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Holidays to Shimla

train bridge in shimla

Shimla is one of India's most popular hill resorts, buzzing with a happy flow of Indian vacationers.  Traffic is banned from the central part of town, so walking here is a pleasure – even when huffing and puffing uphill. The long, winding main street, the Mall, runs east and west just below the spine of the hill. South of it, the maze-like alleys of the bustling bazaar cascade steeply down to traffic-infested Cart Road. From mid-July to mid-September, Shimla is frequently wreathed in cloud, and in winter it often gets a carpeting of snow.

It’s main attraction is The Ridge, which is the broad esplanade extending east from Scandal Point. It's thronged with strolling locals and tourists all day. On a clear day, a jagged line of distant snowy peaks is visible to the north. Shimla is also full of relics from its previous life as the summer capital of British India. Be sure to visit Viceregal Lodge for an interesting history lesson. This was once the official summer residence of the British viceroys. Henry Irwin's grand, grey sandstone creation resembles a cross between Harry Potter's Hogwarts and a Scottish baronial castle. Half-hour building tours visit three rooms with interesting photo exhibits and the three-storey entrance hall lined in Burmese teak. Another fascinating building is Bantony, which is a wonderfully whimsical turreted red-brick mansion built in 1880. Bantony was once home to the Maharajah of Sirmaur, whose coat of arms adorns the dilapidated railings. Together with its equally quaint red-brick cottage next door, which housed Shimla's employment exchange in recent decades, Bantony is now sadly the epitome of Shimla picturesque decay as legal battles over its future wrangle on. Another top attraction is Jakhu Temple, which is Shimla’s most famous temple. It is dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman, and sits atop its highest hill, a steep but worthwhile hike of 1.2km up from the east end of the Ridge. Hundreds of rhesus macaques loiter around the temple, hoping for food from visitors. They have a habit of snatching loose objects such as hats, phones and even spectacles, so bring a stick to discourage them, or rent one at the temple gate.