Shimla is one of the most popular weekend destinations in North of India. It was summer capital during the British rule in India. Shimla’s weather is cooler in summer months as compared to the other parts in north India and in winter it is popular because of snowfall. It is around 350 Km from Delhi and road connectivity between Delhi to Shimla is good. There are many good Dhaba types of restaurants on this highway and the food here is one of the best you can get anywhere on Indian highways, this makes the journey comfortable and pleasurable.
Travel from Kalka to Shimla by Train
I personally like to travel to Shimla from Delhi by railway. There are many direct trains between Delhi and Kalka railway station from where Kalka Shimla toy train operates. All trains from Delhi to Kalka have connectivity with a toy train in Kalka and that toy train departs only after the arrival of the train from Delhi. I am very passionate about these small heritage trains and have old world charm. These trains run at slow speed in the middle of forests and valleys, I recommend everyone to travel at least once in these trains.
Read more about Kalka Shimla toy train.
I have planned Shimla trip with one of my friends and booked tickets in an overnight train from Delhi to Kalka. Our train reached Kalka in the early morning with a delay of 30 minutes. The platform of our train was connected with the Kalka Shimla toy train and it was convenient because we didn’t have to climb stairs with luggage. Our train departed with 30 minutes delay from Kalka and reached Shimla with the same delay.
We checked for the taxi at the Shimla railway station but they asked double of the price to drop at the hotel as compared to what I had checked on Ola or Uber before traveling. I have booked a cab with Ola and it arrived within 10 minutes but we have to come out on the road outside the railway station. The taxi union at Shimla railway station has a nexus and they don’t allow Ola or Uber cabs inside the railway station. I prefer to save 250 INR by walking 80-90 meter.
By the time we reached our hotel, it was already midday. Our hotel was on a hill slope at a quiet place and mall road was around 1 Km if we go walking but by car, it was around 5 km because of the road restrictions around mall road Shimla.
Mall Road Shimla
After refreshing, we had lunch at our hotel and then we hired a cab for mall road Shimla as we were in no mood to walk. There are few pedestrian roads leading to the mall road Shimla but the climb is steep as mall road is on an elevation. Our cab dropped us near the “LIFT” (Elevator) for mall road Shimla. This elevator drops on mall road and by opting to go by it we avoided walking uphill. The ticket for “LIFT” is 10 INR and there are two lifts for mall road. We reached mall road quickly because there was no queue for going up. I have come to know that during busy season there are long queues and at times there is a waiting time of 45 minutes to 1 hour.
It was a pleasant cloudy late afternoon when we reached the Mall road Shimla. There are many small and big restaurants & eating joints on the mall road. The view at most places are nice and compensate for the average food they serve. We decided to go to the Christ church that is the main attraction, it is on the uppermost part of the ridge of mall road.
Christ Church Shimla
You have to walk everywhere if you are around mall road because there are no vehicles or rickshaws allowed on the road. The Christ Church at the mall road Shimla is the second oldest church in North India. This Neo-Gothic style church was built in 1857 by a British general. There are 5 stain glass windows, which are one of the main attraction inside the church but the interior of the church has no comparison with grand Goan churches.
Read more about Goa and its churches.
The Christ Church is the main attraction on Mall road and the open space in front in front of it makes it a perfect spot for tourists. There are benches in this area and one can sit & relax here. There were soap bubble maker sellers, candyfloss seller, and ice cream sellers, they were roaming around among tourist in this open space. There were horses available for riding on mall road though I am not in favor of these rides because you never know how they treat the animals. These short horse rides are popular among kids.
There is a library next to Christ church, which holds a good collection of books and ancient scriptures.
We spent over evening strolling around on upper and lower mall, there are many shops here selling handicraft or souvenirs. The Lakkar bazar next to Mall road Shimla has many shops from where one can buy wooden handicrafts. (Lakkar mean wood)
We had dinner at HPTDC tourisms restaurant at mall road, the food was ok but the location and view compensate for everything missing.
We decided to walk back to our hotel from Mall road. We walked through the Lakkar Bazar and it was a downhill journey so very comfortable for us.
On our second day, we decided to hire an Ola rental for few hours so that we can go to the places around Shimla. But before that, we thought of going to Mall road for the breakfast. It is so surprising that most of the restaurants were closed at 9.00 AM and we were informed that except for peak season everything opens after 10.30 AM. We went to a restaurant called Eighteen71, they had a buffet breakfast which was not tempting. We ordered ala carte breakfast but the staff attending us was untrained as they took order from us twice and then returned back saying that what we ordered is not available right now. Anyhow, we finally had our breakfast and the portions we received were too small in comparison to what I had to date in any other place in India.
Kufri from Shimla
We came down from “LIFT” and went to Kufri. It is 20 Km from Shimla at a higher altitude and that’s why much cooler in comparison. First, we went to Himalayan wildlife Zoo. There were very few people in the Zoo, we spotted some animals and birds in large cages but to be honest there was nothing much to see if you have been to Delhi Zoo. But this Zoo was very quiet and nice in terms of natural surroundings. Walking around in the middle of tall trees in misty weather was an experience on its own.
While we were coming back from Kufri, our driver stopped at a place. There were mules standing and people were going to up to some viewpoint on these. My friend and I were against ridding these mules so we decided to walk but the path was very muddy and slippery due to rain last night as well as due to walking of mules. We could not climb due to the dangerous walking conditions.
The drive from Shimla to Kufri is scenic between tall Oak and Pine trees. The journey is short but a good experience.
From Kufri, we went to Mashoraba, which is another popular destination around Shimla. There is nothing much to see here except for some natural trails in Jungle area. There are some good resorts in Mashoraba and Wildflower Hall is the most prominent.
We went to Mahindra resort for lunch and it is another nice place to stay if you just want to relax in the middle of nowhere.
On the sides of road people were standing with Yaks and they we inviting people to sit on Yak for photographs. They charge money for getting the pictures clicked. I am not sure how these Yaks feel during the winter months as they are naturally found only in high altitude regions of India.
While coming back from Mashoraba we stopped on the way at Shimla viewpoint. The view here was spectacular, the multicolor houses on hills slops were looking like small boxes kept on green slopes.
Jakhoo Temple S
Before returning to mall road Shimla we went to Jakhoo Temple on the Jakhoo hill. We climbed the stairs to reach the temple. The Jakhoo temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. According to legend Lord Hanuman stopped on Jakhoo hill to rest while he was searching for the Sanjivni Booti to revive Lakshman in the epic Ramayana. It is believed that Lord Hanuman’s foot marks are still inside the temple. There is a giant 108-feet-high idol of Hanuman at Jakhoo temple, it was unveiled in 2010.
There were too many monkeys around the temple, they snatched the prasad packets from two people as they were coming out from the temple’s gate. We came to know that today monkeys were hiding under trees on branches because it was drizzling before we reached the temple. Sometimes these monkeys harass the people while climbing the stairs or while walking around the temple, they threaten them with strange noises or snatch the mobile or camera or eatables from people. There were few cases when a monkey had bitten children or adults while trying to take something from them. These monkeys are a menace but due to religious beliefs (That monkeys as God Hanuman’s favorite) administration don’t do anything. Some people bring nuts and feed these monkeys, this human interaction also erased the fear of people from them. Other then the monkey issue it was a nice place to visit.
We returned to the Mall road. After walking around we were feeling hungry and we decided to eat something. The weather was pleasant so we decided to go to an open-air cafe Shimla times. The view was one of the best in Mall road restaurants. We ordered some burgers, which were nice and filling as compared to the bad breakfast we had in the morning. After relaxing we walked on the mall road before returning back to our hotel.
As our hotel was away from the crowd and hustle bustle of the city, so we went for a long walk around our hotel area before returning to our room. It is safe to walk in Shimla just use some common sense and don’t go to secluded places.
Next morning we went for a morning walk and had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel.
We decided to stay one day in Chandigarh so booked a cab to drop us there. On the way, we stopped at Sadhupul Bridge. It is a picnic place between Solan and Chail on the river Ashwini River. Sadhupul is quiet in the middle of hills. We took a diversion from Kandaghat towards Sadhupul. There is nothing much here except some restaurants, they have made sitting arrangements in the middle of the river and this is a unique experience. There are some adventure camps also in this area, which organize activities with the stay. We had lunch in one of the restaurants and then proceeded to Chandigarh.
If you have more time then also explore Kasauli for couple of days.
Chandigarh is capital of Haryana and Punjab, there are some interesting places to visit. Check out Top 10 things to do in Chandigarh.
Also read my Spiritual experience at Himalayan Ashram Satkhol
Don’t expect to visit too many places for sightseeing when you travel to Shimla. It is a place to relax and walk around in nature instead of visiting different monuments. Moreover, who does sightseeing when goes for a weekend break from a city?
Also check the Hills station to visit from Delhi over the weekend
Things to Remember while visiting Shimla –
* Take Kalka Shimla Toy train for going or returning to Shimla, it’s a wonderful experience.
* Just remember if you are staying in a hotel at the mall then the only way to reach your hotel is by “LIFT” or walking uphill because no vehicles are allowed on the mall.
* Wear comfortable shoes because you have to walk around to explore places in and around Shimla.
* Don’t expect too much from Zoo in Kufri in terms of animals or birds otherwise it’s a nice place to walk around in nature.
* Don’t carry eatable to Jakhoo temple because if monkeys will small food they may attack you.
* Don’t wear any kind of glasses when visiting Jakhoo temple to avoid snatching by monkeys. Also keep mobile and camera safely.
* Always keep motion sickness medicine handy if traveling by road because the mountain roads between Chandigarh and Shimla are full of twist & turns.