When birds call in the mornings I realize I am at a different time zone and a different town. The bird song is distinctly other than the chirping of sparrows in Jaipur at dawn.
Kalka ,a sleepy town, is a bird enthusiastís paradise situated in the land of the snow which is Himachal Pradesh in NORTH INDIA. With so much
green cover all around the many varieties of drongo, sun birds, swallows and parrots find a natural home
here. Even kites are aplenty. Honey making is a fruitful venture here because flowers can be found the
whole year through. This time I got to drink some wonderful wine and cider made of the fruits like apples,
pear, plums growing here and they were marvelous I thought. I also ate green baadaam for the first time in
my life yesterday.
The town kalka has a small train called the Himalayan Queen which chugs past slowly over mountains and
acts as a daily service for people in the villages dotted near Kalka. After a breath taking journey, we reach
the last station which is the panoramic city and once the summer capital of the ruling class in
India---SHIMLA. Itís the capital city of the northern state of India.
Himachal Pradesh literally meaning
land of snow and ice. On a train which was built during the British times, one can see the beautiful
mountains and valleys of this region, catch the mountain people and their customs and savor the local food
which is mainly rice curry. Pickled meat of goat, fish and chicken is a popular dish here and along the
roadside shops one can see villagers selling these delicious pickles to the travelers who stop by to buy
them. Have you ever eaten pickled meat of any kind
? On a lazy day when one does not want to cook,
these pickles come in handy and can be eaten with bread.
This area of INDIA is where one goes for all kinds of mountain activities, adventure sports, river rafting,
rock climbing, trekking, etc. Even school kids are taught these adventure sports and activities here. Itís a
great way of bonding with nature I must say. Regular flights and trains can be boarded from New Delhi.
Kids are made aware of the environment and rightly so as they will be the future keepers of it. Sustainable
tourism also is a big thing here and people are encouraged to run home-stays instead of building bigger
power guzzling hotels which generate lot of garbage and other cultural problems too for the locals.
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