A Road Trip to Shimla

Shimla Medical College
Photo by Jyotirmoy Gupta / Unsplash

It was supposed to be just another day. It was 3 a.m in the morning and we only had 3 sets of clothes and our instruments with us when we just decided to leave. But where were we headed? “Shimla”, my friend declared. About 260 km away from Delhi, Shimla – “the Summer Capital of India” – was beckoning us. We decided to shoot our new music video for the band there.

Moreover, what can be better than driving through the lofty mountain highways and singing your favourite songs along with your best friends? Perhaps the best part was that it was all unplanned. Our band had a show in Panipat the night before and we decided to go to Shimla right after the show. We wanted something different for the video.

Our drummer suggested that we avail a reliable and hassle-free taxi service in Panipat and I’m so glad he did. The driver also turned out to be a fan of rock music. He was from Shimla and grew up listening to classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses. Driving through the night, we finally reached Karnal.

Karnal is located at a distance of about 40 km from Panipat and it is here that we stopped for a cup of tea and steaming piles of Maggi. We had to beat the early morning blues somehow. Also, the hangover from the post-gig frenzy the night before was still lingering. We watched the sunrise as we drank tea. Half an hour later, we bid goodbye to the warm Dhaba and headed towards our next stop- Pinjore.

Photo by Vikram / Unsplash

The Pinjore story unfolds

Pinjore – tucked into the foothills of Himalayas – marks the start of the Himalayan hills. It houses some attractive sights, like the Pinjore Gardens, the Bhima Devi Temple, etc. However, the history of the Pinjore Gardens is quite interesting, at least according to our driver friend. Pinjore Gardens is located in the Panchkula District. The local king of Bhawana dreaded the coming of the Mughal Court to Panchkula District.

Fearing the loss of his land, he drew up a plan. He accumulated all the patients suffering from goiter in the foothills of Himalayas and placed them in the garden. He assigned them various tasks to perform. So, when the governor came, they witnessed the garden full of goiter patients. They feared that the land and air of Panchkula was contaminated. So, they didn’t want to set up their establishments there and evaded the territory. Rather smart, if you ask me.

We decided to have our breakfast at Pinjore. We resorted to the classic Puri bhaji and lassi. Pinjore is not really a big town but it was a place full of people with big hearts. The strangers in the street always greeted us with a smile. I wonder if that was because of our eccentric appearance, what with our long hair, black tees and all that. Anyway, we headed on towards the misty mountain highways from Pinjore.

Moving further up the hills

Over the hills and misty mountains cold, as we moved further up on the road, the weather became more and more exotic. It is really no wonder why Shimla is called the ‘Summer Capital of India’. As I watched over the world below us from the edge of the valley, it reminded me of the good old novel, “The Hobbit” by J. R. R. Tolkien.

We were singing along to Led Zeppelin songs as we moved along our journey. As the roads unwound, we came across the Kalka-Shimla railway line, narrow-gauge railway line established in 1903. It is now recognized as a world heritage too.

I’m glad we decided to book a cab from Panipat to Shimla. It was almost the end of January. Imagine this. A bleak mid-winter, snow-capped mountains, highway roads in the company of my best friends. It was a pleasant experience indeed.

Finally, Shimla

We all fell asleep in the car on our way as we were tired from our concert and the journey that followed. A sudden bump woke me up and to my awe, I realized we had already reached Shimla. I saw the Christ Church through the window. The epitome of heritage, it was the second oldest church in North India. We decided to do a small road busk at Mall Road since it was the epicenter of the town.

Mall Road appeared to be quite cosmopolitan to us. Amidst the mayhem of the daily lives of the people there and also the tourists who were busy shopping, we stood with our instruments and burst into a few songs. We were soon surrounded by the crowd and yet again music united people. We decided to spend the night there and start shooting our music video the next day.

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