In ‘Easy Trails Around Shimla’, Raaja Bhasin paints a breathtakingly beautiful picture of hikes around Shimla, including the trail along the Mashobra spur and the overnight trail to the Shali ‘tibba’ which can be navigated by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and more than a reasonable level of interest in the hills. Having grown up in the area, he writes with a delightful lived-in candour and also provides essential information about the equipment required, precautionary measures, weather conditions and other details that one must keep in mind before taking off. Exhaustively researched and interspersed with delightful photographs of sites along the way, as well helpful tips to keep in mind with navigating these roads. ‘Easy Trails Around Shimla’ will appeal to every trekker, amateur or veteran.
The books covers walks on the Tara Devi hill, the Water Catchment Sanctuary, to Mashobra and further, the Churat Stream, the trail to the Shali tibba as well as a three day walk along the Shimla Kalka Railway line.
This is Raaja Bhasin’s 12th book. He has published around 2,500 articles and stories in various leading publications in India and overseas – apart from numerous television and other professional assignments. Widely recognized as an authority of Shimla and Himachal, he is strong advocate for the protection and appreciation of nature and the environment. His book ‘Explore Himachal on the Road’ published by the Times of India Group received the national tourism award as the best tourism publication for 2014-15.Hi
Bhasin notes in the Introduction: “The little villages still hold on to a pastoral way of life and despite the inroads of modernity, the people retain strong ties with the land. Fortunately, much of the old architecture of wood and stone, with slate roofs, stills remains and has not completely given way to concrete blocks. Wildflowers, ferns and a host of assorted herbs line the trails.”
There are numerous descriptions of trees and plants. For example, he writes of the lichens and ferns: “The whitish dry fungi looking organism with twisted intricate designs on rocks and on branches (especially fallen ones), are lichens. This is a composite organism that has a relationship of mutual survival between a fungus and partner for photosynthesis. Lichens can survive in minimal moisture and are an excellent index of air quality as they are highly sensitive to pollutants. Called ‘shila-pusph’, or rock-flower in Sanskrit, specific ones are used in some Ayurvedic medicines, as food additives and in traditional Indian perfumes.
The variety of ferns in and around Shimla is also enormous and there are some two dozen genera and around 124 species – and many grow along this walk trail. A type of bracken, brake-fern is used as a popular local dish. Called lingru or lungru, this is plucked before the fronds open and may be sautéed or cooked in yogurt. The plant is also pickled – and jars of this can be purchased in Shimla and elsewhere.”