Stretching and winding along a ridge the 12 km sprawl of Shimla was created by the British as a place to escape the summer heat. Our guest house was about 4km out of the centre and had superb views from the balcony (from the bed really) back across the valley to the town itself.
Our room in the guest house backed onto a communal living room in which, unfortunately, our neighbours decided to have dinner at midnight and then we were awoken at 7am by an overly keen waiter wanting to serve us breakfast. I am sure the sight of me half awake and half dressed asking what he wanted has probably scarred him for life.
Shimla as a town was very busy and full of hustle and bustle. The accommodation was very expensive too so we decided to cut our time here short and try and see everything in the one day. We caught a taxi into the centre of town and started our explorations.
The Main Street in Shimla is called the Mall and is pedestrianised which in India was a fantastic change. The street ran along the ridge of Shimla and in between the buildings we were able to enjoy wonderful views down over the green valleys below. Even though there were loads of people it was actually quite relaxing and pleasant and we were able to enjoy a couple of hours walking up and down the ridge.
There were three or four hills around the town and they each seemed to have a temple on top. The most famous temple was Jakhu Temple or Monkey Temple as it was more commonly known and obviously we decided to hike up and have a look. I had read that on the way up to Monkey Temple the local monkeys were pretty fearless in their robberies of tourists. We were not to carry food or have loose clothing and our sunglasses had to be hidden away.
At the bottom of the path up there was a man renting out sticks so I decided to rent one. He was very professional. He had a bucket of sticks and I could hire one for 10 rupees but had to leave a 40 rupee deposit! Would you believe it I actually got a receipt! Next to the man with the sticks was a sign stating how long it should take you to hike up the mountain to the temple. There were various times listed and next to them how fit you were if you achieved said time. Most people would casually ignore such a sign, avoid glancing at a watch and carry on at a leisurely pace up the path.
Not for us though, I had hoped Sarah hadn’t seen it but alas no. We checked the time and set off up the path. We were both pretty exhausted by the time we got to the top but luckily we made it in the best time listed so we were both happy. At the top the monkeys circled around looking for their chance to pounce but they avoided us no doubt due to my rented monkey thrashing device. The Monkey temple was dominated by a huge 40ft high pink monkey figurine. However the surrounding trees meant that the views weren’t actually that spectacular but we enjoyed the cool breeze and rested a while before our descent.
Our plan had been to do some hiking around the surrounds of Shimla but it was all a bit too busy and expensive so we decided against it. The reason it’s so busy and expensive is that it is school holiday time in Delhi so everyone traipses up into the hills to escape the heat and enjoy some peace and quiet. It’s amusing as the constant honking of horns and chatter of people is still very prevalent here and neither of us thought it much of a reprieve noise wise. But certainly the cooling temperatures and the brisk breezes up in the mountains are, even for us, a most welcome change from the stifling heat further south.
It has been fun visiting Shimla but it wasn’t the relaxing place we were looking for to stop and spend some time reflecting on our Indian experiences…the search continues. T
The view of Shimla from our balcony was spectacular to say the least.
The top of the ridge in the middle of town.
The ladies carrying concrete with the backdrop of Shimla town.
The roads winded there way around the hills.
Ready for some monkey thrashing.
The gigantic Monkey at the top of Jakhu Temple.
Some shots of the streets of Shimla. It was really nice wandering around without the constant threat of being run over.
Glimpses of the valleys around Shimla. All in all a very beautiful area.