There is no other credential about me that makes people ‘Wow’, than the fact that I hail from Shimla.
Most people reading this post, if from India would have understood the above statement. If you dont know whats so great about Shimla, you may want to use Google Images to get a first hand feel. Or cruise thru this post as well.
Shimla is a small beautiful scenic hill town and the the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, a state in Northern India which cradles in the backdrop of the mighty Himalayas. Its cool summers and snowy winters made the Britishers feel at home making it as the ‘Summer Capital’ of colonial India in 1864. The era of the British ‘Raj’ gave this town a European facial with Victorian buildings, parks, town hall, hospitals, markets and even a railway line which is today protected by UNESCO.
As if it hangs in mid air. The beautiful landscape of a busy town today, Shimla!
There are millions of sites and blogs which would tell you what to see and do in Shimla. Its so damn touristy. Its probably also the Honeymoon Capital of India. Since I have my entire family there, I generally dont do the touristy trips. However 2 months back, i did take a walk with my camera to capture some shots of places i liked the most
Mall Road : Heritage Walk
Very obvious place as its the center of the town. An arterial road flanked by shops, eateries, hotels and many old buildings. You can start walking from whichever end is nearest to you. A km walk from the Mall road will bring you to the opulent Heritage Hotel Oberoi Clarkes
Hotel Oberoi Clarkes: The beautiful heritage building dates back to 1898. It boasts of Victorian era furniture, mantelpieces and heirlooms.
The Mall Road is local at the same time elite. It has some great views of the city thats now getting congested with concrete. However the misty mountains continue give it the young gal look.
Queen of Hills, Shimla. Gentle valleys, sloping mountains and the red roofs, very European indeed.
As you walk ahead on the mall, there are some notable and beautiful Architecture to admire. Some of them are now government offices, some are hotels or bookstores.
The Christ Church : You cannot ignore this incredibly beautiful Church at the Ridge. Clicked from the Mall Road
As we walk further ahead on the Mall, you come across Gaitey Theater. Dates back to 1877, this Victorian Theater has hosted illustrious British statesmen, Indian Cinema glitterati and needless to say abundant tourists. Much of this structure was destroyed in a fire few years back. The Theater has undergone a restoration and then reopened to public. On the other side of the same building is a Police Control Room
The beautiful Victorian building housing the Gaitey Theater
A stone’s throw from the Gaitey Theater is the majestic building of the Municipal Corporation of Shimla. This was the Town Hall of Shimla as established by the Britishers, which is now the local Municipal office. I was reminded of many Town Halls I have visited in Britain, indeed this is a clear reflection of the Victorian architecture.
Dating back to 1851, The splendid building of Municipal Corporation. The police band plays here sometimes on Sundays in their uniform, its nothing less than a much awaited musical performance for both locals and tourists
A local policeman dressed smartly yet bit dramatically
Probably the last stop on the Mall as you move towards the end of the bifurcation to the Ridge, next to the Scandal Point is the General Post office. This is a Heritage Building, dating back to 1883, it has appeared on Postal Stamps as well. This is my favorite. Iam told the colors of white and red are contemporary as per a government direction.
General Post Office of Shimla. A well restored Victorian building. Love the white and red color combination
Right outside the Post Office are these filigree benches that you can even see all over in the UK. People sitting basking in sun. Conversations, gossips and some knitting.
Shimla has a typical laid back hill resort kind of ambiance. People are not rushing, jostling or hurrying for something. Its relaxed; its like living.
And Britishers did leave their stamp behind till today.
The Red Letter Box!
My last stop on the Heritage Walk on the Mall road is the Ridge. Its another road a level above or higher than the Mall Road which gives way to some amazing views of the other side of the city. On the Ridge are two iconic Heritage landmarks. The Christ Church that we earlier clicked from the Mall is now in front of us with the State Library onto the Left. I have fooled many folks showing this pic to guess this place and 9/10 guessed a place in Europe.
This place is full of selfie lovers. There are many films shot in this area. One of recent ones was 3 Idiots.
Shimla is a total unwind place. Coming from a stressed worklife and a fast paced daily routine, I feel totally relaxed here. More because Iam not a tourist here, its Home for me. You can explore the markets and hike nearby places on foot. The peak winters can be harsh and experience heavy snowfall, however the summers are yummy. Bright sunny days and cold nights.
While Shimla still retains the charm of the era of ‘Raj’ it will be always preferred by tourists worldwide as a scenic spot giving access to the majestic Himalayas. Though I have been to Shimla a countless number of times, my favorite part of my stay every time has been to admire the wilderness, the dramatic skies, the misty mountains and cuddle in my quilt.
This is one of the clicks when i was waiting for my parents to come out of a government office, as me and sis had nothing else to do, we kept firing our shots.
This was literally a crisp morning…you can actually feel that crunch. Sun kissed valley, thick green forests, I feel blessed to be breathing these views right from my balcony.
And this is not sunrise…the sunset on a very dark cloudy day.
If there is anything that stole my heart in this place, its the flirtatious skies, they tease you every minute with different moods and you just cant get enough of it.
The most interesting time of the day; sunset on the valley; this is the best photo out of around 75 photos of the same sky at the same time
When you are bored of the looking at the same mountains every day, there are enough interesting avenues to entertain you…Like staring back at these new fellas…And you dont have to go to a particular place to find them. From Mall Road to offices to terraces, they are omnipresent.
Or eavesdrop at their deep conversations
Or get envious at that back rub
Oh no…dont think it that way…Its not doggy style at all….Its Platonic Langur play…
- Shimla really doesnt have a functional airport. I understand it would take sometime for it to be completely operational for civilian flights. So the best option to reach there would be by road. You would likely come from New Delhi. Take a bus (around 10 hours) or hire a cab (around 8-10 hours) or take a train to Chandigarh and a bus or cab from Chandigarh (around 4-4.5 hours) or take a train from Delhi to Kalka and take the toy train and experience the UNESCO Heritage railway track on narrow gauge cruising through mountains and a 100 tunnels. Its a lifetime experience so if you have plenty of time and fancy to go slow, this is the option you must take(around 6 hours)
- Eat like a local. Step down from the Mall Road to the Lower Bazaar. Its where you get the real street food. Jalebis, Chaat, Pakoras to get the local flavours. And if you want to dine for a heavy meal, Shere Punjab or any other joint which has a place to sit is good. It will be essentially a north indian punjabi meal, chole (chickpeas), kadi, rajma, mixed veg, potato in everything, for a change you will love all of it
- Stay at any hotel or guest house or B&B, there are a whole lot of new ones that have cropped up. For great views you may want to step a bit outside the city like Mushrobhra. There are three and five star like Oberoi Clarks, Wildflower Hall, Holiday Home etc who have good service and accommodation.
And for more tips or any suggestions, feel free to write to me.