It wouldn’t be too farfetched to call Shimla the official summer holiday destination of India. Like the Taj Mahal, every Indian family has ‘done’ Shimla. For decades, this former summer capital of the British has been the favourite hill station of the country, especially the middle class Indian who couldn’t afford a Europe or a Maldives holiday (though now with cheap holiday packages popping up at every corner, even a pauper can go holidaying in Thailand, or Maldives).
So, Shimla is done. Been there, done that. We have walked up and down the mall road, hiked to the Jakhoo temple, seen the sunset from the Ridge, been to all the places to visit in Shimla. But your family insists on taking one more trip to the town, if only for old times’ sake. Don’t worry, here’s why you should say yes:
1. Nalderra, Kufri, and Chail are not the only scenic spots near Shimla. There are many more.
This is where the president of India holidays! Did you know Mashobra is one of the only two presidential retreats in India (the other one is in Secunderabad)?!! This was also where Lord Mountbatten and Lady Edwina spent some of their last days in India (Mr Nehru is said to have visited them here). The place abounds in pine, oak, and cedar trees, forms part of the Shimla Reserve Forest Sanctuary, and has a rich wildlife. Enjoy the snow-clad peaks, and go trekking on the many stunningly beautiful trekking trails here. Ooh and there is the much celebrated picnic spot, Carignano, that was actually a villa from the times of Queen Victoria. It belonged to an Italian photographer named Chevalier Federico Peliti. Surely, you wouldn’t miss this glamourous piece of history. The hills have their own stories.
- Hattu Peak – At around 65 km and 1.5 hours from Shimla, is the Hatu Peak that offers spectacular views of the Himalayan valley. It’s at a good height of 3400m, and the last stretch you’ll have to cover on foot. On reaching the top, you’d be welcomed by the Hatu temple, a leeeetle pond, and a stunning view of the world down below. To think of it, you almost cancelled that Shimla trip.
- Majathal Sanctuary – Did you know there’s a wildlife sanctuary in Solan? A lush green site where you can spot gorals, and numerous varieties of birds. Want a more real jungle experience? Stay in one of the jungle houses available there.
2. Golf Course at Naldherra—It is one of the most scenic golf courses in India, and you should visit it whether or not you are a golf enthusiast. Don’t worry about hitting the ball off the cliff. It is usually open from March to November.
3. Ice skating – You always go to Shimla in summers when there is no snow. Because that’s the sensible thing to do. It gets hot in your city, you head to the cooler region. It gets cold, you go south. Can we do it differently this time? Visit Shimla in winters, and have fun skating on ice.
4. Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex – You’ve passed the Gaiety theatre many times while walking down the Mall Road or on the ridge. But you never bothered to go inside. Who will sit inside a theatre and watch a play when you are on a hill station, right?
Bet you didn’t know the complex has an art gallery and a city museum, and conducted tours are organized to take you through a century of history and culture.
So, if your chachi or mausi or nani is getting all nostalgic about going to Shimla for that family holiday simply because you spent every summer vacation there as a child, you can actually agree to go on that big family trip again. While the aunties and uncles of your family reminisce about the golden days and sip tea sitting on the ridge, you can go explore the Shimla you didn’t see before.