A stroll in Simla



Somehow hill stations have always held a charm for me. I have always felt it would be so wonderful working or studying at a hill station. The air, the atmosphere, and the views – I find all of them quite elevating literally and figuratively. In the olden times, the popular destinations were Ooty and Kodaikanal for the South Indians and Simla and Manali for the North Indians. In the recent times however these places are considered very commercial and touristy. So among the more affluent circles, read IT crowd, these locations have become down market. They seek more exotic locations. But the irony is people want the places to be not commercial and yet have all the facilities. Either you can have pristine untouched places where you need to backpack to and use the existing facilities. Or go to the more commercial places where you have proper resorts with designer rooms, good food and internet connection. One can’t have the best of both worlds unless you are a cricket player, film star or a politician.


Anyways in spite of the run of the mill place reputation, having never been to Simla, I thought we might as well give it a try. At the outset I must say I actually liked the place. Maybe it was the season we visited. There were hardly any crowds, the place was clean and we had a good time overall. The general hill air, the colonial style buildings and the novelty of a city with multiple levels add quite some charm to the place. I know some people like to have a list of places to visit while on a vacation and with a missionary vigor cover all the places, religiously ticking off the places from the list. But I prefer just landing up at a new place and loitering around aimlessly. The pictures of all the famous places are anyways available on the internet. One can browse them in the comfort of one’s home itself. It is the general atmosphere of a place that one cannot take in over the internet.

We did do some of the regular sightseeing as well. Just that in terms of priorities, it is more fun just loitering around than have a strict schedule and trying to cover a host of places. The things we did were the local bus tour, the climb to the Hanuman temple and a day’s stay at the Oberoi’s Wild Flower Hall. The train trip from Kalka to Simla was also supposedly an attraction. The numerous tunnels on the way were a novelty and some of the views were good. There were some college kids on the train having good fun and there were some couples struggling with small kids. I looked longingly at the former as the past that I had left behind and with apprehension at the later as the fate that awaited me in the near future.

The bus ride turned out to be good value for money. For Rs.250, the bus was quite comfortable and they covered quite a number of places. Our only grouse was they did not stop long enough at Kufri. The bus just stopped for an hour in which we were supposed to have our lunch as well. The Kufri zoo was just amazing. While they did not have too many specimens, the ones they had were really exotic. Black bear, Brown bear, Tibetan wolf, Barking Deer, Snow Leopard were some of the attractions. They also had a nice set of Pheasants including the Western Tragopan, the state bird of Himachal Pradesh. The ambience at the zoo was quite nice and the zoo staff was quite friendly. With some time spent posing for a photograph as a Yak rider as well, lunch turned out to be the casualty.

Then we were taken to the apple orchards where we were shown some dried up trees without even leaves. They were supposedly the apple trees. One of the tourists asked where were the apples and the guide promptly replied, “In the markets.” The tourist retorted, “We didn’t come all the way to Simla to see apples in markets. We could have seen apples in markets back home as well.” Apparently one can see apples on trees if one were to visit in the right season. But that right season would probably be the wrong season otherwise as the city would be filled with tourists throwing garbage all over the place. One can’t have the apple and eat it too, eh? To see how apple trees laden with apples look like, there is always Google Images.

23 comments:

chips from a life said...

hill stations do have their own charm,and kufri is best when there is ankle deep snow,and evrythng white.. :) aah now i want to visit kufri again..

The Fool said...

There was no Snow at Kufri when we visited. But we still liked that place quite a bit.

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

Longing and apprehension, huh? :) Nice one that. Simla has that twin - Chail, if I remember right - which may still be less crowded, though with your IT crowd thronging the so-called pristine places they can hardly remain pristine for long :)

chips from a life said...

you have to visit when it snows,you will love it

Rachna said...

Very sad about the apples. I felt similarly when I visited Ooty. With so much construction, the hills are losing their beauty. Ooty still has beautiful carrot, cabbage and potato fields but I am sure that commercialization is taking its toll. Haven't been to Shimla in a long time. I quite enjoyed Nainital that I visited a couple of years back. Hill stations do have something very soothing about them.

The Fool said...

I don't know if the apples would have been there if I had gone in some other season. Soon I would be writing a piece on Nainital too.

The Fool said...

Thanks, CS. Yeah - Chail was mentioned but they said that season there was nothing to see there and suggested us not to go there. Yeah - the very people who want more pristine environs are ruining it. Of course not everyone.

The Fool said...

Let me see if I get an opportunity.

Snuffles Jay said...

This post bought back memories frommy shimla-manali Industrial visit :)
and yes we also loitered around aimlessly coz we were stranded at the hotel due to snowfall :)
We absolutely loved it, we even managed to see 3 rainbows together :)
it was so much fun.
Meow!!

The Fool said...

Good to know.

Afshan said...

We have been to manali from Delhi. It was bful too and the visit to Rohtang Pass was challenging. True. Like u told the pristine spots wont have all facilities...ROhtang pass had one maggi stall and nothing else and we were stuck in traffic for 6hrs
ur post is reminding me that fateful yet amazing day !

Rohtang pass means pass for corpses . People used to die in past trying to cross it it seems. if u cross next will be Ladakh

Really If u want to experience the best of the nature U gotta take pain :)

debajyoti said...

everyone has something nice to say about Simla. quite a peaceful place. and i agree with you, it's always better to roam around aimlessly rather than following a strict schedule.

Arti said...

Ah! visiting a place in off season can really elevate the travel experience, isn't it? Simply walking around or taking one of the public transports are two of my favorite ways too to explore, they help us get a feel the town like no other. Am yet to visit shimla but would so love to visit it someday.

The Fool said...

Interesting experience Afshan. I still have not been to Manali.

The Fool said...

Those kind of places in off season is just where a writer wants to be. Lazing on one of the benches.

The Fool said...

Good to know you also appreciate my way of experiencing a city, Arti. I am sure when you visit Simla, the readers will get to read a much more richer post.

Nirvana said...

hehehe..... we all seem to be besotted by Shimla these days. I wrote about it too, after a wonderful vacation there. BTW.... you have to visit the place when there is snowfall - its awesome!! Here's my link

http://www.hospitalityshowtime.blogspot.in/2013/02/our-rendezvous-with-snowfall-shimla.html

DS said...

A good stroll through one of the most famous hill stations of India!
I hope to visit the place sometime!

The Fool said...

Thanks Nirvana. Checked out your post.

The Fool said...

Do visit, DS. Guess you remember we spoke when I was on this trip.

indu chhibber said...

Your post reminded me of my visit there.Like you ,i too love the hills, & yes it is no fun rushing around ticking places off the list.

DS said...

Yes, I remember, we did speak.

The Fool said...

Yes, Indu. Hill stations do hold a charm for almost everyone.

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