Monday, May 26, 2008

Kasauli, Shimla

It was a hurried decision but we decided on the afternoon of 16th May 2008 that we want to headout of Delhi. We decided on Kasauli. We were advised on getting accomodation on the outskirts of Kasauli as the main hill station is pretty crowded. Looking around in the net I found a site It gave us two options One in Kasauli town, Hotel Anchal and one on the out skirts Hotel Shivalik. I searched around and found a site of Hotel Shivalik and liked what I saw. So I called them up as they had a booking office in Delhi, but strangely their charges were more than the one offered by So we booked through the latter. Rs.1500 per night.

Saturday, May 17

We started at around 4:30AM in the morning and took Outer ring road from Nizzamuddin. Followed it until we reach GT Karnal and after that we were on NH1. The quality of the roads was great. We were cruising at a good speed and by 8:00AM were at Ambala. Then we turned towards Kalka. Had our breakfast in the way. At Panchkula we experienced some traffic. Once we negotiated that we were on the mountainous. The roads and the View turned green and gorgeous.
Around 10:30AM we reached our destination at Hotel Shivalik. After setting into our room with a lovely view and birds chirping. We took a nap. At around 4:30PM we got up and got ready. After some light refreshments we headed out for Kasauli. It was around 10 km away and the mountainous road was not very broad. The speed limit was kept at not more than 30-35 km/hr. We reached Kasauli around 5:15 PM. There were a lot of shops set up by probably Nepalese or Bhutani people selling good garments at low cost. A saw a few of them but decided to take a trip of the area before doing any purchasing. The view was great but nothing to write home about the small hill station in general. We also saw hotel Anchal and we relieved we choose hotel Shivalik. After take a full trekking trip of the area we came back to the Mall area and sat down in a restaurant (again run by the Nepali/Bhutani people). We had momos and fruit juice. After this we did some shopping I bought two T-shirts and my wife some dresses. Once we were over with our shopping we proceeded back to our hotel. After a light dinner and a little walk in the “gardens” we hit the bed. 

Sunday, May 18

We got up early next day and decided to go to Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh. It was around 65 kms from our hotel. After breakfast we hit the road, which was again good and we reached in one & a half hour’s time. Once there we tried to park our car as there quite a few multi storied parking lots in Shimla. In one of these we met our guide for our tour of Shimla and the outskirts, Mr. Ishwar. He was not only a fantastic person and a good guide but also an excellent driver for the hilly region. His charges for his services was Rs.200. Pretty decent I would say. Firstly we went to the Jakhoo Temple for Lord Hanuman. It is said when Hanuman came for the Sanjivanee herb he rested on this mountain and his foot print can be seen in the temple. Well be sure to carry a stick along with you when you go up to the temple as the monkeys there a notorious for snatching away prasads and other items from unarmed persons. While going up & down the temple road I allowed our guide to drive as it’s a regular  affair for him. The incline of the road is steep and its narrow as well. Actually from now on our guide was the person who was driving. Here we crossed the Green Valley. It’s a place on the way to Kufri where the whole view of the mountains is covered with pine like trees. It’s an amazing sight.

From here we went to Kufri, it’s a place which around 11000 ft from sea level and the highest point around the Shimla area. You can either go walking or in a pony. We decided to take the pony and left the car with our guide. The charges were Rs.250/person. The initial road was very dirty and muddy mixed with horse droppings (because of rain in the last few days). There were a few girls behind us who were constantly shrieking and it was getting irritating after a point. Thankfully we lost them and reached the top. Here our pony man, or should I say boy because I presume he was not much older than 10-12 years told us he would leave now and would be back by 2:30 PM. That  time it was around 11:30 AM. There are a few points on Kufri, one where they let you see through a telescope showing the China border which I thought was a waste of time. The other attractions were your pictures taken on a Yak. This picture you can also be taken dressed as a native. The ride on a Yak is Rs.10. It’s not exactly a ride but they just allow you to sit on it for a few minutes without the creature moving. But the animals themselves are pretty magnificent. Both of us got on the Yaks and got our pictures taken. The thing  which got my wife all excited was a man with a python, who was allowing peoples to hold it on their shoulders and be snapped. My Wife is always curious about snakes (what’s with snakes and women?) had her picture taken the python on her shoulder. I was not interested as I felt it was an exploitation of the poor creature, but I put my hand on the underbelly to feel the skin. It’s so different from all I had felt till date. Very flexible and scaly. There was an entertainment park at Kufri with high  entry prices as it should be in a tourist spot. We decided to skip it.  Being tired  by now we got something to eat and then proceeded to the Apple Garden which I just couldn’t find. But there was a nice area near a temple where there was lots of flowers, white ones. We took a lot of photographs. We walked back to our pickup point and then began a long wait of about 30 minutes for our ponies to arrive and pick us up. After that happened we proceeded and made our way back to Shimla stopping at various points for photographic opportunity. I took a lot of photos at the Green Valley as I wanted to make a Panoramic Picture. At around 4:45 PM we reached Shimla and parked our car and headed for the Mall. There is a lift that allows takes you to the Mall, one way ticket is Rs.7/person.
The Mall in Shimla is huge and pretty clean. We visited a Church in the Mall and then just strolled around for some time. We heard that there is a restaurant which served great sizzlers but alas when we reached it we were told that its only snack time now, heavy duty stuff starts after 7:00 PM. Disappointed we went to a Barrista and got a sizzling brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce. After this we headed back for our car. Our guide was still there and helped us to get our car out of the maze like parking lot and even drove us to the out skirts of Shimla driving through the heavy traffic. If you want to contact him if you are at Shimla, his number is 09805297638. We were very satisfied with his service and attitude; I hope you will be too. Again his name is Mr. Ishwar.
At around 6:15 PM we made our way back to the hotel. In the way experienced heavy downpour and it was pretty tough driving in the mountains with those weather conditions. I drove slowly and it took us around a good park of over two hours to reach the hotel. Once there we had our dinner and spening some time in our verandah with a spectacular view we hit the bed and fell fast asleep. 

Monday, May 19

Next morning we got up at around 7:00 AM and got ready to leave for Delhi by 8:00 AM. After paying the bills and the goodbyes we headed out. One thing while travelling is keep your car’s papers with you, we got into a lot of harassment from the Haryana police for a minor disagreement. There was heavy downpour while we were driving back and found our car roof leaking, which made us decide to give the car for repairs once we reach home. I drove extremely fast and actually reached from Panchkula to Delhi within 4 hours. This was after over one & a half hour of harassment by the Haryana police. We reached Delhi by 4:00 PM and at home by 5:00 PM. After freshening up and a warm bath we headed out to Sector 18 Noida and had a great lunch (more like an early dinner) at Karim’s. We rounded off the day watching the new movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
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