Day 8: Wednesday, May 2nd 1979 At Simla
I was in bed all day with a bad head and bad stomach. Saw the distant
snow-capped Himalayas for the first time from the window. They were no more imposing at
this distance than the Alps, but that could be due to my jaundiced state of mind and body.
The altitude did not help either. Tim had a very happy day catching butterflies.
Day 9: Thursday, May 3rd
Still poorly. Tim went off to Simla by jeep to
visit local agriculturalists and was back by 4.30 p.m. I managed an omelette for lunch and
to do a bit of washing, but my head is still bad. Started a course of Thalazole.
More Indians arrived on holiday, mercifully they are not nearly so curious as the
Day 10: Friday, May 4th
Simla to Pattiala
I was glad to leave - we were away by 7 a.m. We got through Simla before the traffic
started. It was very hot once down on the plains.
We stopped at *Pinjore
Moghul Gardens, an old Moghul pleasure palace. It was charming, surrounded by a
fortress wall, covered with magnificent Bougainvillaea in full bloom. It also had a good
cafeteria where we breakfasted. There was a good selection of animals and birds kept under
* Links to other
websites will open in a new window. Simply close the new window to return to this page.
From there, we went on to Ambala (a big military cantonment) to have
lunch with General Barars family. The General was away in Simla, but his mother was
welcoming and most pleasant. We had a lovely lunch and were entertained by an enchanting
||After lunch we left for
Pattiala, to stay with *Colonel Bhupinder Singh for the night. We had a certain amount of
trouble finding the house (the numbers bear no relation to position) and we spent an hour
We had a marvellous welcome. It was a lovely home
and he had a sweet, little doctor wife.
Left - Tim with the Bhupinder Singhs
* Colonel Bhupinder Singh was in the Indian Army
with Tim during the Second World War.
We went for drive around the very pleasant, old
Princely State city. We met many friends and Tim had the attention of a dentist and
started on Ampicillin for his abcess. Then home for a nice dinner. They are the dearest pair and
have promised to meet us in England next year. Late night, my tummy still not well.
They had the most ingenious air conditioning with air being drawn
through a hay box which was damped.
Day 11: Saturday, May 5th
Pattiala to Jammu
Left by 9 am with a packed lunch supplied by Mrs
Bhupinder. Stopped by the army on the road and invited for pre-lunch drinks and a wash.
Very welcome. Picnicked on the road side.
We arrived at *Skinner's
Horse Headquarters and found they had returned from summer manoeuvres to entertain us.
We were taken to an army rest house in Jammu, very comfortable and all facilities.
We were invited to dinner in the Mess which was beautifully set up for a guest night,
although as they had only just come back from manoeuvres, it was buffet style. It was a
marvellous experience for me and included a conducted tour of all the Mess treasures.
There was a very charming C.O., Lt. Col. Somal. The wives who had stayed whilst the men
were out were most kind and welcoming. We had a very good meal and then a presentation of
gifts. I was very moved by the whole experience. They had chosen a very lovely Kashmiri
silk sari in **Skinners colours for me and Tim had a celebration plaque of their
175th Raising Day ceremony which had taken place the year before. Left for the rest house
and a good nights sleep.
The drive that day was an exceptionally good one. Many draught camels and many water
splashes. Very dry desert-like country but obviously big trouble in the monsoon.
* Skinners Horse were amalgamated with the regiment Tim served
with in the Second World War: The 18th/19th King George Fifth's Own Lancers.
** Blue and Gold.
Day 12: Sunday, May 6th Jammu to Udampur
Left for Udampur after a good breakfast. Jammu was very congested
and there was a big army presence everywhere. After that, the road was good and we made
good time. We arrived to an extremely impressive set up. An imposing General, with a kind
wife who spoke no English but obviously understood quite a lot. They had a charming
daughter visiting with three children, who did speak English and who looked after me. We
had a marvellous suite and an orderly to take care of our clothes and needs.
Changed into our available finery and set off for a farewell Mess party
and lunch. All very nice Western-style food. The General was obviously very popular with
everyone and greatly respected. Home for a well earned siesta then again in finery, set
off for an evening party. It was outdoors, with very pretty decorations and a fine
firework display. Pretty garden and again a lovely meal, especially the home-made ice
cream. And so to bed with every luxury. Fabulous house set up and service. The car got
herself washed. Temperature surprisingly warm.
Day 13: Monday, May 7th Udampur to Srinagar
Up early after a very good night. Breakfast with the family and a
long discussion about our proposed trip overland. The General was not very hopeful as Bhuttos mourning period should be up the day
we cross into Pakistan and the army were expressing their fears over whether there would
be trouble. Left it open until our return on Saturday. Started for Srinagar at 9.50 am.
The road climbed all the way. There were many rockfall stretches which
made the going slow and hazardous, but we were soon into the hills and really wild
country. Passed many nomads taking their herds up into the high pastures. Adorable goats,
very silky and long-furred. A thousand at a time and one shepherd walking with a baby goat
in his arms. A really biblical character.
Lunch with the army at a post just before Bunihal Tunnel. It was a lonely
spot but all the wives seemed to enjoy being there and doing long walks with their
husbands. Snow still on the mountain tops. Only four wives had stayed on for the summer.
Had a simple lunch which they had obviously gone to great trouble over preparing. Much
talk and they were loath to let us go. I fortunately found some sweets for the only child
Bunihal Tunnel Ticket
On through Bunihal Tunnel, 3 kilometres long and very wet, taking us
through to the Vale of Kashmir. Heavily guarded. On the other side snow was still
laying like huge walls. We literally burst on the Vale of Kashmir. Blue, blue sky, paddy
fields and fruit trees surrounded by very high snow-capped mountains. Road lined with very
beautiful straight Poplar trees. Very good straight road.
Went into the Nedhous Hotel Grand Suite - a real hang over from the Raj.
Everything should have been O.K. but infuriatingly there was no water. Tim was very irate
but to no avail. We had a good dinner and then slept well, although we nearly moved out
that night because of the lack of water.
Day 14: Tuesday, May 8th At Srinagar
Approached by a U.N.D.P.
chap (English) who offered us his bathroom for washing. Saw the owner, or rather, past
owner - it was now a State Corporation Hotel - a Mrs Nedhouse, who said she would arrange
for a pump for our room and said she had been asking for it to be done for months. The old
bearer was very upset over all the commotion. The whole surroundings are totally English.
Horse Chestnuts in full bloom, same climate, soft rain, Pansies and daisies everywhere.
Did our washing in the new mans bathroom. Has one ever had an odder set up? Washing
clothes in a complete strangers bathroom and being given coffee by him, while still
on your knees washing? All in the middle of Kashmir! We both agreed it was extraordinary
and good fodder for a book. He had been in Srinagar when there had been riots and some
loss of life earlier in the year.
We went to the very large and reasonably well organised tourist centre for
cards for the family. The touts were absolutely maddening and we nearly had an accident
because they were shouting and screaming whilst we were backing out.
||They were all advertising the famous house boats
The lake was pretty but the house boats were very tatty.
The shops do not appeal, but I did weaken and buy a fox for
Graham* (? a dogs tail) and a little goat skin purse for Tricia*.
||We toured around in the pouring rain - also went
to Nishat Park and Shalimar Gardens. Gardens; Nishat Moghul had beautiful massed pansies.
I have never seen such a display, as well as roses and many English flowers. The roses
will be lovely in a month.
The usual arrangement - 7 Vistas, dated from 1634.
Shalimar was also full of pansies, more buildings and fountains which would be lovely at
night. Marvellous old trees at least 200-300 years old.
Back to the hotel to sort out the washing. It set in madly wet for
evening. Did my faithful crossword puzzles. The antibiotic (for his tooth) is getting Tim
down. And so to bed.