27 years and counting
Summer vacations for me have always meant 2 months spent frolicking, lazying, playing and discovering the then thrilling hill-station of Shimla. Starkly different than my house in Delhi, Shimla gave me what Delhi never could. Childhood friends who enjoyed spending hours in the sun indulging in innocent childhood games of hide and seek, time spent together as a family (there was only one TV in Shimla which forced the family to sit together :p), unlimited time to read as many books as I want and an opportunity to discover and explore nature.
The traffic jammed streets outside my house in Delhi didn't allow me to step outside without my mom creating an uproar about safety. Which meant playtime was restricted to an hour, the only source to open air was the balcony overlooking the main road.
I am extremely grateful to my ancestors for building a house in Shimla; summer would never have been the same. But as is the case with all children, I slowly outgrew the warmth of the hill-station, friends became acquaintances and the chaos of Delhi became attractive. 2 months became 1 month and 1 month became a week; today I struggle to make it to Shimla for a weekend. And how I regret it!
We all know Shimla isn't what it once was. Construction, growth and development have taken over the once peaceful, inviting town and as pissed as I am, I believe all is not lost. Shimla still has lots to offer if you are looking at the right places. Just like any other hill-station, there is a mall road, there is a formidable looking church, scores of age-old restaurants boasting of 70 years of delicious dishes and loyal customers.
But beyond the usual, in the nooks and corners of this lovely town, there are museums, there are hidden lakes, breathtaking walking trails and mesmerizing picnic spots.
Chances are if you are looking for a break from the city, you will not travel to Shimla; however if by some stroke of luck/misfortune, you do end up in this city - let's see how you can make it worth it.
The unusual lies behind the usual
Kufri, Naldehra, Narkanda Mashobra, Tatta Pani and Fagu are some of the places you will be pushed to visit. Be it to marvel at the apple orchids, purchase tiny, shimmering bottles of jam, for horse rides or to enjoy a meal at the golf course restaurants. While all these things are great, unfortunately most tourists flock to these areas and it gets a little frustrating. Especially if you are escaping the city and find the whole city at your holiday destination.
If you would like to explore places outside Shimla, it would be great to just set out on a drive towards one of the popular tourist destinations and stop wherever your heart desires. It may sound lame, but I have had the best experiences in the middle of nowhere. Though Shimla is brimming with buildings and half constructed structures, places outside are still shining in their myriad colours.