By: Yoshita Bhaskar
I often allow myself to be allured by the hills, especially, during the summers. Running through my list of options, I finally decided to explore the Queen of the Mountains — Shimla.
I was perplexed as I didn’t know if it was a sensible option for a relaxing holiday. I really didn’t know what I was in for. I packed my backpack and booked myself on the Kalka Shatabdi after which I discovered the first exciting part of the journey — Toy Train.
Passing through lush green, misty mountains, Shimla has this old world charm. After a few bends up the road from Kalka, she sits pretty atop a hill. I was spellbound. I must admit, I wasn’t expecting it to be so spectacular. This aging queen still has her beauty intact.
The breathtaking snowcapped view of the Himalayas, pleasant weather, soft breeze and tall pines trees exudes regality, a reminisce of colonial times. In fact, this is the main thing that sets this town apart from other hill stations in India.
The mall road stretching from the humble The Madras Café to the classy Combermere Café, gives a glimpse of the past and present. As the rays of the sun lighten, glittering lights of shops makes the come to life. The place has so much to offer — gorge on dumplings, chill at Barista, indulge in hot coffee from the street-side stalls or shop for handicrafts and woolens.
There is no doubt that Shimla is the best-equipped Himalayan hill station. But I have to admit, its stark contrast to the cities we know, is rather unsettling at first. With one bend of the road you are transported from the hustle and bustle to serene mountains.
I feel the best way to discover the city is by walking. There is something enchanting in the quiet deodar and oak woods, the play of shade and light as you walk under the canopy of leaves, deep blue sky, salubrious air and wild flowers. Your accompaniment — old oak, horse chestnut and rhododendrons. Not to forget, the air of romance. Stop and sit under a shade or on the roadside corners and experience the pleasure of watching the mist rise and settle around. It’s enough to seduce us mortals.
Though I returned to my chaotic life, somewhere, the queen beckons me!