We were originally planning of going to Sarnath, Agra, Delhi and Khajuraho right after Varanasi but the heat became so unbearable (around May) and the owner of the hostel even said that it’ll even get hotter by June and July.
No wonder it’s the off peak season, only a few people who are not use to this weather can stand this. The temperature was soaring at 45 degrees celsius and the owner said that sometimes it even goes a few degree higher.
He advised us to stay indoors at noon and early afternoon and to drink plenty of water to avoid getting sick. We’re also having trouble sleeping at night due to the heat and since we’re on a tight budget we could only afford to stay in a fan room.
Alas after almost a week of trying to ignore the heat and just continue on with the original plan we’ve decided to scrap it and head towards the mountains of Himachal Pradesh where the weather is more pleasant.
Here’s the route we took to Shimla in Himachal Pradesh.
Mughal Serai is approximately 16KM away from Varanasi Junction. you could either booked a cab to your hostel that will take you to Mughal Serai or just hail an auto rickshaw (which we did). We paid 300 Rupees for the transport from Varanasi to Mughal Serai Station.
Make sure to at least allot an hour for this journey to avoid being late for your train.
The journey to Kalka from Varanasi was about 21+ hours. Luckily we booked an AC3 Tier train for this one and just slept and ate and then slept again the whole journey and spent a couple of hours chatting with the locals that we share the cabin with.
After 21 hours, we arrived at Kalka Station at around 4:30AM and immediately booked the toy train to Shimla for just 33 Rupees. This fare is for General Seating which is a first come first serve basis due to the limited seats.
However, you have the option to upgrade the ticket to the more comfortable Shivalik Express which is a train made for tourist. Upgrading the ticket is no easy feat though as you have to queue along side with the local tourists who don’t seem to know how to follow a simple queue.
(Excuse the poor reso, this one’s taken using my digicam.)
It was entertaining though to watch the local tourists as they fight their way and argue who would go first. Luck wasn’t on our side for the Shivalik express train as both trains leaving for that day got full already.
We decided to just take the regular train instead to Shimla. Our luck changed when the train guard offered us a space in his own cabin. we spent the next five hours chatting with the guard about yoga, meditation and his journey towards his spirituality. We also chatted about his family and the changes that they’ve been going through. We also did our part by sharing some bits of information about our own country the Philippines and how similar the Indian and the Filipino culture is specially when it comes to family traditions.
Five hours passed and we arrived in Shimla safe and sound.
As soon as we arrived at the train station, we walked towards the exit and straight to The Mall and Scandal Point (main square of Shimla).
Once you exit the train station, you’ll meet a lot of people offering to take you to various hostels. We agreed to go with one of them to save us the hassle of looking for an accommodation in our price range. Be ready to pay your guide a small amount in exchange of this service.
Editor’s Note: This trip was done in the last week of May 2012. Information mentioned here might change by the time you take your trip. Please exercise due diligence in making your own research to ensure that you get a more updated information. This is just a personal account of my journey.