Amazing Shimla via Kalka - Shimla Railway

23rd Sep 2022

Shimla is pictureque hill station in the state of Himachal Pradesh nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas and is easily accessible from all parts of the country. Being in close proximity to Chandigarh, Haryana and Delhi it makes a perfect weekend getaway destination for all mountain lovers like me.

Shimla can be visited round the year. It is well connected by road, rail and air transport.

We planned to visit this beautiful hill station in September during the fag end of the monsoon. There were two reasons behind it. Shimla is very crowded during the peak season of Summer and the cost of hotels and travel within the city is quite high. Monsoon sees less influx of people and you can also get better rates. Also, as I will explain later booking a hotel at Mall road is very difficult in peak season. Another reason for travelling to Shimla during monsoon was that the place looks straight out of some fairy tale, with mist rolling in right till the centre of the city.

Travel options for Shimla

Travelling by road

As I said earlier, Shimla is well connected with all the three modes of transport, however, the most preferred mode is road. You can drive your own vehicle to Shimla or can take a bus. There are frequent overnight buses from different cities of Himanchal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Delhi etc. They are sleeper, semi-sleeper ordinary or luxury buses.

Travelling by Air

The nearest airport to Shimla is Jubbarhatti located approx 22 Km from city center which is connected by a Direct flight from Delhi. Additionally Chandigarh airport is 124 Km and takes around 4 hours by road to Shimla.

The best and most pleasing option to reach Shimla is Kalka Shimla Railway which runs on narrow gauge popularly known as toy train. So for all those who have reasons not to travel by road or by flight, this is your chance to soak in the beauty of nature. We choose this option even though it was only a two day weekend trip.

Kalka Shimla Railway - KSR or Toy train

As you must be aware, Shimla was the summer capital of the Britishers during the time when Calcutta (now Kolkata) was the capital of India. KSR was built by Britishers to connect Shimla to the rest of India in 1903.

The Kalka Shimla Express Route is a World Heritage site declared by UNESCO in 2008.

Our Journey

It was raining all day in Delhi on the day of our departure and weather was predicted to remain the same in next two days in Delhi, Kalka and Shimla...this added to our excitement...

We started our journey on Friday from Old Delhi Railway Station and boarded Kalka Mail (now called Netaji Express, one of the oldest running trains of India) which originates from Howrah and reaches Delhi at 8:50 PM. There are other trains also by which one can reach Kalka including two Shatabdi Express daily. For detailed routes and trains, please visit

We reached Kalka at around 5:00 in the morning. Kalka Railway station is a small and beautiful railway station where on one side of the platform is broad gauge connecting Delhi and other side is the KSR narrow gauge where all the other toy trains are parked. So you can spend time here observing their beauty and clicking photographs.

There are six trains on the route from Kalka to Shimla and back daily. The tickets can be booked online as well as over the counter at Kalka Station subject to availability. Please refer to for updated timings and routes as the same may change due to weather conditions in the area. However, it is advised to book tickets in advance especially in peak season as the trains become full soon after the ticket window opens. The trains have general class, first class and second class. The facilities also differ in different trains.

We had booked Kalka Shimla Express which departs at 7 AM and reaches Shimla at 12:55 PM. The train has vistadome coaches which gives the complete view of the beautiful journey we were about to undertake.

So, we boarded our train from Kalka and the train chugged off at its scheduled time. The Kalka Shimla Railway covers 96 km halting at several big and small stations (not all trains halt at all stations). These toy trains pass through beautiful 103 tunnels, 912 curves and 969 bridges. The train starts from a height of 656 metres (2,152 ft) from sea level at Kalka and reaches Shimla at an altitude of 2,075 metres (6,808 ft) from sea level.

As the train was gaining height on the hills the scenic beauty of the hills amidst the mist was enchanting. The slight drizzle now and then was adding to the mesmerizing experience. The speed of 25-20 km/hr was allowing us to look out from the sliding windows and stand at the doors to soak in the greenery of the hills. The thrills at the curves on the journey, and silence of the hills except the chugging of train was giving peace to every urban dweller sitting in the comfort of the vistadome coaches. The entering and pulling out of the tunnels and in the mist was a different level of experience I had never had. If only can I explain the beauty of the dark clouds above, green hills and line of deodar trees on both sides and road accompanying us on few instances with beautiful small huts in the valley and stream flowing under the bridges, the whole valley bathing in the monsoon rains with smells of the fresh flowers of the morning, it was as if we were in a fairly land, where we had forgotten the noise and pollution of big cities.

The beautiful small stations coming our way built in the British era including the signal system. Here, I would like to add that this is a single line route and if any crossing of train is there, our train had to halt at a station to allow the other train to pass. Even though there were two such instances during our journey, this was not at all boring and only added to our mesmerizing experience of the KSR route.

Our the train's only scheduled stoppage was at Barog Station about 23 Km from Kalka and just after the longest tunnel (approx 1 KM) on the route, Barog Station.

Every train halts at the Barog station for about 10 minutes, where one can explore this beautiful white and blue station. The station built during the early 19th century shows a British architecture. There's no gush at the station unlike the typical stations we see. Also unlike other stations you are allowed to walk on tracks here and take as many pics as you want with one of the most beautiful station of India in the backdrop. There is story associated with the construction of Barog tunnel and station.

There are a few shops at the station selling packaged food. We bought yummy packets of hot Maggie and tea and resumed our journey to Shimla.

Our train made an unscheduled stoppage at Solan to allow train from other side to cross. Solan houses the Mohan Meakin brewery, the place where Old Monk Rum is made.

You can visit this brewery after taking required permissions.

This enchanting 6 hour journey culminated when the train entered the last station and destination Shimla at its scheduled time. The station is built on a hill top and you can see the valley on the other side of the station. If you wish to take your return journey by train and do not have tickets booked in advance, proceed to ticket counter and book your tickets.

We deboarded from the train and booked a cab for our hotel.

It started to rain as soon as we arrived in Shimla. We had already booked our hotel on the famous Mall Road. This is the city center of Shimla and no vehicular traffic is allowed on this road at any time and most of the major attractions are near the mall road. Therefore, we had checked the location of our hotel before zeroing on to Hotel Honeymoon Inn. It is located right on the mall road. This saved a lot of time and money especially when we were on a weekend trip. Also this three star property has got great hill views and can be booked at a reasonable price.

However, if your hotel is on the road below the Mall road, you can use the tourism lift (Govt of HP) and reach up to the Mall road.

Places we visited

Day 1

Day 1

With umbrellas out, we started exploring the beautiful Shimla Mall Road. Everything you need is placed here, shops, street food vendors, restaurants, cafe. It was an enchanting experience strolling through the mall road in the rain and mist.

Walking through the rains, we reached Town hall

The architecture will surely make one fall in love with the place and we were no exception. One could spend hours admiring the building. Although there are many cafe on the Mall road, we looked for a cafe overlooking the town hall building and Yayyy we found one. Wake and Bake cafe, we need to climb a narrow flight of stairs to reach the cafe. This cafe is mostly full but waiting for a table is worth it. We were lucky to find a table near the window overlooking the townhall building.

The Ridge

Next to the townhall building is way leading to the ridge which is upper section of the mall road from where we get to see incredible views of the city with our national flag hoisted in the middle and lot of people walking around. There are many eateries on the ridge. The beauty of ridge with colorful umbrellas, the lights and the Christ Church was a sight to behold. I assume would look even better on a snowy day.

Christ Church

This is the location of various bollywood movies shot here latest I can remember is Three Idiots. As the night has arrived, the red light of the cross falling on the shiny road of the ridge was awesome.

We headed back to our hotel from the ridge.

Day 2

We got up in morning to witness the first rays of sun since last two days. After having a sumptuous breakfast at our hotel, we explored the property and the views of the shivalik range.

We soon checked out of the hotel. We also got a cab arranged by them and resumed our journey in Shimla.

Day 2

Jakhu Temple

Jakhu Temple is a famous temple in Shimla which also houses the tallest Hanuman Statue. The temple is located on the highest peak in Shimla.

There are three ways in which you can reach Jakhu Mandir;

1. Trekking which starts next to the ridge on the mall road

2. Ropeway costing Rs 550 each can transport you to the temple from the ridge in the 5 min and you can soak in the beauty of the city from above.

3. Book a cab upto the temple

We had already booked a cab and headed to the temple. You have to have expert driving skills if you want to drive yourself up to the temple on slippery narrow hills.

The cab dropped us at the parking from where Jakhu temple can be accessed by climbing a long fleet of stairs.

Please keep your hands free and eyeglass inside your pockets. The monkey here will snatch anything within their reach.

Spend some quiet time at the temple and have the prasad away from the grabs of the monkeys.

There is a cafe called Cafe under the tree near the temple where one can head for some light snacks or a proper meal. We tried their tea and we loved it.

It started to rain again and with umbrellas in hand, we descended the stairs and grabbed our seats in our cab and proceeded towards the Indian Institute of Advance Studies.

The Viceregal Lodge or the Rastrapati Niwas

The Viceregal Lodge, also known as Rashtrapati Niwas is a beautiful building which was originally built for the British Viceroy of India.

It was also famously home to many of the discussions which led to the Indian Independence and, after that, summer home to the President of India. In 1965 the then president of India handed it over to Indian Institute of Advance Studies.

You can take a tour from outside for Rs 60 and if you wish to go inside, the guided tour is Rs 200. But mind you photography is strictly prohibited inside.

Alternatively, one can take a outside tour and sit on the lawns in front of the building or grab a snack of drink a the fire station cafe which is in the same building where ticket counter is situated.

As it was raining, sitting and enjoying the beauty of lawns was out of question, we retuned to our cab which dropped us at the Shimla Railway Station for our return journey to Delhi.

Ye dil maange more!!!

Yes there is plenty to explore in and around Shimla. These were only a few places to visit on a weekend trip. If you have more time in hand you can visit to nearby places like Kufri, Chail, Mashobra, Narkanda and Naldehra etc.

Photo of Cafe Under Tree, near jakhu temple, Jakhu, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Harshit Srivastava
Photo of Cafe Under Tree, near jakhu temple, Jakhu, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Harshit Srivastava
Photo of Cafe Under Tree, near jakhu temple, Jakhu, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Harshit Srivastava
Photo of Cafe Under Tree, near jakhu temple, Jakhu, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Harshit Srivastava
Photo of Cafe Under Tree, near jakhu temple, Jakhu, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Harshit Srivastava
Photo of Cafe Under Tree, near jakhu temple, Jakhu, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Harshit Srivastava
Photo of Cafe Under Tree, near jakhu temple, Jakhu, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Harshit Srivastava
Photo of Cafe Under Tree, near jakhu temple, Jakhu, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Harshit Srivastava
Photo of Cafe Under Tree, near jakhu temple, Jakhu, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Harshit Srivastava
Photo of Cafe Under Tree, near jakhu temple, Jakhu, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Harshit Srivastava
Photo of Cafe Under Tree, near jakhu temple, Jakhu, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Harshit Srivastava