One fine day, two friends, women mind you, decided to do what they had never done before. Go on a road trip. Both were adventurous, willing to risk it on a wing and a prayer, and drive on the hills, something which at least one of them had never done before, and the other had done only once.
So with passion, good wishes and an extremely supportive family, the two of us set off on a never before trip. After much soul searching, looking at blogs of all kinds, surfing the net for lesser known weekend getaways from Delhi, we decided on Fagu. Coming from a family which has a travel bug, it was easy to get feedback for the place. After all both of us preferred less crowded places and were the sort of travellers who like being parked in one place, with a book and coffee, and mountains for company.
And boy, what a journey it turned out to be.
On researching, this is what we found out, Fagu is a small gem of a place 22 kilometres ahead of Shimla. Shimla, a preferred destination once, is now akin to Chandni Chowk of the hills (courtesy a friend). Located on the Hindustan-Tibet road, a tiny hamlet, it offers beautiful views of the valley and mountains around including the Greater Himalayas (as some sites claimed). One can see beautiful apple orchards, and hills all around. It is conveniently located near other sites such as Kufri and Narkanda. The most dominating part of the landscape is the fog, which descends on the hamlet everyday, as we were soon to find out.
With a lot of excitement we set off on our journey driving for the very first time, with the Google Maps as our navigator. We made good time and were in Shimla, by afternoon. The journey was uneventful, as we stopped at Macdonalds for breakfast near Chandigarh and then started to ascend the hills. A few wrong turns later we were on the right track. The greenery, the cool air and the roadside small shops were a delight. We couldn’t wait to reach Fagu. After google map sort of gave up in Shimla, we did our usual Indian Google Map service, which was to ask the roadside pedestrians and traffic police. As we turned onto the road to Fagu, the air instantly became chilly. It was the middle of June, but the hills did not disappoint despite the global warming. As we approached Fagu it started to rain, a good omen for us.
The Apple Blossom
Our destination was Apple Blossom, though the websites we checked out before coming really gave a sad picture of it, but people who had stayed there before, had given good reviews. Suddenly, we saw this colonial looking white bungalow seemingly placed on a ledge. As we took the winding road towards Fagu, our gut feeling said this was it. And suddenly on the side of the road appeared the sign welcoming us to Fagu and right across was The Apple Blossom.
To say our stay was dreamy is an understatement. On the first day morning, clear skies welcomed us. But being the only good hotel in the vicinity, it was packed with tourists, screaming children and people stopping over for tea. On top of it one of us fell sick. All this almost threatened to upset all our plans but the weather saved it. From afternoon onwards fog could be seen settling in and chilly winds would start blowing. By night the hotel would take on the look of a setting for a perfect ghost story, and you could only see nothing around you. The trees from the window would take on a fantastic look as if floating in air.
The service of the hotel was not bad, and the food ok, though they tried to feed us dal and chawal mixed as a substitute for kichidi!
We spent two beautiful days, reading and sipping tea, parked in one place, enjoying the views of the hills and white gauze covering the apple trees.
Soon it was time to return. We packed our bags, checked out, and then the unthinkable happened. Our car did not start! It had choked up in the weather. Well, the two superwomen got into action, and then began a harrowing tale of drivers and other tourists pushing the car, to trying to reach Volkswagen help service, which happened only to be in Chandigarh. After coordinating for hours with various tow companies, and taxi drivers, by afternoon we were on our way back. We had to stop over one more day in Chandigarh. But even as we headed back admist the rain and fog, we could not help but feel that we would be back.