This is a love story, a love affair that started back in the year 2007, love story between me and Himachal Pradesh. I have been travelling to Himachal for almost 10 years now and have traveled to other parts of India too, but mostly everything ends up to Himachal whenever I plan to travel anywhere. This story is a special tribute to my special love towards Himachal and it's people.
It was December 2007, I had recently graduated and unlike most of friends I was not working I was waiting for my Visa as I had applied in a British university for my further studies. Technology wise there were not many distractions and hence I was desperate to find something to kill my time. That's when the idea to go for a short trek came up, and me and my friend decided to leave to Lonavala for a day's trek.
The idea was to meet at Bandra Terminus and from there we were going to take a train to Lonavala. At Bandra Terminus there was a train which was about to leave and had Paschim Express written on it with Golden Temple being the last station. I don't know what the overall discussion was all about, but we ended up taking two general class tickets worth rupees 245 each and paid extra ten rupees to someone for blocking two seats for us. We were on our way, without telling our parents and I think both of us thought that the other one is playing fool and we would get down once Lonavala's station approaches. Boy, that wasn't the case, and once Lonavala crossed we both knew that we had a game in our hands.
Next day the train reached Delhi, won't waste time in what was our parent's reaction when we both didn't return the same day. So yeah, this was our first time in the capital, and obviously being absolutely tight on our budget we opted for the cheapest ways to go around Delhi and see places. At night, I remember going to Kashmere gate station and asking one of the attendants, if there are any good hill stations around (yeah I was 20 and my Geography always sucked). We both were excited to know that Shimla is just eight hours bus journey away from Delhi. We had only read about Shimla and the only thing that we knew about Shimla was that its a place that has snow.
So, without checking anything we got a good deal and off we left for our bus journey to Shimla. Now get this, we were dudes from Mumbai and the temperature going below twenty four degrees is like winter for us. Here we were, closing in towards Shimla and the temperature was dropping as it was night time. My friend who suffers from motion sickness was throwing up all the time and the bus halted for some mid night snacks and I was kind of relieved to get some air. As soon as I stepped out of the bus, my initial reaction was to enter the bus again, it was that cold! Smart phones were rare, so I could not know what was the temperature, but for sure it felt somewhere between one and five. Now, we were yet to experience the real Delhi, it turned out just to make quick money the attendant in Delhi gave us tickets only till mid way. I don't remember the name of the place exactly but it was somewhere around Haryana or Punjab. At 3 am we were asked to get down from the bus, and where told another bus will arrive in 15 minutes and pick us up. Your guess is as good as mine, no bus came. It was biting cold and pitch dark. We started walking, yes just started walking. After almost 45 minutes we reached a local station and finally took a local bus (cheap tickets) to Shimla. Here were were again, on our trip to Shimla. It was an old wreckage and it felt extra cold inside the bus. It may sound adventurous right now, but at that time it was scary and obviously we were missing Mumbai and the convenience.
Morning around eight we were almost in Shimla. I opened my eyes to the disturbing sound of some Punjabi song that was being played in the bus, and as I looked outside, bingo! I saw snow! Quickly I woke up my sick friend who was already tired of all the puking and I think the snow made him feel good. It was so beautiful! After a lot of negotiations we found ourselves a comfortable lodge that was pocket friendly and safe. We both were loving every moment of everything that was happening, it felt like a new world, new life. The concept of solo travel, or traveling with friends was non existent back then. Going to Shimla, was always a family affair as I had never heard two guys traveling to Shimla on their own from Mumbai. We called our parents and got in reinforcements (Money)