#Travelstory – TALAI : The Mystic Hermit of the Mountains by Akanksha Siwach

“You chance upon some places due to sheer serendipity. And that’s how Fagu happened to me! ( wowiee that even rhymes eh!)

I was meeting Ravjot after 16 long years. The last we were together was in 11th grade, back in 2002 in Army School Ratnuchak (Jammu). Her moving out to UK never made it easy to catch up, nonetheless we were on and off in touch on video calls and whatsapp. This time around she was visiting Chandigarh and both of us looked forward to  the reunion. She asked me to plan a two day itinerary for us and obviously I had to involve those enormous giants, around whom, off late all my vacations revolved around…THE MYSTICAL MOUNTAINS!

I love Chandigarh for its proximity to the hills. Though the nearest hill station apart from Dharampur was Simla but having lived there for a couple of months before, I knew how insanely touristy and commercialized this town had become. The urge was to break away from the crowd madness and so the search for places began. Places that had least number of tags on Instagram..Purely offbeat, in today’s socially connected world!

I love instagram for I found so many amazing people with similar interests in hikes and mountains. One such girl in my friend list messaged me, out of the blue suggesting me to do a particular hike in Himachal (close to Chandi). A message from her just when I was looking for a getaway was a good travel sign. But sigh, with all my Himachal trips in the last five months what remained constant was an erratic bad weather and this time too, a snowstorm was predicted. Many on Instagram suggested against the hike that week and so my search started for a simple village homestay where we could live with a local family away from the town, nestled in the mountains and doing easy day hikes, exploring the hamlets around.

Like most of the trips earlier, Fagu too happened when i stumbled upon this girl’s blog. Her simple words and pictures flashing the stunning views didn’t take me too long to zero down on TALAI village! Last moment toy train tickets were booked & after a bit of research we found out the contact details of a homestay and booked it, so randomly while reading her blog at a cafe with Ravjot. Mr Sharma made it sound so inviting and so the two of us, set out on a journey to the mountains that I can never get enough of! Never ever!”

READ AKANKSHA’S DETAILED 2-DAY ADVENTURE on her blog right here: TALAI : The Mystic Hermit of the Mountains!

Meanwhile, enjoy some beautiful images and quick notes from this thrilling trip of hers!

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  1. Chandigarh to Simla: The Kalka Simla toy train is an experience in itself. There are five trains running from Kalka. Try catching the early ride for you get to witness some amazing sunrise views. We traveled by Shivalik Deluxe that starts at 5:45 AM and reaches Simla by 11:30 AM. Its a very comfortable ride, especially for people who suffer from motion sickness and the train serves you with tea as well as breakfast en route.
  2. One can even catch a bus from Sec 17 Chandigarh ISBT. There are buses leaving every hour and one can check with the tour operators.
  3. If you’re traveling from Delhi, it would take you 7 to 8 hours by road or one could just catch a direct flight to Simla airport located at Jubbarhatti, 22kms away from the main town.
  4. Simla to Fagu: Fagu is just a stones throw away from Simla. With just 20kms to cover, one could either catch a direct cab from the railway station itself or catch a local bus from the Lakkar Bazar Bus Station. Buses for Fagu leave every ten mins. It costed me just 35 bucks while a cab would easily charge you 800 to 1000 Rs!
  5. Home Stay Details: Mr Sharma: 9816423286
  6. We stayed at a place called North Moon Home Stay run by the Sharma family. Tucked away in the midst of lush green forests, in a small village called Talai, this place is a perfect getaway for people looking for respite from the city madness and nature craving nuts. The home stay is built over four floors, each floor boasting of one big room with glass windows overlooking the mountains and an attached washroom( with 24/7 running hot and cold water) and an exclusive balcony. The family provides you with good warm blankets, electric kettle etc.Mrs Indra is a fabulous cook and the meals are made of fresh and organic veggies straight from their farms. A cautionary word here, lets not expect the comforts of a 4 Star here. The idea of a home stay is to interact with the local family, eat what they eat and get a closer look at their culture and traditions.
  7. One can check out other  home stays as well. The village has quite a few of them and the closest village Cheog has plenty of farm stays too. If you’re a bigger group and looking for a pet friendly stay, do check out The Living Woods Farm stay in Cheog.
  8. Kufri and Theog are nearby tourist spots.
  9. If you have enough time, then one could plan a hike up to Narkanda…yet another quaint little getaway from the very touristy Simla.

Be a part of Akaksha’s never-ending adventures. Follow her short travel stories right here: Instagram- Tails of the Hidden Trails

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did. Send in your stories at gurbani.buttar@gmail.com.

Until then,



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