Snow in India’s Queen of Hills-Shimla

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The plan to visit the Queen of Hills-Shimla was a spontaneous one and as consequence there was only one volunteer. We boarded a semi deluxe bus for Shimla at 7 in evening after attending a friend’s sister engagement. Since, I had been travelling for a week, soon I felt asleep and was woke up by the cold waves which lashed my face as we moved higher into the mountains.

Night View of Shimla

Night View of Shimla

I peeked outside the window with laziness and was left awestruck with countless glittering light illuminating from the mountain dwellings. It appeared that the twinkling stars had deserted the blues in the honour of Queen of Hills and it compelled my semi opened eyes to widen in delight. Soon, we reached the town and as soon as I and stepped down, we were greeted with couple of touts trying to woo us with their hospitality and smiles. I tried to resist them initially but they were so consistent in their efforts that we were persuaded by one of them to show us a budget accommodation. After walking on a steep path from the road, we finally reached our accommodation.

The hotel staff and the tout both tried to paste us with the combo packages (room+ sightseeing) and I constantly tried to put them away.  But my other friend, who was wheezing for gathering some fresh air due to steep climb surrendered. I was really annoyed at his decision but had to agree as I did not wanted to spoil the charm of tour. With a useless combo packages pasted on our forehead, we went to a sound sleep.

Green Valley

Green Valley

The next morning, we left for Kufri located at around 20 km from Shimla on our taxi which came as a part of the useless combo package which we subscribed a day before. Now here comes the explanation for the addressing the combo package as “useless”. Out of the five or six sites mentioned in the combo package, 3-4 such as Green Valley, White Flower Valley etc. were visible only from the road. The driver of the taxi politely showed us the same while on our way to Kufri and I literally felt ensnared. Gradually as we moved closer to Kufri we spotted some snow along the road which helped me overcome the ensnaring feeling.

Ride of Mountains

Ride of Mountains

Since, it was February, the region expects less snowfall and one has to trek a bit higher till “Mahasu Peak” to surge their chances of spectating the white flurry balls from the sky. Our ride dropped us at the parking from where we had to take another ride (a pony) to cover the stretch of around 4 km. With the memories of ‘useless’combo package in my mind, I decided not to take the ride and trek the stretch on foot in spite of being warned by the locals. My friend who took the ride also tried to persuade me, not because he was aware of the situation ahead but he had realized his stamina last night.  I disregarded every advice given to me at that time.

My friend enjoying the ride...I was a gladiator at this point

My friend enjoying the ride…I was a gladiator at this point

As I strolled further on the route, I heard many voices from the fellow tourist as well as the locals advising me to take the ride, but I snubbed each of them. But I was about to realized the consequence of being a gladiator soon. I had ambled only 100 m on the route and before I could notice I had stepped into the sludge formed by melting ice and mud. My whole foot till ankle was totally immersed in sludge. The gladiator in me had now suffered but still had not died.

Just a random click

I choose to continue the walk and tactfully tried to place my feet into the sludge without losing balance. A few more steps and I was down with my beloved smartphone of which some installments are still due. The advice which I snubbed earlier had now started to haunt my thoughts now. The gladiator in me silently passed away the moment my smartphone touched the base and got coated with the sludge. I had realized my mistake but it was too late. With all the charm flooded in the sludge, I quietly cleaned up the phone and slid it inside in the pocket of mud covered jeans.

Enjoying boiled eggs with the local....

I looked no further and hopped over a pony to prevent any other mishap. The ride up to the peak was full of ups and down. My ride was a bit naughty one, he passed so close from the trench that it scared a hell out of me and on other occasion he bumped into his colleagues who I guess were strictly following their encoded protocol for such voyages. But he knew his job and dropped me at the Mashau Peak safely.

View before snowfall

View before snowfall

I gazed at the riveting uneven surface of the peak decorated with snow at some places. The view was magical which I had been waiting to watch for a long time. I along with my friend started rambled over the peak to explore more pleasant sights. It had not been more than 10 minutes of our arrival; we were surprised by the nature. Guess what…!!!  the white flurry balls descended from heaven to greet us. Even though I hail from the hilly state of Uttarakhand, I had never been fortunate to witness a live snowfall. We were told that many tourists wait for couple of days to witness the snowfall and sometimes still they leave empty hands but I guess the almighty was benevolent on us.

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View of the peak after snowfall

View of the peak after snowfall

Soon all the backdrops of the trip (combo package, gladiator part) vanished in the mystical charm of white flurry balls. The frequency of their fall also had increased at a tremendous rate by now. I looked up in the white sky and saw an unending trail of tiny snow balls and some of them kissed my cheek, forehead, lips and left me contended thoroughly. I even opened my mouth and tasted a few of them.

Shy Yaks

Shy Yaks

Within no time, the whole mountain range was covered with the blanket of snow and it appeared stunningly elegant. Our trip was a success with just a sight of it. The coldness in the atmosphere inspired the young couples to come closer and share each other warmness. They clicked one after other to preserve their memories and even I and my friend turned out to be the spot photographer for few of them. Some of them also posed over the shy and calm yaks in ‘cowboy’ style and in the traditional outfits too.  There were photographers pestering the young couples for clicks and even succeeded on several occasions.

Fresh snow seated on chairs..

Fresh snow seated on chairs..

I covered all the attractions such as Nag temple, telescope point etc. which offered a serene view of snow-capped mountain ranges with full satisfaction. We spent a lot of time wandering over the peak, embracing the warmth of angeethi (traditional brazier) with locals with regular breaks of Maggi and tea at the food joints.

At last, we decided to bid goodbye to the pacific view and I called up my ride. Riding down was much creepier than the coming up but as I said earlier my ride knew his job well.