Shimla Trek

“You can fall in love at first sight with a place as with a person”

Time has not managed to contaminate the memories of my first trek!

We decided to settle for an easy and interesting trek and thoroughly enjoyed the lush greenery, beautiful mountains, temples and remote villages of Himachal Pradesh.

Shimla: One of the few places in the world where an enormous amount of history, heritage and architecture has been distilled into such a small town. It came into being in the 19th century and later became the “summer capital of British India”, now the elegant capital of Himachal Pradesh. Best known for its Victorian architecture, reminiscent of the colonial era, and for street shopping on its famous Mall Road, Shimla offers a breadth of adventurous experiences, cultural insights, and a chance to rejuvenate in the lap of the Himalayas.  The town is essentially a collection of buildings built straight into the mountain side and well connected by Air, Roads and Railways.

Comprehensive itinerary prepared prior to the journey:  Trek itinerary

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Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.00.37 PMUpon arrival at Delhi airport we were greeted by one of the agent who provided us with a ‘welcome kit’ which consisted of our train tickets, air tickets and the hotel voucher.  After a lavish dinner we headed to Delhi Railway station and took the Delhi-Kalka Express (approx 5 1/2 hrs journey from Delhi to Kalka).

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We then took the famed Kalka-Shimla toy train.  This little train winds its way slowly up the mountain, amid lush forests and valleys and through a whopping 103 tunnels! Taking a trip on the historic UNESCO World Heritage Kalka-Shimla toy train is like traveling back in time. The railway, built by the British in 1903 to provide access to their summer capital of Shimla, provides one of the most scenic train journeys in India. It enlivens passengers as it gradually winds its way steeply upwards along the narrow track, through rugged mountains and pine forests.

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Finally after a 5 hour journey, we were greeted at Shimla station with garlands by our lovely guide, Ravi who then took us to our hotel “The Oberoi Cecil”.  The hotel has a charm of its own with a beautiful foyer and the service is impeccable!  The hotel is located 45 minutes from Shimla airport and 10 minutes from the train station.

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A quick nap and we were ready to explore this charming town. Our guide took us to visit  Jakhu temple followed by a walk around Mall road.  

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One of the main attractions in Shimla is the Jakhu Temple or locally known as the Hanuman Mandir which is located at Jakhu Hill.
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The Jakhu Hill is 2 km from the Ridge and is the highest peak in Shimla at a height of 2500 m offering a beautiful view of the town and of the surrounding mountains
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Outside Jakhu Temple
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Jakhu is a hotspot for monkeys who flock here in great numbers and generously accept eatables that are given to them by devotees and tourists

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We then walked towards  Mall Road which is situated in the main street of Shimla.   The Mall Road also has all major hotels, restaurants and recreation centers of Shimla and the road is lined with shops that sell woolen clothes, branded clothes, handicraft items, pottery items, jewellery, books, etc…. While purchasing locally made goods, make sure you do some bargaining.  The Mall Road has many famous restaurants that specialize in not just local cuisines but also delicacies from nearby places. Since there are no vehicles allowed in the Mall, you don’t quite have to worry about watching out for the traffic.

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All colonial structures are located on Mall Road
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Christ Church Cathedral – an architectural masterpiece.  The construction of this church took 11 years (1846 -1857) and is considered to be the second oldest church in North India
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Hustle bustle on Mall Road
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You can buy a local sim from a phone booth on Mall road

Post breakfast the next morning we departed Shimla by jeep and arrived Khanag around early evening.

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Enroute Shimla to Khanag
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Enjoying tea with the locals
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Anju elated on reaching base camp
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Spectacular scenery at the base
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Camp Khanag
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An unbelievable starry night!  Lying on the grass to see nothing but a blanket of stars covering the sky.  This vision is permanently etched in my memory!
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Me enjoying the campfire on a chilly night!

Our trekking experience over the next 4 days. They say a picture is a worth a thousand words so instead of punching out the words I will let my photography speak for itself 🙂

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The locals are warm, helpful and honest. I guess, a combination of extreme climatic conditions and surrounding dense forests instill a sense of both nobility and community.

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Shimla through my lens – Learning about the world through photography!

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Our trip commenced as an adventure and ended up being a love affair.  One that inspires you to never stop exploring!

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