After our "semi-deluxe" overnight bus ride from McLeod Ganj we arrived early in Shimla. We soon discovered that it lies on some of the steepest hills ever settled by humans and that the bus stop was at the bottom and the guesthouses were at the top. It is so steep that there is even a lift to get people up to higher levels in the town but unfortunately it wasn't in a useful spot for us. As there are very few vehicular roads through the town, the only way up was by foot power. As usual, we were greeted by enthusiastic touts and porters offering to carry our luggage up the steep hill. A tout pissed us off immeasurably by mentioning a well-priced guesthouse and then guiding us up a large hill only to find out the guesthouse was already full.

After too much walking around we finally settled into a nice spot where we could enjoy the magnificent mountains views. Shimla is settled near the Himalayas and was built up as a hill retreat by the British. It soon became the summer home of the Indian government due to its pleasant cool change from the plains around Delhi. The town has a very British feel, with an open layout and European architecture. There is even a big yellow church right in the middle of the town!

For sunset we took a pleasant but steep stroll through a forested area to get to the Monkey Temple at the highest point in Shimla. We armed ourselves with sticks (as the locals do) to ward off errant monkeys, who are very cheeky here and will steal anything they can get their little simian hands on. Once at the top we found a great spot to view the town basking in the setting sun. Of course there were also hundreds of monkeys, going about their monkey businesses of grooming, shaking trees, and chasing, attacking, and threatening each other (and us).

We also strolled through the town's numerous bazaars. Marty was impressed by the number of good book stores and we tried some local street sweets.

After being in India for nearly three weeks, Shimla was a very contrasting town in an impressive way:
  • The streets were almost completely pedestrian - there were very few cars, motorbikes or rickshaws (and hence very few annoying rickshaw drivers)

  • The bizarre and inexplicable absense of bovines (and bovine leavings)

  • Rubbish bins! Who'da thunk it?

  • Signs showing that littering and even spitting is punishable by death (no, fines... sorry, we got carried away)

  • The coffee house that served good, cheap Indian beans

After two days relaxing in the cool mountain air, it was time to meet our flight out of India by taking another overnight bus for Delhi.

1 comment:

sumit4all said...

I am from Delhi and looking to go for a 5 day trip to Shimla / Kufri and back sometime in December 07 / January 08. I want to take this trip to getaway from a very busy and routine life here...
I am going alone, if there are some strangers who want to go, then we can go together and explore the place as well as new friends..
If you like the idea interesting, contact me back at