We did a lot of research about a destination for our honeymoon. We both love the hills so the unanimous and undisputed choice was to go somewhere in the lap of mountains. But that was only the easy part. The difficult bit was to hit the nail about the destination. India has so many spectacular hill stations that - I don't know if anyone else has ever faced this dilemma - it really is too difficult to finalize one particular place.
We started our R&D. Initially some of the options were straightaway rejected - Ladakh, Kinnaur, North Sikkim, Kashmir. Not because these places were not good enough - even my enemies can not say that I am ever indulged in such a blasphemy - but simply because these places were not accessible in late January - February.
We wanted to touch and feel the snow and also didn't want to face roadblocks or other hassles due to excessive snow. Where to go? Finally one of my friends suggested Narkanda as an option - it did fit with our expectation because apart from touring to the crowded places we also wanted to visit a place where the raw beauty of the nature could be enjoyed. So Narkanda seemed to be a perfect option, even the HPTDC guys assured me that we'll get loads of snow and very less crowd as it was considered as 'Peak Off Season'.
Feeling excited we drafted a plan to visit Narkanda, Shimla and Manali without making the trip too much hectic. Finally booked the tickets and sorted out the accommodation and we were all set to go. And we got a great discount on all the hotels. We decided to visit the hills in winter, when and where possible.
This series of chronicles will bring forward our experiences of this fabulous trip.
We caught a flight from Kolkata to Delhi and then Delhi to Chandigarh. We reached Chandigarh around 4.30 pm in the afternoon. It was a cold, very cold, late January afternoon. We hired a cab and started towards Kalka rail station. The plan was to stay at Kalka and catch the Shivalik Deluxe Express next day morning.
We reached Kalka Railway station around 5.30 pm, it already started becoming dark. I was advised by some of my relatives to check for the railway retiring rooms. But I was really doubtful of getting an accommodation there since there are only a couple of rooms. But I thought there shouldn't be any harm enquiring. To my utter surprise and joy, one of the rooms was empty and we booked it immediately. Since we had a ticket for the Shivalik Deluxe next day, it was as smooth as butter to get a room. It was a perfect start to the trip. We knew that luck was on our side.
It was a huge room of the British Architecture with an attached toilet - even bigger. There was room for imporvement as far as the cleanliness is concerned but we didn't bother as we were staying for a single night.
After getting freshened up we went outside to roam around the station. It was so cold that we decided to quit after an hour, though we bought some snacks to be consumed the next morning in the train.
The station was cute. It had normal broad gauge tracks at one side of the platform and the narrow gauge toy train tracks at the other side. This was the place from where our train was supposed to leave as well. In the first snap, to my left was the narrow gauge tracks for the toy train.
We had an early supper at the railway refreshment room at the station itself and went to a deep sleep early since we needed to get up early next morning.