The breathtaking views capture me as the car begins its descent in altitude from Manali on the way to Shimla, through the slopes of the Himalayas that finally stand before my eyes, with an excellent visibility thanks to the nice clear day. Shimla, the famous capital of the summer holidays of the British elite and an assiduous Bollywood location is so beloved that it risks dying from excess of passion.
Although the car drives downhill from where we start, the track does not appear to go down, except amidst small and picturesque valleys. The landscapes changes often as the barren hills soon gets replaced by more robust green trees lined up on the sides of the winding hill tracks carved into the rock along the river Beas. This is an incredible road and just a spectacle of nature.
Gradually we enter Shimla, which elevates its gods above everything as the Monkey God, Hanuman stands out from the greenery around Jakhoo hill. We weave through the British buildings, bazaars, temples and its greenery with mists suspended in the gorges.
I spend two nights here at Club Mahindra Kandaghat resort in Shoghi that guaranteed me a perfect vacation. The saying that the first impression is what counts for this resort is absolutely true. We found ourselves in front of a grand entrance beyond which we could see a garden of flowers and plants that we immediately liked. The green and the secular surroundings that offer pleasant views here is what stood out instantly.
The Club Mahindra resorts offer unique and interesting experiences and are particularly suitable for families because there is no dearth of activities here for children to the elders, where you’ll lose track of time as it flies sooner than you expect. This is a place ideal for families, where not only children have fun, but has entertainment services available to enjoy together within the family, to live those special moments with loved ones.
And taking into account that during the holidays the pleasure activities is a major desire, this fact is not to be underestimated.
The resort is only a few kms away from the Shimla city centre, the Mall and other nearby attractions like the viceregal lodge, Gaiety theatre and the Christchurch, where the movie 3 idiots was filmed. Closely located is also Kufri, with spectacular landscapes especially with the snowfall during winter.
The resort is sprawling, and in the suites, there is also a corner with a coffee table, refrigerator and microwave oven. The fridge is not filled with pre-supplied bottles but it is for those who want to keep something, where you can safely keep milk for your children or other essential items for elders, with all the facilities necessary to make your vacation even more enjoyable.
As I said, the Club Mahindra resorts are ideal for families and children as you never feel away from being at home. I stayed with my family for three nights and had a great time for the way we found ourselves at ease in every step.
Here are several ideal solutions for every type of guest, from the choice of different room styles, from contemporary to slightly traditional with a little retro flare, to those garden shades ideal for families to have the evening out in complete privacy. The atmosphere of the resort is relaxed, where you can go for nice and long leisurely walks and come back to dine in the casual restaurants.
As we head for breakfast, we find that the choice in the restaurant is really varied. It ranges from Indian to continental dishes. The list is long including cereals, spreads and fruit juices. You can choose from different kinds of soups, cakes to other savoury food like idli sambar, chole bhature, for those who prefer a more substantial breakfast, but how can you resist when everything is so inviting, with something for everyone?
And with the same choice I take pleasure in the croissants, colourful donuts, and hot coffee, as also I have the orange juice from the machines that dispense an assortment of fruit juices, and milkshakes in addition to savoury chicken and egg preparations. The staffs here are very kind and very attentive to the tastes of guests and ready to provide from a range of menu available according to tastes.
For lunch, I head towards one of the two restaurants at the resort, with highlights include the local Himachali menu, where the delicious Siddu, which tasted similar to a momo, a soup called Kheru, a fennel infused stew called Madra, Sepu Badi and the succulent Pahadi Mass, a lamb stew conquer me.
As children enjoy their favourite desserts, dads can happily take advantage of the beer that they can take in the minibar.
Adventure & Fun Activities
There are a number of wonderful family friendly pastimes also in the resort that makes a stay here more exciting with specialized instructors ready to guide in each step, as we engage ourselves in the popular activities like rock climbing, strolling through the Zipline, which at first definitely gives the shivers. With the support of the instructor, I wheeze past with the gorge deep down and surrounding verdant landscapes.
Attempting to hit the bulls’ eye in archery is definitely not a cakewalk, as my arrows fly everywhere other than the target. Gradually, with bit of support from the archery instructor, I reach somewhere close but still the bulls’ eye eludes me. And yes walking through the Burma bridge may look simple from afar, but once you are there on the middle of nowhere, picking up some tricks on the move definitely helps to complete the long scary walk on the ropes as that feeling like you're falling fills your mind every moment.
For entertainment of children, there are several entertainers in the playroom offering games, dancing activities and pool tables. There are numerous services designed and dedicated to families. For parents there are seats available, as they take delight in having some fun time, while watching their kids smile their heart away, or they can learn the long dreamt salsa moves from a specialized expert.
The place instantly attracted me with its mix of traditional and modern architecture and is also ideal for the organization of events, thanks to a meeting room as well as currency exchange services and a Kindle reading kiosk for booklovers.
The sacred and the profane are mixed, where you sometimes have a feeling of being in a huge amphitheatre where you are surrounded by numerable gardens, fountains, paintings and decorations. Unlike many other places the site is true to reality.
The romantic music surrounds me during the rich buffet meal during the evening as newlyweds express their love for each other, which will soon be forgotten by the river notes that I find on the next day, together with the enveloping fog in the green mountains and the beginning of what will be the way to home.
Other Activities near Shimla
The ski slopes located in Kufri are popular, although serious skiers often prefer the ski slopes which are located in Narkanda, which are less crowded and offer some unexplored slopes.
Paragliding is another sport that is very popular among families visiting the city and is usually held during the summer months.
There is also an ice rink carnival which is held by the Ice Skating Club in January and is another great attraction in the city especially for children.
Hiking is another wonderful sport that you can take part here and authorities provide adventerous family members with guides and trekking equipment. The hiking trails located here will take you through some of the most beautiful places in the region and there are also a number of restrooms that have been set so that hikers can take a little rest on the trek.
There is a zoo in Kufri which offers you the chance to see some great wildlife of the region, such as the Himalayan Snow Leopard and the musk deer, including a number of other animal species, which will be loved by children.
The elder family members missing their regular dose of Golf can play golf in Naldehra Golf Course, which was designed by Lord Curzon and is an important tourist site in city.
In the monotonous gray of the sky parade before our eyes the historic British buildings, with decadent expression of long gone colonialism, today abandoned to the elements or the philanthropic desire of some wealthy, who recalls the old splendour. The city has set itself the goal to readjust the ancient to the modern requirements with a nice way to preserve the architectural heritage of the past.
Nostalgia, then, is the dominant feeling here. Of course, if you talk with the elderly they perceive a certain discomfort for the style of some modern buildings. However, all of them are convinced that the legacy of the past cannot be preserved without modern empathy.
To understand this, after all, just look at one of the many faux-Tudor cottages scattered around the city. Some of them have been converted into boutique hotels, while others have become guesthouse or private residences. Often, again, they became ruins overgrown with bushes of roses and honeysuckle. All, however, are wonderful photographic subjects.
We find on the way the magnificence of the green surrounding the lavish Viceregal Lodge, the former residence of the British viceroys and now the headquarters of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies that can be visited inside with a guide.
The place is almost overwhelming as the height of the stately old trees reaches and exceeds the British building and is austere inside and outside, surrounded by an impalpable mist that makes the visit worth in a surreal environment similar to that of a stray Harry Potter.
The mist pursue my body until the night, where the shadows contrast the muffled light that stand out in the blackest darkness, letting my eyes wander on contrasting lines near the Mall Road Kali Bari Mandir Temple, similar to a Bengali hut, while a shaft of sunlight illuminates the dome and its inner sanctuary, rejoicing at the sound of the bell.
In Mall, also stands the Christ Church, the second oldest North Indian church built between 1846 and 1857 in which is still held the Sunday mass. For the locals the most popular temple is the small Shiv Mandir just below the Ridge. The Gaiety Theatre, the heart of the social life at the time of the Raj, includes a rich cultural life, including workshops and dedicated productions.
When I think about Shimla, I immediately think about the hills, holidays and fun.
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