MY TRAVELLING FRIEND AND I, BOTH ACTIVE "YOUNG" SEPTUAGENARIANS, HAVE TWO FULL DAYS IN SHIMLA. ANY ADVICE ON HOW TO MAXIMISE EVERY MINUTE OF OUR STAY. TRAVELLING FROM DELHI BY TRAIN. G. GRAY, BELLAWONGARAH
The journey from Delhi to Shimla by train takes a full day and the last part of the journey, from Kalka, is very slow indeed, but priceless. The world of mock-Tudor, mullioned windows and make-believe that the British installed in their summer capital still exists but it's tattered. Today Shimla it's the most densely populated hillside in the world, so the locals insist, an untidy clot of shops and houses cascading down from the town's seven hills. Only vestiges of the Raj remain since India has little appetite for maintaining the affectations of former foreign conquerors, although modern India has happily incorporated the conventions of afternoon tea and the evening promenade along The Mall. The what-to-do list is slender but exhilarating and sure to leave you breathless since even a flight of stairs is a serious climb at 2000 metres plus. Jakhoo Hill has views of the Himalayas although the view from The Mall itself is a very close second. The forested area around Mashobra has lovely walks. Book in for afternoon tea at the Oberoi Cecil, which is where the Oberoi hotel empire began, still richly atmospheric. Saunter along The Mall and admire the shops selling Tibetan trinkets and religious artefacts, silverwork, turquoise and lapis-studded necklaces but watch out for the monkeys, they're a pest.
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