Chail to Kufri and The Monkey Palace

Today was my sightseeing day and so, I hired a taxi. We meandered our way through the hills straight up to Kufri. Our first stop was the Kufri Zoo. I ventured in after paying the Rs. 80 fee. They charge you extra for taking the camera to the zoo. So here I was snapping away at the black and brown Himalayan bear. There was a leopard calmly sleeping on a log of wood. Of course, there were also multi coloured pheasants. Some of them looked like a mixed breed between a peacock and a hen. I, nevertheless, liked their red hoods and long white feather tails. I ventured out of the zoo gate as if on cue as it started to rain.

I ran on the side of the road to take shelter under the nearby tapri but realised that I was already wet and so was my camera. In my haste to get to my car, I and my driver slipped on the sidewalk and got dirty all over with mud. I was agitated by now and my driver had to bear the brunt of my wrath “I had asked you to come to the Zoo gate and you are here waiting next to this parking area. Tu tho mujhey barbed karkey rahe ga.” I barked aloud trying to get the mud off my shirt. The driver looked apologetic as he was stunned.

Next stop was Chail Palace which I have rechristened as The Monkey Palace. Yes, it is full of monkeys on the driveway, on the roof of the palace and all over the lawns and parks. After my customary stroll, I ventured into the King’s Dining Hall for lunch. It was very tasteless with paneer, rice and vegetables – all very basic. You know from the meal that it had been supplied by some tourism board.

We did a quick detour to Kali ka Tibba which is a Kali Mata’s Mandir right on top of a hill. It is more famous for the panoramic view it offers to tourists than anything else. The fog was now getting thin and I managed to capture some shots of the landscape and the scenery from the temple site.

As I sat back in the car, I was greeted by my driver’s brother-in-law who was accompanying us on the way back to my Chail Hotel. I tugged back to my room after the excursions of the day. But yes, as the rains approach, the mountains look even more inviting and so green. Just a hue of green and the blue sky with the misty white fog flying over the hills and at times depending on the road too. Full fun Himachal style!

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