Day 8 - Apr 12 - Shimla - Kufri

The day dawned as any other day. I wanted to just sleep the entire day as the weather was fantastic. But then had to check out Shimla.

After lots of discussions about the places to see, we decided upon Kufri which is about 28Kms from where we stayed. My brother found a taxi big enough to carry all of us and we started from the hotel around 10AM.

Now I had no idea what is there in Kufri. I know there is a valley there but nothing more. So we just drove on. My brother found a big spider (I mean, real big and looking mean) lurking near his shoes and mercifully threw it out when we stopped to fill gas.

We stopped at a place to have a view of the valley and the amount of construction that is happening in the area is just unbelievable. Shimla will become a metropolis pretty soon with the kind of development that is happening and pitifully, none of the greenery will be left. Even today, when you drove around you can see the amount of dust that is thrown up, a definite sign of deforestation of the area. Next stop was near wildflower Hall to see the apple orchards in the area and more than that there was a very nice tea shop serving piping hot tea. Then we drove towards Kufri.
Once in Kufri, you are suppose to take the horses(ponies?) for a 20-25 minutes ride to the top of the hill for viewing the valley. We decided that it is something that cannot be missed and booked the ponies for the ride.

The ponywala(?), my guy is named Sitaram, was a chatty fellow and was explaining the names of the ponies along the way (it was called Darling, I guess). But then, he kicks the horses so much they just start walking fast whenever he approaches nearby. Anyway, it was a strange feeling sitting on these ponies and they start sleep-walking into the narrow road running upwards, minding the slush and stones on the way to climb to the top.

When you reach the top, you hear a nice voice calling you out in Tamil, 'Anna' and I was actually shocked. It was a Tibetian girl calling us to take a photo siting on the Yak standing nearby. It was kind of surrealistic to hear that in that strange place.

So we had the photo sessions with the valley and the top of the hill is nothing to write about. It is denuded of its shrubbery and is so dusty, I started sneezing. There is a small temple on the top and a nice view of the mountains of Himalayas (called Shivalik range in these areas). We did saw some snow in the distant mountain tops.

We took our photos on the Yaks and climbed down in those bored ponies. Climbing down was so scary I thought I am going to have my neck broken at one of the turns. But then we reached down safely. Took the kids to the Himalayan National Park (which is actually a zoo) where you really have to search for the animals.

It was late afternoon and time to return back to the hotel. We reached our rooms and I fell down exhausted. Me and J had a fantastic, all-weapons drawn, fight after reaching the room. I dont remember the reason why it started but what I do remember is that it was probably one of the worst we've ever had. May be seeing each other for 24hours a day continously for 8 days at close quarters is good for no one anyway. That too, keeping a hypertension individual like me nearby certainly did not help. The important part is that we fought and then made it up over a couple of mocktails in the hotel restaurant (which were BTW delicious!).

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