British India and evil monkeys!
15.04.2010 - 18.04.2010 28 °C
After a false start involving two wrongly set alarm clocks, a very late taxi, a mad dash to Delhi train station and a missed connecting train, we eventually arrived the the town of Shimla.
The state capital of the north Indian province of Himachel Pradesh and the gateway to the Himalayan foothills, Shimla became the official summer capital of the British Raj in 1864. Now a bustling town and a favourite Indian honeymoon spot, it paints a fascinating portrait of the history of British India: from the impressive gothic Viceroy Lodge, where the final negotiations for Indian independence famously took place in 1947 , to the Christian church which still holds a regular Sunday service.
But there is a menacing presence in Shimla - like big furry evil gremlins, Shimla's monkeys sit in wait for unsuspecting tourists. The thing is, they've got used to being fed, so they see a bag and get ready to pounce, especially in their domain of the Hindu Monkey Temple. The poor Indian lady ahead of us had the entire contents of her bag (camera and all) strewn from a tree. Greedy little blighters!
Monkeys aside, Shimla is a breath of fresh air after Delhi and well worth a visit for the history alone...I just wish I could say the same about the ‘deluxe’ overnight bus to Dharamsala.
Where we stayed:
Spars Lodge (approx 980 rupees/night) Up a steep hill and about a 20 mi walk from the centre of town but the views from the communal are are stunning. Shimla is a little more expensive than the other Himalayan towns. The Cecil Oberoi just up the road looked lovely! (If you have a spare £150/night)
Where to eat:
Sagar Ratna on the Mall - yummy veggie Indian/Chinese food
How to get there from Delhi:
Air con bus from Delhi or connecting train via Kalka. Book well ahead to secure a place on the toy train from Kalka – we only got waiting list tickets the week before - it’s supposed to be well worth it.