Shimla has a special place in our collective hearts, always a chance revisit to many old beautiful memories and an opportunity to create some more. It is almost like an “annual pilgrimage” as some of my friends like to call my trip to Shimla.Fortunately the trek back was easy as it was all downhill. When we reached the resort the husband cheekily took out his pedometer and announced that we had done 7kms trek. I fainted!! You would too if you knew that I drive up to the park for my evening walk (yeah I do).
Last Oct we had stayed at the beautiful Koti Resort and this time too unanimously voted for the same. Our 11 year old loves to trek and is totally enamored by the word “pagdandi” (Hindi for narrow foot trails). On asking for trek options, someone from the resort told us that the trek upto the state owned “Apple Institute” as the Regional Horticultural Research Institute is popularly called, is worth it not only for its educational value but also for the panoramic view of the mountains. On checking how far would it be and if it is a easy walk we were told “15 mins”.
Post a hearty breakfast we packed our backpack with bottles of water, took the wooden cane to shoo off the monkeys just in case, tied those shoe laces tight and off we went. Initially we were very excited and posed for pictures at every spot, raved about the pine trees, stopped for the valley views and generally sang along. Soon though we were gasping, panting city dwellers with lazy and unexercised bones. A couple of locals passed by effortlessly and obviously much faster and definitely without the gear we were lugging around. At that time we felt like solar powered Reva racing against the Ferraris that zip past. On checking with a local guy “bhaiya kitni door?” we were told “bus ji yeh raha, paanch minute.” That worked like a balm on our frayed jangled nerves. We rebooted and started the climb up again with “jai mata di” motivational chants.
10 minutes – 15 minutes the lad kept looking at the watch and repeating “Mommy bhaiya ne paanch minute kaha tha…kab ayegaa?” and I was like huff puff “aa gya bus jai mata di”. A grueling 10 more minutes we finally reached the destination Apple Insititute. Yayyyy we did it!!!
Lesson Learnt: The “pahari” locals are really like mountain goats and the terrain that comes effortlessly to them is quite a task for us lazy bums!
The trek was really worth it, the apple trees were laden with unripe fruit hanging in bunches and looking as tempting as they would have to Adam and Eve. Flowers were in full bloom and in profusion of colors, a small green house had a variety of flowers that are so typical of colder climes. A small museum showcases the historical perspective and pictures of some of the wide varieties of apples that were planted here along with their characteristics and provides for a quick and interesting read. The first floor museum also preserves some of the specimens of butterflies found in the region as also the pests that plague the plantations at times.