After visiting Kullu-Manali, the popular Shimla cannot be left unvisited! Shimla, capital city of Himachal Pradesh, is a place everybody wants to visit. I wanted to visit Shimla so badly until I did one day. I took an HP state transport bus, the only bus that starts at 10:30PM, from Manali and traveled overnight. I had a reservation for window seat and unfortunately the window shutter had some problem. There was no lock and the shutter was sliding open. Oh! It was cold! My nose was numb and I was worried I might get a cold-burn on my nose! From the new bus stand I took a local bus to reach somewhere near the Mall Road paying Rs.5 where as the taxi costs Rs.250. From there walked up in search of budget hotels to stay. The Shimla city, located in the north-western range of Himalayas, is very cold. Well, it is the Queen of Hills at an altitude of 2,205m above MSL, owns a title Summer Capital ... and so is expected to be very cold in late October for a Bangalorean.
Took a 3D/2N package with private taxi for one day sightseeing paying Rs.4,500. I am not sure it was a good or bad deal. I was tired of climbing up-down the narrow and shabby alleys just to see the tiny rooms and dirty bed-linens and this clean hotel looked worth the money. Only thing I would change next time is that I wouldn't go for the package with the private taxi for sightseeing. I would try to negotiate the price of the room between Rs.700 to Rs.900 per night considering its location. The hotel is a block away from Mall Road. The room was clean with big windows for views of the city. Hot water all the time and the attendants never expected tips for room service!! They were shy when I tipped them. Nice huh? Or may be they were not comfortable being paid by a single female!! Ho sakta hai (possible) ...
My one day sightseeing tour in the private taxi included a ride to Kufri, Nature park and zoo, Fagu Valley (overlooking from a viewpoint only), Vice Regal Lodge, Himalayan bird sanctuary, Sankat Mochan temple. Worth the money? depends ... Rest, I did on my feet and shared taxis :)
The major attraction in Shimla is the Mall Road. There are branded stores and upscale restaurants here. One can shop here or window-shop for hours. There are alternatives like, Lower Bazaar, Lakkar Bazaar where people buy souvenirs for reasonable price and so are extremely crowded. The Gaiety theatre is a heritage tourist attraction on the Mall road.
The Ridge is where people hang-out and have great views of the city. On the Ridge there are statues of Bapuji, Indiraji and Parmarji along with few tudorbethan style buildings and a church built in neo-gothic style. Nothing much to talk about the statues but, the church is one of its kind. In the night the illuminated church transports tourists to medieval period (of course not physically!!).
Visited Kali Bari temple, which is actually Shyamala Devi temple. The name Shimla is derived from the name of the Goddess. Jakhu Hanuman temple is located on the summit of the highest peak in the area. The legend associated with this temple is very interesting. Per Hindu epic Ramayana, when Hanumanji was carrying the Sanjeevini mountain from Himalayas to Lanka to save the life of injured Lakshmana. Hanumanji took some rest here on the way. It is believed that the tip of the mountain was flattened with the weight of Hanumanji and the temple is built around his footprints!! To reach the temple one can go by foot trekking 2 KM steep up hill from the Ridge. Or hire a private taxi that costs Rs.200. Or the way I did, wait for a shared taxi which costs Rs.10 one way. The ride up-and-down the hill is quite adventurous. The monkeys here are in great numbers and are notorious. They are self-trained in stealing food-camera-sunglasses. Visited another Hanuman temple, Sankat Mochan, located on Shimla-Kalka highway. Across the road from this temple, climbing up few steps leads one to an interesting cave temple of Vaishno Devi.
Surrounded by pine trees and gardens Vice-Regal Lodge is a very popular attraction of Shimla. Built in Scottish style the building has beautiful wooden interiors. The teak panels and walnut ceilings are beautifully carved. Located on the Observatory Hill the building houses Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. Most of the building is not accessible to the tourists. A part of it which is a museum is worth a visit. There is an entrance fee plus camera fee. The furniture used by the Viceroys are displayed in the museum.
The pictures of Indian leaders arriving for the Shimla Conference 1945 are on display too. There were a lot of them, usual Bapuji, Chachaji etc. I have posted a picture of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India. He was the only President who served the post twice. It was nice to see the pictures of leaders who are less known to today's generations.
The Shimla State Museum is a must visit if you are interested in history and archaeology. It is a long walk from the Mall Road. The road becomes little deserted at few places. The museum is a huge collection of coins, stamps, paintings, archaeological ruins, metal sculptures, scripts, books and photos that describe the history and lifestyle of Himachal Pradesh and surroundings.
Near Kufri I visited the Himalayan zoo and a Nature Park. Near Vice-Regal Lodge there is a Himalayan Bird Sanctuary. All these places have entrance fee plus a camera fee. In my opinion, skipping these parks is okay.
Shimla is a great city to visit for a relaxing vacation. I will visit again!---
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.