Four days in the lap of snow – Shimla
It has been a long time wish to take a trip to the snowy regions seen only in photos and videos. That’s when I read about winter in Shimla. Shimla is one of the best winter destinations in India. When I read on the internet, I came to know that the snowfall will be more in the second week of January. So the journey was scheduled to reach Shimla on 16th January 2017. But on January 6 and 7, even Malayalam newspapers reported that Shimla was isolated due to heavy snowfall, and transportation systems, electricity and water supply were disrupted. It was learned through the media that it took five days for things to return to normal.
The Meteorological Center has predicted another chance of snowfall on the 14th and 15th. Therefore, I was able to maintain the hope that I would be able to see the snow scenes that I wanted. Many people who saw the newspaper reports tried to turn back. But I could not quench my desire. I was traveling alone. My intention was to travel by train from Kannur and reach Delhi and from there reach Kalka railway station in Haryana and reach Shimla by Kalka-Shimla train which is included in UNESCO heritage list. All the tickets were reserved in advance. But the train from Delhi to Kalka took 7 hours and disrupted the journey. When the train reached Kalka, hours had passed since the train from there had left.
And wasted no time getting to the road and got a bus going from Kalka to Solan on the way to Shimla. As soon as we reached Solan, we could see snow like a sprinkle of salt on the hills in the distance. Got down at Solan and had a snack and continued the journey by another bus. The higher you go, the colder it gets. Snow capped hills could be seen in the distance. As the car approaches Shimla, there is snow on both sides of the road here and there. It was all removed from the road. After reaching Shimla by car, I looked at the distance to the hotel where I have booked accommodation and found it to be 1 km. Transport systems like auto-rickshaws are not available in Shimla and one has to rely on taxis.
At least 150 rupees should be paid to travel 1 km. He took his bags and walked towards the hotel along the steep path that was soaked with snow. Snow is piled up on both sides of the road. All the buildings are covered with snow. Checked in the hotel and left the bags in the room. It is very cold. Must eat. Check into a hotel and everything is North Indian cuisine. Had tandoor roti and egg curry and all the food is terrible price. After the meal, return to the hotel, take a shower and freshen up. There is a balcony outside the room from where you can see some parts of the city. The surrounding buildings are covered in white snow. The large mattress-like blankets piled on top of the round bed in the hotel room hinted at the severity of the night’s cold. Night temperatures are well below the freezing point.
At 7 o’clock in the morning, he took a shower and went out fresh. The hotel is adjacent to the army camp. Early in the morning, soldiers are roaming around Ront with guns. From the front of the hotel, going through the military camp and going up the stairs to an old Christian church. St. Michael’s Cathedral is a beautiful church built in 1885 during the Victorian era. Climbing up the stairs again, we reached Mall Road, the famous street of Shimla. Most of the government institutions of Shimla like the Municipal Corporation, Police Head Coaters, Tourist Information Office, and Courts are located on Mall Road. Also, there are various business establishments and restaurants operating there. The Indian Coffee House in Shimla is also home to South Indian food. Went to the coffee house and had breakfast. Walking forward from there, he reached the scandal point.
Scandal Point is a very beautiful intersection. After that, proceeding along the Mall Road, one reaches the ridge known as the heart of Shimla city. The ridge is a wide open area. On the sides of the ridge are Indira Gandhi and the founder of Himachal Pradesh, Dr V.S. There are some statues of Parmar and others. On one side the Indian national flag flies on a huge flagpole. On the eastern side of the ridge lies the famous Crest Church of Shimla.
It is the second oldest mosque in North India, which started functioning during the British Raj in 1857. The ice is solidified on the plateau-like part of the ridge. With snow, ancient buildings, temples and statues, the ridge has a magical look to it. Enjoyed the sights and wandered around there for some time. The views of the valley from the ridge are spectacular, all covered in white snow. The famous Jaku Temple is located two and a half kilometers further along the road from the ridge to the east. The 108 feet tall Hanuman statue installed there is famous. I walked a little further along that path. It is late afternoon. I am very tired because I have walked a lot, I finished my walk and reached my room. Decided to rest today.
The night was bitterly cold. I wake up at 7 am and can’t get out of bed. After lying like that for some time, he took a shower and came out fresh. Walked straight towards the coffee house on Mall Road. It was 9 o’clock after breakfast. My journey today is to Kufri, which is 18 km away from Shimla and is covered with snow. Set-seeing trips are organized in big buses from the Himachal Pradesh Government Tourist Information Office near Scandal Point on Mall Road to Kufri. But due to heavy snow, those services have been suspended. The next option is to rely on taxis.
Taxi drivers demand a lot of money. While negotiating with the driver who agreed to bring the taxi till night for 1200 rupees to increase the amount to 1000 rupees, 3 young men entered. Residents of Ludhiana, Punjab. I asked them if they are willing to share a taxi to go to Snow Point and they said they would pay 300 rupees each. Front-seat travel was arranged instead. The driver called out to us and started the steep descent to the valley road. The whole road is covered with ice. Everyone slipped and fell down. The trip showed how dangerous walking on ice can be. The driver came with the car. All four of us got into the vehicle and started our journey toward Kufri.
It is a winding road. The snow has not been completely removed from the road. Efforts are being made to make traffic as smooth as possible by spreading sand and rock dust in areas with more snow. As we went up, the snow cover was getting thicker. The views on both sides of the road are beautiful. The carriage is near Kufri. Along the trail is a line of people renting snowshoes and the like. If you want, you can rent shoes from there and go trekking through the snow. We passed there and moved on. There is an adventure park. When we heard the ticket price we decided not to go there and instead decided to take a horse ride through the snow up the hill. After paying 500 rupees per person with the ticket, they walked towards the starting point of the horse ride through the routes they were told.
A beautiful snow-covered road and a beautiful area surrounded by snow. We walked very slowly enjoying the natural beauty. When we got there, there was a man waiting with horses for us to go. The four horses were tied to each other and we were mounted on the horses and started our journey uphill. It is a steep climb in most places. A lot of people like us are climbing the mountain on horseback. Some climb the mountain without relying on horses. Both sides of the path are heart-warming views. I captured as many scenes on camera as I could while on the horse.
After about three kilometers, there is an arch. We passed through the archway and entered. It is an open area covered with snow on the top of the hill. There are a variety of entertainment options. Some go skiing. Some sit atop a large inflatable tube and glide downhill. In some places, some people stand with yaks. Sitting on top of the yak, wearing traditional costumes and holding a gun, some took photos to go before I sleep”. We got back on the horse and reached the road. There the taxi was waiting for us. We got in the car and came back to the room. Today is rest.
Three days have passed. There are no special plans today. In the morning we reached Mall Road to have breakfast. How to travel back to Delhi has not been decided. Seated on the bench at Scandal Point, checked the availability of railway tickets on the internet, and booked the ticket. The summer capital of the old Batish Raj, reminiscing about the past. I am returning to the room after taking one more round through its glorious streets. Many of the layers of snow I saw when I arrived three days ago have already melted. I bid farewell to Shimla with fond memories. Went to the room, packed all the things, checked out, and reached the railway station. I missed that train when I came here and bought a ticket to the general compartment without leaving any wishes. It was quite crowded but the journey was pleasant.