Girls trip to Shimla: The Queen of Himalyas
The plan of this trip started with my intense urge to go for solo trip and continuously hearing phrase from one or the other person “It is difficult for girls to travel on their own in India and blah blah… about dependency on men”. I started exploring google about all the places in India which are famous for solo travelling and finally thought of going to Shimla.
One of the most beautiful places in India and the capital of Himachal Pradesh ‘Shimla’, also known as “Simla”. I have been to many hilly areas near Pune, but Shimla is totally amazing. It is located in the dense forest of the Himalayas covering huge mountains. The whole city is located on mountains. Shimla is a whole new place in all three different seasons.
One interesting thing about this hilly region is apart from being a tourism centre, the city is also an educational hub with a number of colleges and research institutions. For more information about the beautiful city, you can always go to wikipedia.
If you have a lack of time and just want a summarised plan for Shimla, please explore here.
Solo travelling changed to a girls only trip:
After a while, I casually told about my plan to Natasha(my cousin).She got so excited and insisted on joining. I gave it a thought and Yeah!! finally, the plan changed to a trip of travelling sisters. But my aim was still the same. It’s my choice of travelling with my partner Paresh, not my need.
So yeah people… this time, Paresh is not part of my travel story.
In fact travelling recreates the bond, makes better memories and obviously a stronger relationship and we met after 9 years, So It was worth travelling with my cousin as we got to spend a quality time.
Here the journey begins.
I reached from Pune to Delhi before a day to street-shop and roam around in streets of Delhi(Dilli ki G) and had some fun time with my cousin. We went shopping, packed all required stuff and after a whole tiring day went to sleep, as we had to catch a train early morning at 5;30 am. We got up at 4 am, got ready quickly and packed sandwiches for our journey and left for Delhi Rohilla station.
Ways to reach Delhi to Shimla:
There are mainly three preferred ways to reach Shimla:
- By Bus: you can take an overnight air-conditioned luxury bus from ISBT Kashmiri Gate. Buses go in the morning or later at night - timings can vary from season to season. Buses can be booked online too.
- By Train: There are around 5-6 trains from Delhi to Kalka.We took the Kalka Shatabdi, which goes from Dilli Rohilla station to Kalka Railway Station via Chandigarh. From Kalka you can take either the famous toy train of Shimla or you can take a taxi from Kalka to Shimla. If you want to enjoy the view of valleys, I would suggest you make reservations in toy train at least before 1 month.It is famous by the name “Himalayan Queen”. Although it takes 7 hours to complete 96 kilometres of distance, the experience is amazing. You can also take pictures of beautiful valleys.
- By Car: It takes around 7 hours to reach Shimla by car. From Delhi, you will have to take the outer Ring Road towards GT Karnal Road, then turn right on NH 1. Once you reach Ambala, move to NH 22 towards Kalka. Keep moving on the same highway towards Solan and then to Shimla.
We preferred second option i.e, By train as we wanted to enjoy the famous toy train to Shimla. We reached Delhi to Kalka at 11:50 am enjoying our all time favourite food for travelling bhajia and bread.
From Kalka, we were supposed to take the toy train to Shimla. But unfortunately, we could not take the toy train as it has a limited number of seats and there was a huge waiting list. So we took a shared taxi from Kalka to Shimla. It took around 3 hours to reach Shimla.The whole route in upward direction moving around the hills created a bit of motion sickness. We took a break at a maggie shop and relaxed for a while, clicked some pictures of the beautiful hill behind the shop.
Day 1 dated 13th August 2016: The Ridge Road, Christ church, Lakkar Bazar
At around, 3 pm we reached Shimla, the cab dropped us near mall road lift, an elevator that took us to the famous Mall Road of Shimla. We already booked our hotel online before a month. It is a 3 star hotel located at 500 meters away from the lift and is on the steep way upward, It was very tiring to reach the hotel through that sleepy way after travelling for so long, thanks to parish that I took his advice and bought the light waited for rucksack (easy to carry)for this trip.
It is a bit tiring to go on foot over there but the view from the hotel is amazing. Our room was beautiful and cosy with all the needed facilities.
We took rest for a while, got ready quickly and then, of course, being a girls trip yoo-hoo! selfie time. We clicked some pictures of beautiful view around the hotel.
At around 6 pm, we left for the famous Ridge road also known for Shimla Heritage walk. It was around 300 meters from our hotel.Surroundings looked mesmerising with fog all over the place. We visited the famous church known as Christ Church. It is the second oldest church in India and it represents neo-Gothic architecture.
As it started getting dark, the place looked more beautiful with stars all over the sky and colourful lights all over the city located on Hill.
It made us proud even more to see the shining Indian flag at the centre of Shimla making the place just perfect. There are statues of the Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi. If you observe carefully the place reflects the beauty of India.
The Ridge road also leads to Lakkar Bazar (a wooden craft market), where you can go shopping. We preferred to enjoy the natural beauty of the Himalayas rather than shopping. We also got our pictures clicked in traditional and beautiful Himalayan dresses in only 50 bucks.
After a while, we ate the Shimla classics such as Softy (a famous flavoured cone ice-cream), popcorn and Momos.
Eating ice cream in a chilling weather has its own perks, Ha-ha I hope I do not need to mention that.
After enjoying at the place for 2-3 hours, we went to have dinner at a small but beautiful Dhaba ran by Sardarji, located on the way to Mall Road. As we waited in the queue, we gathered information about spending our next 2 days in and around Shimla. Luckily, Sardarji also had a travel agency.
We booked a cab for a day at the minimal price (Rs. 700 per day, after negotiation) to show us around famous places and view points. You can find about our expenses in detail at the bottom of this page.We went back to the hotel and went to sleep in a while as we were so tired of travelling almost a whole day.
Day 2 dated 14th August 2016: Jakhu Temple, Green Valley, Kufri, Himalayan Nature Park, Mall Road
We got up early in the morning due to eagerness to roam around Shimla. But the cosy bed and those soft blankets did not let us get up almost for an hour in the freezing cold morning. We were just lying on bed and poking each other over who will go to bathe first. Ah, finally hunger made us get up from the bed as we did not want to miss breakfast at all.
The waiter looked so cute with tiny eyebrows and he served us so sweetly speaking in the sweetest voice I ever heard. Oopsie!! I was totally flattered and here she was. How could a girl especially your sister can stay without teasing on such a good topic? Natasha was continuously giving me a wicked smile and laughing hard. But seriously I loved Himachal people and their local language. They speak so sweetly and have their own cute words. Uff!! Enough of my craziness for now.
The cab took us from our hotel at 10:30 am. We started with the famous Jakhu Temple located at the highest peak of Shimla.
It has a huge idol of Lord Hanuman which is 108 feet high and the back side of the temple is covered with a lovely garden where you can sit and relax for a while.
The way to reach Jakhu temple is very steep and full of cute monkeys all over the place and yes, you need to beware of them.
A cute baby monkey drinking water from tap.
They snatch things from your hand. If you are wearing a hat, it will definitely won’t stay in your head more than a minute. Also don’t carry bags, goggles and you need to be more careful about mobile phones. It seems monkeys of Shimla have a deep love for mobile phones and cameras. Hee-hee so click photos carefully, as we did, by hiding our phones immediately after clicking pictures.
Our next destination was Kufri, covering all the view points coming on the way from Jakhu temple to Kufri.
We took a stop at Green valley, which shows the view of a dark dense forest full of creatures.
People used to go for Jungle trail in those forests before some years. Pff! but those are closed now, so we could not enjoy the trail.
After covering around 3 more small view points, we reached Kufri. The place was full of crowd and horses. It was raining heavily. The place was so high that we could see stormy clouds below.
Asking the people over there, we came to know that it was not the good time to visit Kufri. The place was all muddy and distorted due to rain and people could hardly walk. When it snows in Shimla, Kufri changes to a beautiful white snow hill and is famous for ice skating and skiing. Argh! It was all my fault, I could have explored about the best suited weather to visit the place. I was totally disappointed with myself and I did not even go to look at the place but fortunately, Natasha was all positive. Initially she got scared but then our excitement about the trip gave her positive vibes and finally she took a horse ride and went to check out if there was anything to see.
There were some apple farms,an adventure park and mud all over the place which made it impossible to walk. But she loved the horse ride.
In the mean time, I enjoyed the view of nature,silence, fog and dense forests.
Ah! it reminded me of one famous saying that suited perfectly to the moment:
"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray".
I did not even realize I was lost in thoughts for around an hour and was totally amazed. Oh, I totally forgot.. Natasha did not come back yet. I immediately called her and asked her to meet me at parking area near our cab. And then we left for our next destination “Himalayan Nature Park” at Kufri, located at a distance of 16 km from Shimla.As it was a rainy season, the surroundings looked marvelous. Crystal clear drops of rain on beautiful flora and fauna were illuminated by rays of sunlight. There were cute,scary and unique creatures such as leopard, sambar deer, barking deer, Himalayan tahr, Himalayan vultures and bears.
There is a small and beautiful bridge and small huts, We clicked photographs of each other and then asked a lady to click our pictures together.
After spending time for around an hour, we came out of the zoo. There were some street shops where we had hot bread pakodas and tea. Moving further, we found a wine shop. I tried some fruit wines but the taste was not so rich Shimla is famous for its fresh wines but actually, you can only get them in winters.
At around 6 pm, we reached back to our hotel. We both were so tired but the desire to explore Shimla was still not over. We quickly got freshen up and left for Mall road to shop and it was near by too. We bought some souvenirs for our friends and family. Two of Natasha's friend also joined us at Mall road. They came for a day to hangout in Shimla. Hee-hee luckily we got someone to click our pictures together. Besides, It's well said,
“keep good company and you shall be of the number”
We had ice cream, popcorns while chatting and roaming around the lively Mall road of Shimla. Also if you are a fan of antiques and famous old books which you find hardly on book shops, mall road is your place.
Worst Experience at Rendezvous bar, mall road:
After around two hours, we went inside this bar without bothering much about the price and all. Also, If you get free drinks from friends when you have a lack of budget, it’s a sin to deny it (wink!). No matter what we ordered, we got without salt - cheese cutlets, peanut masala - with a lot of green chillies only, mocktail was - just sugar syrup with no flavour. Just for the sake of alcohol, we had it in one shot and left. If you get worst experience, you gotta do something to cheer you up. Hee-Hee!! One of our friends whistled with his whistle after we came out of that crap bar.
Day 3: Independence Day Celebration (15th August)
We got ready and left early morning for Ridge road to see the Independence day celebration.The parade, dance performances on national songs and our beautiful Indian flag(Tiranga) reminded of our school days except the Himalayans are really cute and innocent. They all looked beautiful with sharp features and extreme fairness. After 2 hours we left for our day 3 trip.
We already booked a cab for one more day, our friends from last night joined us. We were supposed to visit some of famous schools and museums, as Shimla is famous for educational institutions (especially boarding schools) which are over a century old started by British and are still strong and provide a unique standard of education and future growth. You can find out more about the famous schools of Shimla here.
Indian school of Advanced studies, a heritage of Shimla, is a research institute beautifully built by British. You need to be particular about the visiting hours (11:00 am to 12 noon), as it, more importantly, an institution where some fellow friends study too. Unfortunately, I checked the timings but did not check that it is closed on Mondays for tourists. Basically, our plan for whole day vanished. We were next supposed to visit Himalayan bird park near advanced studies, which was also closed. Huh! Everything was going unplanned and tragic. So we left.
When anything can’t cheer you up, a good food is just what you need. There was a road side shop of raw mangoes, they looked so fresh and yummy. Also, we had paranthas at a Dhaba near by.
Cafe Shimla Times:
Sharing an image from their official site at facebook:
As there was nothing left, we returned to mall road and went to one of Shimla's most beautiful cafe. The place is well maintained and decorated beautifully along with the beautiful view of valleys of Shimla.
But the deserts and fast food were very expensive but it looked yummy.
I would suggest you to visit the restaurant , enjoy sometime with coffee and eat somewhere else.
A group of friends came to us and explained us about the game named “Concentration game”. I got excited and agreed to play. They explained me about the steps: I was asked to swing my hand vertically between the gap left in another person’s hand for 5 minutes with closed eyes.The gap will keep decreasing he explained. I was playing with full concentration. After a while I could not hear any voice and hence opened my eyes. D’oh! I made a complete fool of myself. There was nobody around and I was standing in the center swinging my hand. Actually they were from a show of Red FM, anyways it was fun.
Back to Delhi:
We spent around 3-4 hours at that place and then came back near Mall road lift, took our baggage from the hotel and took a bus for Delhi. Hence our trip for Shimla ends here with a funny scene of two guys trying to edit one boy’s face in their group picture to make him look fair. Ha-Ha! My god! Even boys have got addiction same as Natasha to edit pictures a lot (wink!).
In all, this girls trip was fun and we learned a lot being it tragic.
It reminds me of a famous or not so famous saying:
"Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God"
It is even more interesting when you travel with your cousin by blood, sister by heart and most importantly friend by choice. That's all for now...
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Keep Exploring, People! 🙂
Cheers! to the successful trip my dearest siso Natasha.