Wildflower Hall Shimla - Best Himalayan Retreat Vacation Package - Holiday Travel

Wildflower Hall Shimla - Best HIMALAYAN Retreat Vacation Package

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Wildflower Hall Shimla - Best HIMALAYAN Retreat Vacation Package

Holidaytravel.co invites you to take a short break in India at a unique Himalayan retreat at 8350 feet in Himachal Pradesh - India, we will proceed to Shimla, the queen of hills and you will be accomodated in an Heritage Luxury hotel "The Wildflower Hall of Shimla" of Oberoi's Group. It is located at 12 kms away from shimla amidst picture perfect settings and cool Himalayan weather. 

while your stay at Wildflower Hall, You experience complete tranquility, It is a fairytale luxury resort situated amongst pine and cedar forests at a height of 8,350 feet in Chharabra near Shimla, Himachal Pradesh - India. 

 

Wildflower hall is actually the restored former residence of Lord Kitchener, Wildflower Hall recreates the grand style of the colonial era. Exquisite views from the rooms, restaurants, outdoor Jacuzzi, a heated swimming pool and luxury spa pavilions make a holiday at Wildflower Hall an unforgettable experience.

Today, the portrait of Lord Kitchener hangs above the fire. 

We offer to Stay at The Oberoi's Wild flower Hall, a grand heritage hotel in Shimla at 2800 meters. Heritage Hotel is over a hundred years old, the hotel has been restored to its original grandeur with wooden floorings, spa with gymnasium and children's activity centre which makes the hotel an ideal place for a family getaway.

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Word of Caution :- Although we take due care for the safety and security of our guests, because of its location, it is advisable not to bring young children below the age of 10 years to the hotel. Should you still choose to bring children below the age of 10 years, they will need to be monitored constantly by their parents or guardians to ensure their safety and security. The hotel shall not be responsible for any incident if parents with small children fail to take due precautions as advised.


 
Offer Rates - Wildflower Hall Shimla - Special Package

Validity of Dates

  • 1st July to 13th August, 2015
  • 14th August to 16th August, 2015
  • 17th August to 30th September, 2015
     

Rates

Sunday to Thursday

  • Deluxe Garden View Room - INR 18,000 per night ( $275/-) for 2 Pax

Friday and Saturday

  • Deluxe Garden View Room - INR 21,000 per night ( $330/-) for 2 pax

Minimum Stay 2 nights.
Prices are in Indian Rupees on Double Occupancy and exclude applicable taxes.

Offer Inclusions

  • Accommodation for two guests in the Deluxe Garden View room.
  • Dining credit of INR 2,000 per night.
  • 15% savings on spa therapies.
  • Book online and enjoy complimentary Internet access.


Extended Stay Rate

Take advantage of our preferential rates to extend your stay a bit longer at Wildflower Hall. The perfect reason to enhance your luxury experience at the hotel. Available for stays of four nights or more.

 

 

Places to See - Around Wild Flower Hall

The Mall

The Mall has always been a place to be seen at, for local Shimla residents. It has offered great shopping sprees to visitors since the 1800's. The unique feature of vehicular traffic being forbidden on the mall has only added to its appeal. The Gaiety theatre, the Town Hall, St. Michel's Cathedral and the General Post Office are good examples of colonial architecture on the mall.

Distance from the Hotel: 16 kilometres
Driving time: 45 minutes

 

The Viceregal Lodge in Scottish Baronial Architecture  - Weekend Getaways in Shimla 

The former residence of the Victory of India, this fine example of Scottish Baronial architecture was completed in 1888. It's grey stone masonry, tiled pitch roof, interiors with elaborately carved Burma teak and expansive gardens speak of the glory of a bygone era. This building also played an important part during the partition of India and presently it houses The Indian Institute Of Advanced Studies.

Distance from the Hotel: 17 kilometres
Driving time: 45 minutes

 

Hot Sulphur Springs of Tattapani & Shiv Goofa Where 181 Shivlings Are Naturally Formed - Weekend Getaways in Shimla

50 kilometres from Wildflower Hall. Tattapani is located along the banks of the River Sutlej and is the finish point for the river-rafting organised by the resort. The hot sulphur springs of Tattapani are known for their therapeutic power. Follow the Sutlej up to Shiv Goofa, where 181 shivlings' have been formed by the flow of water through a cave on the river side. The scenic two hour drive is over before you know it.

Distance from the Hotel: 50 kilometres
Driving time: 90 minutes


Sankat Mochan, The Lord Hanuman Temple - Weekend Getaways in Shimla

This temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, is of great religious significance and also commands an excellent view of the town.

Distance from the Hotel: 19 kilometres
Driving time: 60 minutes


Jakhoo Hill, Shimla's Highest Point - Weekend Getaways in Shimla

This is Shimla's highest point, offers a panoramic view of the town. Has a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman.


Kufri, Ski Destination in Himachal Pradesh - Weekend Getaways in Shimla

An inviting ski destination in Himachal Pradesh, Kufri has lured mountain lovers for decades. The slopes are not for professionals, but the short to advanced runs are tailor-made for the enthusiast.Yak rides for children are an added attraction.


Chail, Highest Cricket Pitch in The World - Weekend Getaways in Shimla

The former capital of the Maharajah of Patiala, Chail is built on three hills and is about 45 kilometres. from Shimla. The cricket pitch here is the highest in the world. The old palace and the polo grounds are worth a visit. It is an attractive tourist spot and an ideal place for picnics.


Naldehra Golf Course, India's First Nine-Hole Golf Course - Weekend Getaways in Shimla

It is about twenty minutes's drive from the hotel. Viceroy Lord Curzon was so enchanted by this spot that his daughter's middle name is Naldehra. He also created India's first nine-hole golf course at this site, and the perfect season is between April and October.


Narkanda, Famous For Apple Orchards - Weekend Getaways in Shimla

Situated on the Hindustan-Tibet Road, Narkanda offers a panoramic view of the inner Himalayas. Apples and cherries abound in the orchards near by at Kotgarh. Eight kilometres from Narkanda is the Hattu Peak, at a height of 3300 mts, which has several ski slopes – a beginner’s run, a slalom slope and a sharper descent for the seasoned skier.

 

Taradevi Temple - Weekend Getaways in Shimla

Hop on to the "toy train" at Shimla and alight at Taradevi station. Enjoy the two-hour trek through the magnificent ceders up to Taradevi temple. The temple offers serene surroundings and a breathtaking view of low-lying hills in the distance. An all day outing that makes you marvel at nature.

Distance from the Hotel: 30 kilometres
Driving time: 90 minutes

 

How to reach Wild Flower Hall - LOCATION & ACCESS

By Air

Chandigarh, the united capital of the states of Punjab and Haryana is the closest airport to Shimla. It has daily flights and is well connected to the major Indian cities. Wildflower Hall is a scenic four drive from Chandigarh airport, through verdant valleys and fragrant cedar forests. Limousine pick up can be organised from Chandigarh airport.

Private air charters can be organized.

 

By Road

The hotel is located 13 kilometres from Shimla, next to the village of Charabra, on the Shimla-Kufri road. Shimla is connected by road from Chandigarh (124 kilometres), from Kalka (110 kilometres) and from Delhi (385 kilometres). The drive from Delhi to Shimla takes approximately 8 hours and from Chandigarh to Shimla, approximately 3 hours. The drive from Shimla to Wildflower Hall takes approximately 45 minutes.

 

By Rail

Fast trains run daily from Delhi to Chandigarh and Kalka. From Kalka, train connections on a quaint narrow gauge railway, built in 1903, are available upto Shimla. The travel time is approximately 4 hours. There are number of trains to Chandigarh and Kalka. Limousine pick up can be arranged from Shimla or Chandigarh railway stations.

Travel time is approximately 5 hours.


Why Name Wildflower Hall

During monsoons, many wild flower species, wild strawberries and other berries grow around the property. The location also has good climate for apple cultivation and there are few apple orchards here. The Britishers introduced several trees and flowering plants notably Weeping Willows, Silver Oak, Chest Nut, etc. Wild Flower Hall has weeping willows on their grounds.

 

More About the Unique Location of Property

Chharabra is a small village situated approximately 8250 feet (2514 m) above sea level, 13 km from Shimla ( Capital of Himachal Prdesh - India) , on National Highway 22 (Hindustan-Tibet Road). Chharabra has summer retreat of President of India, summer residence of Governor of Punjab, a five star luxury hotel, a boarding school, and a helipad even though the population would be less than 500 people (including students of boarding school, staff of the President's Retreat and Governor's house and the hotel). The village is surrounded by evergreen pine forests, and has magnificent views of the Himalayas.

So, for having a holiday at such a prestigious location, it is an honor..

Chharabra is situated actually on top of mountain Ridge. From Chharabra, Most of the Himalayan peaks are visible, The Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas at more than 19,000 feet (5,800 m) high, Deo Tibba at 19,687 feet (6,001 m), Chota Shali and Shali peaks, Bandar Poonch peak, Rakt Dhar at 20,100 feet (6,100 m), and Badrinath at 23,190 feet (7,070 m).

Other Than Peaks, the area is also a bird santuary, as One side of Chharabra is part of the catchment area for the Yamuna river while the other side is part of the catchment area for the Satluj river. The entire area around Chharabra is densely forested and is part of Shimla Reserve Forest Sanctuary and Catchment Area.


Chharabra - The Reserve Forest Sanctuary Area

Chharabra is part of Shimla Reserve Forest sanctuary and catchment are with himalayan trees like pine, oak, cedar or Himalayan deodar, rhododendron, maple and horse chestnut. 

The wildlife around the property and village consists of jackals, kakkar (barking deer), leopards, as well as numerous bird species such as the Himalayan eagle, pheasants, chikor and partridges. 


Climate
The Maximum temperature ranges from 8.6 C in January to 24.1 C in July. Mean annual rainfall is 1600 mm. 

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Other Retreats around Wild flower Hall

The Retreat Building is the official summer residence of the President of India. Entry to this building is by permission only. The President visits Mashobra at least once every year, and during this time his/her core office shifts to The Retreat at Chharabra. The building housing The Retreat is a purely wooden structure originally constructed in 1850. The Retreat is the smallest of the Indian President's residences. After the Rashtrapati Niwas at Shimla was handed over to the Government of India in 1962 by the then President, Dr S. Radhakrishnan, in order to become an academic institute - the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, The Retreat was officially assigned to be the presidential mansion. The 16-room residence is surrounded by a 300-acre (1.2 km2) forest. The President stays at The Retreat for two weeks a year during the summer, but the building is mostly used by the Government of India to house foreign VIPs visiting Shimla. The property belongs to the former Raja of Koti, and has been given to the Government of India on a permanent lease.


Hemkunj or Hem Kunj 

It is the official summer residence of the Governor of Punjab, India. It was formerly known as Dane's Folly. It is situated on the road leading to The Retreat, between Wildflower Hall and The Retreat. The house was originally built by an Englishman called Mr Dane, who, believing that Shimla town would come up at this point, predicted that Shimla would come up on this side of the hill. 

 

Wild Flower Hall - An Interesting History you must know

Wild flower Hall is a luxury hotel constructed on the site of the summer residence of Lord Kitchener of Khartoum (the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces), he was the most famous resident of Wildflower Hall and spent a considerable amount of money laying out the gardens, and planting trees and flowers. Immediately upon his arrival at Shimla, Lord Kitchener secured lease of the property from the then owner Mrs. Goldstien. In 1909, after Lord Kitchener returned to England, Wildflower Hall was sold to Mr. Robert Hotz and his wife. 


In 1925, after demolishing the old house, Mrs. Hotz erected a fine three-storey hotel. After Independence, the hotel was taken over by the Indian Government, and the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation ran Wildflower Hall Hotel until 1993. in 1993 the building was razed to the ground by a fire caused by an electricity short circuit. After this event the Himachal Pradesh Government formed a joint venture with the Oberoi Hotel Group to rebuild Wildflower Hall as a luxury hotel.The present building is the third building on the Wildflower Hall site.

 

Kalyani Helipad

You can get magnificent view of the Himalayas, Shimla and the valley below from this point. This was originally the site of a two storied residential house called Dukani. Dukani was famous for its picnic grounds and terraced flower garden. After independence the property was taken over by the Government of India. The building was used by the State Horticulture Department until 1986 when it was razed to make way for the helipad.


Trekking around Chharabra

A route leads from Chharabra to Kufri. This route starts from Hotel Wild Flower Hall and this route leads through thick forests to Kufri Cantonment.
Second route is from Chharabra to Mashobra through apple orchards and pine forests. This is a very scenic route and one can have great view of Himalayas throughout the route. A metalled road leads to Presidential Retreat. Near the gate of Himalayan International School, a trail on right leads to Mashobra. Another route is to continue to the Presidential Retreat and a route leads to Mashobra from there.
Thirds route leads from Chharabra to Dhalli. After reaching Himalayan International School, take the route to the left. This route leads through thick pine forests to Dhalli. There is a school for physically handicapped children on the way. This school is run by Government of Himachal Pradesh. A diversion from this route leads to 

 

Major Distances of Wild Flower Hall

Distance from Shimla Railway Station - 12 km.
Distance from Shimla Interstate Bus Terminal - 11 km.
Distance from Dhalli - 4.2 km.
Distance from Kufri - 3 km.
Distance from Chandigarh - 130 km.

 

Interesting Points of Shimla & Wild flower Hall - Excerpts from Newyork Times - USA

Stalking the ghosts of the British raj is probably nowhere more rewarding than in the Himalayan hill stations of northern India, those outposts of rural England, complete with timbered houses, parish churches and flower gardens that were created as refuges from the subcontinent's searing summer heat. The queen of them all was Simla, for more than a century the summer capital of British India. Spread over a series of steep hills 6,000 to 8,000 feet high and accessible at first only by a grueling trek of many days on horseback or sedan chair from the edge of the plain, Simla - still not exactly easy to get to - stands as testimony to the audacity if not the absurdity of the British empire in India.

''Isn't it strange to dine in silk stockings in such a place, to drink a bottle of Rhine wine and another of champagne every evening,'' the French naturalist Victor Jacquemont said after visiting Simla in 1831. The altitude, he said approvingly, seemed to enhance the flavor of a truffled pate of hare from Perigord.

 

Simla is now the capital of Himachal Pradesh, one of India's Himalayan states and a favorite resort of Indians from New Delhi and beyond. But from Christ Church on the Ridge to the Viceregal Lodge on Summer Hill to the deep bathtubs at Clarkes Hotel or the dahlias and roses at Wildflower Hall, the memories of another age live on.

Simla (pronounced SHIM-lah by most Indians) first attracted the attention of the British when, in 1815, forces were sent to put down gurkhas who had been fortifying a number of hills. By the 1830's summer homes had begun to change the landscape. In the 1860's the viceroy, Sir John Lawerence, made the annual migration official, and Simla became the summer headquarters of the supreme government in India.

 

Today's visitor can find in Simla a welcome break from the dust and heat of much of India. Because of its attraction to Indian tourists and its size (more than 100,000 people) and importance as a state capital and the headquarters of the Indian army's western command, Simla has 2,000 hotel rooms and is accessible all year round by car, bus and narrow-gauge railway. Astride the old Hindustan-Tibet Road, it serves as a comfortable base for exploring other, smaller hill stations in the area. To the southeast is Chail, where, legend has it, a maharaja who was banished from Simla for attempting to abscond with a viceroy's daughter set up a town to rival it. His summer house is now the Palace Hotel, and for $40 a night one can sleep in his suite.

Farther south is Kasauli, the hill station closest to the Punjabi Plain, a spot favored for summer homes by a number of noted Indians. North and west of Simla, toward the higher Himalayas, are the ski runs at Kufri and Narkanda. A longer journey north and west - requiring at least a day on the road -brings the visitor to the high mountain valley towns of Kulu, Manali, Palampur and Dharamsala, where the exiled Dalai Lama holds court.

Like many other hill stations along the southern Himalayan flank, Simla and its neighbors are the sites of sanitoriums as well as resorts and summer houses. Indians and visitors alike find the cool mountain air healthful and invigorating. There are miles of hillside paths for walking and meadows for picnics.

 

Simla proper is a warren of footpaths, steeply stepped streets and slender alleys clinging precariously to the side of a hill that levels off at 7,000 feet to a promenade called the Ridge. At one end of the Ridge is Simla's best-known landmark, Christ Church, with its tall cream-colored tower. Those who make this old parish church their reference point will find it hard to get lost in Simla. From Christ Church and the half-timbered municipal library next to it a visitor can walk through the town or head toward the Ridge for a panoramic view.

The hike, which takes in a small temple to Hanuman, the monkey god, is the most popular and pleasant of many walks in the area. The path rises 1,000 feet from the Ridge to the temple, and the hike takes an hour.

Walking in Simla is by necessity a leisurely affair; the altitude takes its toll of those who move too quickly on the steep hillsides. (''Truly one must have good lungs and stout legs to tramp up and down the declivities,'' a 19th-century visitor said.) The streets are meant for strolling. Only the viceroy was permitted to take his carriage along the Mall. Now as then all public vehicular traffic is banned in the upper town. Indian army jeeps and a few V.I.P. cars are the sole inheritors of the viceroy's prerogative. Man-powered rickshaws and ponies are available but rarely needed. Most of the hotels are on or close to the Mall, and a car is needed only to reach the railway station or tour the surrounding hills.

A walk through town might begin with a stroll along the Ridge away from the church, past the British army bandstand and the Corporation Building -or town hall - toward Scandal Point, where the Ridge meets the Mall, Simla's once elegant shopping street. Under the bandstand, by the way, is a small restaurant called Goofa (''Cave'' in Hindi), where coffee, tea and light snacks like pakora (deep-fried puff pastries stuffed with vegetables or cheese) or samosa (small turnovers stuffed with meat or vegetables) are available most of the day. Scandal Point got its name, it seems, from the assignations arranged and gossip exchanged there.


The Mall remains Simla's prime shopping bazaar, a mixture of tailors, photographers and food stalls. Beginning at the telegraph office and walking back in the direction of Christ Church to Clarkes Hotel at the other end of the Mall, a visitor can sample several interesting shops. Almost directly opposite the telegraph office is the Himachal Government Emporium, where local handcrafts are sold (at controlled prices) along with goods from other parts of India. Woolen rugs are priced from $50 to $300 or more.

 

Colorful kulu caps - embroidered or velvet-trimmed pillbox hats worn by many mountain people - cost $3 or $4. Kulu caps are sold in many shops along the Mall, as are decorated or carved-wood walking sticks, which range in price from 40 cents to $1.50.

 

Opposite Grindlay's Bank is the Himachal Khadi Board Shop, which sells handloomed articles made in the tradition fostered by Gandhi to keep alive the village crafts of India. Bedspreads, blankets, placemats, table covers and homespun yard goods are available for $5 and $6.

 

For Tibetan crafts, the best of several shops run by emigre Tibetans seems to be a tiny place in Willow Bank, a group of stores near the Clarkes Hotel end of the Mall. There rugs ($100 up), padded jackets ($8 to $30), quilted felt boots ($12 to $15) and several cases of antique silver jewelry are among the attractions. The shop is called the Tibetan Refugee Handloom Shop. Incidentally, prices in most shops are marked, and bargaining is not expected, though discounts are frequently sought or offered.

On the level below the Mall in a warren of shops called the Lower Bazar, shopping is noisier. The Lower Bazar, reached by steps from the Mall at a number of places, rises to meet the Mall near Combermere Bridge, which is the first span to link two main parts of town that had been separated by a ravine through which sliced a raging mountain torrent. Bear once roamed there.

 

Book lovers will be drawn to Simla's many bookshops, where everything from current Western novels to rare and antiquarian volumes can be found. A musty old establishment called Maria Brothers, at No. 78, about midway between Clarkes Hotel and the telegraph office, has old miniature paintings (and copies of paintings) from the Kangra School, offered at negotiable prices starting at $35.

Along the Mall is the Indian Coffee House where people like to meet for converstation and relaxation. The coffee house, which is near the Himachal Emporium, a dimly lighted two-story affair, serves such snacks as cookies and cakes as well as coffee.

Also along the Mall is the Gaiety Theater, a reminder of the days when British men and women found amusement in amateur dramatics. The theater building is now in the hands of the army command; plays have long since ceased to be performed on a regular basis. For entertainment Simla is left with a few movie houses playing mostly Hindi films.

 

Excursions out of Simla can be made by taxis, which can be hired at the foot of a two-stage elevator that connects the Mall with the lower major roadway. The elevator is virtually on the site of Combermere Bridge.

Among side trips is a visit to the old Viceregal Lodge, now the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. The institute provides research facilities for scholars in a wide range of fields. Because it is primarily an academic retreat, it is necessary to get permission to go inside the lodge, where the vice-r@eine's luxurious quarters and a grand entry hall and public rooms are among the attractions. Permission may be obtained from the Tourist Office on the Mall. The lodge, built from 1884 to 1888 at an enormous cost in materials and labor, stands on a commanding hill three or four miles from Simla. It is made of stone and paneled in teakwood from Burma. With its neoElizabethan ornamentation it cries for a Scottish moor.

 

Another side trip is to Wildflower Hall, eight miles beyond Simla, where Lord Kitchener, as commander in chief of the Indian army, rented a summer villa. Though the house Kitchener lived in was torn down and rebuilt as a small hotel, the site (8,200 feet high) and the grounds, full of flowers and aromatic deodar firs, have lost none of the glory that attracted the general. From the gardens (one an outdoor cafe) and from the dining room, which is open to the public (a three-course Indian lunch costs $3.50) can be seen the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas more than 19,000 feet high, Deo Tibha at 19,687 feet, Rakt Dhar at 20,100 feet and Badrinath at 23,190 feet.

One of the oldest houses in Simla, once called Barnes Court and now named simply Himachal Bhawan (or building), a state guesthouse, is also open to visitors by arrangement. It is at the edge of town and has extensive flower gardens. Indoors are paneled halls, a ballroom and luxurious suites. Barnes Court was for some years the residence of the lieutenant governor of the Punjab. In the dining room of the present guesthouse (which may soon, local politicians willing, become a hotel) the finely carved mantelpiece bears the coat of arms of the British Punjabi government.


Simla has its problems. Goods come a great distance, and there can be shortages. There is a century-old lack of water, due in part to the deforestation begun when the British began to encourage agriculture on the hills. On my visit in mid-October, water was available only from 7 A.M. until noon. But by filling buckets and bathtubs, most people seem to get through the day, and the hotel seemed to have squirreled away a supply for emergencies.

Lest anyone be misled by its history or its architecture, Simla is not a European town. Its language is predominantly Hindi, though English is understood in the larger hotels and shops. Its people are a mixture of hill people, Punjabis from the plains and Tibetans in exile. On several fall and winter visits I saw no other Western faces, save for two wandering hippies at the railway station and two Russians in the dining room at Clarkes.

Morning and evening, the scent of wood fires and Indian spices wafts up from hundreds of small homes and all the sounds of India - vendors's cries, the singing of birds and the wail of Eastern music - punctuate the silence. Simla, the creation of foreigners, has now settled gently and harmoniously into its native hills. If You Go ... ... There are three ways to travel from New Delhi to Simla, a trip of 200 miles. The quickest, most luxurious and most expensive way is by air and private car. The cheapest is by bus. The most fun is by rail.

There are no airports in the hills, but there is a daily flight by Indian Airlines from New Delhi to Chandigarh, at the edge of the plain. The one-way fare is $25. In Chandigarh a car and driver (there are no self-drive cars available) will take you to Simla and back for $55, plus $6 a night expenses for the driver for each night you are away.

Local side trips are extra. A trip to Kufri from Simla costs $12. By car the 70-mile trip from Chandigarh to Simla can be made in three hours nonstop, but the trip can be rough, dusty and noisy. There is direct bus service (ask for a deluxe coach) between New Delhi and Simla. The trip takes 10 hours and costs $5 or $6. There are a few rest stops along the way, but visitors may want to bring along, as Indian travelers do, a container of water or coffee and some snacks. People prone to motion sickness need medication to get through the twists and turns of the mountainous road.

Rail connections between Delhi and Simla are made through Kalka, at the foot of the mountains, where passengers switch from main-line trains to a narrow-gauge line called the Kalka-Simla Railway. You have two choices: a standard, albeit tiny, passenger train with a diesel engine or a rail car, a self-contained 18-seat single car (all first class), which makes the trip between Kalka and Simla in four and a half hours. The rail car has a cowcatcher on the front (mostly used on monkeys), leather-like upholstered seats and wood paneling, with wide windows to view the mountains. The rail trip costs $25 and requires one night and nearly half the next day.

In Simla, the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation runs the Holiday Home Hotel, a new building with small but comfortable rooms, all with showers. In November I paid $13 a night there. Meals ranged from $2.50 for a Western breakfast of juice, eggs, toast and coffee to $4 for a vegetarian lunch of soup and three vegetable dishes (curried cauliflower, peas and mushrooms in a rich sauce and rice pilau with spices, peppers and onions).

 

The Oberoi chain runs two hotels in Simla: Clarkes, on the Mall (the first Oberoi of them all), and the Cecil, which is open only during May and June. A large comfortable room at Clarkes cost me $33 a day in October. That included three substantial meals. Dinner one night was mulligatawny soup, spicy mutton meatballs and several seasoned vegetable dishes, with a custard cream for dessert.

Water is served at all meals. If you are new to India, do not drink it anywhere. You can ask for ''soda'' - club soda - instead. Rooms at Wildflower Hall, also run by the Himachal Pradesh state government, range from $5.50 for a clean single to $20 for a two-bedroom, twobath suite or cottage. Meals (about $4 to $5 for dinner) are extra.

Simla and the other hill stations are most crowded in April, May and June, called the ''summer'' season. July, August and part of September are the months of the monsoon. People still come to the hills then because they are cooler and freer of disease than the steaming lowlands. Late September and October are the height of the fall season, which stretches into November. Fall temperatures range from the 40's and 50's at night to the 60's and 70's during the day.

Snow and ice begin to appear in December and last through early March. Winter daytime temperatures are pleasant (often in the 50's) because of the warm sun, but the thermometer plunges below freezing at night.

Simla's main attraction for winter visitors is its crisp cold air and the opportunities for hiking across snowy hills. There is a small ski area at Kufri. In January and February a few short downhill runs are created out of a terraced potato-research station. But snowfall has been decreasing in the Simla area over the last 10 years, and the hills at Kufri can be unreliable and hazardous.

Kufri has a free rope tow and a wooden ski hut. There is also a tourist bungalow, with overnight rooms for $5. Ski equipment is limited at Kufri; the state government has 50 pairs of vintage skis to rent. At Narkanda, 40 miles from Simla, a larger ski area is being developed by the state government, which is constructing a rope tow and beginning a ski school. Ten days of instruction, room and board cost $50 for those under 30 years of age, $70 for those over 30. (The price differential is aimed at encouraging the young to take up winter sports.)

Simla has a small, free outdoor ice-skating rink on an open piece of shaded ground near the central bus station. A few pairs of skates are available for rent.

 

Information on Simla, including trekking and hiking trips and bus tours to other hill areas, is available from the India Government Tourist Office, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York 10112 (212-586-4901). Information is also available from the Managing Director, Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, Ritz Annex, the Mall, Simla, 171001, India. The State Tourism Department also has an office in New Delhi at 36 Janpath (phone 345320). -B.C.






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