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
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.