Good news for Indians, Indophiles, travelers, tourists, adventure sports lovers, trekkers and well why not everyone?
The historic Shimla Kalka Railway
Also known as the Shimla Toy train, it is being examined by a team of experts who will submit their report to UNESCO. The final decision to declare it as a World Heritage Property will be taken up at the next UNESCO general assembly in Quebec in July 2008.
This 104 year old railway covers 96 kms over marvelous rugged terrains and going through 103 tunnels, 969 bridges and has 919 curves of 68 kms! Inclusion in the World heritage site would do wonders for its preservation and conservation for posterity.
This narrow gauge railway was conceived of in 1847, plans for it drawn up in 1887 and work started in 1898 and finished in 1903. However, it was inaugurated only in 1906 and since then has been wowing millions of people (other than providing a convenient means of transport over what would otherwise be rugged mountain terrain).
A sad tale is associated with the construction of this railway, in particular with the Barog station named after the engineer in charge of its construction. He committed suicide after realizing that the two ends of the tunnels didn’t meet. Had it been perfectly aligned, it would have been the longest railway tunnel in the word. His grave lies just 1 km off the station.
If the Shimla toy train makes it to the list, it will join its counterparts - the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway in South India.
My shameful note: I haven’t been on any of them, but will do, soon.
Age old beauty treatment for the Taj
Women have been using face packs of Multani Mitti (also known as Fuller’s Earth) for centuries. Its astringent qualities for cleaning marble have also been documented in the 16th century. ASI has already tried it out on the Taj once before and happy with the results, will be soon giving it a much needed facial. So, hurrah, we get to see Taj in its pristine, marbled glory, soon.
My happy note: Having been to the Taj thrice already, I am really looking forward to seeing it all cleaned up, and this time by moon light!
Exciting times for adventure sports enthusiast: The Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge
A news paper report says that “India is now actively encouraging mountaineering and trekking expeditions to the forbidding glacial heights”. A 16 member Indo-french team has already led an expedition to Mamostong Kangri Peak, 30 kms east of the snout of the Siachen Glacier between July 30 - September 1. A 33 member Army expedition is currently under way. Another expedition of both army and civilians to Rimo Peak overlooking the Aksai Chin has begun on September 6, 2007. So, go conquer!
My happy to be far away and read about other’s exploit note: Go there, do that and I will buy the T-shirt!