Introducing Shimla

Strung out along a 12km ridge, Shimla is today an engaging blend of hill town and holiday resort. Indian vacationers stroll the Mall, while the lower bazaars flow with local life and with shops selling hardware, stationery, fabric and spices. Many of the hand-painted signs in the market are so retro they look like they haven’t been changed since the 'Britishers' left. With cars banned from the main part of town, walking anywhere is very pleasant – even when huffing and puffing uphill.

Shimla sprawls for miles, but the official centre of town is Scandal Point. From here, the flat open area known as the Ridge stretches east to Christ Church, where trails lead uphill through the forest towards the Jakhu Temple. A jagged line of snow-covered peaks is clearly visible from April to June, and in October and November. There are some particularly rewarding forested walks in this eastern part of Shimla.

The long, winding, pedestrian-only Mall runs west and east along the spine of the hill. South of here, the maze-like alleys of the bazaar cascade downhill steeply to the main Cart Rd, which has the train station, the old bus terminal and taxi stands. A passenger lift provides a quick route between the eastern Mall and Cart Rd.

Expect a stiff walk to your hotel. Porters will carry your luggage uphill for ₹80 to ₹100 but most double as touts, and hotels will increase your room tariff to cover their commission.