Shimla!! A nature lover's delight!!!
- Submitted by: Carol Nettar
- Submission Date: 02nd May 2008
My wife and I always wanted to have a long honeymoon. And we had started planning for it since so many years. We got married in Trivandrum, and from there, we visited Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi. We decided to make Delhi our base, after a lot of research. We spent some days in Delhi and loved the place. The time was January and it was very very cool. We loved the weather and all the historic places we visited in Delhi.
We decided to go to Shimla by train, as I am a big lover of train travel and I always dreamt on traveling in the Toy train. We tried to get reservation in the New Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi Express. But I was told that there was no reservation and we had to stand in queue and buy tickets at least one hour prior to our journey.
We reached Delhi station 2 hours prior to the scheduled departure time. We were shocked to see that the queue to the ticket counter was ending outside the station. I stood in the queue for almost 45 minutes and finally purchased our tickets. The train left New Delhi station right on time and the journey was simply fantastic. The train whizzed past rice fields, lakes, small villages and there were not many stops on the way. The natural beauty of Punjab took our breath away. It was simply awesome. Shatabdi express was very very fast and we enjoyed the journey thoroughly.
We reached Kalka just in time to catch The Himalayan Queen, toy train to Shimla. We bought first class tickets. The coaches were comfortable. The journey was fascinating. The track runs for 96 kilometers and there are numerous small stations on the way. We bought snacks, pakoras and water from Solan station. There are not many options for a heavy lunch en-route. So plan and pack your lunch. There are 103 tunnels on the way to Shimla. The journey through forests and seeing all the greenery and the beautiful pine and fir trees and the cool breeze playing with my hair was so relaxing! The sight of the small loco diesel engine puffing along the hills, valleys, streams, and in between dense forests was so beautiful.
We reached Shimla by 5:30 pm in the evening. We took the services of two porters who took us to Hotel Victory, near to the famous victory tunnel at the entrance of Shimla town. The walk from the station to the hotel was totally energy sapping. We had to climb so many stairs and walk up many steep inclines. If I knew about this, I would have hired a taxi or another porter to carry me on his back!!!
The hotel offered us a very good room and the view from the hotel was awesome. We lost our voices the moment we set foot in Shimla. The cold breeze was too much for us. We spent the rest of the evening croaking and trying to decipher what our better halves were saying and drinking lots and lots of coffee! We rented a room heater from the hotel. After some time, we had to rent another! The cold was simply over-powering and we had difficulty in sleeping. We spent the night like two Eskimos, covered from head to toe in four blankets!
The next day we woke up early. The view from the hotel of the mountains and valleys was breathtaking. A dozen Vicks tablets and some coffee helped us get our voices back. We trekked all the way to the Mall. The walk was too tiring as we had to climb up the hills and about a 1000 stairs to reach the Mall. I did not know about the lift which starts from the Cart Road and climbs up to the Mall road. This lift carries people from lower to upper Shimla. The rest of Shimla is connected by steep lanes and steps. You have to be terrifically fit to walk from lower to upper Shimla. We found out from our experience that it a good way to lose weight!
We spent the whole day exploring the Mall and the Ridge. Ridge is just above the Mall, in front of the Christ Church. It offers very good view of the mountains. There were lots of tourists in the Ridge. We also went to Scandal point, near the Ridge. We then visited Jakhoo Hill, situated at a height of 8000 ft, the highest point in Shimla, which offers a birds eye view of the city and of the snow-covered Himalayas. At the top of the Hill, is an old temple of Hanuman. There are hundreds of monkeys here.
We bought a tour package from HPTDC and visited Kufri-Chail-Kariaghat, the next day. We were taken to Kufri first. This place is around 18 km from Shimla and is the most famous spot. Kufri is the winter sports capital and is situated at a height of 8,600 ft. Kufri is famous for snow and skiing and views of the snow covered mountains. We took a horse ride to Kufri as the road was a total mess because of the melting snow and rains. We saw snow for the first time in our lives and played in snow for a long time. We also rode on a Yak and took photos. It was an unforgettable experience.
We then visited Chail, which has the highest cricket ground in the world and is a lush green town, and was the former capital city of the Maharaja of Patiala. We had lunch from a HPTDC hotel which is actually a palace. The natural beauty of Chail is beyond comparisons.
We returned to Shimla completely rejuvenated and yearning for more. We spent the next day exploring the Lakkar Bazaar, Meena Bazaar, Shimla Museum in Chaura Maidan, Summer hill, Chadwick Falls, Prospect Hill, etc.
Shimla is surrounded by snow capped mountains. Shimla is very modern has all the facilities we expected. The grand buildings built by the British gives Shimla a special charm.
We took the evening bus of HPTDC to Manali for the next part of our honeymoon ..with a promise to return soon.