Recently, after attending a friend’s sister engagement at Chandigarh, I cooked up a spontaneous plan with one of my friend to visit the “Queen of Hills- Shimla” and to be more specific “Kufri” to witness the fall of white cotton balls (snow) from the heaven. “Kufri” is a salubrious and scenic hill station which akin to many other hill stations was discovered by British in 1819. It is quite famed among snow lovers who throng the place during winters and some of them also patiently wait for days to witness snowfall.
Although my plan worked out and I was lucky to be the spectator to the tiny little flurry balls from the sky, however, there were some backdrops too. Here is the list of top 5 things to avoid during your trip to “Kufri” based on my first-hand experience:
STAY AWAY FROM TOUTS
The moment you get down at Shimla, you will be surrounded by the touts trying to woo with their hospitality and smiles. They will offer to take you to the cheapest hotels with best amenities (every tout claims so). But be warned, they tend to make your travel a bit costlier if you are on a tight budget plan.
The deal is that they get commission from the hotels and guest house for persuading customers which obviously is immaculately camouflaged in your bills. Further, in order to surge their commissions, they will also consistently try hard to paste useless combo packages for sightseeing. I took one of the packages and most of the places mentioned were only seen from distance like Green Valley, White Flower Valley etc.
It is advised to research beforehand about the tourist attraction, accommodation, transportation, read reviews etc. in order to save few bucks which could be well utilized somewhere else. You can also look forward to Club Mahindra resort in Mashobra, if you are willing to shell out for a comfortable stay.
Apart from planning for your accommodation and transport, one more thing you must check before arriving is weather forecast. The snowfall season generally spans from late December to late February. While interacting with the locals, I came to know that many people had to wait for 2-3 days for the snowfall and some even returned disheartened. So in order to accelerate your chances of witnessing snowfall, you must keep an eye on the statistical data of weather department and leave the rest to your destiny.
DON’T BE A GLADIATOR
If you are travelling in February, you might have to trek higher into the beautiful mountain ranges of “Kufri” to watch white flurry balls. The shortest destination is “Mahasu Peak” located at a distance of around 4 km from the car parking at “Kufri”.
It highly recommended taking a pony (small horse) ride to and fro to “Mahasu Peak” even if you are fittest among the masses. Due to melting of ice on the route, it gets too much muddy and slippery that you might end up with mud-covered all over you. It will spoil all the charm of watching snowfall and you might lose your health too. The normal pony rides cost you around Rs. 400/- per person for a round trip which is decent considering the route.
DON’T IRRITATE YOUR RIDE
Once you have boarded your ride, kindly don’t try to manoeuvre your ride or annoy him by touching his hairs, tail etc. as it might land you and others in some serious trouble. Although, ponies are not considered be aggressive but everyone have a threshold limit. I saw many riders touching pony’s tail, hairs and trying them move faster than the rest in spite of repeated requests and warning from their owners. Later, one of the pony ran into another, thereby, unbalancing three more and as result their riders fells into the mud and some even sustained minor injuries.
The second advice is to sit calm and follow the direction of the owners to save you from falling. The ride becomes too bumpy and a bit scary for first timers when you are coming down the hill. But believe me these ponies know their job well and will take you down safely if you follow the advice.
REMEMBER YOUR GEAR
We all love our smartphones, camera and other electronic gadgets. So it is paramount that we take good care of them during such trips. Since, the route is a bit messy, I would personally advise to keep all your gadgets, wallets and other important documents in some waterproof bags. Apart from this, it is also advised to wear the snow suit and gum boots (easily available) to avoid your clothes and shoes from getting soaked in mud and water.
Firstly, I tried to be a gladiator and then avoided the gear and ultimately slipped, got my jeans and shoes soaked in muddy surroundings and later also dropped my beloved smartphone too. You can save yourself from all this trouble by following the advice.
Kaushal Mathpal is an Advocate practicing in Delhi Courts in India but also has a flair for travelling. When he’s not in a courtroom, he enjoys exploring various parts of India and the surrounding region. He also writes on his blog http://rediscoveryourdreams.wordpress.com/ and you can follow him on Twitter @KaushalMathpal.