Making Of A Landmark
It was the British governor general of India, Lord Dalhousie who ordered work on to begin on the 'Hindustan Tibet Road' in June, 850. In the Millennium year, celebrations were held of its formal initiation a hundred and fifty years back. Various reasons are cited for the building of the road that connected Kalka and Shimla , to the Tibetan border.
The system of 'Begari' prevalent in the hills, where unpaid labourers were pressed into service, including for the transport of timber and files to Shimla is said to have upset the Governor General so deeply that he wanted to improve the road these men trudged. Lord Dalhousie also wanted to create trade ties with Tibet and this is felt to be the real reason for initiating the road and for his own trip to Kalpa in Kinnaur (then, 'Chini' in the erstwhile state of Bushair).
The immense machinery at the disposal of the East India Company was pressed into service and halfway down the 19th century, work on what was then styled as the 'Great Hindustan - Tibet Road' began under the charge of the commander in chief, Sir Charles Napier. Beyond Shimla, to the Shipki pass on the border, the route took 228 miles.
The Renowned Silk Route
While the Dalhousie's road brought the route into focus, the area had long been on one of the peripheral trade circuits of the legendary silk route. The paths that passed the tract, carried goods like musk, borax, wool, livestock, dry fruits, precious and semi precious stones to and from Tibet, Kashmir Ladakh and Yarkand.
Maintaining a vibrant tradition, Rampur's Lavi fair dates back to the trade agreements between Tibet and the former state of Bushair and apart from the goods that plied on the path, it was the myriad cultural and historical influences that established the true worth of the road.
All the romance of the road can be savoured in the following stages: -
|Day 02||Shimla . Enroute visit Kasauli and see a section of the old staging road.|
|Day 03||At Shimla|
|Day 04, 05 and 06:||At Kufri, Fagu and Narkanda visit Thanedar and Kotgarh. Himachal's apple growing heartland. Drive or trek through Bagikhadrala.|
|Day 10||Drive beyond Kalpa towards Spiti, or return to Shimla .|