Tours to Shimla – Raj days in the hills!

by admin on August 9, 2010

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Church in Shimla

A church in Shimla - Pic by Zehawk

While planning for a refreshing weekend getaway from Delhi among the hills, we came across this slightly goofy fact –almost all the hill-stations around Delhi and in the rest of the country are dubbed as ‘Queen of the Hills’. They have other names as well but this is a common moniker that comes with most hill stations almost as a freebie that is intended to spike up their unique selling points. We did not spend too much time bothering about the reason as the saying of an illustrious British came to our rescue: ‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’

This holds true for a tour to Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh and the summer capital for the British in the days of the Raj! A pleasure then as it is a pleasure now; Shimla is the perfect holiday-in-the-hills weekend getaway par excellence with the old world charm hanging like a mist with the sweet fragrance of yore. With an abundance of hotels in Shimla, you will not have to worry about your staying worries. There is Shimla hotel to suit everyone’s tastes.

Train to Shimla

Toy Train from Kalka to Shimla

The Toy Train from Kalka to Shimla - Pic by Mackenzie Kosut

Once you land up in Kalka, the nearest railway station to Shimla – the pleasures of the road hits you like a warm sun on a chilly Sunday morning. The Kalka-Shimla railway line became functional in 1906; the route cutting through swathes of hills and crossing countless of mountain streams was a magnificent piece of engineering and hailed as the ‘British Jewel of the Orient’.

From 2008, it is counted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you should experience the journey even if you have to pull up your legs a bit (yes, the seating arrangement is not too spacious but you won’t notice it as you will be glued to the window).

Shimla pleasures – past and present

Spread on a ridge and its seven spurs, this pleasant city is circled by a wood comprising pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron trees. Lying in the north-western ranges in Himalayas, Jakhoo Hills at 8051 ft is the highest point in Shimla which itself sits at about 7866 ft above sea level.

Mall Road Shimla

The Mall in Shimla - Pic by Gopal Venkatesan

The Mall is the busiest place in Shimla and a meeting place for its visitors. On one corner in the ridge is located Christ Church, the second oldest church in northern India. As expected, there are a lot of buildings dating back to the Raj and Gaiety Theatre, the Viceregal Lodge which now houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, and Wildflower Hall are striking among the many.

Golf at Naldera

Golf at Naldera Picture Courtesy: Ashish Gautamm

Picnic, polo, cricket

Shimla from the days of the British Raj in India was famous for its playgrounds and the reputation still holds. The nine-hole Naldehra Golf course (the oldest of its kind) is just 22 kms away from Shimla and if you are not too keen on golf then there is Annandale on the ridge which is thronged by picnickers and polo and cricket enthusiasts with equal zest.

And skiing as well

And for those who have adventure in their veins, there is Kufri. And you might have guessed it; Kufri came into prominence after Shimla was developed by the British as a ‘summer paradise’ and acted as a counterfoil with its focus on winter sports. You can get your fill of skiing and horse riding over here. April to June is extremely pleasant but for snowfall anytime between December to February is perfect.

Asia’s only natural ice skating rink

The ice skating rink on the ridge is a grand attraction and every January it holds a figure skating event along with a carnival. And after you have had a spin of the rink, you could also go for memento hunting in the wood emporiums in Lakkar bazaar.

Summer Hill Shimla

Summer Hill Shimla Picture Courtesy: Nagesh Kamath

Another go-to place from Shimla

Summer Hill is very near to Shimla and is famous for being a favorite of Mahatma Gandhi. If you are in Shimla in June, you must not miss the annual fair at Mashorba, just 13 kms away. Another place which is recommended for its quite beauty is Chail, the brainchild of the Maharaja of Patiala who raised the town after being debarred from Shimla by the British on account of his personal affairs. It has the highest cricket pitch in the world!

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