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Monday, 22 April 2013

In and Around Shimla

Jakhoo Temple
One day can be spent in exploring Shimla and its nearby spots. We decided to go by what the tourist cab driver had in mind, with some occassional overrides of our own. First stop was at Jakhoo temple, which is dedicated to Hanumanji. Here we have a 100-foot statue of Hanumanji in Kesar colour, overlooking Shimla city. Managing to go up the steep slopes, which remind us of the steep climb up Mount Washington in New Hampshire, we reached the footsteps to the Jakhoo temple. The big difference in this climb up the road was that we also have hairpin bends here, where even a small car like Maruti 800 or Alto cannot negotiate without a 3-point turn! Skill of the drivers were to the fore, we felt the cool confident nature of theirs as everyone went by respectfully in lane and also crossed other cars going in opposite direction smoothly without a honk, flashing of lights or any other indications of priorities / precedence. A short climb of about 200 steps led us to the giant Hanumanji statue and the temple. Some views of Shimla and Sanjouli were also nice through the dense pine growth all around. There were a lot of monkeys around the complex, but many didn't trouble us (unless people troubled them). At times they do try to scare the devotees to take away the prasaadam.

We then moved a couple of kilometers as the crow flies, but actually took 1 hour to reach the next stop through the serpentine roads to Indian Institute for Advanced Studies. We went through a short tour of the main building, which was also the Rashtrapathi Bhavan till 1960s, with the guide giving us highlights of the events at the building. We learnt the history and current uses of this institute along with the original architecture, furnishings, some historic photos, etc. A trip through the nice garden of the institute was enjoyable as we saw nature's ideas for colour combinations, which are very attractive and could give a good guide to modern garment industry.

Garment Industry - pick your natural combinations...
From the same parking area, we could walk across to the Himalayan Bird park. This is a small park in about 4000 sq feet enclosure, which houses pheasants, peacocks and pea fowls. We can get close to the birds and they wander along with the visitors with some swans, jungle fowl, etc., thrown in the mix. One could spend about 10 - 20 minutes here especially admiring the Himalayan Monal Pheasant. Then we skipped the Heritage museum as it was a further trek up the path, which was a little difficult at such high altitudes. Agreed that I am getting old and not in great shape for trekking!

Himalayan Monal Pheasant
We decided to skip the trip to Sankat Mochan temple and Vaishno Devi temple near Shimla. Since we had taken our time in both Jakhu temple and IIAS, we had less time for other places. We went on to Lakkhar Bazaar & the Mall road. Here is the place we were struck by the cleanliness, open spaces, discipline and orderly movements of people, simple efforts to keep the place clean, neat horses available for horse ride, no horse-shit anywhere except in the holding area for the horses, etc. Are we in India, we wondered? Why can't the people in South India be like these folks? Simple individual steps make it an amazing experience for any visitor or resident alike. Should we buy a house in Shimla and move here? We are tempted indeed.

We walked through only a part of the bazaar, reached the ridge, had the customary views of the valleys and mountains, took some photographs of the cloudy day and returned back to our hotel. Though it is all so neat and enjoyable, we still wonder whether summer crowd will be a little too much for us. Our guess is that it would be too much for us, just like a visit to Ooty (Ootacamund; Udhagamandalam) or Kodaikanal. We felt it was enough of an exercise for us all and thought of returning to the Mall road area on a subsequent day to make a complete visit.

Shimla is enough to make us feel - "Incredible India".

1 comment:

  1. Been there...seen these....memorable...good blogging...keep going!