Thursday’s missed photos from Shimla and Kufri…Jakhoo Temple…

This giant 108-feet-high idol of Hanuman was unveiled at Jakhoo Hanuman temple in Shimla on November 4, 2010.

“Jakhoo Temple is an ancient temple in Shimla, India, dedicated to the Hindu deity Hanuman. It is situated on Jakhoo Hill, Shimla’s highest peak, 2.5 km east of the Ridge, at the height of 2,455 m above sea level. Each year, a festival is held in Dussehra. Before 1972 the festival was held at Annadale.  

According to the Ramayana, Hanuman stopped at the location to rest while searching for the Sanjivni Booti to revive Lakshmana. A giant 108-feet-high idol of Hanuman was unveiled at Jakhoo Hanuman temple on 4 November 2010. 

The temple is accessible by foot, horse, taxi, or rope way. At 108 feet, it surpasses the statue of Christ the Redeemer, which measures at 98 feet, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The cost of construction was Rs 1.5 crores (US $209,711.31). The public unveiling was officiated by Abhishek Bachchan. 
The great statue of Hanuman is more extensive than Christ the Redeemer in Rio.

The Jakhu Ropeway is an aerial lift that links a point near the centre of Shimla to the temple. It was developed by Jagson International Limited and opened in 2017.”

Based on my computer crash and a poor Wi-Fi signal in Shimla, owe realized that your posts are a little out of sequential order. Now that we have a better signal in Amritsar, we’ll attempt to get a caught up as much as possible.
With all we’d experienced on the Maharajas Express, it could take several more weeks to get caught up. With the lack of time with so many daily activities and a weak signal on the train, we’ve yet to share many essential and exciting experiences from the past few weeks.
The grounds at the temple are neatly kept but surrounded by monkeys. Tom had to wait in the car since monkeys in this area are known to tear glasses and sunglasses off the faces of visitors. Since Tom can’t see without his glasses, it made no sense for him to join me and Prince on the tour.

Over this next 47 days of touring in India, we’ll occasionally have an opportunity to share some of these missed events, all of which is important to us to have documented along with sharing it with all of you.

AMynew Chromebook will be awaiting me when we arrive on Monday (on a flight from Amritsar). It will take a few days to set everything up which I will do in between our arranged tours. But, I’m confident it will all work out.

The exterior of the steep walkway to the statue. I stayed behind and batted off the monkeys while Prince made the hike to take the photos of the statue.

OOurguide Prince picked us up at the Radisson Hotel Shimla for a day’s outing. On Thursday morning, The plan was to drive the the mountain town of Kufri to check out the scenery and head back to Shimla or more sites.

The drive to Kufri was again on treacherous mountain roads filled with trucks, motorbikes, and cars honking their horns simultaneously. Following any expected passing courtesies was out of the question. Everyone just took crazy chances.

There were monkeys everywhere at the Jakhoo Temple, most likely waiting for possible tidbits of food from tourists.

Prince, our highly competent driver, made us both feel as much at ease as possible under the circumstances. What a wild ride! That’s India, for you! One exciting moment after another while not only driving on the narrows road but also when walking.

Kufri was relatively uneventful other than the drive, with the exception of a few scenic overlook spots. We enjoyed people watching along the way as well as seeing the surprising amount of snow.

Even newer buildings maintain the integrity of the varying cultures of India.

On the return drive, we stopped to visit the above mentioned Jakhoo Temple and a few other temples in Shimla. As the day came to an end, we were happy to return to our hotel, freshen up and head to dinner in the restaurant. 

We’d both found items on the menu that appealed to us but nothing as spectacular as last night’s dinner here at the Ramada in Amritsar. Most certainly, we’ll have these same meals this evening, again with no cocktails since they are forbidden anywhere near the Golden Temple. 
The roads on the way to Kufri often included shops with colorful items for sale.

But the lack of a glass of wine or cocktail with dinner was a small sacrifice based on that beautiful meal shown in yesterday’s post here. Tom equally enjoyed his chicken fried rice.

That’s exciting! We’ll be back!! E is looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s post after an indescribable day of touring here in Amritsar and tonight’s special ceremony taking place at the India/Pakistan border. 

Happy day to all!

Eight hour car ride from Shimla to Amritsar…No delusions, rose coloured glasses…

My spectacular dinner was made by the thoughtful chef at the Amritsar Ramada, where we’ll stay for three nights.

It was quite a day. Our good driver Prince drove perfectly on the treacherous roads as we made our way down the Himalayas. The traffic, the horn honking, the weaving in and out between cars, trucks, and motorbikes was quite a sight to see as well as many other stunning scenes along the way.

As we entered Amritsar after an eight-hour car ride.

India is known for its pollution, skinny stray dogs, and rundown structures as a part of life in many parts.

A herd of sheep moving on down the road.

Sure, we tend to sugarcoat these rampant realities with often rose-colored glasses in an attempt to paint a colorful view of our nonstop world travels. But what shall we do? Whinge about the fact we’ve yet to see a bright blue sky or a totally clear day? Hardly.

A historic building as we drove through crowded town after another.

This country of over 1.3 billion people belongs to its people, and they are proud and grateful for what they do have instead of what they don’t. We are humbled by their acceptance and kindness, not by everyone, but by most.

It’s easy to see how India had 1.3 billion people. They are everywhere, and little land is reserved for the countryside or farming.

And, what do we gain by exposing ourselves to these challenges? Exactly what we intended seven years and almost four months ago when we left Minnesota to explore the world.

Color is everywhere.

It was never about hedonistic pleasures pumping our veins with luxurious comforts. It was always about filling out hearts and minds with a new appreciation, a unique perspective of life outside the box we so freely occupied all of our lives.

Every area, every town is congested with people and “stuff.”

The meaning, the purpose, and the scope of our past experiences were limited to a tight circle around us. Today, it’s the world.

Shops are packed with colorful dresses worn by Hindu women.

Why, “they” may ask? Originally, curiosity. Now, this blissful opportunity has become about sharing this adventure with all of you, for those who traveled, for those who dreamed of travel, and for those who continue with their own goals of exploring the world.

People, cars and more shops.

Every day we plot, plan, and share the peculiarities, the nuances, the joys, and the challenges we encounter along the way. Not always pretty. Not always heartwarming and enchanting. But always, as real and concise as we can be from this long acquired perspective.

On a rare occasion did we encounter a more modern building.

Yes, in time, it will come to a close. In six days, I will be 72 years old with a precarious heart condition. Tom, five years younger, will only be able to haul the bags for so many years to come.

As we came down the mountains, we encountered snow.

But we’ll carry on, slipping on those rose-colored glasses from time to time to soften the blows of the many harsh realities we encounter in the world to share each perspective with all of you.

Dirty snow piled up on the side of the road.

We just returned from a fantastic dinner on Valentine’s night sans alcohol. No alcoholic beverages are served in Amritsar in the proximity of the golden temple, which we’ll see tomorrow morning with our new guide. We don’t mind forgoing happy hour for three nights to savor the local treasures of Amritsar.

Town after the town became a picturesque view as we wound our way down the mountains.

Tomorrow evening holds quite an adventure. We’ll share the following day.

Thank you, dear reader/friends, for your inspiration and your loyalty. You are always with us.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers out there…

India pleasures continue, minus a few glitches along the way…

With my laptop crashing and the dreadfully bad WiFi signal at this hotel, I cannot upload any photos today. The hotel is fully booked for Valentine’s Day, and with so many guests sharing the connection, we’re unable to upload any images.

Once I get my new Chromebook in within a week, I’ll get caught up, especially if we have a better WiFi signal when we’re not so high above sea level and in a hotel with such a poor signal.No doubt, we anticipated WiFi issues when visiting somewhat remote locations along the way. But, what did we expect? We didn’t anticipate that Tom’s old computer, which I’d carefully reformatted only a few weeks ago, would essentially crash for good, leaving me in difficulty attempting to post.

We’ve been a bit frustrated with the hotel we’re currently in while staying in Shimla for three nights. In the remodeling process, numerous steep stone outdoor stairways are required to navigate from the make-shift temporary lobby to find our room.

Tom counted that we had to navigate 96 steps (10 flights of stairs) each time we need to access the main entrance to the hotel. There aren’t adequate elevators (lifts) to get from one level/location to another. Had we known this, we’d never booked this hotel.

The hotel room is spacious and quite lovely, as is the restaurant. But there is no bar/lounge to relax or work before dining or anywhere in the entire hotel where we can sit other than in our hotel room when we have work to do. This is ridiculous, especially for a usually quite convenient Radisson Hotel.

Subsequently, we’re looking forward to moving on tomorrow.  At 10:00 am, we’ll be on the move again when Prince drives us the required seven hours to our next stop in Amritsar, another famous city many tourists come to India to see.

Don’t get me wrong; we’re enjoying India. It’s a fascinating country rich in culture and history with an overall kindly and gentle population. But, like life itself, sometimes travel isn’t as convenient and as easy as we’d like it to be. 

These few glitches will soon be resolved, leaving us more at ease and in our element. Or, we may continue to experience WiFi issues that make posting difficult each day. In any case, we’ll make every effort to figure all of this out as we continue.

We’re managing with the food, which is predominately Indian flavored, using considerable starch and sugar. The only dishes I can count on working for me are simple curries. For Tom, it’s a little more challenging, but we’re both managing to find foods suitable for both of our needs and taste buds. 

The easiest meal is breakfast which is included in our hotel fare at most locations. We’ve been able to have eggs, omelets, and bacon. Dinners are a little more challenging, but here again, we’re able to make it work while still savoring some Indian flavors in our meals.

Last night, we had a good meal in the dining room while celebrating my first anniversary of open-heart surgery. These minor issues remind us of how lucky and grateful we are to be able to continue on in our travels after what transpired in the past year.

May your day and evening leave you feeling grateful.

Arrived in chilly but gorgeous Shimla, 7400 feet above sea level, at the foot of the Himalayas…

*Note: there are no photo captions today due to poor WiFi connection.

Yesterday consisted of a full day of travel. We started the day by meeting our Delhi guide in the hotel lobby at 6:45 am after we’d grabbed a quick bite to eat, We knew we wouldn’t have access to food until 12 hours later.
After a harrowing ride to one of 46 train stations in Delhi our guide and a porter known as a “coolie” in India helped with our bags escorting us to our train car. Our guide showed us to our seats.

Our heavy bags were tossed onto the overhead compartment while we got settled in our assigned seats. The legroom was adequate. No doubt, this train from New Delhi to Kalka wasn’t anything like the Maharajas Express but we were reasonably comfortable and at ease. 
Once the train departed the station we were served a variety of items in stages: bottled water,  juice cartons, tea, cookies, bread, and a hot fried vegetarian dish. Tom nibbled on the cookies and bread while I sipped on the hot tea. The four-hour ride to Kalka was uneventful. With the heavy fog and smog, we weren’t able to see much of the passing scenery

We played with our phones while the time passed quickly. At 12:00 pm, we had to make our connection. Tom was worried about getting our bags moved to the other train. But, as expected, a steward helped us and we easily found our train, appropriate car and seats, and an easy spot for our luggage. No worries.

On what is referred to as the Himalayan Queen Toy Train we made our way to the historic town of Shimla, at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Shimla is known as the summer capital of British rulers. 

As a matter of fact, the British TV series Indian Summers, which we thoroughly enjoyed, was filmed in Shimla.
The scenic five-hour train ride made its way through 103 tunnels, 800 bridges, and an incredible 900 curves.  We took many photos, but in parts, the smog and scratched windows impeded the view.

The distance to Shimla is a paltry 58 miles (93 km) but based on information we discovered, the winding mountain tracks and slow speed resulted in the over five-hour train ride.
Upon arrival in Shimla we had no idea how our driver would find us when there were dozens of cars pinned in the tiny parking lot. Magically, he appeared and helped load our bags and we were on our way to a tucked-in-the-hills Indian influenced Radisson Hotel.

Once we arrived at the hotel after quite a delay checking in, we were escorted to our room. When I attempted to begin the missed post due to travel day, my computer’s blue screen prevented me from starting Windows 10. I tried every possible fix, but it was so severely corrupted, I was unable to get it started.

I hardly slept all night while worrying about a fix. This morning I spent another three hours trying to resolve the issues to no avail. The only alternative was to start over with a new laptop.
Today, I ordered a new Chromebook from Amazon India, which will be delivered to the hotel where we’ll be from February 17th to the 20th. In the interim, I’ll be using Tom’s laptop which is a bit cumbersome for me since his keyboard was different from mine.

Today, we’re hanging out at the hotel. Tomorrow, we’ll be touring Shimla with our newest guide, Prince. We’ll continue to take photos, but it will be easier for me when I have my own laptop.

Since today is the one year anniversary of my open heart surgery (referred to as a “heartaversary” during which we didn’t post for two weeks, I won’t be adding “Photo from one year ago” for the next few weeks. Thanks for your patience and we’ll do our best with the photos.
Be well.