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Song of the road

Kasauli is a walker’s paradise. At 6,400 feet in the Shivalik Hills, away from family, television, Internet and every other life diversion, the potency of the trip dawned upon us in its invitation to do nothing...

india Updated: Mar 24, 2010 01:30 IST
Sonia Nazareth

Kasauli is a walker’s paradise. At 6,400 feet in the Shivalik Hills, away from family, television, Internet and every other life diversion, the potency of the trip dawned upon us in its invitation to do nothing but lovingly confront the bare bones of existence.

Quiet walks through pine, oak and horse-chestnut trees, leisurely lunches and the opportunity to lose ourselves in rapt admiration of old-fashioned buildings with gabled roofs and wooden balconies on the Upper and Lower Mall — the two main streets that run right through the town — prove to be the most strenuous activities of our time spent here.

At first, we assume that only dead objects, like the lofty Christ Church, the oldest church in Himachal Pradesh, will be welcoming of our photographic overtures. But soon it is clear that the mountain folk are eager to be part of the pictures we make. In the vibrant Kasauli market, the shoe-seller insists his picture be taken with the devi in the background. The cloth-vendor reclining on the pile of material he has for sale, twirls his fingers through his gelled hair in an attempt to be captured on camera in the most flattering manner possible.

Gilbert’s Trail, past the old Kasauli club, is among the most scenic, eclectic with life and colour. The smell of pine hangs in the air, sweet and heavy. Humming birds, flycatchers, minuets and magpies croon liltingly above.

As we walk along, we come across signs to leave the crisp, bracing countryside as we find it. They read, ‘Singapore = fine for littering = clean countryside, India = no fine = countryside clogged with litter, Kasauli = Rs 2,500/- for littering, so beware! (sic)”

We hike up to Sanawar Hill, as famous for Lawrence’s School as it is for the horse-chestunt lemony blossoms, ivory bell shaped flowers and wild cacti along the way.

Then evening descends and stretches before us like an unbroken desert. We check off our to-do list. We’ve taken the walk to Monkey Point — the highest look-out in town, drunk chai with the real estate-dealer who walks his Saint Bernard dog up the mall, admired Khushwant Singh’s home, bought fruit wines and apple-mint-ginger jams to take to the folks back home.

All that remains, now that there is nothing left to do, is to plummet forth into an unbroken expanse of time.