A ride to a childhood dream is always heartwarming, I still remember watching some telecom ad and dreaming of visiting Shimla. We started around 7 in the morning from Delhi. After mugging up the delicious Parathas and desi ghee from Sukdev ka Dhaba, Murthal; we resumed our ride. Entering the 8-liner Himalayan highway for the first time was a massive experience for me. The road was wide and thick, it felt like the Royal Enfiled was rolling over a sponge and the slow movement of horizons was in absolute as-sync with our meter speed. As the road started we spotted a Royal Enfield service center with a small attached restaurant. We dropped by to kill our appetite and gave a quick service to our bikes. The dhaba was expensive but the dishes served was tongue melting which doubled our orders. From that place its around 133 km to reach Shimla in which almost 80 km is through climbing curvy roads in mountain. While riding up the mountain a big statue of god Hanuman flashed on us. I remember someone telling me that when ever that statue comes to your notice, believe that you are in Shimla. So we got showers in our mind to put the over strenuous ride to an end.
Resting at the farms of Ambala
I was expecting Shimla to usher us with its off beat mountains. Disappointingly Shimla welcomed us with a heavy traffic. That hardly moving traffic wrecked the whole concept of mine about Shimla. I never thought Shimla would be this commercial and rushy. Most of the crowd was from Delhi and nearby cities. Vying through that traffic we managed to reach the hotel. I don't know weather its my destiny or any mere coincidence, there will always be some festival when ever I am visiting a place for the first time. After reaching hotel we came to know that Shimla was celebrating her 150th years and the whole city was high celebrating.
Pitstop at the dense deodar forests
Shimla is a place replete with hotels and it costs from Rs 700/day to Rs 1000/day, but I suggest if you are planning to visit on long holidays, its always better to book online and go. We checked in to a cheaper hotel with minimal arrangements. One of my friends brother was there in Shimla, he came to meet us and asked about joining a concert happening near by, but we ditched the offer since we were so tired. The view from the terrace was feasting us with spectacular view of houses, terraced from top to the bottom of the hill and we were somewhere at the middle of the whole arrangement. We boozed in sitting at the balcony and drain ed out all the exhaustion to make the body swing to sleep.
On the way to Chail
Next day we packed our rucksacks and set out with our bikes to Kufri. We hardly had a long list of places to visit, but we decided not to skip Kufri, Chail, Mall road, Ridge and Hanuman temple(lol that's a list) . We started riding up the hill and suddenly a dead end smashed in. Some localities where standing there with lighted bidis in their hand, one guy came and said this is Kufri view point. That place was maddened with people, tourist and horses. We figured out and decided its better to ride around than visiting these crowded view points and commercial museums. Then we resumed our ride to Chail. The road was well maintained, at one side it was muscle rocks and on the other side it was lush vitality of forest. The whole way was gifting us with mind blowing views of green meadows, tall oak trees and traditional houses. I was happy about finding some offbeat places on that way. We took pit-stops in between when the surroundings become so intense with tall oak trees on both the sides. While my friends booze I lie down amidst the dense forest enjoying the light and breezy silence of nature.
Off road from Chail to Shimla
We started riding from Kufri to Chail suppressing the call of stomach. It was around 3, we were riding around the whole city taking no care of our routine. Lunch time was over, we were not getting any good restaurants to have our lunch. While coming from Chail we inquired 3 4 shops to have our lunch but they refused us with no mercy. Then in one shop we stopped and almost begged to cook something for us. Such a sweet lady, She gave us a good smile and asked us to wait . Meanwhile she prepared some fresh recipes, her daughter joined her to get it done. That taste of chulha Roti dipped in those lightly spiced Kadi is still there in my tongue. We ate like horses and our eyes where dozing because of the surfeit of food in our stomach.
The sun was about to slide down through the mountains at the horizon. We pulled on the parking lights and started riding back to hotel. Making the horizon appreciably low we were riding, the techni colours of the sky was making the whole scene dark and the hills ambient. We took a off road while coming back from Chail, there was no sign of civilizations on the way. We almost thought we were riding astray. At around 6 we encountered a breathtaking view of sunset in Shimla. These are the moments which makes you feel the whole effort was worth. But soon that way took us to a main road putting smiles on our face. At night we parked our Bikes in hotel and we set out for a walk through mall road and Ridge. Most of the hill stations in north India will have a church and a mall road. Ridge is an old church which was made at the time of British establishment. We bought some food from Sher-E-Punjab, one of well known restaurants all over north India. Went back to our hotel, had food and slept. Next day morning we were planning to ride back to Delhi. When we woke up it was raining heavily. I went out for a walk since I am a mad lover of rain, its was spine chillingly cold. But we all didn't hesitated to ride in rain, so we started riding back to Delhi drenching in rain.
Mai who cooked delicious food for us, and that cow is trying to photobomb!! ;-p
For a person like me who is coming from south India, visiting Shimla is like getting in to a telecom ad scene of 90's, where old Dhaadu's wearing traditional Himachali hats, smoking chillums and sipping a smokey cup of tea while watching Ind-Pak match in TV sitting on Verandas of shops. The city of Shimla was made by Britishers established in colonial India for doing their business. After India became free, Gradually Britishers started to leave this place and people preserved the whole set up and enhanced. Now the population is so high that the whole place is getting commercializing and the beauty of nature is been disturbed as well. People who loves shopping and visiting crowded places would love Shimla but I fall for those off beat places around the city.
This post was originally published on 'Life Improvised'.