Sep 23, 2007 in

OK, had really much stuff to do plus was ill this week. So I got no time to update this blog. Anyway, I spent only two days in Delhi. After Delhi, I joined some other travellers on the journey to Shimla and stayed there for three days before I went to Chandigarh. Shimla was the summer capital of British India. Because of the searing heat in Delhi during summer, the government officials packed up all their paperwork and fled to the temperate climate in Himachal Pradesh. In winter, there is snow all around. Himachal Pradesh is the home of the Dalai Lama and the neighbouring region to Nepal.
We got up at 5 am to catch the train to Shimla. I guess I don’t even have to mention that the New Delhi railway station is a mess and way too crowded1. We even nearly got on the wrong train because the train to Shimla arrived at another platform than it was announced.
The train from Kalka took about five hours to arrive in Shimla – on a height of nearly 2000 metres. But the travel was worth while: By that time we had gone through 102 tunnels and had seen beautiful views of the Himalaya, the nature and all. After Delhi, this relaxing journey was exactly the kind of thing I needed.

Compared to Delhi, you really feel like on a vacation in Shimla. The city centre consists of British well maintained colonial architecture and there is even a christ church here. The shops appear to be pretty Western, too.
Actually, Shimla is a popular target for Indian tourists. Shimla is also known as the honey-moon city. For Indians, modern, rich and lifestyle all means Western culture. For example fast food restaurants compete with local noble restaurants, not with local snack bars. So, when you switch on Indian TV, don’t be surprised when you see nearly everyone wearing western clothes and having an – for Indians – unusually light colour of the skin.
So, beggars here are somehow kept away from the streets, salesmen don’t come rushing towards you, it’s tidy (at least a the mall, the city centre) and quiet because there are no cars or rickshaws allowed here.

We stayed at a YMCA (yes, the one from the song :-) ) which was a huge old mansion with a big ballroom, reception room and so on. Exactly that kind of mansion you’d expect to have a dark secret2. But in this case it was not really a secret ;-P.

1 because this applies to whole Delhi
2 like it has been built on an Indian sanctury, it has been the home of a mass murderer who then killed his own family or something equally horrible

Cows are blocking the railroad.
One train that we passed at a hill station… so sweet :-)
Now this looks exotic. But don’t get the wrong impression: Himachal Pradesh and Austria look surprisingly alike. Just more poverty plus some palms. This is the only exotic photo I got from the journey.
A hill station. At one hill station, there was a film team making a movie :-)
A view down from Shimla.
Yes, they do it all the time.
A part of the mall. The (tourist) shopping area in Shimla.
Flower for you :-)