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From Kalka to Shimla: A Train To The Mountains

For me, journey to the mountains has never been about the height I physically climb, but the depth of experience I receive while traveling. It is said that nature is within us and what we see outside (and the depth of our experiences) is just a manifestation of what lies within us.

On our recent trip to Shimla (in the Himalayan mountain range), we decided to take the toy train journey from Kalka.

It is one of the most sought after train journeys in the country covering about 96 kilometers and offering exotic views along the way. It passes through 20 quaint stations, some 800 bridges and about 120 tunnels. The narrow gauge train line was built in 1903 by Britishers to access Shimla which was then, the Summer capital of the country. This train line is now on UNESCO’s world heritage rail sites.

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” – Corrie Ten Bloom

As the train ascended to the mountains, crossing dark and long tunnels followed by gorgeous views at every turn, lovely terrains and majestic mountains at a distance shadowed by the clouds, I could not stop thinking about how this trip resembles our own lives. Just like this ride, the journey of our life starts happily, goes through dark phases of struggles followed by good times and this cycle goes on till we reach our destination. When in dark tunnels, we surely could see the light at the end of every tunnel!

Old and colorful small stations along the way offered a refreshing break, although very brief. The air at these stations was crisp, fresh and filled with fragrances of food being served at the stations.

The play of clouds and the mountains was mesmerizing at best with every turn along the way offering spectacular views.

Seeing the distant villages on the mountain slopes and colorful houses made for quite a sight.

Every man has a train of thought on which he rides when he is alone.The dignity and nobility of his life, as well as his happiness, depends upon the direction in which that train is going, the baggage it carries, and the scenery through which it travels. — Joseph Fort Newton

My 9 years old daughter was so fascinated by the scenery that she could not help pulling out her drawing book and start sketching her own version of what she saw from glass window of the train. For me, it was easy to (try and) capture the beauty using my camera but for my daughter, the only tool she had was her own imagination – a gift we are all born with but lose eventually as education takes over.

When we finally reached our destination, seeing so many people at the station, we felt that the journey itself was much more interesting than the destination. And so it is with our lives too.

So, now that you have got onto the train, don’t forget to enjoy the ride!

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  1. I believe that sometimes a journey can take you to a place that is not on any map.Hence the journey is the biggest reward….well crafted blog post Tanmay

    • @Kaushal – Thanks! Glad you liked the post. Life comes without a map and we have an opportunity to create our own map. Unfortunately, we spend life looking for a readymade map, which just doesn’t exist :)

  2. This journey has taken me back twenty years to our journey from Kalka to Shimla. We have only memories to recall that journey.
    But this travelogue has been able to wipe out these 20 years !
    That is how the life also moves on. A small event, and you suddenly travel back in the time machine – to a moment that perhaps is all but wiped out from the memory. Most of the time, you do not have to look for the rationale for going back, you just do.
    It is said that every thing that happens has a cause – whether known or not.
    The present moment is just that cause to put you back in that moment.
    The good (or is it bad) thing about our time machine is you always come back to the present.

    • @Ashokji: I can exactly understand what you have mentioned – have felt it many times that something trivial triggers a train of thoughts and we travel back in time. And then, eventually come back to present moment. That is the beauty of our mind.

      I guess it is a good thing that we always come back to present – because being in present is a gift, only if we know how to unwrap it.