|Our space heaters|
|The lovely Royal Oaks hotel|
So, we went upstairs in the hotel for a nice breakfast of eggs and paneer chapati and of course a nice big mug of chai (I am now fully addicted to this lovely concoction of spices, milk and sugar). After getting our supply of energy we started on our trek to Jakhu temple. There was plenty of snow piled on the ground (the roads were wet from all of the snow melt). Here are a few shots of the view from the road above the hotel where we spotted our first monkeys:
|A nice place to take a nap, once he wakes up he has his prime seat to enjoy the show!|
Rafal has a bad knee from a motor cycle accident so I took the opportunity to walk with him (at a slower pace than the younger and more fit crew ahead of us) and I told the 'youngsters' that as you get older you learn that life is not only about the destination, but about the journey. ;-)
On the way up the hill we saw more and more monkeys and we ran into a poor young girl who had her jacket stolen by the monkeys. Thankfully there were enough people back that they were able to rescue her jacket, but not before it got quite muddy. She was very upset and was headed down to get a monkey stick to protect her for the rest of her stay in Shimla!
|Rafal posing so I can show the grade of the hill|
|We stopped here for photo ops and this is also where we ran into the poor girl who had been attacked by a macaque|
As we got closer we stopped for photos here and there and then we spotted the full view of the imposing Hanuman. Half human, half monkey he is in a very well chosen spot to be protected by all of his macaque servants. Here are some more photos from the journey up, including the last set of stairs that takes you in front of the temple structure.
|You are happy upon arrival to the top|
Although the monkeys were everywhere waiting for you to let your guard for one second so that they could steal SOMETHING off of you (glasses, cameras, scarves, shoes off your feet, jackets - ANYTHING!) I felt I must go into the temple and receive my blessing (the others were not as excited as I was to get cold muddy feet!). I took off my shoes and socks and put my feet on the cold, mud covered marble....what a shock to the system. I then covered my head and was walking to the temple entrance when I was quickly asked for a photo (this happens multiple times a day in India - pictures with westerners are very sought after!). Once the photo opp was finished I went in for my blessing. I walked up to the priest, knelt down and put my head on the floor and put my palms out to receive the prasad (edibles). The holyman or priest first painted tikka (a paste of herbs like sandalwood) on my forehead between my eyes, then poured a liquid concoction in my hands and said 'drink this' (unfortunately, I could only pretend to drink it as I wasn't sure if it was water and I did not want to be sick) and then he poured sweets in my hands and said 'eat this'. I then gave a donation and walked around the inside of the temple and left. As I put on my shoes the monkeys were quickly heading my way to see what they could steel from me (they really like the prasad!). We then headed back down the hill (much faster going down then up of course).
On our way down we did a bit of shopping until we reached our lunch destination. We had a really delicious and relaxing lunch at the Wake 'n Bake cafe on the mall (a pedestrian only area), which was highly recommended by Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet. Anneliese and I shared the paneer masala pizza (baked on homemade pizza dough) and a chocolate crepe, and of course chai - YUM!
|Night view/Day View|
We then spent the afternoon shopping and exploring the city/town. I bought a local hat to help keep myself warm - I love it though probably won't be wearing it again any time soon. It was definitely a day that I will always remember!
We ended the city tour with dinner and a cocktail at the Scandal Delights Bar & Restaurant (funny name, right?). I asked for the salted lime juice (which is normally just slightly salted and delicious) and the honey, chili corn appetizer. The lime juice was like drinking a salt lick with a bit of sour lime!! And the corn was so spicy that I was amazed I could finish it. By the end my stomach was so confused that I was not feeling that well, but after a few tums and the walk back (with more shopping) in the cold/brisk air I was feeling a bit better.