Anyone who knows me well enough knows how terrified I am of the cold. During the winter months, I google “Delhi temperature” the moment I wake up. So, it’s unlikely that a person like me would travel to Shimla when there’s a chance of snow. So, how did I end up traveling to Shimla this long weekend? If I must be truthful, I was literally forced into this trip by my husband who didn’t want to waste the long weekend. Having never gone to Shimla, it was on my list of places to visit as well. However, it was not on my list during the winter months.
Blogging about “achieving zen” and whining and grumbling just don’t go together. So, I decided to brave the snow this time. The night before we left, I fearfully checked the temperature in Shimla, saw it was -1ºC, and forced myself to sleep. Next morning, we took the train from Delhi to Kalka, from where we took a cab to Shimla. I was busy putting on sweaters and coats as we neared Shimla when we saw the first glimpse of snowflakes swirling and hitting the car windows. I suddenly felt like I was transported back to a fairytale world.
Our cab driver happily told us that it had been snowing the day before as well, and that we were very lucky to encounter snow in March. As we entered Shimla, I marveled at the snow and for a moment, forgot about the cold. The snow-covered rooftops and frosty leaves gave a magical feel and I was captivated. I also felt like kicking myself for wanting to cancel this trip.
As you must be aware, most of the hill stations in Himachal Pradesh have a mall road. Interestingly, Shimla’s mall-road does not allow vehicles on it (except certain registered ones), and it’s built at a higher elevation from the road below it where vehicles are allowed to ply. Our hotel was on the mall road. Hence, our vehicle dropped us below, from where we took the stairs to reach our hotel (see below).
Where did we stay?
We stayed at Hotel Clarkes which is actually an Oberoi property and in fact, it’s the very first one. It’s a heritage structure with cozy and warm interiors and is maintained marvelously well. Luckily for us, we got upgraded to a suite, and we were overjoyed. The room interiors were done up in red and white colors and I immediately wanted to curl up next to the fireplace with a book. The room also had a really strong heating system (my greatest worry when I visit hill stations). Below is the view from our hotel terrace. Spot the monkey if you can!
What did we see?
There’s a lot more to see in Shimla apart from the mall road, and thankfully, my husband had done all the research well in advance.
Viceregal Lodge: This is now the Institute of Advanced Studies, and was once the residence of the British Viceroy. The architecture of the building is so intricate, with the chandeliers and winding staircases, we were amazed that this was actually an educational institute, and did we envy the students who were studying here! My first reaction to the structure was “This is just like Hogwarts.” The building is majestic and surrounded by huge gardens where you can loiter about for ages without getting bored.
Christ Church: Well, this is right on the mall road, so you’ll definitely see it. We couldn’t see the interiors since it was closed on both the days of our trip, but if you get time, it might be worth checking out. Also, be prepared to have hauntingly beautiful views of the church in the moonlight (see below if you don’t believe me)
Gaiety Theatre: We happened to chance upon this, and found the opera-like hall to be quite unique with it’s old-worldly feel to it. The photographs displayed in this theatre are quite interesting too, and we spent some time looking at Shimla’s history through the photographs.
Heritage Walk: The Heritage Walk is a well-marked out walking trail, and you will see several heritage buildings as you follow the trail. We just followed the directions, and we passed by the Charleville Mansion (supposedly haunted!), Peterhof (a heritage property which is now a hotel), the Gorton castle and a few other government buildings and residences.
Apart from the above, we also walked around as much as we could. The best way to explore hill-stations is to just walk around, and you’ll chance upon some amazing treasures, and views.
Where did we eat?
We ate at different restaurants throughout the trip, which included 45 Central Perk, Wake & Bake Cafe and Goofa Ashiana. All were different experiences, and I urge you to just walk around and enter whichever cafe or restaurant appeals to you.
Now, I know I’ve mentioned how easy it is to forget about the cold when you see the snow. However, please do remember that it’s very important to stay completely covered up when you’re in freezing temperatures. That means you must have woolen gloves, woolen socks, and a muffler. It’s also good to keep your ear covered. Even though I took quite a few sweaters and coats, I still needed to buy socks, a muffler, and gloves, because the ones I had weren’t woolen. If you’re covered up, and not sneezing and coughing, that’s when you’ll really enjoy the cold.
I hope this helps, and make sure to make good use of the next long weekend! Also, let me know how your Shimla experience was, if you’ve been there before. I’d love to hear about it.
If you found the above post helpful, please feel free to share it, or check out my blog for more such articles