6:00 pm, 11-Feb-2019, Barog, Himachal Pradesh, India:
After the visit to Decathlon Zirakpur store, we went off to Sethi Dhaba to enjoy Daal Makhani, Kadi Pakoda, Mix Veg Dry and Tandoori Rotis. Thereafter, the journey to Shimla started.
As we moved onto the Himalayan Expressway, the Shivalik hills were visible through some dust and haze. After Timber Trail Resorts, I observed a lot of progress in the overall 4-laning work of the highway, with some of the patches already converted to 4 lanes with dividers in between. At other places, there were the regular diversions that come with such infrastructure development work.
The last time I had come to Shimla in January 2018, I had seen that the soil from the mountain sides cut for widening the road had flowed over the retaining walls meant to provide support to the crumbling slopes. This time round, the retaining walls seemed to be holding the soil. It seems that after a few rainy seasons, the mountain sides should stabilise.
The next surprise was spotting huge pillars (akin to the Metro Rail pillars I’ve seen in Pune) at Jabli Level Crossing. I had always wondered how this critical section of the highway, that crossed the UNESCO Heritage Kalka Shimla Railway line, would be executed. Once ready, I think this spot will become a good place to observe the change that times bring – the toy train reminiscent of the British era slowly chugging under the huge concrete bridge that will ensure fast travel to and from Shimla. A little later, I saw similar pillars being erected around the Kumarhatti area, which is another congested section of the highway.
We just crossed Barog, taking the old road rather than the bypass which is longer and must be full of diversions too. I’m glad that we drove along an old section of the highway, for the rapid development of the 4-Lane Highway is gradually taking the beauty and fun of mountain driving away.