This is my last blog about our trip to Shimla and it is about the railway. We left Shimla on the Shimla-Kalka train and it could not have been a sweeter descent through the cedar forests.The railway was completed in 1903 so it is over 100 years old and still going strong.
It resembles a toy train and is on a narrow gauge. It has 103 tunnels on its route,102 actually as no 46 was done away with. It toooooot toooots before it departs and it twists and turns through the mountains stopping at white washed stations with mediterranean blue trims and delightful names like Summer Hill and Barog the latter being the name of one of the engineers who tragically gave his life to the railway. The vistas are wonderfully soothing, going from dense cedar forest to spruce and pine and then as we approached the plain more Indian oak and big euphorbia, with terracing on various hillsides and little communities dotted about.The air changes from the cool fresh mountain air to the hotter drier air of the plains but the gradual descent allows for a more comfortable adjustment.
The journey from Shimla to Kalka was very affordable and took 4 1/2 hrs. On the day we travelled the train driver was retiring after 31 years of service so we had drums and dancing and he wore garlands of 10 Rupee notes which became more and more as we approached our destination. It felt like a celebration all the way home.