A post on a trip down the memory lane. The small village of Mashobra in Himachal is not commonly known but it is a hidden gem of importance. It is one of the Presidential retreats. The first time we heard about this place was when Club Mahindra opened their new resort here by renovating the historical Gables Hotel. We decided to head here for a week in July of 2009. The main draw for us was that this place is around 30 kms outside the bustling city of Shimla.
We took the morning flight to Delhi and reached around noon. After having lunch at my aunt’s place, we took the evening Shatabdi train to Chandigarh where we would stay overnight. We took a Cab sent from the resort the next morning to head to Mashobra. It took us a good 5-6 hours to reach there. An alternate would have been taking the Shatabdi right up till Kalka and then the Shimla-Kalka toy train.
Club Mahindra Whispering Pines is located in the quaint village of Mashobra. The Gables Mashobra hotel which had hosted the British during the days of the Raj was refurbished by Club Mahindra into the resort. One set of rooms in the resort face the valley and offer splendid views of the pine forests and the distant peaks of the Himalayas on a clear day. The rooms were beautifully done and we felt very comfortable during our entire stay. We had the luxury of watching the sun rise over the valley from the comfort of our bed thanks to the huge windows facing the valley. The food was also good and our appetites were fully satisfied.The staff did a good job of making some creative towel art almost every day.
Walk amidst the Pines
We went for a walk around the resort on one of the evenings. There is an old church in a clearing on a small hillock amidst the pines opposite the resort. The church is surrounded by beautiful decorative flowering plants. The giant trees might have been centuries old. It was a pleasant experience to walk amidst their shade. We waited for sunset and were duly rewarded. The Sun looked so red and the sunset was beautiful.
This peak near Narkanda is 3400 mts above ground level. A 3 hour drive from Mashobra. The final stretch of climbing up Hatu peak was extremely adventurous as the road was extremely narrow and winding. Only one vehicle could pass at a time and we were praying that no other vehicle comes on the opposite side :) As we were early we were the only ones at the top of the peak. The views from the top are majestic and the drive was worth it. A small shrine was being built there when we went.
Near Narkanda we saw a few Apple orchards. Unfortunately due to a delayed monsoon, the apple crop wasn’t its normal self that particular year.
The farthest place that we went to during this trip was the village of Hatkoti which is 100+ kms from Shimla. This village has an ancient temple complex dedicated to Goddess Durga. The route that we took was Shimla-Rohru road that passes through Theog, Kotkhai, Khara Pathar and Hatkoti. The terrain kept changing throughout this route. We passed through greenery followed by rain shadow areas that were totally dry. Lunch was at a dhaba in Khara Pathar and the food was so delicious. It took us almost 4.5 hours to reach Hatkoti.
The temple is located amidst lush green fields and the Pabber river runs behind it giving the whole place a picturesque look. The temple complex has a main shrine and a series of smaller shrines in the courtyard. The architecture is from the Gupta period and there are no records as to when this temple was built.
The Viceregal Lodge atop the Observatory hill in Shimla was built by the British in the late 19th century to be used as the Viceroy’s summer residence since Shimla was a popular summer retreat from the Northern plains. After India gained independence the place did not get used much by the Indian presidents. So Dr S.Radhakridshnan donated this building to the Indian Institute of Advanced Study where today post doctoral students especially majoring in philosophy study and reside.
A section of this building is open to the public via a guided tour and houses some important artifacts dating from the pre-independence era. The most notable being the round table where the partition of India was formalized. The building is surrounded by lush green gardens and houses trees such as maple and pine. The views of Shimla are nice from here.
Sankat Mochan Temple
Sankat Mochan temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman is located on the Shimla-Kalka highway. You get very good views of Shimla from the temple courtyard.
The second oldest church built in North India by the British in the late 18th century. Christ church is an iconic landmark of Shimla. This postcard church is located in the heart of the city on the Mall Road. The interior of the church is equally beautiful with the stained glass windows, memorial plaques and the pews.
Like with many other hill stations in the Himalayan belt, Shimla too has a “Mall Road”. The hangout place for the people of Shimla. This is the place to be if you want to be a part of the hustle and bustle of this city. We spent some time walking around here.
About 40 kms from Shimla lies the quaint Chail Palace built by the Maharaja of Patiala. Today it is a resort and a small section is open for public. The world’s highest cricket ground is located nearby.