posted on Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shimla continued.

Slowly getting adjusted to the culture shock. This morning I walked up the steep path to the hindu Jakhu temple. At the start there was a big signboard challenging to 'take the fitness test' giving timings to reach the hilltop where the temple stands according to age groups. I am happy to report that not scientific as it might be, still I ended up in the superfit bracket, not a good sign for indians overall fitness. It was pretty steep though and as the guide had warned the main things to watch out for were the aggressive monkeys in a constant search for food. They are a bit of a menace in town, so much so that they even had a lot of them deported to Tajikistan, just to make sure they do not make it back! They are everywhere spending most of their time either searching for each other's bugs or eating; another favourite, judging from the sagging roofs of cars is the 'jumping on the roof or the car game'.
Shimla is a most odd place and what could you expect of a town with english style buildings, palaces and castles, a swiss landscape and an indian flair! The british raj made it since the 19th century the favourite summer retreat from the capital's heat. Summer here being so long meant that the government each year would move all its offices up here between the months of april until november. The legacy of this is still visible in the colonial style buildings of the high street as well as in the various palaces and castles, former residences of british officials that can be found dotted around the many hills of Shimla. Unfortunately most of them but the few right at the centre of the town, have been left crumbling since the independence day and are wrecks of their former glory. Today Shimla still retains the title of the summer capital but this time as a posh mountain resorts for the well off indians who come here to cool down, get married and pose around the mall in their best gears. In fact the main pass time seems to parade up and down 'the Mall', good thing this is pretty long so before you meet the same faces again it takes a little while! Today's excitement is a stand of a youth organisation in the main square. They are trying to get people to sign on and help them raising awareness of the dangers of the spread use of drugs amongst young people. Their curious and ambiguous motto was 'we can fly high'. Tomorrow long journey to Dharamsala on a suspiciously rated 'semi-deluxe' bus. Let's hope it will be less semi than deluxe. Stomach so far holding and food incredibly tasty and fattening!