Shoghi-Shimla-Kufri Trip 2010

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 11:52 AM in ,

It gives you a high when you begin your year in the valleys with close friends. I started mine in the with a train trip to Himachal Pradesh…

Jan 1, 2010
Kalka Shatabdi leaves Delhi at around 7.30am in the morning. We reached at the nick of time, thanks to a very slow taxi-driver who despite our constant protests, insisted on stopping at the red-light outside the New Delhi Railway Station. Once boarded, and we were traveling first class, I remember looking out of the window and seeing beautiful landscapes slip by. Amidst the pink ambience of the interiors of my train, it was a joyride all the way to Kalka.

Upon reaching the destination, a taxi took us to Shoghi. The driver this time was a Sikh who, I distinctly remember, stopped at a highway dhaba to fill up his stomach with tandoori chicken (or was this detail a fabrication of our idle minds?).

Shoghi was beautiful. Valleys were steep (:O) and we were staying at the emerald-queen of Shoghi vacation stays, Parkwoods Rustic Resort. My cottage was plain wood and basic, the bed was wrought-iron, and the bath-fittings were decent. Everything run on LPG… right from the geyser, all the way to the heater (prolonged use of an LPG heater can give you a headache, by the way).

While the day was spent in settling down, advent of the night saw a bonfire. Argumentative as we are, discussions followed. Tempers flared. Drinks flew around. Ashes left a weird stench in my locks. Retired for the night post 1am… slept almost immediately upon hitting the bed.

Jan 2, 2010
And woke up early. With a throbbing headache. Picked up a high-resolution Canon camera and stepped out to shoot after popping in a crocin. The high valleys and hammock, the scattered pine-cones and the early morning mist, interesting flowers and beautiful hills. I clicked some of the best pictures of the trip here. Wooden huts with chairs and tables outside. The grey ashes of our previous night’s bonfires were still fresh.

In the afternoon, we set out for a mountain trek. It might interest you to know that the author of this post suffers from vertigo. So basically for the most parts of this 1.5hrs trek, I was a nervous wreak. At one point, I even remember asking our trek-guide if anybody had ever slipped from these valleys and died (:O!). He was kind enough to just smile. Others laughed (grrr :P).

Post-trek came the body massages. Callous village people were called to ‘massage’ us with mustard oil (think: dara singh champis). After my turn, I was impatient to take a bath and get all the mustard oil off me. What an ordeal. For everybody traveling to Shoghi, please skip the oil-massages.

The beautiful night saw another orange-aura bonfire. Food was delicious, I got served Top Ramen on request. Someone was kind enough to hand-feed me because I was feeling whimsical. That same someone lit up the night with resplendently-sung soft Hindi songs and ghazals. I made a video. This someone made the trip worthwhile. There were no arguments this night. Only discussions about a game of Scrabble played earlier in the day, and some nostalgic school talks, and lot of reminiscing. I slept like a baby that night too.

Jan 3, 2010
A cab was called to ferry us to Shimla (15kms away from Shoghi). Although distance wasn’t much, the route felt longer with all the circular mountain tracks of Himachal Pradesh. This time the taxi guy was calmer (and not a Sikh!). A friend insisted we stopped along a grocery shop on the way because he had to (had to!) buy his cans of Diet Coke. Almost his staple diet, I’d say.

In Shimla, we zeroed in on an ITC hotel for our stay. The wooden interiors were missing, but this place was more swanky (obviously!) that our Shoghi place of stay. A walk on Mall Road proved good. Some scandalous pictures were clicked on Scandal Point. The clouds overpowered us mid-way and it started to pour. Amidst the cloud-walk, we foot-soldiers struggled to find a shelter. Café Coffee Day was encroached upon after satiating our hunger with hot pakoras on the road. I splurged on a sinful, but fuzzy serving, of Chocolate Excess. Temperatures outside were sub-zero. I could almost see virtual cats and dogs in the rain.

After a cozy-cum-splashy walk back to our plush hotel, our jeans were wet. Snacks and food made an appearance in our beds that night (aka room-service). Scrabble was out again, I won a wonderful game. Proved some girl-power. A card-game of Bluff was the highlight of the night. Needless to say, yours truly won again.

That night I slept late… a stench of onions with chicken tikkas stayed in my head.

Jan 4, 2010
Early morning cab to Kufri. Snow has bestowed dear Earth with whiteness. We were going to Kufri to have our share of snowball-fun before catching the train to Delhi. Kalka was 4-hours away from where we were. Cab-ride was fun. Everyone jumped at the slightest sight of snow.

Cars were skidding, we decided to step out and play foot-soldiers again. The walk up the mountain was fun. Our pony-rides to the top of the mountain were more fun. Angers flared as we got a little late in returning to the cab. Some feared we would miss our train.

And train we did miss. But what followed later could have been worse. Destiny put all its forces together to get us late. On the 4-hour drive back from Kufri, we found ourselves stuck in a 6 kilometers long highway jam. No place to run. Hard mountain on one side, deep valley on another. Someone checked his watch 30 times in 30 minutes. Consequently, we missed our train by just five minutes. Cab guy was kind enough to arrange another cab to Delhi for us. Charged us quite a bit (scoundrel?). We hit town post 12am, I was in bed by 1.30. Before I drifted off to sleep, I smiled selfishly at a year begun adventurously. Lo and behold outside-world, you have enough reason to be jealous :) Amen.

P.S. Television writing in college has screwed up my sentence-length!

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