The first place that comes to my mind when I want a breather from Delhi is Shimla. Himachal’s capital is easily accessible, it’s packed with a bunch of things to do  and the food is sumptuous. The most convenient way to get there is by taking the train (Shatabdi) to Kalka and then a cab from the station. If driving is more your thing, the road is excellent but you run the risk of encountering traffic jams on long weekends. Here’s a perfect itinerary for the weekend.

Day 1:

Skip the road and chug through the mountains to reach your destination in the charming Kalka Shimla toy train — it sets the perfect tone for the getaway by making you realise the value of slowing down. It is truly a fairytale setting as you go through more than a 100 tunnels and go past some gorgeous scenery.

It’ll be lunchtime by the time you arrive, so after checking in to your hotel, head to Embassy restaurant on the Mall Road for lunch. It’s an institution in Shimla and you can’t leave without having at least one meal there.

After your sumptuous lunch, stroll along the Mall that extends from the Viceregal Lodge to Chotta Shimla and take in the colonial past of this former summer capital of the British Raj with its regal buildings such as the Gaiety Theatre and Gorton Castle.

Image Credit: Numerounovedant

The Mall is a vehicle free stretch, with plenty of shops to delight the shopaholic in you. So go ahead and splurge on souvenirs, woolens or anything else that you fancy.. Wrap up your day by heading to  Café Shimla Times for the best sunset in town and linger on till you please  .

Day 2:

Instead of lazing around in the morning, head out to Wake and Bake Cafe for the most amazing waffles, pancakes and crepes. The  food here is worth the early start.

Image Credit: Biswarup Ganguly

Then take a two-hour heritage walk with Raaja Bhasin, an author who knows Shimla like the back of his hand. He’ll explain about the architecture, influence of the British and you’ll notice how the hill town has managed to retain its old world charm despite modernization all around.  You can even customize a walking tour to your liking. If your walk doesn’t cover the Christ Church, Gaiety Theatre and the Viceregal Lodge, make sure to visit them on your own. Built in 1857, Christ Church happens to be the second oldest church in North India.

Image Credit: Abhimanyu

Head to Baljees, an institution here,  for a hearty lunch.. Order their Mughlai cuisine and end your meal with the delicious pastries and ice cream.

To watch the sun go down, climb up to Jhakoo hill – the hour-long steep trek is well worth the breathtaking views of Shimla. Beware of monkeys on the way, as they tend to be quite a nuisance. There’s a Hanuman (monkey god) temple and a huge statue of the god. If you’re not up to walking, you can drive there, but I’d suggest working off those extra calories so that you can enjoy a good dinner at Café Sol known for food from across the world –. End the meal with their delicious trademark selection  of cheesecakes.

Image Credit: Bharat Justa

Day 3:

Start your day with  breakfast at Honey Hut, where each item includes at least a dollop of honey, and then head to Kufri, where you can dabble in winter sports. Located about 17km away, it offers plenty to do – from skiing in winter to horse riding all year round. If that doesn’t excite you, visit Indira Tourist Park that affords some great mountain views, or wander around Himalayan Nature Park where you can spot animals. You can also drive up to Mahasu Peak, the highest point in Kufri.

Image Credit: Redbudhotels

Image Credit: Biswarup Ganguly

Today, skip the restaurants and enjoy a bowl of noodles (Maggi) for lunch. Linger on until it is time to return to your hotel and prepare for the journey back, hopefully with some happy memories that will recharge your batteries as you return to the grind of the city.

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