Shimla sits pretty and high, between the Himalayan foothills. A forever favourite, this place has a charm that has been attracting people since the British era. So much so that the British made it their summer capital as well. Once there, you can feast your eyes on acres of apple orchards, and uninterrupted views of the mountains around. If you have travelled to Shimla in the scorching summers, or in its snowy white winters, know that there is more to it when it rains; especially when it rains.
The place looks straight out of some magical tale, mist rolling in right till the centre of the city, often engulfing its famous landmark, Christ Church. And yes, this is when those ever-colourful Shimla umbrellas pop open; the street lights get a clean-up, and even the roads looks as beautiful as a fresh, still-wet painting. If you are wondering what to do in Shimla on a rainy day, here are my tried recommendations.
Breakfast at Wake & Bake
Mornings start at a rather slow, unhurried pace in Shimla; you too should take breathe deep, go out for an early morning walk and reach Wake & Bake Cafe by around 9:30 AM. You will find the place stirring itself to another delightful day; a brainchild of some young souls, this cafe will delight you with some heavenly spreads of crepes, waffles, and a variety of porridge and museli mixes. You can spend more time here till they start serving from their lunch menu; the must-haves for lunch are pizzas, Israeli platters, Middle Eastern specials, and a range of soups. While you are binging, do not forget to pore over the views from its tiny back porch.
A trek to the Jakhoo Temple is what you will need after some heavy eating in the morning. If you think religion is not alluring enough, the walk itself will keep you hooked. The trek to Jakhoo Temple will take you higher up towards the rolling clouds, deep across the pine forest that lies on both the sides of the trek. The good thing about visiting this rather famous place is the fact that it sees only a few visitors during rains, making it one of the more solitary attractions of Shimla.
Gulab Jamun at Baljee’s
Once you have had your fill of startling panoramic views from Jakhoo and are headed to the city centre again, make Baljee’s Fascination your next stop. A rather old-school place, this one is almost a heaven to the foodies. The gulab-jamuns at Baljee’s are an essential and not gulping down at least a place would be a sin! A plate of chole-bhature is also perfect, especially if the trek to Jakhoo and your walk back has made you think about food again.
Walk on the Mall Road till Kaali Bari
While you will be pretty contented after having your fill of great food at Baljee’s, a quick hop to the Indian Institute of Advanced Study and, then, Kaali Baari is essential when it rains. Moss-covered walls and a riot of flowers at the IIAS are a delight, and so is the walk to the rather unknown Kaali Baari. From here, you can climb down the stairs to the vegetable market and reach the city bus stop; get aboard a bus to Sanajuli from there. This makes for a very interesting drive, as you share space and some good time with the locals.
Take a bus to Sanjauli
Sanjauli can be referred to as old-school Shimla, and has a charm that is difficult to find in the main city. This is the place to go for long walks on roads that might have nobody apart from you; if you must know, Sanjauli find quite some mentions in the ghost stories of Ruskin Bond! Its huge bungalows, vintage cars, Narnia-like lamps, and sleepy-looking security guards for those bungalows, are enough to understand why the place fascinated Ruskin Bond. Do not let the thought keep you away from indulging in some walks though.
A coffee and some cake at Embassy
There is no place like Embassy in Shimla, when it comes to having a perfect cup of coffee. It is one of the oldest coffee houses and bakeries in the city, and has a steady stream of locals coming in. Thousands of hand-written notes on its walls are evident reminders of Embassy’s reputation; once in, you need to gorge over its cakes as well. Carrot cake is a hot favourite here, and you will know the reasons too. You can call it a day at Embassy, as evening lights pop up on the Mall Road, set perfect by a drizzle and the silhouette of Christ Church overlooking its people.
Analysis by Shikha Gautam, indiatimes