Blogs from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India, Asia


Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla September 17th 2018

Spending a day on trains was fascinating. The first regular train had a breakfast service of excellent logistics. The team of boys gave us chai,water, omelette, more chai, cleared up and all so efficiently. Then into the Toy Train to Shimla which the Brits had built to escape the heat of Delhi. Quite different experience. Small, plastic seats, all the luggage around you. I nearly got left behind when I got off to buy chai and had to run along to jump on! Shimla is a great place (at 2200ft) to slow down and be more attentive. The gentle walk along The Mall where everyone walks is great for people watching. The cost to the Viceregals Lodge was interesting. It looks like Scottish being built of grey granite. The viceregal was from Scotland so obviously wanted ... read more
10hrs travelling! Here at last
The Mall
Gorgeous weather despite the altitude

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla June 24th 2018

The 10-hour bus from Manali wasn't too bad- the driver only had to slam on the brakes causing luggage to fall 6-8 times and we only passed one overturned van (see photo). THE CITY Shimla is an attractive city that seems to hang off the hills. It reminds me of Valparaiso, Chile. Roads stretch along the slopes horizontally, switchbacking on the edges, while staircases and lifts cross vertically. 7K, pedestrian-only Mall Road is a nice escape from dodging vehicles (though they give too many VIP exceptions, if you ask me), and the Lower Bazaar that runs parallel is an entertaining scene to stroll through. Almost all the tourists in Shimla are Indian, so the town offers more chain stores and expensive, formal restaurants, rather than craft markets, cafes, or bars, like in Manali. The first night ... read more
Almost Left Behind
Overturned Van
Biggest Waste of Money Ever

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla January 2nd 2018

Time to leave the bright, crisp clear air of Shimla and descend to the smog of New Delhi. As we came up on the Toy Train ( The Shivalik deluxe Express, the only express thing being that it didn't stop at the myriad of small stations, not the 15 miles an hour top speed it managed), we decided to return on the bus, and pushed the boat out and went for the super deluxe Volvo a/c ( cost all of £10 for the 9 hour trip). First they handed water out, and then the sick bags, seems it's a very bendy mountain road, occasionally we would meet up with the narrow gauge railway, seeing it bend around the mountain side, but unfortunately didn't see any trains on it. Not long after we set off, they fired ... read more

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla October 25th 2017

We had a couple of hours before leaving Shimla this morning so we took the lift from the hotel up to the Mall. Shimla is steep - seriously steep. We had to get a lift up from the street to the lobby of our hotel, and then from the sixth floor to the Mall above. There is a public lift next door. Think of the cable car in Wellington, and then go vertical. The Hide Out coffee shop with it's first floor view of the street served great coffee and provided a wonderful view of everyone starting their day. The car ride from Shimla back to Chandigarh was uneventful. Our driver must have been briefed that we were nervous passengers as we even got passed by buses. Once we hit the 4 lane highway (with separator) ... read more
Police catching up on the morning news
Standby passengers

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla October 24th 2017

First up today was a visit to Viceregal Lodge, built in just 4 years in the 1880s in the style of Balmoral Castle. It was the summer residence during the Raj and was the site of many of the negotiations prior to partition in 1947. It is now used by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. 60 or so post doctorate students are selected each year to continue their research here. The gardens are extensive with plenty of English flowers. The grounds included a fire station and a squash court. The house was the first in Shimla to have electricity and a full fire protection system. We then went the the opposite end of the spectrum and visited the Jakhu Temple dedicated to Hanuman the monkey god. As expected, there were plenty of monkeys around. We ... read more
Viceregal Lodge Garden
Tourists at Viceregal Lodge
Monkeys at Jakhu Temple

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla October 23rd 2017

This morning's adventure was a two hour train trip on the famous Shimla railway line. It was built by the British in 18 something so they could come up here from Delhi in the heat of summer and drink gin and frolic. It is called a toy train for some reason - perhaps because of the narrow 2'6" gauge (and average gradient of 3% for the train spotters) but it is a fully functional passenger line that runs between Shimla and Kalka everyday. We only went as far as Khandaghat, about half way. The seats were firm, but with some padding, and the views were great however it was hard to get many good photos because of the trees that zipped past. This afternoon we explored The Mall, an area at the top of Shimla that ... read more
A slice of Shimla
One of the many bridges
The Mall, Shimla

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla October 22nd 2017

We left our lovely family in the beautiful Kullu Valley today and made the long 10 hour trip to Shimla. Our driver was much different to the one we had one the way up and actually managed to pass other vehicles WITHOUT USING THR HORN. I am sure this is against some regulation and as soon as I get to grips with the traffic admin here I will report him for his dangerous behaviour. The long trip was useful to reflect on the first week in India. What had surprised me most? Well, the Ambassador is dead, long live the Swift. Let me explain. Most cars in India are small, very clean and white. 50% of them are Suzukis, I know this because I conducted my own survey today. Most of the Suzukis are Swifts, but ... read more
White cars in the sunset
Pack horses

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla September 14th 2017

The Royal Suite was beautiful. ..the furnishings and old photos incredible. A couple of days later we actually met the man who had done all the photographs for the hotel....some off negatives and some off small prints. After breakfast Veeru picked us up and took us downtown where he parked and said right you go up in lift to The Mall Rd and then proceed up to Jakku Temple. We were a bit concerned as we thought we had a guide but as he showed us in the itinerary Shimla was the only city we didn't have a guide. So anyway Sandra and he shared WhatSapp addresses (S was on NZ roaming) and we intrepidly set off on our own. Shimla is built over 7 hills and. It was was a little village in 1815 when ... read more

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla September 10th 2017

Three things I didn’t know about Shimla a week ago. It is the administrative capital of Himachal Pradesh and, although originally “devised for an anticipated peak population of 45,000, at the most 60,000”, its metropolitan area now contains nearly 300,000 people. This is no sleepy remnant of a colonial past but a bustling, busy place. The ridge on which it sits forms a watershed between the Gangetic and Indus river systems. It cleaves the subcontinent in two, one system flowing into the Arabian Sea, and the other into the Bay of Bengal. Despite recent saturation coverage in the British media about the seventieth anniversary of Indian independence, I had managed to miss that it was in Simla, as it was then known, that the key independence negotiations took place. And, appropriately, given the way in which ... read more
the Himalayan Queen begins her ascent
well, some of them can be quite cute...
staggering engineering

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla September 8th 2017

We were collected at 630 am complete with a lovely little carry bag of breakfast and lunch items provided by the hotel. The early morning traffic was light and we arrived early at the station....the place was a heaving mass of humanity (basically trains run 24 hour a day) and if we hadnt have had our guide Ashad it would not have been easy to find where to go.While on the platform Ashad gave us all sorts of useful info like how much to pay the red jacketed guys who loaded the bags on etc. We even had the zip on one of our bags fixed...just needed a new handle on the zipper. The train arrived and we got onto our AC executive class car...the step up is built for tall people and plenty of the ... read more

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