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Himalaya

Day 32: Chandigarh to Shimla

Shimla, India 
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Aboard the Himalayan Queen on the 59-mile run from Kalka to Shimla.
Michael Palin - HimalayaSomehow, everyone squeezes aboard and, on time at 12.10, the Himalayan Queen pulls out past Kalka signal box, rounds a curve and heads for the hills, passing by a mix of factories and rust-stained housing blocks surrounded by lush sub-tropical vegetation. A lineside tree sways beneath the weight of a family of monkeys the size of small Labradors.

'Langurs,' says the woman opposite me. 'They're the biggest monkeys of all.'

I offer some sweets to her and her family and we start talking. She's a large very jolly lady and her name is Deepti. She works for the ministry of defence in Delhi and is on a week's holiday with her husband and two boys. I ask her if the Britishness of Shimla is still an attraction for Indian tourists.

She frowns and shakes her head.

'They're not so interested in all that, no.'

She reminds me that vital conferences between Ghandi, Nehru and Jinnah aimed at getting the British out of India also took place in Shimla.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 32: Chandigarh to Shimla
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Kalka
  • Book page no: 72

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