looked at them as honeymoon couple!   It proved to be a happy re-union and to celebrate this meeting I clicked some photographs  of both families  which I emailed to them later.

Notice the snake styled temple's dome!

Notice the snake styled temple’s dome!

What a beautiful chair for us!   Kufri

What a beautiful chair for us! Kufri

Our co-passengers from the train, Kufri.

Our co-passengers from the train, Kufri.

Among the most noticable things in Kufri were yak and three mobile towers.  My wife even fulfilled her  desire of aiming gun at me on the pretext of making a pose on yak!   Well, on coming back to the base camp, we were told by our Driver Ji to see the nearby zoo also and we honoured his wishes quite dutifully.   It was a tiny zoo with tiny beer playing with each other and some more animals like deer and … and …. I don’t know.   Whenever I hear the word deer, a sentence springs up in my mind, “My dear, my deer is a dear dear, so it is dear to me.”

Was this white tree imported by Britishers?

Was this white tree imported by Britishers?

At the Zoo, Kufri, Shimla

At the Zoo, Kufri (They are visitors to the zoo and not the exhibits !  :D )

Sorry, but I don’t remember the exact name of this large bird.

My dear, my deer is a dear deer so it is dear to me!

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Hello!  How r u? Long time, no see?

Hello! How r u? Long time, no see?

Small Zoo at Kufri, Shimla

Small Zoo at Kufri, Shimla

Kufri, Shimla

Kufri, Shimla

After spending several hours at Kufri, we got into the taxi and asked the Driver Ji, “What next?”  He took us to the Jakhu temple and in between some more insignificant places also.  Jakhu Temple is situated on the tallest peak of Shimla at 8,000 ft. and is the seat of Bajrangbali Hanuman Ji.  The Alto had to climb perhaps  700 ft. or more on a dangerously steep road within a short distance of 1.6 mile and when I found with astonishment that it did that successfully,  I had to revise my earlier views and felt myself respecting this vehicle much more. God forbid, but it must be very tempting for any vehicle to roll down backward on that road!

Beware of monkeys!  Entrance to Jakhu Temple, Shimla

Beware of monkeys! Entrance to Jakhu Temple, Shimla

Jakhu Temple, Shimla

Jakhu Temple, Shimla

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Well, after removing our footwear at the shoe locker before starting at 100+ stairs, we were given long sticks along with prasad to safeguard us and our prasad as well.  We were asked to be on alert against hundreds of monkeys present there.  Well, we employed two-pronged strategy of always staying in group and keeping our sticks (dried branches of some tree) passively visible to the monkeys.  Also, we didn’t acquire even for once, any aggressive posture so as to instigate the army of monkeys.  Avoiding a direct confrontation with them was the best strategy.  I also found a dust bin kept there which I liked very much.  I recommended the same to our DM in Saharanpur also for Nagar Nigam. Don’t know if we will have its replicas here or not.

A snapshot from Lord Hanuman's life at Jakhu Temple, Shimla

Lord Hanuman coming out of Sursa’s mouth – a snapshot from Lord Hanuman’s life. Jakhu Temple, Shimla

Jakhu temple - the picture came our shaky because of  "Photography not allowed" notice board.

Jakhu temple – the picture came out shaky because of “Photography not allowed” notice board.

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A dustbin that does not allow animals to poke their nose into it.

A dustbin that does not allow animals to poke their nose into it.

Restaurant at Jakhu temple

Restaurant at Jakhu temple

Our tea and pakodis are being prepared.

Our tea and pakodis are being prepared.

This peak affords a grand panoramic view of Shimla city but not as grand as I had seen from Shankaracharya Parvat in Srinagar which was breathtaking to say the least.   After darshan, we consumed prasad almost immediately for fear of monkeys.  Why allure them with polythene bags in our hand?

I haven’t been able to figure out till date as to how it happens but  my wife seems fitted with GPS system to track down a tea shop within 100 meters.  It was no wonder then that the shop at Jakhu temple which was sort of a basement  shop with zero ground visibility for the rest of us, was clearly visible to her.   She led us to the shop where we happily consumed tea/cold drink and aloo ke pakode.

When we left from  Jakhu Temple, it was around 4 p.m.  or a little more.  The taxi took us to the Lakkad Bazar!   What a shame!   In our Saharanpur, we don’t use such a deprecating name for our handicraft market as the people of Shimla use for theirs. Through any stretch of imagination, those handcrafted artwares being sold there are not lakkad !!!   Lakkad, as everyone knows is fuel wood which is good for nothing except burning to produce heat. A lot of love, pain and artistry go into those pieces of art and calling them lakkad is so demeaning !

Parallel to Mall Road, there is a lower bazar also. The lower road leading to that market.

Parallel to Mall Road, there is a lower bazar also. The lower road leading to that market.

Mall Road

Mall Road

Mall Road

Mall Road

Mall Road

Mall Road

Innumerable pictures have been taken of this legendary Ridge at Shimla.

Innumerable pictures have been taken of this legendary Ridge at Shimla.

Parades are watched from here.

Parades are watched from here.

Yashwant Parmar - Architect of Shimla.

Yashwant Parmar – Architect of Shimla.

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Well, the taxi dropped us at Ridge and the Driver Ji said good bye to us after collecting his balance payment.   We were advised to spend our evening on Mall Road walking leisurely  from this end to the other end near Victory tunnel.  Don’t know the cause but somehow I started coughing a lot while taking a stroll on the Mall Road and by the time we reached our hotel, I had high fever and bronchitis.  It was really a pitiable night for me although I took medicines, gargles and had applied Vicks on my chest also.

When I ‘woke up’ the next morning, I was not able to utter a sentence because speaking meant coughing. My suggestion to my family to leave me at the hotel and enjoy some more in Shimla was summarily turned down and everyone decided to pack up and leave. The show was over.  We packed our belongings, cleared our bills, got into a bus for Kalka and said good bye to Shimla at around 8 or 9 in the morning.  My previous day’s discovery of Bus Stand proved handy and we simply walked towards the bus stand instead of waiting for some local conveyance.

Solan - Return journey by bus.

Solan – Return journey by bus.

Picture of train taken from the moving bus.

Picture of train taken from the moving bus.

Colorful sign boards - Breakfast at the highway between Shimla - Kalka.

Colorful sign boards – Breakfast at the highway between Shimla – Kalka.

By the time we reached Solan, I felt somewhat better and when we got into our car at Kalka, I was nearly normal barring some cough. We found a big dhaba (okay, restaurant!) and stopped for lunch there. With batteries fully charged after meals, I pointed out towards Yadavindra gardens and suggested that it deserved a visit. Pinjor Garden 22 km. before Chandigarh on the Kalka – Panchkula – Chandigarh Highway No. 22 is officially known as Yadavindra Garden. This 7-terraced garden is said to have been built by architect Fidai Khan, foster brother of highly atrocious ruler Aurangzeb in 17th century.  Due to neglect of several centuries, when it turned into a jungle, King Yadavindra Singh (Patiala) took up the job of bringing back its old glory and enhanced it further.

The Pinjor Gardens are reminiscent of world-famous gardens of Srinagar, Kashmir.  The first terrace is the entrance point and is known as Shish Mahal.  There is Hawa – Mahal also on this terrace.  The second terrace  is known as Rang Mahal (Does Rang Mahal mean theatre or colourful terrace?  I didn’t find any colours there.)  The next terrace is Jal Mahal and has got the square fountain.  It feels great to have spray of cold water occasionally hitting your face – specially in summers!   The rose beds below it provide breathtaking view.   Although we didn’t go any further down this terrace, we heard that there is an open-sky theatre at the last terrace and the water beds in between.

Pinjor Garden (Yadavendra Garden) welcomes you!

Pinjor Garden (Yadavindra Garden) welcomes you!

 

If you consider yourself a kid, get into it !

If you consider yourself a kid, get into it !

Looking down at lower terrace through the fountain.

Looking down at lower terrace through the fountain.

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Would it have been easy to reverse the entire machinery for this clock!

Would it have been easy to reverse the entire machinery for this clock!

I read a very disturbing account about this garden quoted in wikipedia from a book by C.M. Villiers-Stuart.  She says,

“A quaint story still survives, how, when at length the work was finished, and Fadai came in state to spend his first summer there, his enjoyment of the garden and its beauties was short-lived; for the Rajas quickly frightened him away. In the districts round Pinjor, and in fact all along the foot of the Himalayas, occasional cases of goitre are to be seen; so from far and wide these poor people were collected by the wily Brahmins, and produced as the ordinary inhabitants of the place. The gardeners all suffered from goitre; every coolie had this dreadful complaint; even the countrywomen carrying up the big flat baskets of fruits and flowers to the zenana terraces were equally disfigured.

The ladies of the harem naturally were horrified; it was bad enough to be brought into these wild outlandish jungles, without this new and added terror. For the poor coolie women, well instructed beforehand, had told how the air and water of Pinjor caused this disease, which no one who lived there long ever escaped. A panic reigned in the zenana; its inmates implored to be removed at once from such a danger; and finally, Fadai Khan had to give way, and take his ladies to some other place less threatening to their beauty.

Had it been the terrible Emperor himself instead of his foster-brother, the cunning Rajas would have met their match. But Fadai Khan, thoroughly deceived, rarely came back to visit his lovely gardens, and the Rajas and their fields were left in peace for a time.”

May be our historian friends at ghumakkar have something to say about this.

When we resumed our journey back home,  I called it quits and handed over the driver’s seat to Micky and Aditya for driving us back to home safely which they did taking their turns. We touched our home turf at 6 p.m. in the evening.  Although  our tour had ended  almost abruptly,  looking back at it, I have only happy memories left with us.  The health problem faced by me there was just my bad luck and there was perhaps nothing in food or climate there to cause it. Whatever!

Although I didn’t want it to be such a long post, it has become one. Please excuse me for that.

(Concluded)

30 Comments

  • SilentSoul says:

    Sushant ji tks for this story which revived our memories of the past. I had gone to Shimla in 1980, then in 1981, 1987.1988, 1992, 1994, 2004, & 2008 and each time progressively Shimla became more and more deteriorated. In 2008 We finally decided that we would not come to shimla again… the reason being very obvious, too much commercialsation and making it a concrete jungle.

    The beauty of Kufri seen by us till 1981 was real… no shops no vendors no buidlings..just a vast heap of pure snow… in 2008 I just cried over the plight of Kufri…which looked like Sadar Bazar than a hill station.

    Many fotos were great… specially the railway track foto in Shimla ( the track goes upto 1/2 Kms and is used for shunting of racks)…and the foto of toy train in Solan was mind blowing .

    The GPS system of ladies is wonderful… it specially tracks the eyes of males where they are staring.. so be careful.. LOL

    • Dear SS Ji,

      Thank you for all the labour of going through this looooooooooong story with so much patience. It is great that we had never been to Shimla before and couldn’t compare it with earlier charm. We seem to be blessed with totally un-imaginative people in our various govt. departments who don’t know how to maintain the pristine beauty of a hill station. Kerala seems to be the only exception but I haven’t been to there also. Let’s see when do I get a chance to go there. Thanks for commenting favourably.

  • parveen kr says:

    very good way of story telling. a lot of dears and our yaks name 3 years back are ajay devgan and kajol.

  • Nice travelogue. The white tree is Paper-birch or bhojpatra tree. It grows in the high valleys. It also grows in our area of USA. It is a slow growing tree.

  • Bird seems like a hybrid of Turkey and Chicken

    • Dear Praveen Wadhwa,

      Being bhojpatra, it must have existed in our country since antediluvian days, for the Ramayana and Mahabharata were written on bhojpatra.

      Thank you for visiting here and for being caring enough to pen down your comments.

      • Yes Paper Birch exists in India but it is an engendered tree. When we trek from Gangotry to Gomukh, there comes a point that is called Bhojwasa (a cluster of bhoj trees), first comes Chilwasa (cluster of pine trees).

        This tree has soft wood and when travelers are stranded and no water, its wood can be pulped (it is soft) and liquid stored in the wood is like water and tasteful.

        Since it grows in the high valleys where no other trees grow, so these trees are all cut for firewood. I used to walk from Gangotri to Goumkh (it is now banned for general multitudes, but only on limited permits), I still sneak out from other ways bypassing the check posts.

        In the Lal Baba’s ashram and in the ashams on the tapovan (Shimla baba’s ashram), all high altitude bushes and all trees were consumed in the cooking fires. Volunteers used to roam as far as 15 kilometer to fetch anything that grows for fuel because everything else is/was totally eradicated.

        I had a post here on this topic “Gods are not obliged” but …………..

  • Amitava Chatterjee says:

    Long but thoroughly enjoyable. Indeed, a very memorable family trip and memories are always happy.

    ‘Lakkad bazar’ – you have all the rights to be sad…recently, there was a Handicraft fair in Gurgaon and whenever I went to such fairs I thought to buy some rocking chairs/easy chairs, but somehow I only reach there on the last day of the fair and by the time either the stocks are over or broken pieces available…all of them are from Shaharanpur.

    “…a driver of Indo-Gangetic planes” – they are not human…but next to GOD – I had seen it from very close and thank them to be alive to write this comment.

    I am really jealous of you because you have a very good sense of humors, but at the same I like reading your story since I can’t describe or pen down humors. Tx…and very nice photos.

    • Thank you Amitava,

      While thanking you for your endearing comment, I cordially invite you to Saharanpur – the city of wooden handicrafts. The metamorphosis of mundane looking sheesham / mango wood into breathtakingly beautiful artifacts is really worth watching. There is a large area of old Saharanpur wherein men, women, children of all age groups ranging from 5 yrs to 90 years are seen professing this art and craft in their homes / cubicle like small shops. It is a way of life for them.

  • vinaymusafir says:

    Again a well written post with well clicked pics.
    Everytime I visited Shimla my wife fell sick there. But still I find this place very beautiful.
    Waiting for your next travelogue

    • Dear Vinay Musafir,

      Thank you for liking the post. If you have been to many other hill stations with your wife and she is physically fit everywhere except in Shimla, may be you should get the horoscopes of your wife and Shimla matched ! Same is true for me too. After sitting in the Kalka bound bus at Shimla bus stand, I felt gradually better after every 10 kms.

      • vinaymusafir says:

        Same was with my wife; once we came out out from Shimla (in our both trips), she was perfectely fine.
        She enjoys every other hill station except Shimla, that means something is wrong with Shimla.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Yes, that is Bhojpatra and the other one is Devdar. Simla is indeed one of the extremely popular and easily accessibly hill stations, close to Delhi. Last I passed thorough the city was in 2009 or so, on the way to Spiti. I would want to go there again. It still has a lot to offer.

    Was it pollen ? I believe, march is a bloom season for pollens. Sometimes giving further stress to the system under duress, leads to more problems. May be just lying low and doing nothing might have helped. Did it happen ever again ?

  • chicobello says:

    Indeed a meticulous approach to shimla journey….i must say this is highly detailed description of the ever charming hill station with great pics….i slightly disagree with your view on the lakkad bazzar..every place has its own history and culture and the etymology of the same depends a lot on these two factors…dont we have some funny names of places in delhi like burari, khajuri though no khajur (date)…shimla still has its charm a walk along the mall road and seeing the beautifully colonial style constructed municipal corporation building, the indigenious people all add to its perpetual beauty..i slightly agree with SS its deteriorating but it can never lost its place in indian hills station..kufri is chaos during peak tourist season….

  • Dear Chocobello,

    Thank you for visiting this blog and liking it. This ‘lakkad bazar’ of Shimla is dedicated to wooden handicrafts – having scores of showrooms within a span of 1/2 km. perhaps. So, it is not a case of Mumbai’s Boribandar where there is neither a bori (a large jute bag in which rice or wheat is transported) nor a bandar (monkey). Lakkad Bazar does refer to the wooden handicrafts only. However, even “U.P. Roadways” was named some 40 years earlier as Uttar Pradesh Rajya Sadak Parivahan Nigam, people still remember the old name. Nothing can be done about it now. :(

  • Gita AM says:

    I read half your post yesterday Sushant, and completed it just now. Beautiful images too. Your prose is generously infused with a fine sense of humour, making this a most enjoyable read. What a pity that you fell ill during the trip but all’s well that ends well eventually.

    Jakhu ……. yes ……. my family can never forget that place.
    Our driver refused to take the car up that road so we happily took a cross country steep path going up which brought us eventually to the top of the hill and we were blissfully unaware of the monkey nuisance.

    When we came to the road to walk down later, a huge big furry lump of monkey jumped onto my husband from behind and snatched his glasses, also nicking him but by God’s grace just mm below his eye. It was a terrifying experience, even though we managed to retrieve the specs by bribing the monkey with a bag of sweets – as suggested by a conveniently handy sweet vendor! My hubby half suspected that the monkeys were trained to snatch specs just to induce people to buy those sweet packets.

    I remember the Kufri zoo too. The hapless leopards undergoing life imprisonment, confined in tiny cages just broke my heart. There is ample space in that zoo. If animals must be confined in zoos then surely they could give the poor leopards a larger area. They have provided huge cages for the tahr, deer and even relatively speaking, for the bears. Another thing I did not like about Kufri was the way the poor yak on the roadside was tethered through his nostrils which would have made even the slightest movement excruciatingly painful.

    I also did not know that Lakkad means firewood! One learns something new everyday ……

    • Hi Gita,

      Thanks a ton for your endearing words! I have heard somewhere else too about the monkeys snatching away spectacles near Jakhu temple. The first thing a child learns after coming to this world is the fact that crying brings help. Very soon, the baby knows that his parents are eager to stop his crying / would do anything to stop him from crying. Thus, a child learns to blackmail his parents even when he is merely one or two months old! You don’t have to provide him the necessary training to blackmail his parents! May be same thing is happening with those monkeys too! Shining glasses may be attracting them.

      As regards tethering of yaks, the same thing is happening with horses and other animals also. In order to make them obey, pain is caused to these animals. I fervently hope that in due course of time, they feel less and less pain in much the same way as women get their ears and nose pierced and then proudly buy jewellery to embellish themselves. :)

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    • ????? ?????? ?????? ??,

      ???? ?????? ??? ???? ?? ????? ????? ?????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ! ???? ?? ????? ???????? ??? ?? ??? ?? ??? ???? ?? ??? ??? ??? ???? ??????? ?? ????? ???????? ?? ????? ?? ???? ???? ?? ??? ??? ???-?????? ???? – ???? ??? ????? ?? ?? ???? ????? ?? ??? ??? ???? ???? ?????? ?? ????? ????? ??, ???? ???????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ???? ? ????? ???, ???? ????? ????? ???, ???? ????? ???? ??????? !

  • Stone says:

    Sushant Sir, needless to say it’s another flawless post, filled with information and entertainment.
    Other than your post I enjoy your replies to the comments on your posts and other posts :-)

    Regards,

  • Nice pictures and as usual a good description. thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you Vishal for coming to this post and encouraging me. I have been away from Net for a couple of days due to a special program going on in my bank which happened to be my responsibility primarily.

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed your account of the trip to Shimla, Sushant. The pictures too looked great, especially the one of a train emerging from a tunnel; I thought that you waited a long time for a train to shoot that picture and was surprised to know that you shot it from a moving bus. You were at the right place at the right time and had the presence of mind to capture the image. Resourceful men are favoured by nature.

    Loved the insight about “how glamour-less skiing slopes could look when there was no snow to cover their nudity”…..usually it is the reverse! And the insight about women having built-in GPS…does GPS mean God-given Preternatural Sense? My wife too exhibits GPS when I least expect her to.

    Lukkad Bazaar has an endearing feel to it (maybe because Hindi is not my mother tongue?); it is easy to pronounce and has a nice ring to it. Something akin to calling a botanist a ghaas-phoos ke doctor (remember Chupke Chupke?)

    Regarding your sudden illness, it could be allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever. A good antihistamine like Incid-L or CPM could have given you instant relief. It does not need a prescription and I always keep a strip handy when I travel, especially to forested areas.

    • Dear DL,

      I had almost died waiting for this lovely comment of yours! (As if you have no other jobs to do except writing comments on ghumakkar ! :D)

      Do you really feel that “usually it is the reverse” ? I feel that costumes – whether made of textile or of flowers or of snow – add a lot of glamour to human beings or the Earth. ?? ???? ??? ?? ?? ???? ?? ?? ??? ??? ????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ?? ???????? ???? ?? !”

      By calling the woodcraft market as Lukkad Bazar, you are sprinkling white chilli on my already sour heart ! :) Yes, how can I forget ghas-phoos ka doctor! Thank you for the suggestion of medicine. I will keep it with me in future. I think we need an INSIGHT STORY on “How to stay fit during ghumakkari” which would be of great help to everyone. However, it can perhaps be written by a licensed medico professional only.

  • Surinder Sharma says:

    Every thing about Simla has described in your post and photos so good. More than that wood work at Saharanpur through comments. May be I can visit Saharanpur Railway station through rail journey. Any thing special on platform, Pakode, Pav Bhaji except Saharani Aam which famous for sweetness.

    Thanks

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