Train to the mountains

Trip Start Apr 2005
Trip End Apr 2005

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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, April 2, 2005

When do you know you need a vacation? For me, it is when the mound of paperwork on my desk starts looking like a snow-capped mountain and the flush in the loo sounds like a gushing mountain spring. So before I completely lose my sanity, I decide to take 2 weeks off and head for the real mountains and springs, to the Kinnaur and Spiti regions of Himachal Pradesh.

Luckily for me, my journey starts off the moment I step out of office on an early Friday afternoon. My only companion on this journey is my 3-year old motorbike and together we intend to cross deep valleys and treacherous mountain passes. I set off on my bike from Pune to Mumbai to catch the early train to Himachal.

Most travellers will tell you that one of the most exciting things about taking a trip is the planning. Where to go, what to see, what do do once you are there. But even more exciting (and my preferred way of doing it) is not to plan at all ! Nothing can beat the element of surprise(good or bad) that comes from leaving some things unplanned. That makes travel a lot like life, doesn't it?

One of the aspects that I left to fate was getting my bike from Mumbai to Ambala on the train. And since fate is a major part of what keeps the Indian Railways up and running, I did manage to get the bike aboard. Won't say it was easy, but never has greasing some palms, issuing some threats and chanting some prayers failed in India!

I reach Ambala feeling hot, dusty and very wired (I gulped down endless cups of tea on the ride to pass the time). So, after some food for me and fuel for the bike, I set off on my journey towards Shimla. As I travel on the Hindustan-Tibet road, I cannot help but think of its rich past, which prompted Lord Dalhousie to write: "It will not be surpassed by any mountain road in the world."

My ride and my day ends at Solan, which is 30 kms short of Shimla. I fall asleep recalling the various names the British gave to Shimla - Viceroy's Shooting Box, Abode of the Little Tin Gods and even Mount Olympus!
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