Delhi to Shimla by Train

I just logged in and noticed that today one of the most common search terms for people landing here was on information for trains between Delhi and Shimla. So i decided to do a small write up on it while my wife waded through something called Melrose Place , a Tv show from the early 1990’s which became quite popular and featured a story line very similar to Beverly hills 90210 , which i guess half the word has heard about!

Coming back to the subject at hand – There is no direct train to Shimla from Delhi. The journey needs to be broken up, whether one likes it or not. There are lots of trains from Delhi to Shimla , but none is more convenient than the Shatabdi. The Shatabdi leaves at around 730 AM in the morning, hit Chandigarh at 1045 or so and then Kalka at 1130. Kalka being the start of the hills. The broad gauge track ends here – 2 options from this point – Road or the Toy Train. Numerous cabs are parked outside the station at Kalka , but they are expensive , anything between 1500-2000 is normal. You can also catch a bus which would be cheap but crowded and longer, time wise.

Before i forget , the shatabdi costs around 550 per head one way in the chaircar. They serve meals on the train which are included in the fare , as well as some amount of snacks, water, juices. The important stops are Soniapt , Panipat, Karnal (halfway point) , Ambala , Chandigarh and finally Kalka.

The other option is the toy train , now please note THIS IS THE SLOWEST WAY TO GET TO SHIMLA. The toy train takes close to 6 hours to get there, It has multiple stops along the way and the average speed is slower than an truck loaded with 40 tons of apples. But its definetely an experience and a very scenic ride… as long as you have the time. The train stops at the heart of Shimla , just below the mall. Its reasonable and the last time i travelled , around 2 years ago, the ticket was around 150. The train does have compartments i.e 1st class , 2nd class etc etc, but theres not too much difference. Just be careful… The train leaves dot on time from every station, so if you are told that xyz is a 4 minute stop, it wouldbe advisable to treat it as 2. The starting point for the T-Train is the same station where ther Shatabdi finishes its journey.

What i am not aware of is the current situation with respect to it. About a month ago , due to torrential rains one of the stations along the line was wiped out – I am not aware of the exact situation now , i can find out if any of you really need the info though..but only if its very important.

Hope that helped.

I have  attached this timetable  as of the latest info i.e 21stJune 2o09. FC, SC, CC means – first class, second class and chair car.

Toy train schedule from Kalka to Shimla

Toy train schedule from Kalka to Shimla

New Delhi to Kalka on AC Chaircar (Kalka Shatabdi) is at 465 INR and First AC at 885.

Advertisements

Driving from Delhi to Shimla

images5.jpg

Update as of 20th April 2010

It took me no less than 7 hours to do the trip , and this is despite my best efforts to expedite as much as i could. Nevertheless it is not a bad time at all and once the current work gets carried out , i think 6.30 hours non stop will be achievable.

Coming to the update – the stretch between Ambala and Karnal is being widened and the digging is on full swing. The traffic flow is not disrupted too badly at this point with there being diversions 2-3 Kms spaced out. But it does result in slowing down substantially.

The toll booth at Karnal has been shifted a bit further down and is turning out to offer quite the competition to our Delhi – Gurgaon expressway , dont be surprised if it takes you 15-20 minutes to clear it depending on the time of day. Toll is now 78 INR one way.

The Ambala- Zirakpur stretch is absolutely lovely now. All that work has payed off and you can cross the stretch in about 30 minutes . There is a toll gate mid way.

Zirakpur – Kalka/Parwanoo is where major work is taking place right now and this stretch can eat up into your time substantially as it did with me. It took me only about 3 and a half hours to cross Zirakpur but almost another 1 hour just to start climbing. Road widening and building flyovers is whats taking place and the construction is on a pretty grand scale but once done , this particular stretch should be doable in about 20-25 minutes but i dont think there will be any relief from the jams at Parwaoo/Kalka etc since those roads remain the minuscule size they are currently.

Road condition to Shimla is overall good and does not warrant or demand slow driving. Lots of points and spots were being fixed and short of Timber Trail they are widening the road. The work currently stretches for only about 250 mts but this will probably get larger

Update as of 1st November 2009

I went home for Diwali and drove as usual. The update is that the Zirakpur stretch is pretty much over and done with. The amount of time saved because of the Panipat floyover and now Zirakpur is good. Ambala to Zirakpur can now be done between 30-40 minutes depending on the time of the day , faster probably depending on the car as well.

Zirakpur to Kalka is still a pain – the work continues , lots of diversions ,single lanes at places and then ofcourse the traditional jams at Parwanoo and Kalka. All the time time saved at Zirakpur gets wasted here – but the work is on. This time up total time taken was 7 .5 hours ( 30 minutes or so lost due to an accident before Panipat) and coming down it took a little under 7.

Update as on 24th June 2009

A delayed update , but briefly the Panipat bypass has been open for some months now as well as the one at Zirakpur. They bypass can easily save about 30 minutes of driving time depending on the time of the day. Good quality road , but unfortunately not very disciplined at keeping Trucks to a lane, Rikshaws off etc. So be careful.

The Zirakpur stretch is partly done but still a mess but the intitial flyover having been built saves time as well. Plus the road between Ambala and Chandgrah should be getting almost ready as well , which is going to save further time.

The stretch between Panchkula and Kalka was a pain when i went last about 2 months ago. Lot of digging to widending the road , so effectively all the time one saves at Panipat and Zirakpur can be nullified here , but again depends on the time of the day.

————————

I am continuously asked about tips/information on driving to Shimla by friends and acquaintances. I assumed hence that this information might be useful in general as well and hence decided to pen down some stuff.Lets talk of all the other things except finances first.TIME: If you are driving to Shimla for the first time then give yourself about 10 hours. Roughly broken up into 8 hours driving and about 2 hours of stops. When u leave Delhi can play a big role in how much time you take. I just went up recently in a Zen. Left at 4:30 in the morning and reached Shimla at 10:30…a straight 6 hours (a record even by my standards) with a half an hour stop for breakfast and another half an hour for tea. But getting out of Delhi can be a very time consuming process in itself. I went up again and left in fact at 330 but got caught in a jam and reached Shimla at 1130..so it affected my entire time by an hour.

ROAD: The over all road condition is pretty pretty good. I break it into 3 Segments. Primarily Delhi to Ambala , Ambala to Kalka and Kalka to Shimla. After u have left behind the normal bumps and potholes of Delhi roads u can sit back and cruise. Its an excellent road sometime 2 laned sometimes 4 all the way to Ambala. Ambala to Kalka is congested..its a single road with no divider (be careful while overtaking here) and lasts a

Continue reading

Shimla – Part 3

Hi. Ok This will be very brief (yet informative..dont worry!). Listing a few hotels available within main Shimla itself which are excellent choices if you are not in a position to live at the outskirts.

All reveiws are based on actual interaction with the property with respect to all its areas of function.

—————————————————————————-

wood.jpg

Woodville Palace

If you are here then you are about 10 minutes WALKING distance from the mall. Right in the centre of town and you have access to most tourist spots. The exact network of roads which run around this property also house the Chief Minister’s Official residence and are sealed roads i.e only cars with special permission are allowed to ply , hence walking is unrestricted and not inconvenient.

Originally a British Raj Palace it is now , if i remember correctly, with the heritage group of Hotels , an established chain in India. Slightly on the expensive side but an experience in itself. Close to 28 rooms with all modern facilities and amenities. The grounds are on the smaller side but beautiful and green nevertheless. Tennis and Badminton courts.

On the other side i.e opp the direction to the Mall is an area called Chotta Shimla. It is essentially a small market offering lots of small places to eat and shops catering to daily needs. Its a sharp walk downhill , and where the market finishes the residential area begins with a colony called Brokhurst which houses Bungalows set between thick greenery and massive deodar trees. Well worth the walk which will be about 40 minutes , round trip.

Continue reading

Shimla – Part 2

For those who have reached this directly please look at my earlier post titled Shimla – PArt 1 to get clarity on what i am writing about. For those who are coming from that post read on..! All reviews are based on personal interaction with the property and its various aspects.

The following are resorts which are found on the other side of Shimla i.e driving stright through the town towards Mashobra and Kufri.

—————————————————————————————-

chalets.jpgchalets2.jpgchalets3.jpg

Chalets Naldehra

 If you are reading this then you have just discovered one of the best properties in Shimla and its surrounding regions. A relatively recent property it is located at a 45 minute drive from the main town. Post crossing the village of Sanjauli , the drive carries on through a back-road taking you right into the heart of the reserve forests , past the Naldehra Golf Course and onto the Chalets.

This place scores high on everything , the architechture, accommodation , food , staff , location , facilites and activities . The resort comprises of cottages , apartments and Suites spread over an acre of pristine forest land. The resort offers facilities such as a Billiards table, swimming pool, Spa and jacuzi , Bar and a children activity centre. Host of activities and games available including but not limited to – Bonfires, Barbeques, Cultural evenings, cards, croquet , a putting green and many more.

There are numerous walks and treks available. This side in General is very low with respect to polulation density and the fact that it is reserve forest land makes it absolutely breath taking.  Is close to the Catchment area which is accessibly by advance permisson from the government and Kufri , another hot tourist destination- but if you dont enjoy the smell of horses and rubbing shoulders with tons of people skip it.

Continue reading

Shimla – Part 1

shimla.jpg

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.

Continue reading