Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Shimla, India

Executive summary by darmansjah

Visiting Shimla is equal parts journey and destination. For optimal snow-clad Himalayan views, chug back in time on the narrow-gauge Kalka Shimla Railway, one of three Indian lines on the World Heritage List. It passes through 102 tunnels, across 864 bridges, and up 4,659 feet (1,420 meters) to the Shimla Hill station in northern Himachal Pradesh. Colonialists built the engineering marvel in the late 19th century to service the Shimla Highlands, an escape for the British from the summer heat.

The colonial influence endures in Shimla’s architecture and ambience, particularly along the Mall, a bustling pedestrian marketplace and cultural hub featuring shops, restaurants, and the 123-year-old, neo-Gothic Gaiety Theatre renovated in 2009. Guided walking tours around Shimla and the surrounding seven hills include stops at historic temples, churches, palaces, and mansions, including the Viceregal Lodge, a baronial-style estate built high on Observatory Hill as a tribute to the empire.

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