Shimla, Part 2

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To read the first part of this article please Click Here.

From the first part you understood that city of Shimla impressed really a lot! But today we’ll talk about the disadvantages of Shimla, and at the same time I will give you some advices. So:

Also check: The types of tourists in India

  • The first and most noticeable disadvantage for tourists: it’s hard and quite expensive to get to Shimla.

Direct trains do not go there – they go until Kalka station. The Delhi-Kalka train takes about 4 hours, and a ticket for a good train will cost you about 500-700 rupees (7-10 dollars) per person (the cheaper trains I do not recommend for foreigners).

But! The problem is that Kalka station is located 80 kilometers away from the center of Shimla. And neither trains nor buses go to Shimla from there – you can only take a cab (not Uber as well, Uber is not available there and in Shimla). And! You need to remember that these 80 km are not a straight road, but a mountainous one, so it actually takes about 3 hours to reach the center of Shimla like this! A cab from Kalka station to Shimla will cost you about 2000-3000 rupees (27-42 dollars).

There is another option: to get off the Delhi-Kalka train in the city of Chandigarh (you can read about Chandigarh Here), as me and my husband did – you can see this city as well (if you have time, of course). Chandigarh is located 112 km away from Shimla and from there you can take a bus as well. Cheap buses (the ones with open doors) from Chandigarh cost about 200 rupees (2.7 dollars), middle class ones – from 400 rupees (5.5 dollars). You can also take a cab from Chandigarh to Shimla (Uber too is possible) – it will also cost you about 2500-3000 rupess (35-42 dollars). And yes, the road will be mountainous most of the time as well, and will take about 3.5-4 hours.

The easiest option is the bus Delhi – Shimla. Such buses usually take about 8-9 hours, which is, of course, a long time, but other ways to get there will take you no less time, so… The cost of buses varies from their type. You can take a very good bus, half-sleeper, with blankets, bottles of water provided (the bus like on the photo below) – a ticket for such kind of bus costs about 1,500 rupees (21 dollars) per person. On the way back to Delhi we went by such bus. In general, some buses need to be booked in advance online, and some can be caught right in the city – they go quite often.

The Delhi-Shimla road is actually a VERY hard road, people on these mountainous turns often feel sick. Such turns are there for at least 3 hours of the whole way, no matter how you go. But, this is not the longest mountainous road in India – there are cities in the Indian Himalayas at a distance of 600 km away from Delhi, and even 1000 km.

Airplanes also go to Shimla from Delhi and the flight lasts a little longer than an hour, but… These flights are not in demand and are very expensive most of the times – basically they cost about 18000 rupees (250 dollars) one way per person. Although on some days the price drops down a lot and you can buy a ticket for 2000 rupees (27 dollars).

  • The second disadvantage is the lack of central heating.

It is always hard for people not from Asia to get used to cold buildings in winters in some countries and cities of Asia. In Shimla, you can ask the hotel for an electric heater – hotels should provide them at least in winters (as well as a couple of warm blankets). But, it is worth considering that in the bathrooms there will be a heater only for water but the air temperature there will be low, because a heater is usually only enough for one room. Asians are used to it, I am already too, but you might not know about it.

But if you have underestimated the cold of Shimla and did not take enough of warm clothes – this problem can be very easily solved. In the markets of Shimla you can buy very cheap warm clothes. For example, I bought these sweater and reversible vest on the photo for only 150 rupees (2 dollars) per item. A warm jacket can be bought from 800 rubles (11 dollars).

  • There aren’t too many sights in Shimla.

There is a popular Mall Road for shopping, which I already mentioned in the first part of the article, there is also a popular Hindu temple and the Catholic Church (where people also asked to take off the shoes at the entrance like in Hindu temples), several monuments and small parks, an operating theater built in British times of India (and in the British style of those times!) – this is all near to Mall Road. There is also a Presidential House, and, in general, that’s all.

Christ Church
Rani Jhansi Park
Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex (British theater)
Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex (British theater)

People who come to Shimla for a longer period of time than us, go to the mountains to other places: there are various attractions, horseback riding, famous temple, picknicks and skiing in winters. Such trips might be offered to you at the hotel, but often people on the streets who do it also offer them. We did not go and regretted it, because on the last day we simply did not know what to do already as saw other sights pretty fast… So don’t repeat our mistake!

  • Lack of cabs and rickshaws.

On the one hand, the good thing is that they do not pollute the city and do not make noise (after living in Delhi for more than 3 years, I am totally for it!). Local people in Shimla drive their own cars (in Delhi, you can easily do without your own car). There are local buses, but they are not everywhere. The only thing is that it can be quite difficult for a tourist in such a city to get somewhere. Even the delivery of some items in Shimla (at least along the Mall Road) is done by foot.

A man is delivering a fridge on his back on the mountainous part of Mall Road

Also, if your hotel is near or on the Mall Road, not only a bus, but a cab as well will drop you off not next to it but some distance away. As I wrote in the first part of the article, vehicles are forbidden on that road and people do actually follow it! So you will have to go by foot for some distance. For us it was 500 meters only (but along a mountain path), but it could be more and it would be much more difficult if we had more things. We only went to Shimla for 3 days, but many foreigners go to India for a long time, just traveling between different cities with all their things, so it can be complicated for them.

  • The city is not adapted for disabled people.

This is a huge disadvantage. There are no rampants anywhere, not to mention the fact that everywhere are stairs and the road can be hard to walk on even for healthy people (who aren’t just used for it). I have seen the guy pushing up another person on disabled carriage on mountainous road and it was surely not easy for him.

On the other hand, rental of prams for children is famous in Shimla.

I don’t know what people in Shimla do when they urgently need to see a doctor, for example, and they are NOT near the roadway, but somewhere near a mountain path. On the Mall road, however, several times during these 3 days I saw an ambulance passing by (in Delhi, calling an ambulance is not very common, for example – but in Russia, suppose, it is – now if you need a doctor urgently for anything even not so serous – you can call an ambulance).

  • The last disadvantage is a big amount of monkeys – as they can attack.

That’s all – as you can see, the number of pros in Shimla for me exceeded the number of cons – with Delhi, I have the opposite situation, unfortunately. But, Indians say that people move mainly to Delhi and Mumbai, although the environment is more problematic there, because in these cities there is much more work. And in the cities like Shimla, work is mainly in the tourism business.

And as for me, perhaps, because I am living in Delhi, I do not look at the city from tourist point of view for a long time already, but I do at Shimla. Nevertheless, in Delhi I spent more than 3 years, and in Shimla only 3 days.

P.S .: I really do recommend to visit the city of Shimla – especially to those people who want to see India, but have hard times to deal with the dirt, seeing a lot of beggars or staring.

P.P.S .: I have heard a lot of great reviews about the hilly towns of India, especially from Delhi people, but I was a little skeptical about it, to be honest. Therefore, this city really did impress me a lot!

Unfortunately, I have not been to other mountain places in India (yet!), but I hope to visit Manali, Massuri, Ladakh and others and write reviews about them too!


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