Wednesday, 25 June 2014

L2B travels: For the Love of Hills


By Siddharth Pandey

It is said that when the British came to India, the weather was not really appropriate for them. That was precisely why they moved their summer capital to Shimla (then Simla). Known as the Queen of Hills, Shimla is where I was born 23 years, 3 months and 26 days ago. I also have family there and though it was not a particularly special trip this time, it still kind of was because I had some really precious experiences.


Shimla is most famous for The Mall road. You can find tourists there early morning onwards. I was there at around 10 in the morning for an exhibition and there were more people there than I see in my town around 6 in the evening. A shopper like me could go crazy there. There is so much to do, ranging from brands' outlets to thrift shops to high end showrooms. My favourite way to get there is by the lift. Comfortable and totally easily accessible. Or you can get there from near the CM residence. There are parking problems in Shimla so I suggest everyone who asks me to use public transport and walk as much as they can manage. Trust me when I say, almost every place in Himachal is more beautiful on foot (it's like witchcraft).

First up, there are shops for, well, the shoppers. There is a great clothing store that holds clothes from the Madame label and accessories from NYCity and I can assure you, you won't leave it before you get something. The staff isn't the friendliest ever, but the stock sure does steal your heart. It is a riot of colours and the right bling. Up next is a more casual store called Batish. They are a pleasant set of people. I clicked lots of pictures there but the best things from a tourist point of view was a bag, some small mugs and a B-E-A-U-tiful Antique style watch. They had scarves in silk and cotton but I can only post so many pictures. While walking up the road you find many stores with many beautiful things. There was this red bodycon-peplum dress with a gorgeous neck detail and some great floral pants, which are high on the fashion radar this year.  A board with colourful shoes and slippers attracted my attention as I was walking up the road to the Ridge.


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Photography is something I really want to be good at. But if all wishes came true, the world wouldn't be a good place to be in. So when I chanced upon the photography display at the Gaiety theater, it was a treat indeed. The Gaiety theater is Shimla's more respectable heritage and the place for every good exhibition or play. This time it was Siddharth Pandey's expertise with a camera, the living proof that good photography is about the photographer and not at all about the camera. He uses a simple point and shoot camera from Lumix and.... well, you can just see the pictures he clicks. I doubt my words will do justice to the magic this person holds in his eye. I will also be sharing the link to his facebook page later on the post. The most charming and down-to-earth person I have met, he is more learned than artists are generally given credit for. The words he uses to express his pictures are so close to perfection, he might as well be a journalist and rock at it.


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The Jakhu hill is among the highest spots in Shimla and unless you have visited the statue of Lord Hanuman there, you have not seen the beauty of it. Visible from the Mall road, this statue stands watching over the whole city and looks every bit as mighty when you stand right next to it at the Jakhu temple. When in Shimla, the best place to buy trinkets and wooden souvenirs is the Lakkad Bazaar or the 'Wood Market'. And also, give up the boredom of Dominos and go visit the places Shimla is known a lot for.


I am now going to close up on this note and give you lists of places to visit in Shimla, where to eat and where to shop. There are also the photographs that are to come. Go on reading ahead.

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Where to go?
1. Mall road
2. The Ridge
3. Jakhu Temple
4. Kufri
5. The IIAS or the Viceregal Lodge
6. The Shimla Museum
7. Sadhu Pul
8. Potter's hill

By Siddharth Pandey

Where to Eat?
1. Ashiana, The Ridge
2. Sita ram, Lakkar Bazaar
3. Alfa, Scandal Point
4. Indian Coffee House, Mall road (not particularly a 'Shimla' place but is special becauese was once the hub for every author, poet or artist who has ever visited Shimla)
5. La' Pinoz, The Mall Road (amazing salads and great Pizzas)

Where to Shop?
1. Lakkar Bazaar
2. The Mall Road
3. Lower Bazaar



Travel Tips:
1. Always interact with the locals. This holds true for visiting every place and specially in Himachal, keeping in mind the myriad of roads and risky situations and places here.
2. Always Bargain. Everything has a so-called Tourists' price.
3. Click lots of pictures.
4. Do not rely completely on taxi drivers or tour guides.
5. Adventure sports are good, carelessness is not.

By Siddharth Pandey

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