Weekend Getaways: Shimla

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Shimla

Explore the Queen of the Hills aka Shimla with us as we lose ourselves in the romantic hues of this quaint little town.

With weddings taking over our city and pollution getting worse each day, winters are just not the same this year. But might we suggest you indulge in a weekend getaway this month to escape from the city grind and unwanted wedding invites? Don’t wait till the end of the year though and do it now, so you don’t catch the Christmas/New Year crowd!

For many of us, hill getaways evoke images of freshly baked buns, softy cones and piping hot chocolate fudge; while for others it means wood-burning fireplaces, family trips and old-timey horse rides. So whatever be your mood, come and explore the Queen of the Hills aka Shimla with us as we lose ourselves in the romantic hues of this quaint little town.

EXPERIENCE

The former summer capital of the British Empire in India, Shimla is best known for its Victorian architecture, art galleries and street shopping on its famous Mall Road.

Toy train ride: The toy train from Kalka to Shimla takes you through six hours of stunning mountain scenery along charismatic Himalayan outposts, over vibrant valleys and gorges past waterfalls, lush green forests, and through a whopping 103 tunnels. Get on and put your feet up as you enjoy the view.

Ice skating: The rink here is one of the oldest in Asia and is the only open air-rink in the country! It attracts thousands of people every year from rookies to pros, all of whom come here to show off their skating skills.

Trekking: Known as trekker’s paradise, Shimla has one of the most exciting trekking trails in the region. Jalori Pass, Shimla-Chail and Shimla-Junga are some of the few notable ones, but you can find smaller trails all throughout the area.

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Sightseeing & Shopping: The best part about exploring Shimla is that most of the places are located nearby. Any mention of this spot makes it impossible to exclude Mall Road – a shopper’s haven owing to its large number of showrooms and shops. Located at Mall Road is the second oldest church in North India – the Shimla Christ Church – which is one of the most visited and recognised landmarks in Shimla. From there, just a few minutes of walking will lead you to the Himachal State Museum – a treasure house of paintings and stone works of Bajaura and Masrur.

While there, you should definitely visit the Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex, which deserves a place in the list owing to its gothic designs and an impressive old age of 122 years. Other attractions include Scandal Point, which is the highest point in the city, and The Ridge, where visitors come to soak in the view of the surrounding areas. You can go for a horse ride and click pictures in traditional Himachali attires available on rent, or if you’re looking for special local products, head to Laakar Bazaar and Himachal Emporium.

FOOD + DRINKS

From cafés to restaurants to street food options, Shimla has everything to offer. We suggest you to check these places out at your next visit.

Indian Coffee House, Mall Road

A Shimla institution, the Indian Coffee House is a delight for everyone. With its ageing booths, uniformed waiters and blackboard menu, this spot has been winning hearts for years and serves up the most impressive breakfast, cheap Dosas, Pakodas and Coffee in town.
Cost for two: Rs 200

Embassy Restaurant, Mall Road

This cosy timber-lined restaurant with fabulous views of Shimla, especially at night when the city lights are on, offers delicious Indian and Chinese delicacies. However, their pizzas and hamburgers are not to be missed as well.
Cost for two: Rs 500

Wake & Bake, Mall Road

With a cute menu featuring quick bites like hummus, tacos and sandwiches as well as full meals of hand tossed pizzas and pastas – this quaint and cheery café is best known for their crepes, cakes and coffee. Their yellow and blue walls are adorned with quirky memorabilia and the vibe is always fun with a good mix of locals, tourists and college-goers. It also has a separate book club with a decent collection of novels and poetries. Plus, they offer free wi-fi so you can go here for a date with your laptop.
Cost for two: Rs 500
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Aunty’s Kitchen, Mall Road

One of the oldest Chinese food joints in Shimla with a regular fan following, this hole-in-the-wall eatery is not everyone’s style but we totally love it. The kitschy street food-style spot makes you feel like you are in an aunty’s drawing room with assorted knick knacks and lamp shades in red and yellow all around. While there, do try out their signature Hakka Noodles, Chicken or Mutton (steamed) Momos, and Corn and Mushroom Soup.
Cost for two: Rs 400

Kewal Ka Dhaba, Mall Road

This dhaba is always lively thanks to University students who come here to gorge on their wholesome Butter Bun and Tea. In 1931, Lord Mountbatten, the then Viceroy of India was so impressed with their tea, that he got the shack built into a permanent structure and gave it to the family as bakshish. Even today, you can dig into their bun butter and tea at just Rs 20.
Cost for two: Rs 50

Alfa Restaurant, Mall Road

Cheerful staff, a pleasing ambience and tasty food at reasonable prices – all this makes Alfa a popular spot. Their extensive menu features a wide range of delicacies from Indian, Chinese and Italian cuisine. Try out the Mutton Keema with Paranthas, Chicken Cutlet, Mutton Rara served with Pulao, and their Chinese platters.
Cost for two: Rs 800

Scandal Delight, Mall Road

A beautiful two-storey restaurant, Scandal Delight is an absolute delight. With hanging lamp shades, walls adorned with wooden artifacts, and comfortable wood and cane furniture – the highlight of this place is their balcony overlooking Gaiety theatre. On the menu are Chicken Hakka Noodles, Butter Chicken and Naan, Mushroom Stir Fry, and Chilli Chicken among others. They also serve beers like Budweiser, Carlsberg, Kingfisher and Tuborg.
Cost for two: Rs 1,500

Image Courtesy: Anindita Das

The blog was first published on TimesCity/What’s Hot