Posted by: roamingolivia | August 31, 2010

India: Shimla I

Okay, here’s Shimla – probably less text and more pictures in this, not that anyone will complain, because my time is pretty short. Shimla, or Simla as it was under the British when it was the summer capital, is an interesting place for two reasons:

1. It has interesting history – at least from the colonial era, including the Shimla Conference on partition.

2. It is mostly full of domestic (Indian) tourists, and so you get to see a lot of the emerging middle class, what its expectations and hobbies and holidaying looks like.

Also there are hilarious guidebooks about how calm and rational Shimla is, in contrast with anywhere else:

The moment the over-loaded trains reached Kalka [the station where you change to the toy-train to Shimla], it was as if one had entered another world — calm and aloof – where sanity still prevailed and all the horrors and atrocities were immediately dismissed from the mind. Shimla took upon herself the noble task of soothing the tortured Punjabi soul. In the distant hills the maids and men of the mountains wondered aghast at their cousins from the plains. Their capitals still did not belong to them. (Shimla: Guide with Map, published by Nest & Wings, edited A. P. Agarwala)

Anyway, this is the view from the hotel:

It was monsoon, so Shimla was often a bit rainy or misty, and we spent a fair amount of time taking shelter in coffee shops, and looking out.

As you can see, Shimla is starting to look pretty worn-down, which is the other interesting side of #1 above. It needs probably a lot of investment and money to keep the British colonial buildings standing for the next few decades.

Also there is an eggless cake shop (something common to see in India because of the vegetarians, but still an amusing sign):

We spent some time on the internet – picking out trains and an itinerary for Rajasthan, and struggling with the Indian railway site until we found (a hint for anyone traveling to India soon), and then headed for a late afternoon lunch of dumplings at Aunty’s, this tiny shack wiht a Tibetan/Chinese menu, 4 tables and an amazing view from its door

The food was delicious.

Then the evening rolled in, and we explored the nighttime shopping scene,

as well as the local bar scene. South Asia is interesting because it is not really a huge boozing place, and this is one potentially interesting aspect of Interesting Thing #2, above – domestic tourism. A lot of Indian tourists don’t really drink (there’s a lot of religion, and a lot of vegetarians don’t drink but I don’t think that’s related to vegetarianism as much as piety). So we finally found this bar, which as you can see is not exactly rocking…

All the other bars were literally underground and so less attractive. Otherwise there were a lot of English Beer and Wine Shops, which succinctly state who brought and uses booze in the country (at least that’s what they want you to think, perhaps).

And, see? this place doesn’t even have a bar anymore:

Next we can move onto the Partition Conference and shopping in the market, plus the monkey the stole my notebook.


  1. […] after Shimla (blogged here and here, in case you missed it), we came back to Delhi for a day or two, and then took an […]

  2. […] we were supposed to go to Kashmir and there were riots and flooding, but then we went to Delhi and Shimla or Simla (where a monkey ate my notebook) and then to Rajasthan (Jodhpur and […]

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