The climb up to Shimla lets us experience a different kind of foothills. Here the Himalayas do not start with a sheer drop of 1’000 meters or more. The land is covered with many rows of slowly rising ridges that are steeply cut by rivers. At first the road winds through the valleys to a suitable spot to find its way to the crest and the villages sitting there. Once on top, the road meanders along the ridge and offers many interesting views over this cut up landscape.
After many days on the road and sightseeing, we scheduled relaxing for the first day at the splendid Oberoi Wildflower Hotel. The weather was cooperating beautifully by sending dark clouds, ice cold and howling winds, hail and a lot of rain our way. Massage, sifting through the picture loot, reading, housekeeping chores and great food made for a deservedly relaxing day.
The next day we enjoy the re-visit of Shimla in the company of author, historian and journalist Raaja Bhasin. He has published seven books on the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh and its capital Shimla, is a recognized authority on both and a great and entertaining guide. Since our first visit 20 years ago, Shimla has just simply exploded. Nowadays more than 250’000 people plus their cars, scooters and trucks crowd the ridges of that lovely spot. Like the tentacles of an octopus stacks of houses cling to the steep mountainsides and one wonders what will happen to all of them if the unstable earth decides to shake that part of the Himalayas.
Thankfully, the old center with Scandal Point, The Mall, the Library, Church of Christ and the famous Gaiety Theatre is not much changed. Raaja Bhasin fills all of this with the wealth of details and stories from the time of the Raj, when this humble town was the summer (7 month) capital of the world’s largest country at the time. The Viceregal Lodge reminds us of the past glory of the British Empire. Here the schemes of the Great Game were plotted and the independence of India forged.
The last morning greets us with a clear sky and breathtaking views of the mountains.Navigation: Shimla Railway | Kangra Valley