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     (Day 4 of our trip)The Shivalik express was waiting for the arrival of H-D-K mail as the shivalik gets most of its passengers from it. The shivalik express (leaves at 5:30 AM every day) is a small luxury train with just 7 bogies. It has got cushoined seats with a breakfast tables in between.

       The 96km journey takes about a little more than 5 hours as the train moves slowly on its narrow guage tracks. The journey is worth every penny since the package includes breakfast, wonderful mountain views, hundreds of tunnels and the train passes over numerous bridges. When passing through a few long tunnels we switched off the lights inside our bogie and felt the chill of complete darkness. The train crew are very friendly and provide you an extra sandwich or samosa if they have!

 

 

     The Shivalik express( I do not know why it is called an express as its max speed is somewhere around 30kmph!) stops midway at Barogh for 15 minutes where we got down and took photos of the train amidst the beautiful terrain. We reached Simla at 11:30.

     The taxiwalas outside the railway station tortured us to get into their taxi as the place we had our rooms reserved was quite far(3 kms, SBI holiday home). In simla, the distance doesn’t matter. They charge Rs.100-150 per drop. Unfortunately, due to some misunderstanding only one cottage was booked in the holiday home instead of two!. They could not adjust another cottage and we were forced to search for another lodging to stay. We finally settled in a nearby lodge named Firhill( 600/room, pretty decent). It was past 2PM by the time we put all our luggage into rooms and get out for lunch.

     We had talked to a local travel agent and had arranged for our sight-seeing for 2 days and drop till manali. The car was waiting by then and we went to the famous “Mall road”. There is a twi tier lift system to reach the mall road from the main road below. We got in to it(Rs.7/person) and reached mall road in search of a vegetarian restaurant. We finally settled in Nalini resturant which made us wait for another hour before giving us some chowmein and plain sandwich. It started drizzling soon we came out of the hotel so we had to cancel rest of mall-road-beat and return to the hotel.

     Then by 5 o clock we went to Sankat mochan hanuman mandir. It was a beautiful place accompanied with a wonderful fog covered-dull-drizzling weather. The place is inhibited by tens of langoors( a kind of monkey) which threaten to snatch anything from visitors which looks like food. Then we visited Vishnav devi gufa which lies nearby, uphill. It is similar to the famous vishnav devi temple with a long cave leading to the temple of devi trio.

     We returned to the hotel by 7. We decided not to go out for dinner as two of my friends fell sick with fever. We had a limited stock of bread and biscuits and the hotel attendant got us mineral water. At 8, Me and my friend decided to take a walk and find some bakery to buy some eatery. One thing we then found out was, it should be a walk in the late night that can show you the real beauty of Simla. A walk on the beautiful, decorated, neat, well maintained road which is protected by the police and Army surrounded with lush green provides you a chill in the spine with cold wind. The million lights of the city fades the barrier between the sky and the land. You can see hundreds of tourists walking across mall road even at 11PM in the night. The place is very safe. We passed via Himachal pradesh vidhan soudha, CBI HQ, Army base, officers colony, bought some stuff at the bakery in the mall road and came back to the hotel(around 10 km walk!) at 11PM.

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