January 19 – Shimla
(written by Ashby Leavell, photos by Aubree Pack)
(One of the breathtaking views of Shimla, a town in the foothills of the Himalayas)
Today we quickly prepared for our last garden visit of the trip, to see the Viceregal Lodge and Botanic Gardens located in Shimla, a charming mountain village in the Himalayas. It seemed fitting to finish our trip in the snow after beginning our India tour in the humid tropics. We arrived late the night before from Chandigargh, after a flat tire on the road and a long drive from the Nek Chand rock gardens.
(The Viceregal Lodge, located within the Botanic Garden, is now the home of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study)
The Director and lead horticulturalist at the Viceregal Lodge was excited to show us around the stately former summer residence for the British viceroys. The estate today houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, which awards fifty post-doctoral fellowships in the humanities each year to scholars from around the world. The Institute is currently seeking advice on how to develop the historic English gardens surrounding the lodge to grow visitation.
(The Himalayas in the distance)
We had the opportunity to consult with the staff at the Institute on how to establish a self-sustaining public garden. The research fellows and staff were keen to collaborate with our travel group to come up with original ideas for the space. They have already begun work on an “Eco Walk” around the grounds and are instituting new training regimens for the gardeners. We were also treated to a tour around historic Shimla and an elaborate luncheon before we had to leave early to catch our train through the Himalayan Mountains back to Chandigargh.
(The train ride out of Shimla has been high on all of our lists. Raakel demonstrates some of our excitement!)
(Our train careening down the side of the mountains, taking us back to Chandigarh)
We were excited to have our own carriage on the train, and enjoyed spectacular views of the mountains the entire way back. It was truly a lovely end to a once in a lifetime trip. We have taken in quite a bit of ground in both the U.A.E, Oman, and India, and experienced a dramatic range of gardens and research stations along the way. Thank you Longwood…