On Wednesday 12 June we were due to start our trip to Shimla by train. I had booked the tickets before we’d left to go home via the Foreigner Booking Office at Delhi train station so we were ready to rock n roll! The first class ticket to Kalka was 865 Rs (£10) and the toy train ticket from Kalka to Shimla was 370 Rs (£4). But I was pretty nervous about taking a train with all our bags. In the end I shouldn’t have been worried as it went fine.
We took a tuktuk to the train station (only a 5 minute walk down Pahar Ganj but with all the bags forget it!), then as we pulled in I got a porter for 300 Rs (£3.40) which was just brilliant, and necessary. He took my ticket and carried both backpacks on his head so all I needed to carry was Tiger on my front and my cloth bag.
Believe it or not there is wifi on the station platform in Delhi but you do need to activate it using an Indian phone! We had to wait some 20 minutes for the train so the porter left us at a respectful distance then when the train pulled in, he carried all the bags onto the train and got us settled. Just wonderful. The journey to Kalka was 4 hours and we were in the first class AC carriage where you are served snacks and everyone was very kind…. In some respects this was easier than in England!
It is possible to connect in Kalka to the toy train to Shimla but I decided this would be too much for Tiger so we arranged to stay in Kalka the night. When we pulled into the station I had a momentary worry of “oh my what if there are no porters” but I flagged them down as the train was moving and one ran to jump on our carriage and get us off and into a tuktuk to take us to the hotel.
We checked into the Lotus Grand which was 2200 Rs (£25), highly recommended on Booking.com and for good reason. Lovely AC which you needed as it was 37 degrees Celsius in the day time and 26 degrees Celsius at night. So far so good. We went out to the town (nothing remarkable) to buy food and drink, I discovered kids Netflix and Tiger watched a bit of Happy Feet, and we experienced the first time she actually held a bottle herself!
Then, at around 10pm we had a heart in mouth disaster moment. Tiger was sound asleep in her bassinet in her sleepsuit and sleeping bag and I was getting off to sleep in bed when…. The power cut out, the fan stopped and the AC stopped. Of course immediately the temperature rose and Tiger woke up crying. I stripped her down to her nappy and put her by the open window but it was still hot and bless her, there was nothing I could do. I went outside to check out what was happening and the hotel’s backup generator had basically failed and all the hotel guys were trying their best to fix it shining lights from their phones. It was truly awful.
In the end, I worked out that out the window I could see other buildings with lights on so… although the power was out…. Clearly other hotels had back up generators that did work. With Tiger there was no way I could stay there without a fan or AC so I started packing up all our bags, having decided I’d just leave and find another hotel.
Magically, then the generator started working again so we stayed put! But it was one of those moments in life where you really think the world was caving in…. if only for a painful hour. I would nevertheless recommend the Lotus Grand – and hopefully their generator is fixed permanently now!