After a long drive from Delhi to Chandigarh, we explored the highlights of Chandigarh. A Rock Garden. Nek Chand was once a road inspector who collected industrial and urban waste, which he turned into the most imaginative and innovative decorations. Originally started under cover in 1965 as a small garden area which he enjoyed as a hobby, it was not until 1973 when his five hectare garden was designated a protected area, after local officials threatened to destroy his work. Although completely illegal, it was recognised as a work of art, and Nek Chand was then paid a salary so that he and his 50 workers could continue. It was opened to the public in 1976, and now covers 10 hectares and contains several thousand sculptures.
From Kalka we took the Toy Train to Shimla – a very interesting journey of about 6 hours – over bridges & through tunnels. We stopped for tea & our carriage companions had brought a speaker – so we enjoyed a wide range of Western & Indian music on the ride.
At 2,213 metres above sea level, Shimla was the summer capital of the British administrators during the period of the Raj, when the entire government moved, from the heat of the plains, to the cool of Shimla’s hills.
The town of Shimla is dominated by the ridge, along which a number of interesting old buildings are situated. We stopped to see –
The Viceregal Lodge on Observatory Hill, built for Lord Dufferin in 1888. Now an institute of advanced studies, but the grounds and some rooms are open to the public.
The Glen and the Jakhu Temple (with many monkeys)
Gaiety Theatre, where Lord Robert Baden-Powell once trod the boards & which has recently been extensively refurbished.
We spent the afternoon and evening exploring the town, including the Lower Bazaar.