This is the second post from the North India Bike Trip travelogue. Read the first North India bike trip 1 – Murphy’s law in action. To summarize the first day, after missing my flight, I had to purchase the overpriced ticket to Delhi. Later, my rented bike came out faulty. It took extra hours and tons of patience to reach Shimla.
Delhi to Shimla
Roads from Delhi to Shimla was in perfect condition. You can literally cruise once you are out of Delhi’s traffic. Reached Chandigarh around 11 AM with breaks. Took right from Chandigarh for Shimla.
On the way, I encountered unexpected rain resulting in wet clothes and luggage. As I moved up the mountain, wet socks became irritating under cold winds. Stopped next to a bus stop, removed wet socks, put on a dry one, wrapped legs with garbage bins and tied with zip ties and wore the wet shoes back. Garbage bins secured my dry socks with wet shoes. I was good to go 🙂
With an increase in ascent, the bike struggled to climb. Calling Stonehead service centre and trying out local mechanic failed. Time burned out quickly and I could only manage to reach Shimla by 4 p.m. as against to 12 PM.
Placed the luggage in a cheap hotel some 15 minutes from the market. The room was untidy and the hotel didn’t had supply of hot water. Who cares if it goes easy on the pocket and there aren’t any security concerns.
Parking the bike was super hilarious
The hotel was high on the hill and the road which leads to the parking was very steep. I was more than sure that trying this fellow to get up this road was nothing but useless. Still, the hotel agent ‘bhanja’ insisted on parking the bike close to the hotel. I agreed.
Took off all the luggage from the bike pannier and handed it to his ‘mama’. Mama bhanja both were hotel agent grabbing tourists before the small tunnel and settle for the room. Bhanja sat behind me. I went back a little on the road, dropped 1st gear and hit the throttle hard. Honking badly and in full throttle, somehow I climbed high enough. I thought I made it.
The road curved a little from here. It was then the remaining part of the road became visible. I lost all the hope. God, it was the steepest I had seen. Bike refused to move further and started rolling back. Bhanja jumped from the pillion seat and started pushing the bike, but of no use.
Wooden benches were placed on both sides of the road. Dada’s and dadi’s were relaxing by the roadside. I felt that I was a piece of evening entertainment. All were enjoying our struggle.
Bhanja said get your bike a little back and then we will try. I turned the bike sideways, that was a mistake. Bullet almost toppled on me. If the bhanja had failed to hold the bike I would have come down rolling along with the bullet. I said him it’s of no use let’s park it somewhere.
Finally parked the bike in open private parking on the left side of the Shimla-Kufri Road. He charged Rs.100 for a night.
After parking the bike moved into the room had a soul-soothing bath before leaving for the infamous Shimla mall road. The mall road is a long road running straight with shops on both sides. The real charm of the Mall road is during the night. It glitters with fancy lights from shops. The place remains pretty crowded with tourists.
Every place, every single bench in the garden, every single tree on that lonely road, every lamp post standing in the midst of the crowd passing by has a story. I like to stop and observe.
With the same intention, I crossed the Mall road not less than 6 times alone with a camera bag and hand in my pockets. It’s fun to let your eyes keep strolling on random things.
Cold silent night and empty bench in Mall Road, Shimla
It was around 9 PM. The night was cold. I was sitting on one of the benches just at the entry on the Mall road. The bench was exactly opposite to the police watch post at the centre of the road.
Tall muscular police in colonial police uniform was standing under the chowk umbrella and keeping an eye on the crowd. The silence of the night was pierced by some boys and girls who were shifting college banners from the road.
A nice young man with disturbed mental state was sitting on the right-hand side bench. Nobody dared to get close to him. He would shout at anybody who fixed their gaze on him or passed by him.
I kept my eyes off him for the whole 2 hours until I left. And when I stood up to leave I could not keep my eyes away, I was expecting him to behave the same as he did for 2 hours. But to my surprise, he looked at me and gave a warm smile. I was amazed, is he the same man who kept the crowd in fear. Whatever it was, I felt nice 🙂
Sitting there for 2 hours I noticed that Dogs are loved and Dog owners are respected well in Shimla. Yeah, that’s true, I observed more than 6,7 dog and dog owners. It seemed most of them were localities as people knew each other quite well. What I saw was, people would smile like crazy and hop towards any fancy dog around them. I was surprised to see a small girl, must be no more than 5 years, counting more than 10 breeds of dogs 😀
Kufri and Narkanda from Shimla
Route map for Day 2. Day 1 was spent in riding from Delhi to Shimla.
I took my bike and left for Kufri and Narkanda the following morning. Elevation was relatively low hence I could make it. The morning ride was amazing. I liked the Kufri. Roads were pretty maintained till Narkanda. I had to return back when the elevation started.
It was noon when I returned from Narkanda. Gave the bike again to a local mechanic in the hope that something could be worked out. But it didn’t. I spent all my afternoon talking with a Nepali settled in Shimla.
For the last 15 years, he was in Shimla. Somehow he was able to set up a small tapri on the Shimla-Kufri Road just before the private parking. He was a nice guy. We became good friends in an hour. He talked about so many changes that went on in Shimla in the last 15 years. Chai and Bun Maska was an afternoon-long affair. It was a memorable time.
Left the tapri after evening bonfire. Today night he gave a space to park my bike safely. Tomorrow was planned for the ride till Amritsar the land of Golden Temple and Jallianwala Baug.