Written by koshkha on 28 Dec, 2012
Shimla is a wonderful place which is quite literally built clinging to the side of a mountain. Maps of the place are almost useless since any two dimensional representations of an almost vertical city can't hope to give you any kind of accurate idea of…Read More
Shimla is a wonderful place which is quite literally built clinging to the side of a mountain. Maps of the place are almost useless since any two dimensional representations of an almost vertical city can't hope to give you any kind of accurate idea of how far apart things are – or more importantly how steep the route between them might be.After a morning in Kufri, we asked our driver to drop us by the 'lift' on Cart Road at the eastern end of the Mall and then arranged that we'd see him again three and a half hours later. Most of the city centre sights are in areas where cars are not allowed so if you want to explore, you need to get dropped off by the road side (or in the car park) and then work your way up to where the action is. If you're feeling really energetic and you have a good sense of direction, you can find a route up the hillside climbing hundreds of steps. Or, if you've only just arrived in the mountains, it's much wiser to take the lazy route before you over-do things and take a nasty hit from the altitude. If that's the case, you need the lift that joins Cart Road to the Mall.It's worth thinking about access to the city centre if you are booking a hotel in the pedestrian area. There will always be lots of porters, small wiry men and women who can be seen dragging fridges and luggage up steep inclines but many visitors will feel really bad about expecting someone to put themselves through physical torture carrying their bags. If you want to have any chance of taking your own bags, it's best to use the lift and then walk the less-steep roads at the top.Cart Road runs parallel to the Mall but 100 feet below it. That might not sound like a lot but please take my word for it, it's a tough climb at altitude.There's a small ticket booth where you can pay 8 rupees (about 10 pence) per person to use the two-part lift system for getting up the mountainside. The lifts themselves are very small and would hold no more than about 8 people at a time. Despite the small capacity, we've always been able to get in the next lift that appeared. The first lift takes you vertically up and then leaves you at the end of a walkway which joins the two lifts. Don't hang about looking at the view or the second lift might go without you and if the one following you is full there might not be room for everyone to fit in the next lift. The second lift takes you up to the Mall level where you need only to walk a short distance to reach the road. Turn left up the slope and the road will take you past all the shops and restaurants to the historic buildings, Scandal Point and the Ridge.The price is high enough to deter many of the locals from using it but so cheap that you'd be a fool not to use it at least once or twice. Of course it's tempting to take the lift up and then walk down but if you choose to do that, allow more time for finding your way down and pushing through the crowds. You'll have plenty of opportunity to show how fit and healthy you are just walking around Shimla but I recommend taking the easy route into town and using the lift. Close
Written by koshkha on 25 Jan, 2009
I wish I could remember what it was about Shimla that caught my imagination and made me include it in the itinerary I was designing for our first fully independent trip to India. We'd done several tours with so-called adventure travel companies and had been…Read More
I wish I could remember what it was about Shimla that caught my imagination and made me include it in the itinerary I was designing for our first fully independent trip to India. We'd done several tours with so-called adventure travel companies and had been adding more and more extra bits on the beginning and end of those tours as our confidence in finding our way around and our reluctance to be 'led' had grown. It's not as if Shimla is on the way to anywhere; going would inevitably mean a diversion from wherever else we planned to see but perhaps it was the magic of the name, perhaps my growing obsession with the history of the Indian Independence movement and the end of British rule, perhaps my selective memory that makes me forget that I don't REALLY like narrow gauge railways, or maybe it was just one of the options that fitted into an itinerary that had to include Delhi and Amritsar and a visit to our friend Dal's father's farm in the middle of the Punjab. Several thousand metres up in the Himalayan mountains, Shimla offered an abundance of something that was in very short supply, especially in the days before Indian Independence and before air conditioning. In short, by Indian standards Shimla is cold and cold carries a big premium in the months when a European with business to do, armies to command, or a country to run wants to get away from the stifling and oppressive heat of the rest of the country. Shimla was the bolt-hole of choice for the predominantly British ex-patriot community based in Delhi. When the temperatures started to rise, the government, administration, business and anyone who could afford a season in the 'hills' would flee the cities. Shimla became the official seat of the British-run government for over half the year and more than one fifth of humanity was ruled from this rather charming and amusing little hill town. Between the two world wars with a shortage of good men back home, Shimla was also the centre of a massive husband-hunting network in which young ladies were shipped out from Britain to find a good husband amongst the well-to-do men of the government and army - or if they were less picky, they might consider a businessman although those 'in trade' were less of a catch. There were parties galore and plenty of 'racy' behaviour before the season ended and the unsuccessful husband-hunters were shipped home as so-called 'returned empties'. Who could resist a place with such a history? Once Shimla was on our itinerary, I spent a lot of time figuring out the insane and illogical workings of the Indian railways' on-line booking site and understanding how to get there; overnight train from Delhi to Kalka and then the connecting narrow-gauge 'Toy Train' to Shimla. In total a journey time about 14 hours. By the time we arrived, our friends were getting ratty. The overnight train had been their first experience of Indian sleepers and they'd not slept well at all and the poor taxi drivers caught the full blast of their tiredness. 'How could they possibly want so much money (a few pounds, not much really) to take us to our hotel?' Dal queried. 'They must be ripping us off'. In general every British-born Asian assumes that every Indian wants to 'rip them off'. The taxi men were firm - insisting prices were fixed and thank goodness Dal was too tired to fight more. Had we tried to walk to our hotel we'd probably still be plodding along when it was time to leave two days later as it was about 7 miles from the station.Be aware therefore, that the station is not slap bang in the middle of town and you WILL be best to get a taxi unless you are very fit and already acclimatised to the altitude. Our hotel, the Woodville Palace, was in Chota Shimla - or 'Little Shimla' - the quieter suburb on the opposite side of town from the station.Shimla's a town for walking - in fact walking is a necessity because most of the centre of the town is closed to motorised traffic. You might suspect then that it would be good to have a map to help guide your perambulations but unfortunately we found that every map we saw was less than useless. Shimla is a three dimensional town, sprawling up the steep mountainside. A two dimensional map of such extremely three dimensional space gives you very little indication of just how far apart two points might actually be. The upper part of town contains The Mall, The Ridge and so-called Scandal Point. These three areas are the main zone for promenading tourists and honeymoon couples to look in the swanky shop windows, get something to eat, and do a good bit of 'seeing and being seen'. This is also the area to see most of the sometimes bizarre buildings that form the legacy of the British - buildings that bear a close resemblance to 1930s cricket pavilions and twee village shops. There's also the beautiful yellow Christ Church that once formed the religious hub of the town and now is locked up for much of the time, the cute little theatre and plenty of buildings that look to have been imported direct from suburban Surrey. The Mall and the Ridge form the upper zone of the town and are the core of most tourist activity. Flights of steep stairs lead down to lower levels of the town filled with bustling street markets. We visited just a day or two before the big festival of Diwali which is a major present-buying time so these lower streets were so full you could do little more than shuffle along and let the crowd carry you. The lowest zone of the town is the area around the road where vehicles are allowed. This is possibly not the place to hunt out a good hotel.If you are staying in the main part of the town, your taxi can take you no nearer than the closest road or drop you at one of the impressively engineered town elevators. For a few rupees, you can buy a ticket to take you up the almost shear mountainside to the nearest accessible point to your hotel. Porters abound as everything that gets into or out of the centre of town has to be carried. You might feel bad asking a spindly old man to carry your suitcase but ten minutes later, the same old boy could be carrying a fridge-freezer up the hill on his back. It's a very tough life to be a porter in a hill station.Tourist attractions are not well publicised and the tourist office can help you with some limited information but not on a scale of what you'd find in Europe or North America. Keep in mind that most of the visitors are there for honeymooning - I'm not sure they have too much sightseeing on their minds. Mostly you'll have to figure out for yourself what to see and do. The main attraction for most visitors seems to be 'wandering around and wearing warm clothes' but if you come from a cold place like we do, that's not got so much novelty. We visited the Jakhu temple on the highest point above the city, took a drive out to the massive old Viceregal Lodge, walked from there to a bizarre local museum that looked like a 1930's boy scout hut and then discovered we had absolutely no idea how to get back to the town and had to track down a local 'wedding palace' and ask them to call a taxi for us. If you are staying for a few days, there are spectacular mountain walks although only those very confident in their navigation skills should consider setting out without local help. Most of our time was spent, and I'm not ashamed to admit it, taking very long and leisurely meals, drinking lots of coffee and tea to warm us up, doing a spot of shopping and just soaking up the atmosphere.We spent two days and two nights in Shimla and felt that we'd pretty much done all there was to do in that time. If you are short on time, you could get round in a day or if you have longer, make sure you have access to transport to get out and enjoy the countryside around Shimla. People who know how it was in the past tell me that Shimla has 'gone to the dogs' and is too dirty, noisy and crowded but we still enjoyed our time there very much. Close
Written by phileasfogg on 28 May, 2008
Every colonial Indian town or city worth its salt has a Mall, and Shimla’s is perhaps the most famous. This long, interesting stretch of road snakes its way up past deodar and horse chestnut trees, with some fascinating buildings all along the way up to…Read More
Every colonial Indian town or city worth its salt has a Mall, and Shimla’s is perhaps the most famous. This long, interesting stretch of road snakes its way up past deodar and horse chestnut trees, with some fascinating buildings all along the way up to Observatory Hill. Many of these buildings, like the Legislative Assembly Building, the Railway Board Building and the Office of the Accountant General (better known as Gorton Castle) are owned by the government. Others, like the elegant Oberoi Cecil Hotel, are private. But they all have interesting histories and striking facades—and make for a great heritage walk.
Begin at the Oberoi Cecil at Chaura Maidan, then walk on up to the intersection of the Mall and the road to Annadale; from there, take the left fork, which leads upward beside the Vidhan Sabha (the Legislative Assembly) to the Mall. Walk up the Mall, right till the end for a glimpse of some of Shimla’s loveliest old buildings. The main buildings you’ll see along this route, in chronological order, are:
The Oberoi Cecil: The Oberoi Cecil Hotel began life as a colonial bungalow called Tendrils, where Rudyard Kipling stayed on his first visit to Shimla in 1883. Tendrils was subsequently (in 1902) taken over by a hotelier, added to and renovated. It is today part of the Oberoi Group of Hotels, and was renovated in the last decade. The main building has lovely turret-like `towers’ with sloping green roofs and white walls with green painted wrought iron grilles. The annex next door is a green-roofed red brick building picked out in wooden beams, with picturesque chimneys along the top.
Gorton Castle: One of the loveliest buildings on the Mall, Gorton Castle stands tall at the end of a short but steep lane flanked by deodars. Gorton Castle was built mainly during the 1800’s, and was named in 1840 for its owner Gorton, an officer of the Indian Civil Service (ICS). A subsequent owner, James Walker, toyed with the idea of converting Gorton Castle into a hospital, but wasn’t permitted to do so across the entire building. The Indian government eventually acquired the building in 1900 for the sum of Rs 1,20,000. Over the next four years, at a cost of Rs 11,00,000 (a huge sum in those days), Gorton Castle was converted into the Imperial Civil Secretariat. Today, it houses the office of the Accountant General and (post restoration in 2001-3) is a stunning building, in grey-brown stone, with a red roof. Closer up, you can see gables, carved stone screens, floral medallions and arches: a pleasing combination of Gothic and Rajasthani-Mughal architecture.
The Railway Board Building: Although the Railway Board does occupy part of this huge building, there are plenty of other important government offices and departments here, including the Income Tax office, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and the Passport Office. With red `towers’ at each corner, the Railway Board Building was built in 1896-7 by a Bombay firm called Richardson and Cruddas. The government bought over the building and having demolished it, constructed the present structure in the early 1900’s. The most unusual feature of the building is that its façade has a lot of decorative and structural elements in cast iron and steel.
The BSNL Building: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in Shimla is appropriately housed in a building that was once a telegraph office and later the home of one of the world’s first automatic telephone exchanges. The BSNL building is a striking red one, the windows picked out in deep green and the lower half of the façade covered in grey stone. Walking up the Mall from the Railway Board Building, you’ll see the road slope up to the BSNL building on the left and a curious domed structure, the beginning of a series of shops, on the right.
The site where the BSNL building stands was originally occupied by a house called Conny Cot; by 1886, Conny Cot had made way for the telegraph office, which was demolished in 1922 to make the present building. Incidentally, the construction of this building drew plenty of flak; people felt its expenses were unwarranted given the post-war poverty in India. The building, however, is an interesting one, with foundations specially wired to help protect against seismic shocks. The corner stone on the west of the building has a Latin inscription that reads: Molem aedificii multi construxerunt : rationem exegit I. Begg. ("Many men created the work of this stone building: the work was directed by J. Begg.)". Do note the excellent ashlar stone work along the lower half of the building; it’s a fine example of a building style in which each stone is specially cut and shaped to occupy a particular position in the design.
The Municipal Corporation Building, Gaiety Theatre and the Band Stand: I’m discussing these three buildings all in one go, because they stand cheek by jowl, and are almost contiguous. Coming from the BSNL building, the first of these three buildings you’ll see is the Municipal Corporation Building. In dark grey stone, this was built exactly a century ago, in 1908. It’s a fine building, in very good condition, but the side you’ll see here is actually the back of the building. To see the front, descend the flight of steps between the Municipal Corporation Building and the next.
The Gaiety Theatre used to be the heart of Shimla’s night life in the good old days, with patrons including stalwarts like Rudyard Kipling, Robert Baden-Powell (of boy scouts fame) and the stormy Indian artist Amrita Shergil. The theatre still hosts plays, but is right now being renovated and is off limits for visitors. The sloping slate-tiled roof is worth looking up at, though—it’s a typical feature of Himachal architecture.
Next to the Gaiety Theatre, and with a similar slate-tiled roof (this one’s conical) is what used to be called the Band Stand. The Band Stand was gifted to the people of Shimla by a Kanwar Jivan Das of Jabalpur in 1907. Since the promenade in front was a popular venue for parades and other celebrations—especially for occasions like the King’s birthday—the Band Stand was very appropriately situated. It’s today divided into two restaurants, Ashiana and Goofa, both run by Himachal Tourism.
The State Library Building: Although it tends to get a bit overshadowed by the dazzling creamy magnificence of its neighbour, the Christ Church, this is a delightful little building too. The State Library stands on the left of the church, a red-roofed stone building, its upper storey in white with dark wooden beams. According to the plaque outside, this is a neo-Tudor style, "with sections of the structural woodwork left decoratively exposed." Reminds me of all the pictures I’ve seen of Swiss chalets. The State Library building dates back to 1860 and has been, along the years, home to the Simla Volunteer Corps, the Health Department, the station and the Municipal Library.
The Christ Church: Next to the State Library is the Christ Church, consecrated in 1857 and the first proper church in Shimla. The church is best known for its exquisite stained glass windows, both above the high altar and all along the right of the church. Do also walk up to the chapel on the right, to see the lovely old floor tiles here. The first two pews still have polished brass plates designating these as the family pews of the Viceroy and the Commander in Chief respectively.
Written by sbmalik on 24 Nov, 2006
Shimla is one of the most frequented hill station of the north India. About 1.8 million tourists visit Shimla every year. The popular mode of travel to Shimla from Delhi, Chandigarh and Kalka is by road. However, the best way to reach Shimla is to…Read More
Shimla is one of the most frequented hill station of the north India. About 1.8 million tourists visit Shimla every year. The popular mode of travel to Shimla from Delhi, Chandigarh and Kalka is by road. However, the best way to reach Shimla is to travel by Toy Train from Kalka to Shimla. The charming journey by narrow gauge train from Kalka provides a lingering memory that cannot be achieved by the fast road travel, especially for people with time. The distance by road is just 10km less than by the train.
The scenery along the whole route is of most magnificent character. Flanked by towering hills, the line, like twin threads of silver, clings perilously to the sides of steep cliffs, passing stations enroute, through tunnels or ventures boldly over graceful bridges. The road from Kalka to Shimla goes some of the time adjacent to the railway line and worth a view of towns along the road with neat houses. The best train in this line is Shivalik Deluxe Express which starts in the early morning from Kalka at 5:30h. The coaches are equipped with reversible cushioned chairs, wall-to-wall carpeting and wide glass windows. Meals are included in the train fare. There is only one stoppage at Barog, basically for loading of fresh hot meals, tea, coffee.
The train starts climbing the hills within five minutes of starting the journey from Kalka. With a speed of not more than 25Km/hour the train will take you to Shimla in 4 hours 45 minutes. The return journey is at 5:40pm and arrives at Kalka in time to take the train to Delhi. During our return trip on a full moon day in November, the sky was lit up by the moon gently rising above the Shimla town as the train reached Taradevi and for the next half an hour we were glued to the window looking at the beautiful sight.
The longest tunnel at Barog is 1143.61-metre-long, which passes through fissured sandstone and is traversed in 3 minutes by the toy trains. From this tunnel onwards, the train runs through scenic Solan and Salogra to Kandaghat, which marks the beginning of the final climb. The toy train twists its way gradually through the hills up to the alpine, approaching the Himalayas. Through the way some of the awesome views of the landscape can be cherished at Kushalya River, Koti, Barog, Kanoh, Jabli. Chugging through dense oak forests, the train reaches Taradevi. The temple set on the top of a peak here is truly a legendary temple. The train then winds its way under Prospect Hill to Jutogh, finally arriving via Summer Hill at Shimla.
The journey between Kalka and Shimla is said to be a fairytale coming alive. Whole journey looks like a well versed poem. An experience of lifetime, the journey promises heavenly experiences. The Guinness Book of 'Rail Facts and Feats' records Kalka-Shimla Railways as 'the greatest narrow gauge railway engineering feat in India."
Written by koshkha on 21 Jan, 2009
In the days when the British ruled India there were many problems for an expatriated Brit to contend with but one of the most serious was the heat. The average chap sent out to make his fortune or defend his nation's economic and political interests…Read More
In the days when the British ruled India there were many problems for an expatriated Brit to contend with but one of the most serious was the heat. The average chap sent out to make his fortune or defend his nation's economic and political interests wasn't bred to deal with saturation humidity and thermometer-bursting temperatures. To cope with these extremes, each summer the government, civil service and everyone with the wherewithal to do so would flee from Calcutta and Delhi and literally 'head for the hills'. In 1864 the city became the official Summer Capital of the British and took on the mantle of the 'Queen of the Hill Stations'.Located up at around 7000 feet in altitude, Shimla offered cool temperatures even in the midst of the summer. It was also a pretty good place to send the ladies (imagine 50 degrees C in corsets) and soon acquired a reputation for being a bit racy. Every season ships full of well-bred husband-hunting ladies would be sent over to find their men amongst the army officers, civil servants and businessmen of Shimla. But for now, let's look at the problem of how you can actually get there and that's where the Kalka Shimla Railway comes in.The KSR is what's known as a 'Toy Train' - a narrow gauge railway designed to climb mountains. Work started on the line in 1898 and it opened for business in November 1903. Today, over 100 years later, it's still the traveller's best option for getting to Shimla, going much closer to the city and costing a lot less than flying. And of course, it's also a heck of an experience. There are several toy trains including the Himalayan Queen and the Shivalik Express that roll up and down the mountain along the Kalka Shimla route. They are scheduled to meet the trains from Delhi to Kalka and this is how we reached the KSR. We picked up the overnight mail train in Delhi. Arriving at Kalka at around 5 am, we found the station to be a blessed relief after the grime and grimness of Old Delhi Station. Leaving the 'big' train it was easy to find the toy trains at the end of the platform we'd arrived on. We found our carriage and settled in with about half an hour to wait.The carriages are small with just three seats across and only about eighteen seats in total. Our carriage had a toilet and a carriage attendant to feed and look after us. He had a small area with a water boiler for making tea and enough space to store a few cardboard boxes of various goodies. The seats were upholstered in an itchy-scratchy fabric not seen outside India since the 1950s. We had booked the early morning train, thinking it would give us the best views. In November, the afternoon trains are likely to arrive after dusk so travellers could well miss the best views. As it was, I missed a lot by reverting to my normal behaviour of spending most of the journey asleep.Our carriage had the four of us, a handful of other tourists and a couple of Indian families, each with plenty of small children. We were the last to get in and most of the luggage storage space had already gone. Our friends travel with suitcases only slightly smaller than an Indian village house so we needed to shuffle bags around to make sure there was space for everything and the poor carriage attendant ended up with their giant suitcases in his zone. We set off in the dark and were soon served with a cup of tea and a small packet of biscuits. Hubby and I were sitting in a set of two individual seats facing each other and had a small lift-up table. Our friends were nearby and the attendant brought them a collapsible table which excelled at doing just that - i.e. collapsing. The attendant also handed out bottled water which he placed in the overhead luggage racks.After about an hour the skies started to lighten and we prepared for a sunrise but of course, in the mountains things don't always go to plan. Rather than a proper sunrise, you just find that after a while it's light but the sun is off somewhere behind one of the mountains so you don't really see anything. The scenery is undeniably spectacular with sheer cliffs covered in deep green foliage and occasional views of tiny villages or towns hanging precariously on the sides of the mountain.The children had started the journey as quiet, subdued little darlings but as time passed and the sun came up they morphed into irritating little demons who couldn't sit still. The space between the facing seats had never been designed for 21st century leg length or deportment but it was impossible to leave your legs in the aisle without the kids running over them. What is it that's so fascinating about a train toilet that every child needs to go and inspect it roughly every 25 minutes?About half way through the journey we stopped at a station to get out and stretch our legs. The station was cute in a mock-Tudor sort of way and was the loading point for the attendants to collect our breakfasts. We all got off and wandered around for a few minutes, taking photos of the train and the views. Back on the train and breakfast was served along with another cup of tea. Breakfast is included in the fare, which is a good thing since there's no way you'd pay for it but at that time of the morning, it's a good thing to get a bit of food. We got a sort of omelette sandwich. As you get closer to Shimla the views become increasingly spectacular but the novelty of the train starts to fade and you can't help just wanting it all to be over. Compared with other toy trains I've taken, the journey is the least nauseating and uncomfortable but it's still a bit of an ordeal. The train mostly travels in the same direction - rather than zigging and zagging like some. It also doesn't have any really steep sections where you feel as if you are in a sort of funicular. It just gently and slowly shuffles up the mountains. If you can get seats on the right hand side of the carriage you will get better views - ditto if you can go in a forward facing direction. However, you won't get any choice at all - the train booking system allocates you a seat so relax and just go with what you get.We booked our seats on-line through the IRCTC booking site and had everything fixed up about 6 weeks before we travelled because we were arriving just before Diwali. However, at most times, the line from Kalka to Shimla is quite busy so don't leave your booking too late. Our first class seats cost £4 or £5 each and included refreshments. Close
Written by dishatis on 13 Oct, 2009
"If you are fond of walking, Shimla will unfold parts that remain hidden to vehicles."Blessed with some of the most spectacular and beautiful landscapes anywhere, Himachal is a travelers paradise -lofty snow peaks, deep gorges, lush green valleys, fast flowing rivers, enchanting mountain lakes,…Read More
"If you are fond of walking, Shimla will unfold parts that remain hidden to vehicles."Blessed with some of the most spectacular and beautiful landscapes anywhere, Himachal is a travelers paradise -lofty snow peaks, deep gorges, lush green valleys, fast flowing rivers, enchanting mountain lakes, flower bedecked meadows, beautiful temples and monasteries steeped in time. Be it relaxing, sightseeing, trekking, mountaineering, fishing, para-gliding, skiing, ice skating or golf. You name it and its there. Himachal is especially famous for snow. The literal meaning of Himachal Pradesh is Region of snowy mountains. Thus it is a land of snow-clad mountains and rivers. It’s also a land of gods, goddesses and saints. There are numerous Hindu and Buddhist shrines and monasteries. Thus it is also known as Deva Bhumi (the land of the gods). Knowing all this I was very excited to go there.I went there last year in the month of September with my family. It was a lifetime experience. The city which we saw in Himachal was the city of Shimla (capital of the mountain state of Himachal). It was established by the british to escape from the scorching heat of the plains, and thus in this way the little village of Shymala (a retreat for British officers) soon grew to become the glamorous capital of Himachal. Within and around Shimla, the public and private sector offer an enormous range of accommodation that range from modern to heritage hotels. We had a booking in one of these which was arranged by my tour operator (http://www.indiantraveldestinations.com/). It was a lovely hotel. We reached there at 11.00 in the morning. Took rest for some time and then headed for our first destination. It was the Mall -hub of Shimla’s social life. We walked down the Mall, the main promenade that runs along the top of the ridge. It is a busy shopping area with old colonial buildings, souvenir shops and restaurants which resembles an English Home County’s marketplace. The Gaiety Theatre, which is a reproduction of an old British theatre, is a center of cultural activities. Lakkar Bazaar adjacent to the Ridge is popular for its wood crafts and souvenirs. At the top end of the Mall is Scandal Point, a large open square with a view of the town. Then we also saw the elegant Christ Church with its fine stained glass windows. It was a lovely sight. After this we went to see the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS), is India's premier academy for higher research. It was built in 1988 and is a spectacular english renaissance-inspired grey-stone structure with superb Burma teak woodwork on the interiors. It is surrounded by magnificent grounds and also has a small museum, known as the Himachal State Museum. It has collections of Pahari miniatures, stone sculpture, local handicrafts, textiles and embroidery. It is also famous for ancient historical sculptors and paintings of Himachal Pradesh. Then we saw the famous Jakhoo Hill which is Shimla’s highest point and offers a panoramic view of the town’s hills and distant mountain ranges. There are spectacular views at sunrise and sunset especially during the monsoons. It was mind-blowing. The peak also has a temple dedicated to "Lord Hanuman" known as the Sankat Mochan Mandir. Our tour operator told us the famous legend about the temple. Legend has it that he stopped here while searching for the sanjivini plant – the herb required to cure Laxman who lay mortally wounded on a battlefield in Lanka in an episode from the epic Ramayana. A variation of the legend says that his sandal fell here. Thanks to our agent who took us to this famous place. Last but not the least was the visit to the Daranghati Sanctuary , located in the upper area of the Shimla district and has an undisturbed forest area with plenty of wildlife. There is a network of bridle paths in the sanctuary. The area is ideal for those who love to trek. It was the end of our Shimla tour. Like always I want to thank the team of http://www.indiantraveldestinations.com/ without whose cooperation our tour had not been enjoyable. Our tour covered all the major destinations and delivered the best through meticulous planning. Thanks a lot for arranging an excellent trip for us. Close