The car is inching away from the overly crowded, tourist infested, and highly commercialized Shimla — on the winding road that curls along the slops of the luxuriant hills. After a while I can hear nothing but the continuous thud of the car engine. Within fifteen minutes I am in Mashobra where abounds not only the pine, the fir, and the rhododendron with the rich undergrowth of ferns but also the varied animal lives that are well protected in the thick, lush green jungle of the Shimla Wildlife Sanctuary. Absolute greenery of this quaint town is simply amazing. The random symmetry of towering coniferous trees can make anyone’s heart swell and soul elated with joy.
Where all other destinations are marred with excessive commercialization, Mashobra has successfully retained its rustic, old world charm. It has a beautiful flea market and old homes made up of stones lined with new concrete structure. The rich and the famous made this town their summer residences. Over the years, these summer houses have become an integral part of its natural beauty. Though, new multistory buildings are coming up here and there. Hope they remain few!
What is most striking about Mashobra is the gush of fresh air and the wide and expansive vales beyond which lie a series of hills that offer a glimpse of snow-clad Himalayan peaks, provided it is a clear sky day! The next day, I wake up early and walk down to Craignano – a beautiful picnic spot. It was a villa of Chevalier Federico Peliti—an Italian photographer in India. The town has many beautiful orchards and the daily life of locals mostly revolve around farming and horticulture.
100 years old St. Crispin Church is located right in front of Whispering Pines—a property of Club Mahindra—where I am staying. The church is now converted into a YMCA dormitory. A little walk away from here is Dane’s Folly—a beautiful property and the summer residence of the Governor of Punjab. Mashobra has been hot favorite among writers and artist such as Bollywood actress of yesteryears Vaheeda Rehman and Anita Desai who mentions Mashobra in one of her novels.
For a day’s drip you may also visit Naldehra, Tattapani and the Shimla Reserve Forest. Located at an altitude of 2,200 meters, Naldehra has a beautiful 18-hole golf course with 16 greens and 18 tees. It reminds us of Scottish Link Courses. Tattapani is famous for hot water springs along the banks of River Sutlej. These hot water springs believed to have medicinal properties and can cure skin diseases. It is also a good place for whitewater rafting.
The Shimla Reserve Forest serves as home to many species of flora and fauna. Trekking can be real fun. Though spotting rare animals can be a little difficult as increased human activities in fringes have pushed them deep into the forest. Keep a binocular if you want to spot birds.
How to Reach
Perched at an altitude of 2,146 meters, Mashobra is located only 15 km away from Shimla on Hindustan-Tibet Highway. This small, little summer holiday town is just ideal for spending a few relaxing days away from your daily grind.
Mashobra is only 15 km away from Shimla and a taxi or a bus can conveniently get you there. Buses leave daily for Mashobra from Shimla’s Lakkar Bazar. Shimla itself is 110 km from Kalka and 125 km from Chandigarh and 385 km from New Delhi, India.
Several trains run between New Delhi and Chandigarh/Kalka. The best option is Shatabdi which leaves early morning and the other in the evenings, both ways. If you prefer overnight journey, then Howrah Delhi Kalka Mail would be the right choice. Kalka and Shimla are also connected by the narrow gauge railway.
The nearest airport is the Jubbarhatti Airport in Shimla, 35 kms away. After getting off at the airport you can hire a cab to get to Mashobra.Getting Around
Mashobra is discovered best on foot. For sightseeing in nearby areas like Kufri, Fagu and Naldehra hire a taxi or opt for the bus.
Where to Stay
Forest Hill Villas (www.foresthillvillas.com), Violet Hill Cottages and Inayat can be good choice. The very well-known five-star Oberoi Wildflower Hall offers elegantly decorated rooms with fireplaces and all modern comforts. To admire the beauty of nature, book in advance the Garden Resort within the Sabina Orchards. The other option for places to stay in this region is Mashobra Hotel and Spa. I stayed in Whispering Pines, a Club Mahi