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admin 29.01.2014

Today’s guest post comes from my good friend Jim Mcintosh, the travelling cobbler and conservationist behind Holes in my Soles. We had caught the train from Delhi to Kalka ,and there transferred onto the Shimla Toy Train. I was fascinated not just by the feat of engineering, but the views from the heights out over the valleys where April displayed Nature’s springtime colour palette. I was spellbound, in a deep reverie at Nature’s marvelous display outside, almost hypnotised by the clicketty clack, and constant transfer from gloom to brilliance to gloom as we exited one tunnel, over a viaduct, and then into another. As I moved to get a better glimpse of a particularly statuesque specimen, my train of thought was broken abruptly, as a very cold, drippy curry and rice missed me by a centimetre and went flying out my window! Ladies do not like curry hair shampoos, and will not let their man forget about it for a long time either. You will have many options, and we found it was a simple matter of stopping and inspecting rooms at the many hotels we passed until we found good, clean rooms, rather small but with exceptional views looking out over the city and the mountains.
An added bonus was the troop of Languar monkeys that slept every night outside our windows, which explained the bars and netting, necessary to stop them ransacking our room. Shimla itself is built upon several ridgelines, and quaint, pastel painted, crammed together housing literally tumbles down the hillsides. What a wonderful recollection of a fascintating train ride and romantic Shimla, told with a bit of humor as well. I really enjoyed this =) Never had a curry on a train, but I guess that’s par for the course in India.


It tells of a lesser known peril of riding the Himalayan rails…and of ignoring your wife.
As you ascend from Kalka, you’ll find yourself viewing the same point several times, but each time passing by a little higher up, on a tortuous route that winds in hairpin bends from one side of the valley and back upon itself again and again, until finally cresting and into the next valley. Our room was mirrored around the walls and ceilings, truly suitable for magical, romantic Shimla, a city that we found was a honeymoon destination for Dehli’s newlyweds, and amorous train couples. Must have been some holes, as a couple of happy Languar were spotted cavorting across rooftops…. Narrow, winding streets and alleys, lined with shops and street markets make it highly interesting to explore. Shimla is the ideal place for rest and recreation after your hard slog around Northern India.
I enjoyed Simla also, wonderful wandering about and imagine Rudyard Kipling’s Kim scurrying through that tumbling bazaar. I might change it soon then, thanks for persevering, for the feedback and glad you enjoyed Jim’s piece anyway. I had insisted on buying a curry and rice before boarding for Shimla, and placed it very carefully in the overhead luggage nets.
Then into the next valley where yellow and gold glistened through the azalea thickets, and a change again to deep orange when slowly entering the next, as the flowering tree species changed with the altitude.
They are a good investment, as the walk uphill in the thin air at 2067 metres altitude is tiring.


Custom footwear maker, African painted dog and elephant lover, pumpkin planter, and blogger at Holes in my Soles an eclectic mix of travel experiences and musings. I’ve just finally signed up for MatadorU but find it rather daunting, so any critique, suggestions etc please make them. Personally, I loved the slowness, which acts like an antidote to the fastness of modern life. The young Indian couple next to us were making the most of this enforced intimacy, with a very uncommon for Indians, display of fondling each other.
I realize the story could have been tighter, but sometimes it’s better to let it flow and tell the story , rather than fit within expectations of how a travel piece should be written. The Darjeeling train passes so closely to houses and stores, you could easily reach out and grab a snack from the counter as you pass! Also, it’s much more comfortable than driving up to Darjeeling by car because the road is so bad.



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  • MARINA, 29.01.2014 at 12:33:19
    All about smashing and crashing toys when also can limit and magazine.
  • Yeraz, 29.01.2014 at 18:46:58
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