Luck of the Devil #Lockdown

7th Mar 2020

It had been five long months since my last trip and the wanderlust in me was screaming out loud trying to convince me to book the next trip. And how could I say no with a long weekend just around the corner? So began my journey of shortlisting the places.

Pondicherry (Nah! too hot), Kolkata (Oops! Shut down during Holi), Guwahati (too short of a trip), (Ooty - Start of Coronavirus), Shimla (Oh yes! Oh yes!)

The Queen of Hills, Shimla - The majestic hill station and the holiday retreat was the perfect quick getaway for the long weekend. Quickly, I booked the flight tickets and lo and behold! before I knew, I was on my way to Shimla.

Day 1: Mumbai - Chandigarh - Shimla

The trip started with a three hour late flight from Mumbai! We landed at Chandigarh airport at around 2pm. Ugh! Waste of the day... Btw, you can also take a direct flight to Shimla (which is more expensive and you miss the beautiful views on the way) or from Delhi (~8 hour journey)

I had booked a private cab for my entire trip which made it really comfortable. It was really a very pleasant day. It had rained in Chandigarh (and snowed in Shimla - in March!) and was an extremely pleasant change from the scorching heat of Mumbai.

Once we left outskirts of Chandigarh, the beautiful scenic views started. There are multiple dhabas along the day which offer amazing Punjabi food as well as for the Maggi lovers out there, there are large number of Maggi stalls on the route to Shimla.

We reached Shimla around 7pm. We wanted to make most of our trip so we decided to explore Mall Road/ Lower Bazaar in the evening. Since it had snowed in the morning, the temperature at night was 0 degrees. It was freezing cold but we did not give up!

We spent about two hours at Mall Road/ Lower Bazaar. Mall Road is more of a touristy place whereas Lower Bazaar is more where locals shop (which means lower price) Mind you! Two hours are not enough, even for a fast shopper like me. There are tons of shops all lined next to each other selling warm clothes, and small food joints selling momos, chow mein, thukpa and locally brewn apple beer/wine (A must try!)

Tired from the long trip, we decided to retire to our Day 1 hotel - Club Mahindra, Mashobara

A Pro tip: For those of you who wants to get to Shimla faster, there is a helipad service which is functional from Chandigarh- Shimla which you can book at a cost of Rs 2999.

Day 2: Shimla

We woke up with a beautiful view of sunrise from the confines of our room. After soaking in the views, a hearty breakfast and a good night sleep, we left to for our first destination of the day - The Toy Train.

A trip to Shimla can never be complete without a ride in the toy train. This Toy train runs in the Kalka-Shimla route (which is UNESCO world heritage site) and has multiple trains throughout the day. We took the Himalayan Queen which started from Shimla at 10.40 am. The journey takes around 4 hours and passes through 102 tunnels, 864 bridges with the fantastic view of the pristine Himalayan ranges. (This is a MUST DO).

Our next destination for the day was Jankhoo temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. There are three ways to reach this temple: Take a cable car, take a cab ride up or hike. Once at the top, you will be greeted with tons of monkeys ready to snatch your spectacles and food!

After a divine darshan at the temple, we proceeded to the Mall Road again to satiate our hunger. SitaRam and Sons are the best Chole Kulcha food joint you will find in Shimla.(A must do again!!) Along the way, we found street vendors selling Aloo Burger (must try!) and a variety of other dishes.

We lazily spent time in the evening looking at the various souvenir shops and ending the day with sunset at the Ridge.

Our stay for tonight was at Mashobra at Sumit Thisle Luxury Resort and Spa

A Pro tip: Book the tickets for the toy train a month in advance. It is really difficult to get tickets at a short notice.

Day 3: Kufri

Mashobra is one of the less visited and one of the most beautiful places around Shimla (30 mins drive away)

The morning greeted us with an unparalleled view of the Himalayan range, right from our balcony. Mesmerising, is an understatement.

Today was the day to go to Kufri - one of the small towns little away from Shimla and a must go-to place if you want to experience the real snow. Since it had snowed two days ago, Kufri was covered with an enchanting blanket of snow making it a perfect place to visit during the scorching heat of March.

For the adventure seekers - Kufri is one of the top destinations for trekking and hiking trails. It has a lot of amusement parks where you can satiate your hunger for skiing, ziplining in the snow, snow skating, rope climing and even go karting - talk about fun with a view!

Kufri is also very well known for its yak rides. Yak is an animal found in few places across the globe and you can actually take a ride on the Yak, or for less adventurous people, on the horse to the Fagu point.

Kufri is famous for its zoo - where you can actually walk through an entire forest area with Himalayan animals greeting you every few metres. It is one of the must-do things in Kufri!

A small cafe known as Indira Tourist Park - a Himachal government owned cafe is right next to the zoo. Be sure to go there while you are here and gorge on their delicious hot aloo parathas. For the shopping freaks, there is also a dedicated shopping area there.

Happy with the adventurous day, we left for our next destination - Chail - a small but less visited hill station in the Shimla.

Day 4: Chail

Chail is a quaint hill station around 45kms from Shimla. Again, one of the less visited places but incredibly beautiful.

Chail is known for its Chail Palace - a 19th Century palace now turned into a hotel by the Himachal Government - a must must stay place if you are here. The palace is huge with a big lawn with lush of flowers and monkeys! with an amazing hospitality is sure to blow off your mind and make you feel like a royal, while you are there.

Chail is also home to the highest cricket ground in the world constructed in 1893. Do visit there if you get a chance to.

A little distance away from Chail is Sindhudurg. It is a beautiful place amidst the valleys with a river flowing alongside. There are small little tea shops which allow to sit between the water stream while sipping hot tea. (A must must do!)

We just spent the day relaxing amidst mother nature and breathing in the fresh green air from the lush greenery around.

Day 5: Kasauli

We started our journey from Chail to Chandigarh via Kasauli. Kasauli is a different experience altogether. It is a small town developed by the British to be used as its summer time area. It is donned with colonial era houses, orchards and home to the Indian Air Force base.

If you want to stay in Kasauli - without a doubt, book Ross Common. It has one of the best views overlooking the entire Kasauli valley while you sip on the hot soups and enjoy the weather.

Kasauli is also a nice place to spend the day walking around looking at the architecture and gorging on some mouth watering momos available every few metres.

Do not forget to buy the special Himachal Pradesh Jams, Pickles, Chutneys and Syrups made of fresh apples, apricots and tomatoes grown there.

After watching the sunset at Kasauli and spending a nice time in the British area, it was time to say adios and it was the end of a fulfilling and memorable trip back to Chandigarh airport - Until next time!