Saturday, July 11

Why did I not include Shimla in travel list? But I visited…

Himachal Pradesh has been one of my favourite weekend destinations from Delhi. A round the clock journey from Delhi took me to some of the most incredibly beautiful places this state of Himalaya has to offer. However, I haven’t been able to visit some of the remotest areas of Himachal Pradesh like Lahaul & Spiti. Yet, whatever distance I could cover which my weekends had allowed, I had tended to explore as much as I could. As I started travelling to different locations of Himachal Pradesh, I heard from a lot of people that the state capital was not something I would enjoy visiting. So, I didn’t include Shimla in travel list.

Yet, I visited Shimla last year in December and then I realised those people were right. No offence, Shimla is as beautiful as other places of the state but I am someone who visits Himachal Pradesh for peace, solitude and tranquillity which I didn’t find here that much. Well, that’s obvious. I travel solo to such places for these reasons only. Being the state capital, this place has lots of crowds, the people living here and the people coming here to travelling purposes. Shimla is full of life and a happening city. I remember once I read news where it was mentioned that Shimla was closed for the visitors since there was a water problem. There were several reasons which led me not to include Shimla in travel list, at least not for the year.

Shimla in travel list
Shimla in travel list

The places in my travel bucket list were different. I ever actually had a well-defined travel list. I often used to look for places with fewer crowds and more nature. I used to read blogs where such places were listed that’s how I used to decide my travel list of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla is the main point for several destinations and that also makes this city a crowded one. While I was in Shimla and was looking for a nice restaurant or café by Mall Road side, all of them were fully packed.

I didn’t include Shimla in travel list but then it just happened

It was all because of Kufri. Yes! I was planning to visit Kufri. I had heard a lot about Kufri but never knew what this place was famous for… I mean Shimla is a nice place too but it was just that somehow I had made this perception of counting Shimla was lower in my travel bucket list. The year was ending and I visited Shimla on the second last weekend of December to visit Kufri. I spent one day only and I got tired and left this place. I was carrying my newly bought Moto G8Plus since my camera wasn’t working. I did all the videography and photography on this smartphone camera.

Most of the hotels in Shimla were pre-booked and cost beyond expectations. The reason, the year was ending and prior booking would have saved some cost. Well, that’s one thing about travelling unplanned. If you travel like this, you will have to bear things like this.

Shimla in travel list

So I left ISBT Delhi in the night and reached Shimla in the early morning by this round the clock journey where I had slept most of the time. I had this impression that when I would reach Shimla, I would see snow-fall but again this is a thing you have to deal with when you travel unplanned. The snowfall stopped two days before my arrival. It must be five or six I guess in the morning or it was dark as far as I remember. Thus, I spent some time at the bus station, had a cup of hot Maggi and dozed for a while. The bus stand was full of hustle-bustle, people moving here and there. So when the sun rays started to hit the earth, I got up went to the public washroom, washed off my face, brushed my teeth and decided to leave. I still had a lot of time to check-in the hotel.

And then the driver cheated in Shimla 

I booked a cab online and the driver asked me to come to a place he told. He told that online cabs weren’t allowed to enter the ISBT premises. Strange! I had to take a walk for a long time to reach to him. On the way to the hotel, he kept talking. Drivers do talk to you since they would give you their numbers or would take yours and would ask you to hire them for the day’s itinerary. I was no exception. He kept talking and then dropped the bomb. He said he would make me visit places around Shimla and Kufri (in some 1000+ rupees). And I agreed since he sounded honest. The driver experience during my Dalhousie to Khajjiar visit was nice.

I reached my hotel after getting directions several times on the phone from the hotel owner. He showed me the room. A small room with attached washroom; it wasn’t neat & clean but there was no other option. Most of the hotels were already booked. The towel was stinky. I took a shower, got refreshed up and called the driver. He came to the pickup point and took me to Kufri. Then on the way, he told me that I would have to buy certain equipment to visit all those places which he mentioned initially. He then told me about those adventure stuff and horse rides and all that, in which I had zero interest.

I asked him when we closed the deal why he didn’t tell me about this all that he was taking me to such places. Since I had no idea what these places were, he didn’t clear anything in the morning. So out of five or six places he mentioned in the deal, he only took me to three places, Green Valley, Kufri Zoo and Jakhoo Temple. Moreover, I was on a budget trip and was in no mood to spend extra like that. And he didn’t decrease his price even after this. That was one more thing that made me realize that I shouldn’t have included Shimla in travel list I had made for the year.

The driver only told me that he would take me to those places but he didn’t mention that I would have to pay in thousands to visit those places. Had he told me this earlier, I would have straight away rejected the offer and would have gone somewhere else. And I did go somewhere else the next day as I had got tired and needed solitude. I moved out of Shimla and went Kasauli the next day.

I don’t mean to offend anyone, especially those who love Shimla. My bua ji lives in Shimla (a small village) in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan and I had huge confusion due to this in childhood. I had heard Shimla is beautiful and experiences snowfall. But when I visited that village in childhood, it wasn’t at all anything like what I had heard. Shimla wasn’t just my place, someone who loves peace and solitude, someone who travels Himachal Pradesh only for this reason. That was the reason I couldn’t appreciate Kasol when I reached there. In just a few hours, I got tired and then I moved to Tosh where I found what I needed.

I may plan to include Shimla in travel list soon when I plan out the schedule properly with enough time and money in the pocket. The only highlight of the day I spent in Shimla was Kufri Zoo where I enjoyed playing with snow and watching some rare animal and bird species. The driver took me to Jakhoo Temple in the evening and dropped me at Mall Road where I spent a couple of hours roaming around, visiting the church.

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