LogoToddler On A Trip
December 9, 2022

Queen of the hills with the prince of our kingdom: 7 days in Shimla

Shimla | December 2022

December for us is the month of celebrations. With Vrunda’s birthday and our wedding anniversary falling in the same week, December is the time when we aspire to travel and celebrate our new milestones!

It had to be the hills this time. After scanning through the itineraries for Meghalaya, Sikkim, Manali, Nainital and even Kashmir, we narrowed down on Shimla  to give ourselves the right combination of nature and leisure. A trip to Shimla in the winters was a little ambitious with Ayaansh, but then that is the price you pay for being born to parents who love to travel!

Planning a week long vacation to a place that people generally cover in a span of 3-4 days meant we would have plenty of time to ourselves, exploring the city and its surroundings as leisurely as we wanted. We did narrow down on a few must-do things though.

If I put my hands on the window, we might just land...soonerIf I put my hands on the window, we might just land...sooner

Kalka-Shimla Toy Train

One of the finest ways to reach Shimla is to take the toy train from Kalka (Haryana). While you get to indulge in the beautiful views along the route, the downside though is that you dedicate 5 long hours to this journey of less than a 100 kms on a narrow-gauge rail, fondly known as the “toy train”. Of course, over 100 tunnels and the many-hundred bridges do keep you company, all along the way.

They say I cannot get out of a moving train. But they also said it was a toy train...They say I cannot get out of a moving train. But they also said it was a toy train...

Ayaansh’s closest association with a train up until now was that of the mini-train rides that you get at malls and playzones. Travelling in a life-sized train for a significantly longer duration was the first of his many first-time experiences during the trip.

We split our total stay of 7 nights between 2 different properties, one in the heart of Shimla, and the other nestled in the hills of Naldehra, about 25 kms from Shimla. In theory, that would give us the best of what Shimla had to offer as a city and beyond.

Oberoi Cecil, Shimla

One of Shimla’s oldest yet one of the finest properties, the Oberoi Cecil is a heritage hotel built over a 100 years ago. While we booked it as a sheer indulgence of luxury, the hospitality and the service they offer did surpass the highest of expectations we had! The 3-nights that we stayed at the Cecil, Ayaansh was undoubtedly the prince of our kingdom. Right from the front-desk team to the people at the restaurant, everyone pampered him almost to the extent of spoiling him, be it with lip-smacking food, specially catered to his taste, or the overflowing goodies that he received from them each day. If a 21-month old can have a long-lasting memories, this would definitely be one of them!

I know the room, and so does the teddy...I know the room, and so does the teddy...

The Mall Road, Shimla

If Shimla is called the Queen of hills, the Mall Road is the heart of the Queen. The hustle-bustle of the local shops, the ever-smiling locals, the serenity of seating at the Ridge, the colonial architecture of the buildings, the upmarket cafes or the absolute delight of relishing the “pahadi-maggi” and “chai” in the cold evenings, the Mall Road has everything to offer.

Things mumma makes me wear when she's feeling cold!Things mumma makes me wear when she's feeling cold!

While Mumma-Dadda spent their time shopping and eating on the Mall Road, Ayaansh kept us company in his stroller, napping away at times or simply gazing at what the place had to offer.

The Mall Road ended up being our go-to spot for each day that we were in Shimla, and boy did we enjoy being there! However, we did share our love for the Mall Road with a few other sights in Shimla, like the Institute of Advanced studies, the Himalayan Bird Park, the Army Heritage Museum in Annadale, and a few others.

The Glen Forest, Shimla

With every trip, we try to get an experience like never before, and a forest trail in the Glen followed by an exclusive private picnic on Vrunda’s birthday was not just the best thing about the day, it turned out to be the best part of the entire trip! Walking through the Cedar trees, the pines and the oaks, feeling the cold breeze of a winter morning is calming in more ways that one can imagine. Maybe a little too calming for Ayaansh, since he even took a nap, being carried around in the greens. The picnic setup though, served as the icing on the cake. Tent, games, cold breeze, hot tea and the must-have “pahadi maggi”…! Some experiences become too precious to forget…!

My room...with a view...My room...with a view...

The Manor, Naldehra

25 kms from Shimla, cuddled up in the hills of Naldehra, is this cluster of service apartments right in the middle of the Auramah Valley. With a balcony facing the valley, this place had sunset views to die-for. Packed with all the modern amenities, this place served as our abode for 4-days and we could not be happier. Staying in an apartment meant more space for Ayaansh to run around, more space for his toys and a little space for us, borrowed from him.

Dadda said not to fall. Not that I ever wanted to...Dadda said not to fall. Not that I ever wanted to...
Green grass, blue skies...in this beautiful world...!Green grass, blue skies...in this beautiful world...!

While we would roam around, exploring the nearby places during the day, evenings were lazy, playing with Ayaansh at the apartment, calling in room service for dinner and ending the day with a movie or two. The only down-side here if any was that the restaurant was a decent hike uphill, on a path that was far from being baby-friendly. And so, we were hopeful of losing a few grams of body weight, carrying our 12-kg package up and down the way to the restaurant! With his ability to make friends everywhere, the Boca Mario restaurant at the Manor was no different, and Ayaansh had great company in the form of the F&B team there!

We had set out for a holiday that was full of leisure, enjoying the winter sun during the days and cold nights, tucked in blankets, with a bowl of warm soup or a cup of coffee. The great thing is, it turned out to be exactly that! Witnessing the beauty of Shimla is an experience that will stay with us for the years to come. Wrapping ourselves and Ayaansh in layers of warm clothes was a lot of fun, topped by the delight of watching our little ball of fur running around all over the place. We crave for experiences, and this was definitely not short of being a fantastic one!

The Queen of hills did welcome us with an open heart, and left us craving for more! From here and beyond!