Let’s start by pointing out that if you haven’t visited Shimla till date, you are missing out on a lot. There are some things that can never be cliche and Shimla is one such destination. Touted as the most popular and beloved hill station of India, this cozy capital of Himachal Pradesh is an ancient soul hidden amid all modernity.
Here is a 3-day, simple and step-by-step plan for first time travelers to Shimla.
Arrival. The journey to Shimla is simple and worth remembering. You could take a direct train to Kalka from New Delhi railway station, which will take approximately four hours. And now the adventure begins. You can now take the Kalka-Shimla rail route, which is one of the mountain railways and has a UNESCO world heritage status. Without a doubt, this could be one of the best train journeys of your life. It will take around 3 hours to reach Shimla.
Alternately, you can drive directly from Delhi or Chandigarh. Others can take a flight till Chandigarh and reach Shimla by road, which is journey of 110 kms.
Now, after you have checked in and settled down, head straight to The Mall. Shimla Mall will easily find its way to your list of favourite sites and shopping destinations. There are numerous options to eat in the Mall. You can enjoy some authentic Pahadi or Punjabi cuisine there. Or you can just grab a coffee and stroll around the road which is always beautifully decked up and dotted with different kinds of shops. Its sheer simplicity and old-world charm is hard to find in the age of commercialization. Wrap up day one with a bonfire dinner at your resort or hotel. If you have checked in to the right place, you may be lucky enough to listen some local Himachali songs while you bask by the bonfire.
After having a dreamy hill view breakfast, it’s time to explore. You can take a cab till Kufri, which is 20 kms away from the capital and is nothing less than paradise. There are number of beautiful places to see. Relax at the Kufri National Park and Indira National Park. You can also go skiing at Fagu, if you feel particularly adventurous. Have lunch at one of the cozy cafes in the Bir area. Garden Cafe and Paloma Bistro are the two best places where you could enjoy Indian and International cuisines. Leave before dusk falls and reach Shimla mall. Linger around the Mall for sometime. You would definitely find that matches your taste. Woolen garments, show pieces etc. are the specialty of Shimla Mall. Also, hang around the ancient and iconic Town Hall and Gaiety Theater.
Grab a bite in the Mall or back at the hotel, according to your choice.
The first thing to do today is pack. After you are done with packing and breakfast take the Walk Around Shimla with Raja Bhasin. For this, you would want do your bookings well before hand. Raja Bhasin is a local historian and the author of 5 critically acclaimed books on the history of Shimla. This 2-hour walk with him will help you know every minute detail of the city that was named the summer capital of India by the British. There will not be a single dull moment in these two hours.
Thereafter, head straight to Lakkar Bazar, or Wood Market. Here you can buy souvenir for you family and friends. This area is lively and brimming with art and craft all around. Now, time for a scrumptious lunch ta the Mall again.
Later, in the afternoon, preferably before dusk-fall, bid adieu to this little paradise of the North.