Kufri: A Romantic Getaway
I arrived in Shimla by the toy train called Shivalik Deluxe, a small gauge version of more luxury train Shatabdi Express. The train had only one stop "Bharog" a quaint beautiful railway station from where it collected food items to be served as breakfast to the passengers. Its final destination Shimla`s railway station was no less beautiful.
I spent my arrival day in Shimla checking out the Mall. It’s not much different from the Malls of Mussoorrie or Nainital but certainly is longest of them all. Rest of Shimla is basically lot of smoke and traffic. Humans have certainly managed to choke this big hill station.
Next morning, after a hot shower I ordered breakfast. After reading the news headlines I was ready for the day ahead. My programme for the day included a visit to the resort of Kufri, which has been beaten to death by the Bollywood filmmakers. My taxi arrived at the scheduled time of 10.30 a.m. As the taxi rolled out of Shimla, the scenery began to look pretty. Slow driving on winding roads and negotiating hairpin bends makes the journey real fun. We had hardly moved few kilometers that I saw several cars parked on one side of the road and their occupants were looking down into the valley. We also stopped and joined the crowd. What I saw in the valley was an amazing display of greenery I had never seen before.
It was so dense and green; it appeared not an inch was without some green tree or plant. No wonder, it’s named ‘Green Valley’. After spending some time there I again started on my journey to Kufri. We finally stopped at a place which to me looked like some horse market. It was not at all what I had thought of. All I could see was lot of cars parked here and there with horses occupying the rest of the space. My taxi driver told me I would have to take horse to go up to Kufri. The rates were fixed for the to and fro horse ride. I settled for a horse handled by an innocent looking teenage boy.
The path was not very steep, though at some places we had to be careful due to uneven track. My horse ‘master’ instructed me to bend forward when horse is climbing and pull backward when it’s going down. When we reached an open field, the teenage boy told me ‘this is Kufri’.
I was not impressed. I had thought it would be some green meadow but there was no sign of any green there. All I could see was garbage thrown everywhere; couple of yaks being paraded by their owners for hire to sit on and get photographed and few kiosks selling foodstuff and drinks. There were horse droppings everywhere. I am told during winter Kufri gets good snow and tourists, especially honeymooners, throng it to play in the snow. I was there in the month of November, which is not the time for snow. So you if plan to visit Kufri, try to schedule your trip towards the end of December. If you are lucky, you might see Kufri in its full beauty. My horse handler was pretty good. He did his best to make my ride worthwhile with his info nuggets, mainly what all films were shot there. He pointed to a small hut, which he said was used in the movie called ‘King Uncle’ (starring Jackie Shroff and Shahrukh Khan). He also mentioned about a tree shown in the hit movie ‘Pyar Jhukta Nahin’ starring Mithun Chakraborty and Padmini Kolhapure.
The said tree has the heart carved by the two lovers and has become a picnic spot for honeymooning couples since then.
After doing the Kufri round I went to the adjacent Himalayan Deer Park where I spotted couple of deer, which are in danger of getting extinct! If you have more time at hand, you can proceed to Narkanda. Narkanda is known for its beautiful vistas.
How to Reach: The best way to visit Kufri is train journey. First take Howrah-Kalka Mail to Kalka, the last station on this broad gauge line. From here you must take either normal toy train or faster one called Shivalik Deluxe for a lifetime experience. The train takes you to Shimla from where you can hire taxis or take bus to Kufri.
Where to Stay: Shimla is full of hotels. In fact there are too many of them. Depending upon your budget, you can choose any of them. Most of them are near the Mall road.