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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Explore Shimla’s Sleeping Beauty trail

Discover Shimla’s famous houses and fairytale forests on this half-day walking tour…

By Sumit Raj Vashisht
Director of Shimla Walks

Learn the history of Shimla and explore its famous houses and fairytale forests on this half-day walking tour. I devised this trail to offer a blend of architecture, history and nature, leading from Shimla around one of the surrounding seven hills, Elysium. We start from the main town and head north-east, passing historic houses that tell the stories of Shimla’s past. A highlight is the iconic Sterling Castle, which was one of the first houses built in Shimla by the British in 1833.

Other landmarks you’ll see include Chapslee, built in the 1830s by Dr. Blake of the East India Company. Then there’s Belvedere, the house of the gem dealer Alexander Malcolm Jacob who had a shop in Shimla where he sold antique pieces from all over the world. Some say he was a Russian spy. He was ruined by a bad deal that involved selling one of the world’s largest diamonds, at 185 carats, to the Nizam of Hyderabad. You can see the jewel today, known as the Jacob Diamond, in a museum in Hyderabad.

As we walk you get incredible views of the Great Himalayan Range and northern hills, covering about five kilometres in all. Eventually we pass Northwood where the last British lady who lived in Shimla stayed with her 15 dogs and many cats – it’s now been converted into a school for local children. The last part of the trail leads towards a cedar forest and a temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, which has views over Shimla and the mountains. Guests love the feel of the forest, the stories behind the houses and uncovering Shimla’s past.

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Alfred & Sumit Raj Vashisht

Sumit Raj Vashisht is a writer, poet and hiker born in the mountain town of Shimla. His father’s job as a railway engineer took him all over India, but he always dreamed of returning. After studying tourism at Delhi University and cutting his teeth in the capital as a guide, Sumit eventually founded Shimla Walks, which specialises in trekking and heritage  tours of his home town.
Sumit Raj, founder of Shimla Walks