Shimla

Shimla is a beautiful place, set high in the Himilayas it is completely different from anywhere else we’ve been to in India.
The town itself is built on a mountain and climbs 300 metres bottom to to, so with little exception you are either going up or down a hill.
Hotel Kapil where we stayed was a lovely little place, 10 minute walk from the centre of town (though a steep uphill climb) we were ideally placed to see everything, and if you dont mind a few hills it was all walkable. The best thing about our room though was the view, it was magnificent (see below) and as Diwali was approaching the front of the hotel was lit up like it was Christmas.

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The hotel at night
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Sunset from our room

The view from Shimla is one of it’s main draws and wherever you are there is always a beautiful vista to look at, I even had a coffee overlooking the Himalayas, not the best coffee I ever had, but certainly the best view I had drinking one.

The other thing to note is the temperature, it is much cooler during the day (a nice 26 degrees) and very much cooler in the night time, which is why the British chose to move the whole business of Government to Shimla from Delhi where it was far too hot in the summer.  You still need to be careful though as it is so high up you burn very quickly as we both discovered.

The Ridge is the only real flat area in Shimla and is a great place to start exploring from.  It certainly has a british feel with the architecture, but overall I thought it was more like an alpine town, given that Britain just isnt that mountainous.

Our first day was spent walking the centre of town, but also walking up to the Jakoo temple, this is dedicated the the Monkey god (If you saw the tv programme “Monkey” in the early 80’s you will know the story).  This was one hell of a climb, and given the air is about 20% thinner up here it really takes it out of you.  When we got to the temple they rent out sticks, not to help you walk the last 100 metres, but defend yourself from the many monkeys who apparently steal your glasses and camera and require food for the return of the stolen goods  (clever boys).  Now we didn’t see this, but everyone had sticks, so either the sticks work, or this is a massive scam to sell you a stick for 20 rupees, which you then give back!

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Dawn ready to defend me from the killer monkeys
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Gangster monkey
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Monkey god

 

We spent the next couple of days checking out the Mall (it’s a road) with its many shops, the different markets where you could really buy anything from fruits to a washing machines to hookey designer clothes.  We went to a couple of cool restaurants with great views of the Mall and finally to the Viceregal lodge, where the British Viceroy and his staff ruled India fo 8 months of the year in the days of the empire, you could only get to see a couple of rooms on the tour as this is now “The institute of advanced studies” and is used by scholars now (lucky sods).

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Viceregal Lodge
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From the office on the first floor various Viceroys would run India

We did a tour of the Gaieity theatre, a beautiful small theatre built to entertain the British officers, many of whom were the actors in the original play, sometimes even the Viceroy himself would act in a play.  We had a very informative tour, but I felt for the American and Australian couples who were there as the guide basically ignored them and talked to us, he obviously loved the theatre and its heritage.

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The Gaiety

For Dawn’s birthday (a couple of days early as we were travelling on the day) we decided to have drinks and afternoon tea at the Oberoi Cecil hotel, a Grand Victorian hotel and allegedly the poshest in India, we had a lovely afternoon great service and food, but found when we got back to our hotel they had messed up the bill charging me in pounds instead of rupees.  Dawn made a complaint to the manager who gave us a 100% refund, not what we were expecting but very good of them.

Shimla was definitely our favourite city in India, but from the cool of Shimla it was time to return to the heat and the dust of Delhi, but I have put a couple more pictures below to remind us of a great little town.

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View from the Ridge of Christchurch with the Jakoo temple on the hill (yes, we climbed that)
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Lovely shop on the Mall (sadly closed)
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Snow on the distant peaks
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Porters taking our bags down to the train (the one carrying Dawns bag was a good age!)
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Our ride off of the Himilayas
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