It’s so green, it’s so clean, look how big the roads are, they are so smooth, there is no rubbish, we haven’t heard single horn yet – IT’S SO COLD!
MAD MAD MAD. The Indian Pakistan border closing ceremony was something we were not expecting. With Middle Eastern politics as it is, the border is effectively permanently closed, opening only for 2 hours each morning for a handful of trucks and 2 special buses, one from Delhi and one from Lahore. That is it, no cars, no people, no other transport – nothing. Yet every evening, they close the border for the night.
Another hilltop retreat on the map of places to see– but there is nothing here! The most exciting thing about Dalhousie (pronounced Dalhodgie) is that our brakes failed on the way – in the Himalaya’s that is a bad thing.
Dharmshala, or to be more accurate, McLoid Ganj 7km up the hill, is a popular little touristy town, made famous as the home of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Government in exile and many robe wearing Tibetan refugees. The place is alive and buzzing with monks, flags, bells, markets and shops, all in the backdrop of the snow clad peaks of the Himalayas. It is very picturesque.
Shimla to Dharmshala is about 160 miles – it took 10 hours of solid driving on single track rough roads to cross the various mountains. With 3 kids, that is like torture, but they all managed admirably in the end. Luckily watching the scenery change, the clouds and thunderstorms roll through and then the sun coming out over the rain drenched tea plantations was better than watching TV. It was still a long way though.
Shimla became famous as the town that the British settled upon to escape the heat of Delhi, and thus it became the seat of the government of the Indian Empire for around 8 months of the year. It is astounding to realise that this place, little more than a village, controlled a fifth of the world’s population – the equivalent of 1.4 billion people ruled from somewhere like Ambleside. (20x size of UK!)
I always thought that Corbusier was the masterplanner for Chandigarh – the new Indian city needed to make a place for refugees. It turns out that the hard work, and most of the decent decisions, were actually made by an American architect and his assistant, their work coming to an abrupt end with a plane crash. Corb then only taking over in the role as advisor and “saviour” to a desperate Indian Government not wanting to lose face.