When travelling, the journey to a place or through an area makes the experience more and not the destination. Our experiences to Shimla, Himachal Pradesh have emphasized this.
We started from Lucknow the city of Nawabs to Chandigarh by train. We met our friends there and our journey to Shimla(120 kms) started by road.
However travel is more adventurous and fun on the famous narrow gauge train opened in 1909 from Kulka to British Summer Capital Shimla. You can reach Kulka from Chandigarh by local buses.
The 'toy train' to Shimla must be one of the great train rides in the world and we missed it due to unavailability of time and tickets. It takes 5 hours to crawl through over 100 tunnels and many switch back bends to climb from the plains to Shimla station at over 2000m. For most of the time it is clinging to the hillside in a cutting with the woodland disappearing below it.
Journey by Car has its own fun as you can stop anywhere to pose, we saw hills all the way peppered with houses many high up and a regular scattering of villages. Source and destination point on hills are difficult to identify as its all round and round and round. All good thing comes with some pain and here the pain is vomit sensation which is very common on up hill travelling.
On the way we could see many tea stalls with chips, we also had ganne ka juice and many small restaurants. One can also see small bazaars one the way to Shimla from Kulka.
As we steadily climbed into the foothills of the Himalayas the monkeys appeared on the way. In Shimla they are everywhere side by side with the dogs and cats. Unusual for India, Shimla has a ban on cows in the city.
In Shimla we headed for our hotel which was pre booked. They had basic clean rooms although probably over priced and no parking(please check on parking if you are booking hotels in advance). After resting for an hour with tea and snacks we started for Mall road main shopping street of Shimla. But our bad luck that all the shops were closed by 5:30 to 6:00 pm and we reached late. One more interesting thing in Shimla is you'll get Pram everywhere for kids they call it Bacha Gadi which is great relief for parents and kids. We also took two Bacha Gadi for two kids with us. You can keep this for whole day and in morning they will collect it from your hotel.
On 2nd day morning we started for Jakhu Temple, it is said "Lord Hanuman stopped there to rest while he was searching for the Sanjivni Booti to revive Lakshman". A giant 108-feet-high idol of Hanuman has been placed here in 2010. The way to temple is a complete steep climb and is horrifying, which is very common in Shimla. On arrival at the temple signs advise visitors to secure all personal belongings and beware of the monkeys, which are everywhere.
Our next destination was Kufri, 16 km from Shimla at a height of 8,600 ft. The only convience to the top is Pony, experience of this ride to the top of Kufri is just awesome and thrilling! Maggi and Chola Kulcha are a must have at the top. But at the top no special view if you are a nature lover and no special adventure sports if you are visiting for those.
Near kufri we also visited Hip Hip Hurray Amusement Park and had a breathtaking experience, with adventure activities like flying fox, Burma bridge crossing, valley crossing, bungee jumping and commando net climbing. It also has attractions for kids that my daughter enjoyed completely.
On way back from Kufri we stopped for Green Valley true to its name, lush green valley with dense forest, Relaxing & refreshing. Its nice place to take photo. We spent 15 mins and had some road side snacks as there was no traffic.
The last thing that we did for the day was visit to Mall Road as shopping is must at any place and this time we did it although with very law energy as we only were waiting for our bed after such a long day.
On 3rd day morning we started for Delhi with great memories of Shimla in our heart. Its a great city to visit for a relaxing vacation as it is still full of nature in its original form.