Wednesday 2 November 2011

PHOTO FEATURE - Shimla , Himachal Pradesh

This post is dedicated to my brother Deepak, whom I lost earlier this year. Being the same age, we were obviously quite connected; even though we stayed in different cities for the most part. However, my first trip to Shimla (while he was staying there) was certainly one of the most memorable trips with him. It was during winter and it was snowing. We ate ice cream with snowflakes falling in it and played cricket in the house's backyard. A crazy dance by the fireplace at home followed. It was a trip I'll never forget... Here's to him and his zest for life...

I have this love-hate relationship with Shimla. I love the colonial feel of this town; the never-ending Mall Road, buildings with slanted roofs, the Indian Coffee House, the colonial structures… But, I hate the commercialism that has taken over it. It is flooded with tourists all-year-round. Still, it remains close to my heart. I visited Shimla twice in the past two years itself, but my fondest memory of this quaint town is of playing cricket in the snow-covered backyard of my cousin’s grand colonial home, and then dancing around the fireplace after a very cold, snowy day. Hmmm, some moments can never be replicated.

So, I’d like to share with you some photographs from my last trip to Shimla in a bid to relive those wonderful moments.

Built during the British colonial rule in India, Shimla's Mall Road is replete with shops and restaurants alike. But it is the string of colonial structures, such as Christ Church and Town Hall, sprawled throughout its stretch that make Mall Road special to me. I particularly love that all vehicles, with the exception of maybe cycle richshaws, are banned from its main street; making it ideal for walking. Hundreds of tourists keep the main street crowded every year, so you'll also find the usual tourist traps here.

Christ Church' prominent lemon yellow building displaying Neo-Gothic architecture was built sometime in 1800s and is the second oldest church in all of North India. When visiting, make sure you check the visitor timings. When I visited last year, it was open to visitors from 8-11a.m. and at 5p.m. in the evening.

The Municipal Library building, adjacent to Christ Church, displays Neo-Tudor architecture. The Tudor style is still visible in portions of the new additions to the many colleges of Oxford and Cambridge.

Undoubtedly one of my favourite places in Shimla, the Indian Coffee House makes the best filter coffee I've had in northern India. I cannot help but have two cups on every visit. This place has a true old-world charm with casual, cosy interiors, old, ragged posters, a blackboard menu and waiters in these unique old-style turbans. The only drawback is its food. Only the idli seems to be edible, the other items lack taste. Still, a must-visit.

A striking statue of Indira Gandhi at the Ridge on Mall Road. Shimla houses the Indira Gandhi Hospital, Medical and Dental College. I really like this photograph for the sheer grandeur it seems to emanate.

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