Last time I visited Shimla with my family, I was quite young to remember things about Shimla. I live in down south and have not traveled to many places in North India. Having heard a lot many stories about the magnificence of Himalayas, I always wanted to visit a Himalayan state. The trip was supposed to be with my colleagues, but the girls ditched me at the last moment. All the bookings were done and I am not sure about them, but at least I had to escape from this rat race for a while.
I packed my bags and left for Shimla on June 16, 2017, at 5.00 am flight in the morning to Delhi and from Delhi, I had booked a Shatabdi for my further journey towards the town named Kalka. After a long debate with my friends the previous day, I decided to travel till Shimla in a toy train from Kalka. Having heard about it from so many of my North Indian friends, I had to once have the experience of one of kind toy train in India.
As soon as I reached Kalka, the level of my excitement had increased a few degrees higher as I was going to travel in toy train for the first time. I had heard many fascinating stories about the track and its beauty and so my curiosity and excitement was killing me even before I had seen it. And, then came a time to aboard and I see a train with comparatively fewer coaches than a regular train. The whole idea of this train fascinated me to travel to Shimla. As soon as I aboard the train, the thrill of my journey began.
The Toy Train was an enthralling experience:
There are five trains that run from Kalka to Shimla namely Shivalik Deluxe, Rail Motor, Shimla Express, Himalayan Queen and Shimla Kalka passenger. I took the Shivalik Deluxe from Kalka and I reached Shimla by 12 noon. The timings from Kalka to Shimla are a bit peculiar for someone coming from so far but it is all the effort. As soon the train journey began, the dramatic views of the hills started unfolding and I could not help but capture it all through my lens. On talking to other passengers on the train, I came to know that the railway track has some amazing history attached to it. It was built in 1898 to connect Shimla, during the British Rule, with the rest of the Indian rail system. During its construction, 107 tunnels and 864 bridges were built along the route.
I know a massive number of 864 bridges and 107 tunnels, all this information made me curious to know more about the city. Well, while passing through all those numbers of bridges and tunnels, I didn’t realize that we have reached Shimla.
From there I had to reach the hotel I had booked for myself. I had little idea about the local transport so I decided to go in a taxi. The only bad thing about Shimla is the taxi rentals. Yes, the taxi driver charged Rs 250 to take me to the hotel which was just 4 km away from the Railway Station.
The next day, my alone expedition to a Shimla city began and after enquiring about the places to visit in Shimla from the hotel reception, I was on my own. The receptionist had told me about Kufri which is an hour’s drive from Shimla so I decided to book a taxi go all the way to Kufri.
My excursion to Kufri Valley:
As I woke up today in the morning, I already had quite a view from my hotel window but now that I have reached in Kufri, I have to confess, Shimla is more than I had thought. This is a pristine Valley covered with dense forests on each side of the road. However, due to a heavy influx of tourists to Shimla, the place has a lot of amusements for people who come with family. But, for a lone traveler like me, the Valley opens up an entirely different perspective. Locals take their horses for tourists to earn their livelihood from Rs 250 per ride to the hill top and back. In some places, tourism is such huge source of revenue and Himachal is one of them. Had a great time eating on streets and watching view for hours. One hell of an experience for a South Indian like me..
From there, the taxi driver guided to Himalayan Nature Park which is a home to a few species of Flora and fauna.
Admiring Flora and Fauna of Himalayan Nature Park:
I assure you, nothing feels closer to nature than admiring the rare species of flora and fauna. Himalayan Nature Park is home to much Himalayan flora and fauna and is situated 18 kms away from Shimla. The beauty of this park is unparalleled and is captivating. No matter if you have any encounters with wild animals of the Park; you will certainly enjoy the walk in the nature.
While making local connections I came to know this park was a thing of amusement for kings and Ranas of per independence as they used to come here for hunting. Amusing stories to every place!
The Park was a Mask Deer Farm in initial days and it got declared a Nature Park in 1996 by national zoo authority of India. The Park is situated at an elevation of 2600 meters and spread across 90 acres. A definite paradise for a nature lover like me, just loved the place!
Thanks to Himachal car rental services from where I booked my cab for local safari.
On my way back, we halted at Hassan Valley to catch the view of Asia’s one of the densest forests. My next destination was Naldehra and Mashobra Hills. I was expecting something similar to Kufri from Naldehra and Mashobra but both the places surprised with its unique landscapes and verdant green grass grounds.
Naldehra and Mashobra Hills Adventure was spellbinding:
A picturesque and quiet town is close to Shimla full of lush green grounds and grasslands. The 9 hole golf course in a hilly terrain like Shimla was extremely amusing and for me. This was indeed not expected. The golf course is perfectly groomed and is a lovely verdant under the bluest of skies of Shimla Hills. I wish I’d known how to play and would have tried a hand at it. I would recommend everyone to visit here if you are planning to go to Shimla any time sooner. An altogether lovely experience, I just loved the place.
Mashobra, on the other hand was a thrilling adventure altogether. Taxi driver was very kind to explain everything about the place but unfortunately I was alone to not try so many adventurous sports there. However, the beauty of Mashobra could be experienced very well being alone as well. It is a town dominated by mist bathed hills, trees of pine, oak, cedar and deodar, apple orchards and a picturesque stream gushing through the valley, enabling visitors to connect with their rich, fresh surroundings and unwind.
Well, if you are a group of two or more, Mashobra is best for camping and some water sports at tattapani which is a few km ahead of Mashobra. Wish, my friends wouldn’t have ditched me; I would have had the best experience. Anyhow, it’s time to go back as the sun is about to hide behind the majestic mountains and night traveling in hills; I am not quite sure about it.
To my amazement, Shimla has extremely quiet night and people get into their homes before 9 or 10 pm. While I tried to peek outside my hotels, I only see quiet roads with relatively few vehicles. Sometimes, living like this is just what you want
After spending my night peacefully surrounded in a hotel by mountains and offering implicit hospitality, I woke up quite fresh and rejuvenated.
Yesterday’s Kufri excursion as already exhilarated my soul to the core, so today I decided to just visit a few nearby places. My hotel receptionist was boasting a lot about a place known as ViceRegal Lodge which he was telling a very exuberant architectural marvel and so on. Therefore I decided to visit there first followed by other surrounding places.
The Unforgettable short visit to famous Viceregal lodge on a second highest peak of Shimla:
Surprising at each point, Shimla is a historically evident place in India and touch of British architecture could be seen all around the city. But, this marvel or architectural wonder was breathtakingly beautiful. Generally, people from metro cities had witnessed buildings of British era under dust and hatred. This place, however, caught my eyes and I could not stop but clicked hundreds of pictures of it.
Besides, a tour inside this marvel was even more fascinating as the interiors of the lodge are even more superior. Knowing about the major historical events that took place here during the time of independence, I fell in love with it even more. If you had a tour to Shimla and did not visit this place, you missed on big time.
The lodge is built on the Observatory Hill, the second highest point in Shimla and is magical especially in monsoons.
A tour to highest Hill of Shimla: Jakhoo Hills
The two places are quite far from each other, so I decided to go Himachal taxi service again for making my tour easier and comfortable. It is the highest peak at an altitude of 8,050 feet.
Jakhoo Hills is famous for its ancient Hanuman Temple where 108 feet tall statue of Hanuman dwarfs you as you look at it. However, 108 feet tall Hanuman statue did not surprise me much but the army of monkeys that reside there from dusk till dawn. You cannot avoid but fall into their trap and let them take all your offerings happily. Just cannot forget those monkeys waiting just for you to feed them.
As I ascended down from there, I chose to walk. The taxi driver was kind enough to give me directions and told me about that I will reach the famous Mall Road if I walk down through the road.
Well, the walk was not that short, but I enjoyed it thoroughly as I was walking down, the widespread Ridge ground was visible and looked quite buoyant from the top.
Evening prayer at the Christ Church at the Ridge and a stroll at The Mall Road
Well, the day was good and so I reached down on Ridge at the time of evening prayer in the Christ Church. Hummed some prayer and went out for exploring the famous Ridge and Mall road.
Evenings are quite chilly at the Ridge so I suggest carrying some warm clothes as well. Since it is evening, it is time for some coffee and food. After enquiring about the good hangout places, I ended up sitting at a relatively new café Café Shimla Times. The vibe and crowd of the place were extremely pleasing and not to forget, the collection of songs was quite cool. After a cup of coffee and some pizza, I thought of strolling around the Mall Road and enjoying the whole vibe of it.
As soon as I walked all the way till famous scandal point, I fell in love with this place. No place in India could match up to this vibe. I shopped a few souvenirs from famous Lakkar Bazaar and gift shops on Mall Road.
Tired and enthralled, I reached back to my Hotel wondering what all could have I missed by not coming to Shimla.
There’s something about this place as soon I arrive, I fell in love with this place full of life and gratification. No running in a rat race like in the cities around India, just walk at a slow pace and live life.
Besides, one of the best Himachal taxi services really helped me see the city from inside out with utmost ease and comfort. Hope to see you soon, Shimla!