44 C and possibly on the way up - walking into my kitchen is like entering a furnace full on. They say heat rises and of course it does - it all seems to be in my kitchen- but you will be happy to hear that this does not happen at 7,234 ft above sea level. There it is positively spring- like, warm but with a fresh breeze blowing, cooler out of the sun and in the evening a chill allows you to wrap your pashmina happily around your shoulders.
We escaped and we headed to the hills and were soon reminded that in the olden days it took them four days of back breaking travel to get from the burning plains of hindustan to the hills but they considered it well worth it. When you go you too will realise what a completely different feeling Shimla gives you.
The Britishers as they are called, collective name for a bit of a disparate lot but we all know who they are, discovered this area around the 1820s and by 1864 it was crowned the summer capital of the Raj. A place that Rudyard Kipling said was "full of frivolity, gossip and intrigue" and which brought much relief to the many who wanted a respite from the summer heat.
Shimla was dicovered and within a short period summer residences dotted the hills and grand baronial buildings were built to house the officials and their administration. You can see much evidence of old Shimla in Shimla today and that has an enduring appeal to me as I am always curious to see the history and live the present.
It is built on seven hills- that is what makes it a meandering, high, precipitous place which is both colourful and congested, refreshingly different but familiar. The houses are high rises built on the sides of the mountains with many having their parking at ground level. All houses, eateries and even offices have monumental views and the roads wind and twist around these seven hills in a slow slithering line of traffic which mercifully still moves at snail's pace but where soon the vehicles on the road will simply out strip the horizontal ground available to park them.
Much to write about in the next blogs from the wonderful Wildflower Hall to the Viceregal Lodge but I leave you today with pictures of Shimla at a distance and a crazy cow with a head for heights ( see behind the parked car by the edge of the building works ) !