“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.”
~ Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
And just like that I am going to Shimla. It’s a shame – is it? – that after all these years I haven’t been to ‘Queen of Hills’ even when it is stone through away from Delhi. But its always beeter to be late than never.
So on a fine Sunday morning Big B says “next weekend Shimla ka soch rahe hai” (Next weekend I am thinking about going to Shimla) and my sis readily agrees for mom has this ardent desire to see snowfall or at least snow…heaps of it.
And lo and behold…just like that, our trip to Shimla is finalized.
Its Friday and morning already…I wake up in the dead of the night well it is morning already. I wake up and it is 3 O Clock. We were to leave at 2. Somehow I wake up and it reminds me of yet another song 🙂
“It’s nine three o’clock on a Saturday Friday
The regular crowd shuffles in it’s the sound of silence
There’s an old man mom sitting standing next to me
Making love tea to his tonic and gin and prodding me in.”
“Son… go wake up the driver….we are already late
If you don’t wake up
we’ll be stuck
And Shimla will be far away”
“Mom I believe you and am going
But it is cold out there in the night
It may be bit early in the morning
But waking up is still a fight”
Time to wake up…Enough of rhymes and reasons…After all poems and prayers and promises can only take you that far. Time for action now 🙂
Reluctantly, I wake up, get prepared, take a bath are you kidding me…its 3 O Clock and it is cold 🙂
Our cab driver is fast asleep as I approach the car. I wake him up and he – unbelievably – wakes up with a smile on his face. “Tayaar ho gaye bhaisaab” (Are we all set to go) He asks. “Hanji bas ab chalna hai” (Yes let’s go now) I reply.
It’s a while before sis and mom come with their luggage and off we go.
We hit the road but we are off to a surprise. Every road exiting to main road or ring road has been cordoned off. Thanks to Delhi Police who – as they claim “do slow you down but
don’t let the criminals pass” there “with you for you always” to spoil everything you are out there to enjoy.
Digressions Diversions apart, we manage to get on to the main road after an hour of driving here and there and somehow finding an opening that ushered us onto the road that will lead us to Shimla. In the meanwhile clock ticks and it is 5 already.
Our first halt is post Chandigarh. It is still not morning yet – in the sense of the light that we usually associate with it. We stop for breakfast. Even as I am writing “Mom what was it that we had for the breakfast?” Yes this is an aside 🙂 “Well we had sukha aloo ka parantha…pehle kabhi bhi aisa parantha nahin khaye the” (It’s dry stuffed potato chapati…never ate the like of it before) Mom says.
As I remember it was tasty indeed but heavy. We lurch ahead…actually zoom past and soon we are on hills. It is lovely to be among hills. At the very first sight of deodar – which was actually eucalyptus – I exclaim “Yeh dekho ab pahad aa gaya”. Surinder chuckles “Nikhil Bhai ye Deodar nahin eucalyptus hai…Hai na mata ji” he asks for reassurance and smiles with self satisfaction.
I give in. But it is not long before the tall, sparse expanse of vegetation of plains gives in to the lush, forested Ook, pine and a few Cedars. It is still cool when we are driving the serpentine ridges with dense forest on one side and deep gorges on the other. The views are thrilling and we stop often for there are so many photo ops.
There are tunnels we stop at…the tunnels that were dug up by British to make one of the best thing that happened to our hills…the Mountain Railways. BTW… the Shimla Kalka Narrow Gauge Rail, popularly known as “Toy Train” is inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Couldn’t have missed an opportunity to click photos…can I?
After few more hours of driving we arrive in Shimla. It’s a sunny day as opposed to the foggy, polluted, damp days that we usually wake up to and live in Delhi. The sky is azure, sun is pretty and the surrounding – lush and serene – as good as it gets. Perfect ingredients for a holiday in hills! So once again, here I am footloose in Himalayas. This is for the third consecutive time that I am footloose in Dauladhar range of Himalayas and I am loving it already 🙂
But I am already sleepy. Even when I checked in the hotel Ashiana Regency that fine Saturday evening and even as I writing this blog. BTW as soon as I step inside the room and dump my bag I can’t sleep….How can I sleep when I am on hills so I decide then and there to head for the Mall, Shimla’s most famous landmark. But let it be another story in another post, with a fresh perspective and different narrative.
I know you might have found this preface to my trip to Shimla – or more aptly a short weekend getaway from Delhi – to be boring but being patient has its own reward. There are quite a few interesting stories and folklore in store. So bear with me…and…do let me know your thoughts…till then…CIAO
- Tipola Village: A Rustic Retreat near Ranikhet
- Shimla: Up Close & Personal