A software engineer by profession, she loves peppering her work with travel – exploring new places, meeting interesting people, discovering local stories and flavours. She enjoys sharing these travel experience with her family.
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Shimla is unarguably one of India’s most popular hill stations. Come summer and you will find it buzzing with vacationing families keen to enjoy the cool weather and explore the relics of its past as the erstwhile Summer capital of British India. Here are 10 things that I absolutely enjoyed during my visit with family.
Travel in style aboard the toy train to Shimla
I read somewhere – It is better to travel well than to arrive. You do just that when you ride the toy train to Shimla from Kalka (http://www.recipe4travel.com/2017/12/08/relive-old-world-charm-of-kalka-shimla-toy-train/). Enjoy the 102 tunnels, 20 railway stations, 864 bridges and 919 curves that you traverse. This is a journey that you will savour for days to come !
Experience the heritage zone of Shimla on foot
With a guide in tow, explore Shimla’s Heritage Zone. You will walk along the winding main streets, quaint hillsides and witness gems from the British architectural era. You will hear many interesting stories of the glorious past and see attractive buildings now converted to heritage hotels, banks and government offices. The weather (even in May) was glorious and made for walking at your pace while taking in the sights. There are many walking tours online that you can choose from
Spend time at The Ridge
The Ridge is the largest open space in the heart of Shimla. You can explore four gems of Shimla’s heritage zone here
Christ Church : the second oldest church in North India
State Library : Spend time with old and rare books in this Tudor styled timber and stone building
Bandstand : Enjoy the surrounding views from the restaurant “Ashiana” run from this building
Gaiety Theatre : Visit this lovely Victorian theatre equipped with stage lights, traditionally unique curtain arrangement with sand bags and pulleys
The Cecil Oberoi
Started as a one-storied house, this hotel was once the residence of the famous Mr Rudyard Kipling. Be awed by the magnificent lobby with marble fireplace. Spend some time in the restaurant of the hotel’s signature atrium which was once the grand ballroom
The Viceregal Lodge
Once the summer residence of the British Viceroy of India, today it houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. Be enthralled by the display of history witnessed by this building including the 1947 partition discussions. The manicured gardens will take your breath away. The guided tour will give you information about its sophisticated firefighting mechanism, the fact that this place got electricity much before the rest of Shimla among others.
The Army Heritage Museum at Annadale
Annadale is a flat terrain about 3 kms from the Ridge. It was used by the British for racing, polo, cricket and other entertaining activities. Today it has a helipad, golf course and is home to the Army Heritage Museum. The museum has a collection of Indian Army’s ancient history, weapons and achievements you will be proud of. You get to see execution order of Mangal Pandey, surrender letter of Pakistan (1971 war), among other things. Take a break at Anna’s Café for good food and some great conversation with the owner
Visit this ancient Lord Hanuman temple situated on Jakhoo Hill. Per legend Lord Hanuman stopped there to rest while searching for Sanjivni Booti ! The 108 ft high idol is the world’s tallest statue of Lord Hanuman , said to be bigger than Christ the Redeemer. This statue can be seen from most parts of Shimla
Palace Hotel at Chail
Chail is a 2 hour drive from Shimla and I would highly recommend visiting the Palace Hotel. Built by Maharaja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh when he was expelled from Shimla for eloping with the British Viceroy’s daughter, this palace is a resort with ornate furniture, thick forests and elegant lawns. It shot to fame as Chanchad Villa of 3 idiots ! Makes for a photo-op, doesn’t it ?
Kali Ka Tibba
Situated at the top of a hill, Kali Ka Tibba is dedicated to Goddess Kali. You get a breath-taking views of Choor Chandni and Shivalik Range from the temple. You can trek to this temple or drive all the way up by car.
Visit the world’s Highest Cricket Ground
If you have cricket fanatics in your family, then this is a must visit. The ground has a picturesque location surrounded by forest and is used as the school playground by Chail Military School. We saw kids playing football and it had a well maintained basketball court too. Not much to do here but hey, you get to set a toe on the highest cricket ground in the world !
I am sure you will agree that these are just some of the activities that you can do in this beautiful hill station. Have you been here ? Can you share your experiences and add to the list ? I will surely want to visit again and would love to cover those in my next trip.
Now wasnt that a gorgeous ride through Shimla? Which is your favourite hill station in India? Did you know that this concept of Hill stations was made popular by the British Raj to escape the hot Indian summers?
Leaving you with a post about the famous Rock Cut temple of Masoor near Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh.