My favorite author Ruskin Bond had once written “It is always the same with mountains, once you have lived with them. There is no escape.“ Now for a girl like me born and lived most of my life in the busy cities, though hills looked beautiful somewhere I couldn’t find the meaning of this line or you could say not related to it, won’t lie being caged in this concrete jungle his stories of the distant hills somewhere grew upon me, made me dream of the unknown, see the unseen and it became one of my life’s major wish to see it for myself.
Therefore the moment I was told we might have a few days trip to Shimla, you could say those dreams and visions went wild inside my head to call it excitement would be a very small thing. But I was scared what if somehow all this happiness all goes into waste and something ends up happening and we don’t go, what if this and what if that, but we did end up going, and it’s safe to say it was no less than what I had dreamed of it to be, though tortured by man, the hills still strived to live, its struggle to exist still went on.
8th of November 2018 our seven day trip actually began, out of which three days we were supposed to be in Manali, but mentally I was still in Shimla, there was something about it which kept me stuck to it.
The first day we went to the Fagu Valley or the Green valley, it was just quietly lying in its deep vastness on the side of the narrow roads. We understood why it was called the Green valley; the entire never-ending spectacle was covered by trees throughout its entire body. The beautiful green deodars stood even in the deepest corners; if one saw them at a glance it would look like a velvet green coat had been wrapped on the mountains to shield them from the cold.
Speaking of the cold, the temperatures were quite chilly with the sun rays out and we happily embracing them. It’s strange how we can only see one face of certain things, when clearly they have so many other aspects to them, we stood there on a mild sunny day with everything around looking happy, but what about the foggy mornings, where everything would be covered in the layers of mist under which took birth millions of mysteries of both man and nature.
There was something really calm about it and for once in my life I did experience the ‘Call of the Void’ a strange phenomenon where a deep void just calls to you, and you would want to jump, where normally you don’t have any such intention, it’s a strange feeling where it seems like no matter how deep the jump is, something will catch you and you will be okay, you will be safe, I guess that was the affect the Hills have anyways.
The next place we visited was Kufri it was a short drive from the valley itself, we had to climb a certain distance by horses which I won’t lie as adventurous and fun it sounds it had its own perils, especially when the animal was being hit by its master -the sudden jerk it took, we had to numerous times tell them not to hit the horses. After the chaotic ride what waited for us was a sight of a lifetime, honestly when you go to such a place every sight seems like one.
There were empty apple trees covered so the snow which would fall wouldn’t harm the trees, and hovering on top of them were sea blue endless skies everywhere, with patches of white clouds floating in spaces, we were at a considerable height from the ground and it felt like we were closer to it. There were little token shops along with shops selling mufflers and hand knit scarfs and fancy leather jacket, there were shops selling hot teas and Maggie and within a few yards there were white and black yaks- people stood and took pictures with them some tried to feed them grass it was a funny scene, I wonder what those creatures even think of us humans.
After taking the oath of never again riding on horses funnily enough we rode again the next day in Naldhera- well this time it wasn’t chaotic at all, it was an experience we would never forget for the rest of our lives, it was just like I had imagined in my stories from childhood , riding on horses in between the beautiful forests where the sunshine peeped through the cracks and fell on your face and then on the ground, the horse swiftly took us to the highest point of the hill, from where we could literally see the entire Shimla, little houses popped up like warts on the face of the hills and slowly covering it, and the light blue mist shielding it all from the evil eyes of the world. We stood literally inside the woods, it gave me jitters to even think how it would look on full moon nights or even moonless nights and the animals calling from different directions, breathtaking is the only word I had.
One thing which we did noticed was the men who owned the horses, they were on their foot the whole time it was really amazing how they were at pace with horses and were not tired a bit from climbing an entire mountain, on asking they said it was like a normal jog for them.
The famous Ridge was another most interesting part of the trip out of our four day stay two of our evenings were spent there, a place filled with different people, different shops, it still had an old town charm to it, with some British offices still being there with gated having the rusted seal of the Crown which once ruled the whole nation, it’s funny how some things are so valuable and important at one time, let’s take the British office for an example it once must have been filled with people and high level delegates, but now it just stood empty with its stories facing the sunset.
The Ridge was a strong example of how man can accomplish anything no matter how adverse the situations are, we found shops and restaurants even at the smallest nook of the hills and I kid you not when I say the food there could beat the five star restaurants most of us visit, even the boiled eggs with green chutney we ate in between our walks tasted so much better than the ones we eat, maybe it was the chutney, maybe the moment, who knows? But it was beautiful.
The Christ Church stood beautifully in the center of the Ridge with the sun glistening on its white walls it indeed was a holy sight, there was also a Temple on a different level, the entire area was divided into levels with shops and food corners everywhere and benches overlooking the sky, photographers trying to capture moments, with the evening descending there were fairy lights switched on in certain places, making the hill look like a tiny paradise.
On our last day there I stood on the very cold balcony overlooking the fulfilling darkness, one thing I realized was I could hear nothing and I can’t explain how beautiful it was even though my feet were kind of cold, it was almost snowing there but inside I was warm.
These hills are strange, they have something about them, they are calm, unnerving yet so mysterious as if they have so many secrets hidden in them, they make you feel so calm and remind you to be humble and tell us there are things greater than us. I will forever be grateful for this trip of mine, and no matter where I go I always will have a piece of my heart still hanging in Shimla.