For years Shimla has been in my bucket list but couldn’t visit,finally last year in April when I was in Chandigarh got some spare (between returning to Delhi) days and instantly made a plan for 4 days visit.
Though road travel is faster mode to travel to Shimla but IMHO toy train is the best mode for tourist,at least for a first timer.I checked about availability online and to my surprise it was available for the day I was searching,just of 3 day later,without wasting time I booked the train.As every good thing comes with a price it was also,but not economically but timing and hassle wise.The only train in which seats were available was Shivalik Ex which departs from Kalka at 5:45 am means I have to start from Chandigarh around 3-3:30 in morning if using public transport.But for toy train journey I was ready for these type of hassle.
The Kalka Shimla Toy train was started by Britishers more than century ago to reach Shimla which was also the summer capital of India.It is one of the most scenic train route in India.Its also a UNESCO World Heritage now,so with these reasons its was impossible for me to skip it.Either you are train enthusiast,nature lover or fan of colonial heritage this train journey is must for you.
I reached Chandigarh ISBT,Sec 43 around 3 am and enquire about bus ,there were 3 options available,two ordinary and one HRTC volvo which just arrived from Delhi,enquire from Conductor of Volvo and seat was available and fare was just rs75 so took a seat,volvo was comfortable with every reclined chair and foot rest but as it was hardly an hour long journey so doesn’t matter much.When giving the ticket the conductor ask about my destination at Kalka,in normal Volvo bus uses bypass in Kalka which is little away from Kalka railway station but as I was going to railway station and it was early morning so took old road via railway station otherwise it may be difficult to get any mode of transportation from bypass,thats why I love HRTC.Around 3:15 am the bus started its journey too.As it was early morning and hardly any traffic,we comfortably reach Kalka just before 4,the bus drop me at a point which was hardly 8-9 min walk to railway station,as I was travelling light with just a backpack,was not a big deal.The road to railway station goes parallel to railway line ,another side there were two or 3 hotels/guest house,till railway station didn’t find any human being,only dogs but thankfully they were calm,even the railway station from outside was having a deserted look,there were many car/van parked in parking but no human,after entering the building found some life,there were few passengers sleeping on floors,I also took a bench a took some rest,later railway staff and other people start appearing and when the Kalka mail arrives around 5 am ,it was as any other railway station,passengers with baggage,vendors,ticket checkers,taxi drivers,porters,within half an hour situation completely changed.After arriving of Kalka mail the coach of Shivalik Dx was also opened so that passengers can board so I took my seat too,before that I bought some snacks and water as there was only one stop of the train before Shimla ,Barog.
The train started on time,Shivalik express only have (Non AC) First Class coaches which are different from normal FC coach which are used on rest of Indian railways trains,it has sitting configuration of 2X1 ,quite comfortable,just after train departed from Kalka a small complimentary breakfast was served,it was 2 slice to bread,butter, omelette (Veg should be having different option) and tea.Scenic route started just after Kalka,many valleys and tunnels,also the more we were going near to Shimla,temperature started to decrease.The journey itself was a pleasure after coming from planes which was having daily maximum temperature above 40C.
After 2 hr reached Barog,it was perfect calm & quite and picture perfect railway station,situated just after Barog tunnel and named after Colonel Barog who was engineer of the Kalka Shimla railway .Situated at a beautiful location surrounded by hills and valley with pine trees,can be considered as one of the most beautiful railway station in India,there is a small food stall at platform which is famous for its vegetable cutlets,not to be missed,tea water and packed juice also available.There are few cottages also at railway station which a tourist can book for stay,this station is so beautiful that many tourist break their journey here and spend a night or 2 here at the cabin to enjoy the beauty of Barog.
After brief stop of 10 min at Barog,train started for journey to the final destination Shimla. After Barog the scenery started drastically ,more views of valleys with pine trees,long tunnel and big bridges,there were many small and beautiful picture perfect stations on the way, finally reached Shimla around 11 am,nearly on time.The experience of Toy train was perfecta,absolute engineering marvel,total value for money.
Shimla is a small railway station situated very much inside the city but as a hilly area walking with baggage may not be a easy task.When having baggage then taking taxi (no Ola/Uber available) may be the best option,will drop you at hotel or nearest point to the hotel (as Mall road and few other roads are no entry for vehicles).The platforms are at lower level from the road so have to negotiate the incline,porters are there also if needed.When you walk towards exit the taxi drivers will be there offering the service,do negotiate the price before journey.
I was alone and with light baggage so decided to walk.google was showing around 40 min to my hotel.I had booked hotel Silverine,which was situated at end of mall road near Himanchal High court. When I come out of the railway station on the road saw bus plying,asked from locals and come to know that those are going to Old Bus stand and its on the way of my hotel,as suggested I took a bus and that dropped me at Old bus stand in 5-7 min,for those who are on shoe string budget can walk to Mall road (BSNL End) from there but its not an easy walk.Those staying at other end of mall road can walk to the Lift,take lift to Mall road.Then I took another bus which drop me near High court,then another 8-10 min walk and I was at Hotel,in less than rs 20 I was at my hotel,not a bad deal,also the buses were not so crowded. Checked in the hotel,had lunch at room then relax little bit.
Hotel Silverine was a budget one with good size of room and clean bathroom,location was ok ,5 min walk from Mall road but in a calm area ,the hotel was situated around 50 ft down from main road so have to negotiate a sharp gradient when going out ,so not an idea for senior citizens if wants to visit mall and surrounding area walking,otherwise if having vehicle or fit to walk then ok.
Left the hotel around 4 pm to start exploring,1st destination was Jakhu temple on Jakhu peak. Jakhu temple is an ancient Hanuman temple, it also have the largest statue of Hanuman Ji which can also be seen from Mall road and other parts of Shimla. Car can reach up to temple and also there is a trekking route which starts from Ridge but as it was already past 4 so decided to use cable car.Google shows the starting point of ropeway was 20 min walk to just took that route.Up to Heritage museum the road was ascending after that next 10 min flat and descending walk.The route was calm,hardly any public or vehicle,going through not touristy/commercial areas.If i remember correctly ticket price was rs 500 for 2 way,expensive for 5-6 min ride (specially when comparing with mussoorie rope way).As it was off season so there were no tourist that time,I was the only one,have to wait around 10 min then when no other passenger arrived they send me alone.The ropeway was maintained,trolley was cleaned,better experience than the one at Mussoorie.I was just 5 min ride,going above the pine forest.
The temple is situated on hill ,there is a small Hanuman temple,a park,a big Hanuman statue,a cafeteria and views.1st had darshan at temple,then spend some time sitting on a bench and experiencing the calm.There are lots of monkeys so have to be alert,don’t have any food items in open otherwise they would snatch ,also of mobile and specs .Good way to start exploring Shimla,now it was started to getting dark so started to descent and then to next place,the Ridge on mall road.
The Ridge was just 10 min walk from ropeway.the Ridge is a large open area at one end of Mall road,its also the cultural hub of Shimla.The prominent landmark situated there are a big Indian flag and Christ Church which was build in 1844.The church was closed for maintenance.Ridge is a good place to spend evening with enjoying some snacks or icecream from nearby vendors.a good photo spot too.
Now it was time to explore Mall road,1st to Beekays.Beekays is one of the the oldest bakery shop in Shimla situated near scandal point,famous for their pastries,Burgers and other bakery delicacies.Its a small shop with just 6-8 chairs to sit,I ordered vegetable roll,it was good freshly prepared.
HPTDC operates sight seeing tour bus for surrounding area,I had read some good about their tours and as I was solo it was economical option so visited there booking office near scandal point which was very close to Beekays.The staff at the office told that as there are very few tourist and very few enquiry/booking so no bus for tomorrow for any route,may visit/call tomorrow evening for next day enquiry,they would operate the bus for any route if there is at least 8 passenger.
Next to Dimsum,famous for their Momo and other Tibetan cuisine,also close to HPTDC office, again a small but famous place,just ordered a chicken Dimsum,service was fast,momo was good fresh and juicy with a spicy chutney,reasonably priced,not heavy on pocket.
After strolling on mall road and checking which other places can be visited in next days returned back to Ridge.There are 3-4 peanuts vendor ,Distinguishable by their green coloured tin boxes with paper cones protruding from the bins ,they are easy to find,you will find then mostly near to Church,it is one of the original street snack of Shimla,earlier they were many in all over shimla but now only 3 or 4 remains in business,one of them was also seen in movie 3 idiots.There box contains roasted peanuts,Chana (Chickpeas) and some chips,i took peanuts which was rs20 per cone,took a seat nearby and enjoy munching the peanuts
Next spot was Bihari Lal Sharma chaat stall at Taka bench.They are said to be first vendor to sell fruit chaat in Shimla in 1948.Taka bench is the area just behind the Hawa Ghar (Observation deck) on Jakhu road.There are multiple chaat stall in that area but no problem finding the right one,it was the 1st after Gandhi ji statue.Its a small cart with limited items.I took fruit chaat ,it was delicious ,cut fruits were seasoned with black salt,cumin powder and their self made chaat masala,worh and must visit.
It was around 9 pm so called it a day,time to return back to hotel,it was a straight walk via mall road.On the way my feet stopped,why?Because I found Emabssy .Embassy is oldest icecream parlour in Shimla,it also has a restaurant but now I was craving for some cool desert.Asked the vendor which is most chocolatey sundae he have,he suggested Choco Brownie sundae so ordered that,was really good with lots of chocolate. brownie topped with chocolate ice cream scoops,chocolate sauce,choco chips and choco stick,yummy.It was of rs 130.It was the best thing I ate today.Good way to end a day,now without any stop to hotel.This was end of the day,an introduction to Shimla.
Wake up at 8 with a sunny morning.Rooms was not having much views as it was obstructed by trees .Open the windows for fresh morning air but within 5 minute have to close because an unwanted visitors arrived,it was a monkey having targeted my biscuit placed on table,I remember at the time of checking the hotel staff warned me about monkeys and said to keep window close .
Now time to start the day,left the hotel around 9 ,1st to somewhere for breakfast,decided to visit Prem Chaat .Had no idea about location so set google map on walking mode and in the end it was a type of disaster.From mall road the Google took me via lower bazaar and then around 80-100 stairs to the shop.If anything is worth then no problem for me taking the stairs but when I reach the shop saw that the shop is situated exactly on mall road,just 10 stairs down mall road,I could have simply continue on mall road and reach comfortably.This gives me a lesson that on hills don’t believe google blindfolded,do double check from locals.
Prem Chaat started in 1935,another old institution.There menu is small (pic shared) but the most famous is Chhole Bhature,everything was priced rs 40.Ambience was very basic,for few hygine level can be an issue too but the Chhole Bhature was good.Size of Bhature was big and was soft from inside and crispy from outside,Chhole was less spicy and well cooked with spices.After Chhole Bhature a glass of tea and in total rs 50 breakfast done.
Breakfast done,time to start exploring,1st to get some vitamin D,walked to Ridge to enjoy the sunny morning,weather was pleasant,sat on the bench for a while and enjoyed doing nothing.There are vendors selling tea/coffee and snacks for those who are interested.There are lots of British heritage buildings in Shimla specially around Mall road,those who are interested can spends hours and days exploring them.
Today I had planned to walk to Annadale ground. Annadale ground is more than one and half century old beautiful ground surrounded by hills with Deodhar trees,one of the most beautiful spots in Shimla,it also have an Army heritage museum. Durand cup,the oldest football tournament in the world started from Annadale ground,later shifted to Delhi.Now adays it is under Indian Army control,tourist are not allowed to enter the ground but can have a look from the adjacent heritage museum.
Started following google map from ridge,1st smooth walk up to BSNL office at mall road,then little ascent to Kali Bari temple,after that descent upto Loreto Convent after that stiff descent for next 1 and half km,now I was sure that returning was not an easy task,ascent would be a hard task.Took around 1 hr to reach the ground from Ridge,as no entry to the ground so direct to Heritage Museum.
Nestled amidst towering mountains, Deodhar trees, lush-greenery and huge lawns with Annandale at its backdrop, the Army Heritage Museum is one of the astonishing museums of its kind in India. It is a type of hidden gem in forests.Entry is free.When I was there very few tourist were there so explored it comfortably.Not a big museum,they have different section exhibiting different uniforms,guns and artillery,historical photographs,documents .Well managed museum and worth visit,the museum campus also have a cactus garden with different varieties of cactus,one can easily spend an hour here,I spend even more.They have some bench/chair installed at the campus and also a snack shop,one can enjoy some light snack enjoying the beauty of ground,as after walking a lot so I did the same,needed some rest and food.
Now it was time to return back to Mall road but was not in mood to walk ,ask from Jawans at heritage museum about public transport and come to know that can get bus from the market nearby,walked to market and ask from locals and they said that other than the bus there is also a share cab operated by HRTC which will drop at BSNL office at mall road and its going to arrive within minutes,as mall road was my destination so this was preferred option,share cab arrives fortunately got a seat in last row,in just 10 min was at mall road,if I remember correctly fare was rs 20,can also be used to reach Annadale from Mall road too in an economical way.Bus would have drop at Old Bus stand.
Now time to have some light snacks again,destination was Mehrus,situated at lower bazaar and famous for local sweets and snacks,after descending hundred stairs and searching through small and crowded lane of lower bazaar reached Mehrus but a surprise was waiting ,the shop was closed that day due to some death in their family.
Now again to Mall road,next place was Alfa restaurant .Alfa is another old world charm of Shimla,may be due to low tourist season never had problem getting a seat anywhere in Shimla,ambience was ok but need renovation now.I was in mood to have some light so just ordered a paneer pakoda and fresh lime soda. It was just ok nothing special.
It was around 3 so time to get to hotel and rest little bit.After 6 again walk to Mall road,1st visit to HPTDC office for enquiry about sight seeing tour and again due to unavailability of minimum number of passenger no tour tomorrow .Now to KaliBari for evening Aarti. Shimla Kalibari is the oldest Bengali temple in Shimla build in 1945,rituals are done as per traditional Bengali culture.It is situated little above Mall road near Grand hotel,Kept clean and well maintained.When I reached there aarti was started ,participated in aarti,took some snaps then back to mall road.Just outside the temple on road to mall road there are few street vendors selling kolkata style PaniPuri (Fuchka) which shouldn’t be missed,after the fuchka next to mall road.
Now time to have dinner,walked to Mall road again,destination was India Coffee House . The oldest cafe in Shimla, the Indian Coffee House hasn’t changed a bit in the four plus decades that it has been part of Shimla’s cafe scene. Always crowded, despite the many interesting options in the Mall Road area, Indian Coffee House retains its old world charm and a visit is sure to bring in nostalgia of times past.Earlier till 80s there were India coffee house at most of the major cities in India,it’s a chain operated by a cooperative under coffee board,due to mismanagement most of them closed ,now only a handful in few North Indian cities and in Kerala.This place has its own fan following,not for those who are searching for cool,comfy ambience.I am also a fan of India coffee house so visit was must.
It was a big place with lots of table but most was occupied,got a table and ordered a vegetable cutlet,mutton dosa and coffee.,service is always fast at any of ICF,food served quickly,taste was good and most importantly not heavy on pocket,certainly no other place in the vicinity can compete with the rates And quality on ICF
Now it was time to satisfy sweet tooth craving,next to Baljees .Baljees is another iconic place in Shimla operating for more than 60 years and famous among both locals and tourists.They have a sweet shop outside and a restaurant.It is one of the most prominent land mark on mall,very close to scandal point.There hot gulab jamun are considered as best in Shimla.As I was for their iconic Gulab Jamun so without wasting time ordered 2 gulab jamun,hot fresh and soft,perfect,one of the best gulab jamun I had ever ate,was so good that had 2 more. Cool pleasant weather and hot gulab jamun,what a match.
*I had visited in April and later come to know that they had shut the business permanently due to loosing court case with the building owner,sad to know,will miss them on my next visit.
Next destination Trishool Bakery,another iconic place,since 1959 .Trishool is a popular name with tourists and locals alike, it offers everything from decadent pastries and cakes to cream rolls and patties.As my tummy was already full so just had a chocolate pastry,it was amazingly good,freshly made ,soft and tender.
It was already 9 pm so time to end the day and walked back to hotel.
After 2 hectic day today was in mood to relax little bit so woke up late,around 9 and left the hotel around 12,1st to have breakfast at Sita Ram and Sons at Lakkar Bazaar. Sita Ram is another legendary eating joint running pre independence.They serve one of the best Chhole Bhature in town ,perhaps its not Bhature but Luchhi.Very small shop at the starting of Lakkar bazar when we came from Ridge,only 2-3 tables with some chair,when I arrived it was just opened so not crowded ,comfortably had the tasty Luchi Chhole.
Last evening I saw a HPTDC board showing a route of heritage walk starting from Mall road and ending at Indian Institute of Advance Study,as IIAS was in my bucket list so today’s plan was to follow that route.Started from Ridge around 1,passed through BSNL office,Grand Hotel,Kalibari ,state bank ,all well kept and in good condition.Though the board shows only 24 heritage building (the prominent one) but in ground almost every 2nd building was a heritage one,remains of British Raj.No doubt Shimla has kept its heritage very well,very few cities in India had done so much for heritage.
Reached main gate of IIAS in around 40 min,it was almost a flat walk,lots of photo stops of heritage buildings,from main gate to main building its little bit stiff walk for 10 min and have to beware of monkeys too,there was a big troop of monkeys,i simply put every hand held items in my bag including mobile,selfie stick and cap and slowly was them,they were busy with themselves so everything was ok.Car can reach upto main building for pick/drop.
IIAS earlier called as The Viceregal Lodge, Shimla is the most historically significant and architectural impressive building of the Shimla. The Viceregal Lodge was the summer residence of the Indian Viceroy and later of Indian President.. Within the Viceroy Lodge many significant decisions preindependence about India were devised, discussed and agreed upon.
For visitors the Viceregal Lodge is a majestic British architecture villa that is surrounded by immaculately maintained gardens. Only a few of the staterooms can be visited and that too only part of a brief tour as the building has been transformed into an IIAS,visiting the gardens are open to all anytime.
I reached the main building around 2;30 pm and 1st to do was to enquire about the tour from information centre,came to know that the next tour was fully booked,I can book the next one at 4:45,as it was in my must to do bucket list and dont want to miss so booked that,price was rs 50 (if I remember correctly).There is a also a snack counter at the the information centre,had a tea and a sandwich.
In next 30 min I had explored the garden and photos of the building,still it was more than one hour for my tour to start.Checked online and found that Himanchal State museum was just 15 min walk still thought that in that time interval I would get sufficient time to explore the museum so skipped it.Next I found was Verma Tea stall aka Kewal Dhaba.Its another iconic place running since pre independence,now a days very famous among university students.As most of the tea stall near student area they sell everything from tea to paratha to maggie but their main USP is tea and bun,it is said that even Lord Mountbatten was their customer and even visited few times during his stay in Shimla.
It is situated near the main gate of IIAS.Though by 1st look it dooesnt look so old,may be they had shifted to new building.I simply ordered their USP,tea and bun butter,was good but nothing special,just like any tea stall around university/college where student throng these types of places during break.
Reached back and waited for the tour to start,i started exact on 4;45,was a group of 50 people,a guide was there to explain and we have to be with him whole time,can’t move by self away from group,also any type of photography not allowed .Tour was of half an hour,got some basic info about the building.Its really majestic from inside with beautifully planned and designed.IMHO if possible do get that tour,if using cab for sight seeing then better to book the tour in advance visiting the information and later visit as per schedule.
Now its time to go back to mall road,another gentle 30-35 min walk through history and reached.1st visited HPTDC office and finally some good news,they are operating the tour bus tomorrow,only tour for Naldera-Kufri-Fagu was going next day,as tomorrow I was planning to return so booked that tour,cost was rs 300 per head.I was told by them to arrive at the office at 10 am.
Now time to have dinner.I was in Shimla for 3 days but didn’t tried traditional himachali meal yet so start searching for that,come to know that Himachal Rasoi is a good place to have a 1st time experience .Situated in middle bazaar,little tricky to find,best is to use stairs going down between Gaitty and Town hall and after going one level down (30-40 stairs) take right.
Its a small but beauty full cosy place with wooden interiors,have sitting capacity of just 20-25 people at a time,during tourist season have to wait but as I was there during non tourist season so it was nearly vacant.They have a very simple menu with few thali and few snacks,prices are reasonable.The owner was very down to earth and humble person.I had ordered one thali (but forgot the name).The thali comes with 5 curries/veggies/lentis with rice,excellent and total value for money.If someone needs an introduction on himachali cuisine then its worth visit,good meal to end the day,then Gulab Jamun at Baljees then to hotel to rest.
Woke up at 9 and hurriedly got ready as I had to reach HPTDC office at 10 and also had to check out the hotel room. Reached the office at 5 min past 10 but to my surprise no other passengers had arrived till that time,I was the 1st,so its time to have breakfast,Prem Chaat was very close to that place so visited and had a delicious plate of Chhole Bhature ,return back to office around 10:35 and come to know that one couple is still to come,they came around 10;45 then search of HPTDC staff started who will escort us to the bus which was park somewhere near Rivoli bus stand,one level down of mall road.After calling multiple they were able to trace him,he arrived and took us to the bus,when it looks that we are ready to move come to know that there is one more couple who were supposed to take the bus directly from bus stand were not able to find the bus,driver was calling them to know their location,finally got them and our tour started at 11:15 ,just little above 1 hr late from schedule.
I was knowing that there is no snow anywhere near Shimla so this tour would be a boring one for a solo traveller like me still took the tour as I was having a spare day,my return bus to Delhi was at night.
The bus was a small 15 seater,condition of the bus was not great neither it was much clean,seats were at least comfortable,was having 2X1 configuration so i took a single seat.There were no guide,only driver through out the tour.
After negotiating some traffic within Shimla we were on a scenic road journey,we were at our 1st stop Naldhera around 12.it was an one hour stop.The place is composed with the ample amount of greenery and eye-soothing scenario with the admixture of many temples and a stretch of pine trees Naldhera is just a photo stop,nothing much to do.There is also a golf course which was built by the British Governor Lord Curzon. The golf course is considered to be the oldest nine holes course in India.As entry to Golf course is for members only so for any tourist its just a field nearby,certainly not an attraction.
When we disembark from bus we were surrounded by horse mans who were offering service for sight seeing,as I had researched about the place already so knew that its not needed at all,they would also try to convince that its not possible to visit by self due to hike or so but nothing is like that,its a simple 5-10 min hike,nothing much.There is a rs 20 gram panchayat fees. Its a small hill surrounded by pine trees.There is also a small Nag Devta temple behind the golf course which I skipped.As most tourist places in India there are few small dhaba selling tea,maggies ,biscuits and snacks.In half hour I had covered all and took photos,came back to bus and then we started for our next stop.
Time for next destination,Kufri.On the way bus stopped at a photo point (forget the name of the place) where we were having 180 degree views of mountains with lush green pine forest,worth for a stop.
Another 20 min journey and we were at Kufri. The bus drop us at Cafe lalit near the Himalayan Nature Park.Kufri has mainly 2 attractions,Mahashu peak and Himalayan Nature Park,if there is no snow then its pure wastage of time and money to visit Mahashu peak so I skipped it.
The building in which cafe Lalit is situated itself have historic importance.Its called Chini (Chinese) bunglow because one a chinese princess stayed there during her marriage to King of Patiala.Later in 1972 during signing of Shimla agreement Pakistan President Julfikar Ali Bhutto and Indian PM Indira Gandhi stayed there.The cafe is clean decent place to have food,it also have a bar with decent selection of alcohol.As I was solo so simply ordered a thali,price was reasonable.There are many small Dhaba type places also on the road towards Nature park.
Now a short walk to Nature park,Sprawled across 90 hectares and comprising of a diverse range of western Himalayan flora and fauna,it Houses distinct rare species of the Himalayan range,From Kashmir Stag, Barking Deer, Blue Sheep to Red Jungle Fowl and Blue Sheep each one of them can be spotted here.They try to keep the animals in their natural environment,well planned zoo,not a big one so can easily be explored in 30-45 minute,kids would certainly enjoy this.After exploring it was time to reach back to the bus for further journey.
Next stop was Apple Blossom resort,Fagu.Its a HPTDC operated resort situated at a vantage point in Fagu,surrounded by Apple orchids,other than taking some photo of surrounding and having a tea/coffe nothing more to do,may be during apple season can have a visit to apple orchid.I did the same,some photo shot and a cup of tea,thats all and now we are ready to move back to Shimla.
Reached Shimla in an hour,there was traffic jam just before Shimla and otherwise would have taken less time.One thing is sure the people of hills are more sensible and have better driving ethics than the people of planes,saw hardly anyone breaking the lane.Bus dropped us near Lift,then lift to mall road and time to explore mall road last time.
1st reached Gaity Theatre,it is a Gothic architecture British era theatre,started in 1887,only Gaity theatre in Asia.Only few years back it has been restored and now in good condition.Even now a days there are regular performances going there.Few bollywood movies are also shot here and most prominent is “Mai Nikla Gaddi Lekar” of movie Gaddar.When no performance/program is happening in the theatre that time its open for tourist to visit with a small fee.I enquire about it from a gentleman standing there and he said yes I can,paid the fees to him and come to know that he was the guide for the tour.I though I may have to wait for others to join the tour but he said no need for that,as its near to closing time so I would be the lone member of the group.1st he take me to the theatre hall and explain in detail about the history of the theatre.Then to different section of the building and most interesting for me was the photo gallery where hundreds on old photograph associated with the theatre were exhibited,what a great history this building is having,The gentleman was very knowledgeable about history,not only of the theatre but of whole Shimla too,After completing the tour had good discussion with him about colonial history and architecture of Shimla,excellent way to end my Shimla tour.
It was 6 now so time to have some light snacks and later proceed to bus stand to board the bus.At the point where lower bazar starts from Mall road saw a man selling sandwiches,there were many locals standing and waiting for their sandwich so certainly worth trying,I ordered a masala cheese one ,it was amazing.It was strange that he was not featured in any of the so called Shimla food guide,he is not a new vendors,he told that he was selling there for years and all local recognise him as “Sandwich wala” and we can find he daily at the same place.
Now time to reach Bus stand to board the Bus.I had booked HRTC volvo which starts from Tutikandi ISBT which is little away from main shimla .Taxi which can cost you at least 400-500 or by local bus from Old bus stand which is just 7-8 min downhill walk from mall road.My obvious choice was bus,a small walk to old bus stand ,within few minute got a local bus to ISBT and from ISBT bus to Delhi.This was my 4 day solo Shimla trip in my own pace.
I had used HRTC Volvo to travel to Delhi and its always recommended,overall better experience than most of the private one.For travelling is Himachal HRTC and HPTDC are always my preferred option.Only con with HRTC is there mid night dinner stop,1st they stops too late,around 2 am near Ambala and the place is a rip off,overpriced and unhygienic place,better would be to either had your early dinner at Shimla or get food packed from Shimla.HRTC drops at outside ISBT on ring road near foot over bridge.Most of the time when I travelled on HRTC it drop me at destination on time and its staffs are courteous,never experienced a drunk staff which is somehow common in private volvos.
Thanks for reading.See you at a new destination and new blog.