Shimla unfolds its legacy and beauty as we visit this quaint hill station again, with family
‘Travellers’ would more often than not shun the idea of travelling to ‘touristy’ places and often take pride in travelling to ‘offbeat’ places that too ‘solo’. While I have nothing against them, I feel life is too short to stick to one particular type of format of travelling and one should grab the chance of travelling as often as possible, with someone. Personally, I feel travelling with people is always a good idea. We are already a ‘solo’ soul in this city overflowing with people, where life is a race. We are in a race against ourselves trying to turn the hands of the clock; somehow 24 hours don’t seem enough. There is always stress riding on your mind because there is always so much to do and so little time – always. So where is the time to connect with friends and family – partying, socializing, oh! that’s again quite unnatural, all made up.
Travelling is the time when you connect with co travellers’ souls, find out about their likes and dislikes, and see how they have grown as a person (in case of family and close friends). We had this chance in hand when my elder sister and her kids had come visiting us after a long time. So what if had the travel to Ahmedabad for a blogger’s meet the next day? I would still travel and travel with my pack.
Hence began our road trip to Shimla. With just one night at the hill station we enjoyed our journey as much as the stay there.
Shimla is an exploited yet un-experienced hill town of modern India at a distance of….well let’s leave the dull kilometers away – distance covered through super dhabas which could give a run for money to any of the better known and uptown (snobbish to someone who is a true traveler) restaurants in Delhi or Chandigarh. Culinary delights all along keep you wanting to stop and try but then the lure of getting to the hills beyond Kalka keeps you moving.
A city lovingly called ‘Little England’ and ‘Chhoti Villayat’ conveys the sentiment, if not the reason, why it was the summer capital of the British Empire in the Indian subcontinent (there being no India then). It was a glorious start to rebuilding the legacy and romance destroyed by the wars between Sikhs and Gurkhas in the later part of the 19th century. A train track being laid with hundreds of tunnels and bridges picking numerous men and plethora of material to build what was to become the crowning glory of the Raaj – Shimla.
Infact our way to Shimla we saw this beautiful little toy train chugging elegantly towards Shimla. See the video on our YouTube channel
The tracks of the train, tunnels and bridges dot the road every now and then. Beauty of the hills starts right from the toll where road forks away from Pinjore Gardens. Serene mountains green with great trees covered with the white tuft of clouds and the ever moving fog makes for a grand entrance to the foot hills of the mighty Himalayas. Once in Shimla get ready to be enthralled by the vintage beauty of the Mall, trinkets at the Lakkar Bazaar, the Majestic Church and the ever vibrant Ridge. Walk, sit, eat, pray and be back in time with this beautiful hamlet that never fails to give you a taste of what life would have been like – then.
I also must mention here the place where we all stayed for the night. With little time in hand I wanted a place close to the mall yet away from the hustle bustle so that we could enjoy whatever few hours we had with us. Hardly 5 minutes away from the mall is Hotel Amar Palace which has this beautiful family suite where we stayed. Just have a look at the picture and you would believe.
Honestly, the hotel is quite ordinary and the entrance not at all fancy but it is the room with the view that I couldn’t resist booking and interestingly that is how Guesthouser is selling it. Not by the name of the hotel but by the room.
The room has a beautiful view of the hills of Shimla with ample light and two double beds, clean bathroom with hot and cold water. The greatest benefit that you can talk and chill like a big family in one big room. And the Mall Road is just 5 minutes away.
Not to be missed is the walk to Jhaku Temple, short trip to Kufri if it is not snowing and if it is then then at least a full day – skiing, Naaldhera golf course and observing the local wild life.
Witness to the story unfolding since time immemorial is the Jhaku Temple on the highest hill top around by the same name – this reference gets us back to the current time zone of this wonderful city gleefully torn between living in the past and looking expectantly towards the future. We just had enough time on the second day before travelling back to Delhi, to trek to Jhaku temple and meet monkeys on our way up to the temple before meeting the monkey God himself.
As there are many monkeys on the way to the temple it is recommended that you carry a walking stick (easily available at the shops from where you start your trek for INR 10 as a rent and INR 40 as refundable deposit) or a pole that serves the dual purpose of keeping the monkeys away and helping you climb the steep uphill trek that took us about 35-40 minutes. The temple complex is quite well maintained and is guarded by the local police for the convenience of the visitors and devotees. The majestic 108 feet statue of Hanumanji is what will leave you spell bound, interestingly you can see the statue from the town too.
Oh, by the way the English built headquarters of the Royal Air Force in the Kelvin Grove which was on the lower slopes of Jhaku Temple – I guess they knew the story of Hanuman being son of the Air God!
If you are looking to find some interesting people with stories in exchange for a simple appreciative smile this is the place. Shimla still maintains a flavor of the established and yet to be explored location. Each visit gives so much more to think about and look forward to. It is almost as if Shimla is a time warp and what you get depends on what you are seeking.