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The Road To Kufri

Kufri is a major tourist destination around 17 km from Shimla. I’d heard a lot of stories about the beauty of the place, so I thought I’d make a trip there…I made my way by bus and walked 2 km uphill to Kufri (preferring not to take the expensive taxis)…as I reached near the top, I was disgusted by the amount of people, cars and horses there. Don’t get me wrong…I love horses but the condition that they’re in there in is pathetic…3-5 horses…linked by a rope…walking unceasingly with tourists on their back…you’d notice the stark contrast in their deplorable condition if you’ve seen the well groomed horses that people ride at Scandal Point…

The horses plied alongside the cars throwing dust into my camera lens…the roads were filled with horse waste and the stench was quite unbearable. The blare of the horns as the cars tried parking lent flavour to the chaotic atmosphere…

I finally reached the Himalayan Nature Park which boasted of the elusive and extremely rare Snow Leopard…walking through the exhibits I wondered where most of the animals had gone…I could count the number of animals on my hand…a 100 different signs were posted in and around the park warning tourists against feeding, teasing or mocking the animals…as I walked through the park, it seemed like those were the very things they came to the zoo for…one family suggested I take the food they were throwing at the bear and take a picture of it as it rears up…guess what? They threw the food and the bear did rear up…but I didn’t click the picture…

Apart from the madness…the park is well maintained and is a peaceful recluse from the chaos just a few minutes’ walk away. But the only reason making it worth visiting the park is to see the snow leopard…I’m well aware that this one may well be the last one I’ll ever see…

I spoke to one of the officials there who was directing a crew to the zoo filming something (I’m guessing a documentary, judging by the 3ccd camera and professional tripod they carried). On being asked about where the animals have disappeared (in certain exhibits) he said that I hadn’t checked them properly…I’m not commenting on that but when I asked him why there is only one animal of certain species in the zoo he didn’t have an answer. When I asked him how breeding would taken place he said that this zoo is only for show and they don’t take up breeding endeavours…strange…their brochure strongly seemed to suggest otherwise…

As I make my way disappointed to the bus stand…I’m pleasantly surprised seeing a yak walking across the road, reminding me that this place once must have been beautiful…

I reach the bus stand and wait…10 tourists buses went by but not a single local bus. Finally after more than an hour I caught the bus back to Shimla. And that’s when we almost suffered a major accident…a car whirred in front of us out of a blind turn and the bus driver veered to the right…inches from the edge of the cliff…

5 inches can make the difference between life and death…why don’t we use the thousands of open miles we have…?

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Author: ih

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