While the rising temperature of summers is already making waves in Northern India, taking refuge in the hills seems to be the wisest way of achieving nirvana. For those who are neck-deep into work, the smartest way to find solace is to make the best of the long weekends holidays. And, if you have yet not booked your tickets, there is some good news too. 128 city pairs are getting flights between April and September, thus making it feasible to travel to some of those places which were only accessible by train or road before. The picturesque hills of Kullu and Shimla will not be far from the super hot Delhi, thanks to the new flight schedules.
In this post, I would love to dedicate few moments and insist on visiting one of the oldest and famous hill stations of India, the one that has lived through the title of ‘Queen of the Hill Stations’ during the British rule. And gradually that grew to be one of the main centers of attraction and playground of adventure sports for viceroys and Maharajahs. The hill station may have lost its prestige because of its crowd and commercialization but yet there are too many reasons to love and appreciate its old school charm.
For me as a kid, the arrival of summer vacations always filled me with the possibility of visiting the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla. My parents had a fondness for its charming hills, the view-point, the town center, the ridge, the mall road, the lush greenery, highland village, rich deodar-pine trees, the Mountain Railways and more. The lavish Victorian architectures and some of the dilapidated houses spoke rich of its heritage, always.
Here are some of my favorite reasons to revisit the old and famous summer capital of India.
1. The narrow gauge railways is a heritage and make for a lovely experience. This Kalka-Shimla Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage site is 96 km long. This single rail track which was built in the 19th century has more than 100 tunnels and 864 bridges. One must take the early morning train from Kalka to Shimla to check out the famous Arch Gallery situated between Kandghat and Kanoh stations.
2. Shimla is about 7 hill slopes and Summer hill, 5 kilometers away from the main city is the most beautiful of all. If you are looking for some snow adventures, Kufri is the place to go.
3. Shimla has always maintained its religious connect. The Sankatmochan Temple and the Taradevi temple are some of the must-visit places. Jhakoo Hill, the highest peak in Shimla gets a huge footfall. It houses the Jakhu Temple which claims its fame with its tallest idol of Lord Hanuman(108 feet ). The Kali Baari Temple is devoted to Deity Kaali and there is Dargah Peer too.
4. In the lap of nature, Annandale is a small museum maintained by the Indian Army. It used to be a place of adventure sports during the British rule. And don’t forget to stop at its small cafe. Shimla state museum is another very interesting place with a colonial connect. To add to the heritage tour, a visit to Indian Institute of Advanced Studies must be on your list.
5. For soaking in the beauty of the valley and basking in the glories of the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, Scandal Point, Ridge is the most loved place in Shimla. If you have a bookaholic in you, there is a Tudor library too that you can’t miss visiting at the Scandal Point.
6.If you love to spend some time at the waterfalls, Chadwick Falls is a beautiful attraction waiting to be explored.
7.General Post Office, Christ Church and more of the Victorian architecture is of great interest in Shimla. Honestly, it should not just be visited with the intention of spending a vacation in the hill station but about discovering its beautiful past.
8. The hills, the valleys in the not-so-crowded hideouts in the neighborhood of Shimla also make for a valid reason to slip away from the hustle and bustle of the main town center and step into the shell of tranquility for few days. One of my favorites is Shoghi.
There may be many other options to travel to but this ‘Queen of the hills’ will never lose its charm for people who have a deep connect with it. I am sure by this time you are all up and tempted to revisit these beautiful valleys of Himachal and discover it for yourself. Book your tickets, look for the hotels and just be gone. The Hills are calling you!
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P.S. The featured image has been downloaded from Shutterstock.