As part of the annual travel bloggers trip, we visited Mashobra, a quaint old town in Shimla where we were nestled at the Club Mahindra “Whispering Pines” resort. Our itinerary amongst others included a visit to the Shimla “Mall”. From the relative comfort at the resort, and the heavenly view of the ridges and mountains (Reo Pargial, Leo Pargial) that greeted me every morning from the windows, a walk to the crowded part of Shimla was less tempting. But we had Satya (Cdr. Satyabrata Dam), our well traveled and worldly-wise raconteur for company, and his description of the mall was charming enough to change my mind.
The Shimla Mall for starters isn’t some big shopping glass façade that have become the bane of most modern cities. Instead, it’s a promenade constructed during the British rule, and along with the Ridge (a level higher) is the key attraction of Shimla.
On the eve before departure, on our return back from the famous Vice-regal lodge (the former residence of the British Viceroy of India) we decided to head to the Mall before the sunset. I was accompanied by Satya and Kiruba, while Arun Bhat and Lakshmi followed later in another car.
We literally let our nose guide us to the various eateries that dotted the streets
We couldn’t have reached at a better time, as the skies were bathed in surreal hues of blue and purple and the climate was just right. We had planned our trip to stay clear of the tourist season that inundates Shimla town, and that proved to be a good decision (on peak seasons, you can’t walk past without touching someone).
The streets are lined with shops, some dating back to the British era and still holding on to their old world charms, while others were contemporary in nature appealing to the teenagers that thronged the street. Here the old and the new seem to blend effortlessly, and one doesn’t see ruinations of the past.
Food is another raison d’être for its popularity, and we literally let our nose guide us to the various eateries that dotted the streets. We stopped by at the popular Baljees to savour their delicious Chole Bature and Gulab Jamun, on another occasion we devoured piping hot Jalebis.
If pastries are your calling, try Trishul (next to Gaiety theatre) or Krishna bakery (near the “Lift”). For the city slickers, there are the Barista’s, Café Coffee Day, Dominos pizza and other fast food joints.
The Mall Street has a romantic charm about it, and we could see couples of all age groups strolling through the promenade hand in hand, while young men and women in groups exchanged glances and giggled.
As for the three of us, we threw caution to the wind and sauntered with a joie de vivre that only the Mall could invoke.