I consider myself lucky to have been born and brought up for a large duration of my life in Shimla. For most, a frequented holiday spot, a sought after tourist destination , a place to get away from it all , for me home. All my reviews are based on personal interaction with the property and its various aspects.
There is a fair amount of criticism on Shimla now. Overcrowding , traffic is a mess , too much development and other typical tourist problems which crop up such as lack of accommodation at times , over charging etc etc. But despite this it still remains as tempting as it ever was.
Most people, when they think of the place, tend to think of the Mall , roughly about a . 6 km walk on a slight incline with shops bustling on one side. Off roads from the mall are the ridge (excellent views) , lower Bazaar (the less fancy day to day item shops , wholesalers) and the tibetian bazaar ( on the ridge). As a result anyone and everyone who stops in Shimla finds him or herself and take about a 100,000 such people with families and cars and the overcrowding problem “why” is solved.
While the Mall is a must see the actual beauty of the place has always been towards the outskirts. Most superficial tourists are content with the Mall and the bars and few photos with the monkeys and holding hands and thats it , but many a times have i had to console a genuine traveller on the “charm” factor.
Think of the Mall as the center of the place , the most crowded, the business hub. As with all cities when you start moving away its becomes quieter and more open and thats what YOU need to do. Treat Shimla as a daily excursion. Below are a list of places / hotels on either side of the place which can be considered and ideal for those “writer feel” retreats.
On Approach to Shimla / Outskirts
Park Woods Shoghi
One of the recent additions. The resort is located on a ridge which is accessed by a road leading from the town of Shogi , which is about a 25 odd minute drive from the Shimla Bus Stand. The resort describes itself as ” surrounded by untouched countryside with panoramic views, numerous village treks, jungle walks in pine, oak and rhododendron forests. The undergrowth houses some rare species of herbs and exotic birds and also wild rabbits, barking deer and peacocks. A perfect juxtaposition of comfort, safety and serenity” About 70 % or so of this is actually true. The ridge is relatively isolated and untouched but the town at the bottom is a mess and additionally i doubt that the rabbits are wild.
Food is good enough and they have activities in relation to sports as well as bonfires as such. Staff is polite and are ready to cater to most instructions but tend to be slightly on the slower side. Accommodation is good. Comfortable, neat and clean. The place is even more beautiful in the monsoons with mists sweeping over the ridge periodically and with 0 dust in the air.
Choose from either a Bamboo hut. The bedroom is a 12 X 12 foot wide space with a sitting area and a 6 x 12 loo. or a Swiss tent which has roughly the same dimensions with a sitting out area right outside. Hot and cold water available. Prices vary with season. Discounted packages are available. Bookings can be done in Delhi. Just google.
Overall Rating – 6.5 / 10
Potters Hill Shimla
Not named on the basis of the other Potter and his growing popularity. This place is a secret well kept. Ideal , over 100 Hectares of prime , reserve forest land and oneof the most “easy to get lost” places i have ever been to.
The prime focus and initiative has been Nature Tourism and everything that has been done , completed and planned is in keeping with that direction. The location is about 5 Km’s from Shimla , again the turn off is shortly before one hits the main town.
A host of activites including indoor and outdoor games , barbeques , some more adventurous than others but all in all enough to keep any mindset occupied. But in my opinion you will do one of two things – Laze or Walk. This place has some of the best walks and small treks from it and hey just start walking in any direction you fancy.
Accommodation is a mix of Tents and Cottages again , food is good and the staff very prompt and polite. A host of packages available , roughly starting from INR 2500 for the cottages and around 1500 for the tents.
Overall Rating – 7.5 / 10
In order to avlid making this too long i will write about such places available on the other side of Shimla in another entry called “Shimla – Part 2” , check it out.