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Day 32: Chandigarh to Shimla

Kalka, India 
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Kalka, Himachal Pradesh. The public pump still has a vital role in Indian life. And the railways are the single biggest employer in the world.
Michael Palin - HimalayaMy local informant summed up Chandigarh as 'a town of white beards and green hedges'. And sadly I'm not here long enough to disprove it.

It's time to return to the mountains, and we begin the journey dramatically, aboard the Himalayan Queen railway service to Shimla, a town high in the Shiwalik foothills, from where the British Empire in India was run during the hot summer months and which is now the capital of Himachal Pradesh (Himalaya Province).

The 2'6" narrow-gauge railway to Shimla climbs 7000 feet (2130 m) in 57 miles (92 km) and there is barely a level stretch of track on the entire route.

Midday at Kalka station. Ten minutes before the Queen leaves, the express from Delhi arrives, disgorging yet more passengers for the Shimla train. Half-term holidays have just begun and sturdy schoolgirls with backpacks and walking sticks are fighting with harassed family groups for a place in one of the seven small coaches.

The stationmaster, a stout man with a shiny bald head ignores the helpless cries of his staff as he rolls out a liturgy of statistics.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 32: Chandigarh to Shimla
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Chandigarh
  • Book page no: 71

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