A Travellerspoint blog

Shimla

British India and evil monkeys!

sunny 28 °C

Shimla_Viceeroy_Lodge1.jpg

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. ‎

Shimla_church.jpg

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.‎

Shimla_Ambassador.jpg

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.‎

Posted by Jules79 03:04 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Delhi

hot, hot, hot...

sunny 42 °C

Delhi_Street.jpg

I read the guide books, watched the documentaries, yet nothing truly prepared me for Delhi in flesh. ‎It’s quite simply an assault on the senses, not to mention on your social conscience: the sweltering ‎heat, the acrid pollution, the squalor, the stench of raw sewage, the noise, the frenetic pace, the ‎chaos, the overcrowding and the sheer poverty. Of course, I knew to expect dire living conditions ‎but the reality of being in a country where nearly 40% of people live below the poverty line still shocks. ‎It’s a far cry from our sanitised, tarmacked western world and not for the faint hearted.‎

But then again, there’s the colour, the vibrance, the buzz, the beating pulse of the 18 million people ‎who call Delhi home. Sacred cows meander alongside graceful women in beautifully vivid saris. Auto ‎rickshaws battle their way through Delhi’s incessantly honking traffic, And my favourite thing of all, the ‎food.... I’ve decided to go veggie for the most part but I promise you this is no sacrifice, India is a ‎vegetarian’s dream: Okra, aloo, gobi, dhal, saag, palak, paneer, chickpeas, samosas, koftas, naan, roti, ‎chapati, puris, dosas, thali...the list is endless... all cooked a hundred different ways in a magical ‎combination of spices. I can’t wait to do a cookery course!‎

My favourite Delhi sound bite:‎

‎“Please lady, I just want to be your friend – not your sleep friend – just your good friend”‎

Where we stayed:‎
Wood Castle, Karol Bagh. Double rooms from £35 a night with breakfast and pick up. Simple, clean and ‎friendly staff. The posher hotels are in Connaught place and lots of backpackers stay in Paharganj ‎‎(but be warned, it’s pretty squalid). Delhi accommodation is expensive compared to the rest of India ‎

Where to eat:‎
Alpha Spice, Karol Bagh (about £5 per head with beer): Delicious north Indian cuisine with live music on ‎Wednesdays. Saravana Bavan, Connaught Place and Karol Bagh

Must do's:‎

Old Delhi, Connaught Square (currently a building site as they are renovating for the commonwealth ‎games in October 2010), a trip on the Delhi metro, a ride on an auto-rickshaw, countless shopping ‎bazaars

Get used to:
The heat, the smell, the dirt, being stared at, saying no ‎

Posted by Jules79 02:33 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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