As the winters were settling in slowly end of October, weather still transitioning from Autumn to add on the chill factor, we decided to go visit Himachal Pradesh which was already much colder. On an escaping spree from our busy city lives, we decided to cover the Solan, Chail, Shimla and Kandaghat belt which would have a much-inviting weather, not harsh especially since I had my 4-year-old son accompanying us.
And to our respite, an irresistibly blue and sunny Himachal welcomed us. If we could pack some jars of pollution-free air, it would have been from here. Haven’t seen such a sparkling place in recent times, having traveled to so many places in India. The pictures are proof as to how beautiful, green and clean was Himachal Pradesh.
We began our journey on 22nd Oct 2018 via Shatabdi Express boarding from Delhi till Kalka and from Kalka got on a Toy Train en route to Shimla and we got off at Kandaghat. A very comfortable journey considering a 4-year-old also traveling with us, food and toilet facilities were available in Shatabdi and the Toy Train. Surprisingly we weren’t tired at all even after a whole day of traveling and changing trains.
In fact, the toy train ride proved to be one joy ride. Slow and steady, the train moved on a narrow track as we crossed thick vegetation covered hills blooming with a riot of colorful flowers, tunnels, bridges and small streams, the air with a hint of cold refreshing us during the journey while stopping at various stations to give a feel of the mountainous terrain and hillside villages. The views from the Toy Train were nothing less than dramatic.
I was traveling after 25 years to this part of the country and missed the apple juice counters on every station the most. There were no food counters at all in the toy train stations except a few on one or two stations. All thanks to IRCTC. We had to get down at Kandaghat and some other prominent stations of the Toy Train route were Taksal, Dharampur, Barog, Solan, Shoghi, Jutogh, Summer Hill and Shimla. By the time we reached Kandaghat it was almost 4.00 PM and in another 15 minutes, we reached our hotel.
We decided to put up at ‘Hotel Falcon Crest’ which was a decent hotel with complimentary scenic valley and mountain views to completely soak in nature whilst your stay. They had a casual restaurant which served edible food plus a garden where chairs could be arranged for having your food under the sun but avoided due to monkey mania. The hotel was surrounded by various species of wildlife as an ode to the surrounding hills. We got lucky to spot a Mongoose as well from our room which had a big window overseeing lush green mountains and letting in warm sun rays.
We decided to call it a day after checking in and dozed off earlier than usual. I decided to catch up with some books before sleeping and read ‘And She Rises’ an E-book authored by none other than my pardner WinningStree, Megha Katira Patni. Oh, and I must compliment Megha for her book as to how wonderfully has she penned down human emotions. Our motto for WinningStree is woman empowerment and by this book, Megha has showcased that no matter how harsh life is for a woman, in the end, she is inbuilt to get up from her ashes and fight back the hurdles. Read this E-Book for Free at Juggernaut.
The next morning was a lazy one as we woke up pretty late than usual adjusting ourselves to the sudden dip in the temperature. Bathing was the biggest challenge posed, but thanks to our very sunny room, we all managed to come out clean. Our hotel served breakfast so by the time we got ready to leave our hotel it was already 11.30 AM. We decided to walk on the hilly road till the Kandaghat Market. My son pulled off really well and cooperated considering his crazy parents decided to hike on a busy road with cars routed to Shimla.
But that was a wonderful hike on a very sunny day under the blue sky. We spotted some tea stalls and beautiful nurseries in between and also located some not so frequented trails into the nearby woods and grasses. Sitting, chatting, having tea and everything else that we did in between we still managed to reach the Kandaghat market by 12.30 PM. I remember spotting a school, bank, a housing colony and hospital in the market area. The locals were really beautiful and some of them could readily make out that we were tourists. We bought some fresh fruits and of course some daaru to survive the cold.
We decided to eat some Anda Maggi at Ekant View on the way back. Somehow, Egg, Maggi and the chilly hills have always been a deadly combo.
After filling up our hungry tummies, we decided to go visit the Mohan National Heritage Park for the evening. And what a marvel it was. It is but a temple tucked downhill from Kandaghat, surrounded by a lush green park and some splendid statues.
Right from the park where one can see elephants and other Hindu mythological creatures as statues, to the temple tip which depicted the chariot of Arjuna in Mahabharata with Shri Krishna as his charioteer and inside many statues and forms of goddess and gods from the Hindu Religion. The temple and the adjoining park were huge, grand and like a treasure hunt for the visitors.
It was neat, well-planned, and a well-maintained place displaying the best of Indian culture, architecture and stone crafts. Though the washrooms near the parking area could have been cleaner. I did not happen to use them luckily but the parking area was also huge. The front yard had a checkerboard-like lawn with the views of hills and river Giri. One feels like asking time to stand still while you soak yourself in the moment.
The temple promotes the art of Vedic sciences and our rich heritage and culture to the younger generations. One can easily meditate at this shakti sthal and get to know about the findings of our vedas. On NH22, it was a surprise to our bare eyes to see such a mesmerizing display of the rich heritage of India in a temple so far in a small town which was remotely connected with Solan by a narrow road.
A sense of peace engulfed us and by the time we realized this, it was time to leave. It was getting darker and the narrow road uphill back to Kandaghat was quite a task at hand for our driver. From some point on the way back to the hotel, I saw ice glistening on the tip of a peak, our driver correctly stated it to be the Kali Tibba Shrine near Chail. More about the Himachal Diaries in my next post.
Where are you off to for your next trip? Do plan one in Himachal and go hiking like we did? Need a hiking rucksack? Click on the link below to buy this cool rucksack from Amazon…