Hill Station Splendor at Wildflower Hall

Wildflower Hall
Soak into luxury in the Himalayan foothills at the Shimla Wildflower Hall. See below for suggestions for hiking and spending a few quiet days in the mountains.

It was to good to pass up: an Indian friend invited us to his wedding in the foothills of the Himalayas.  Nuptials seemed an ideal pretense for a stay on the sub-continent.  

But first let me confess one thing, dear readers.  This seemed like an idea journey sans baby, in my case, a mobile one-year old who had just settled into her routine at a German kinder and would likely be even less enamored with the exhaust-tinged dust of a Delhi summer than me.  And it turns out that an adventurous and pregnant friend was up for an adventure.  So the experience I describe is for adults and those with the under-1 and over 3 set who can handle the sitting-still required for an 8 hour bus and train combinations.

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A good-natured one-year old braves the 7 hour journey from Chandigarh to Shimla in an un-conditioned bus. I left my 18-month old at home.  Did I feel slightly guilty?  Perhaps, although she would have been unhappy in the heat and cramped conditions, and so would I. 
Shimla’s pleasant 24 degrees, one for ever 1000 meters, were exactly half the temperature of Delhi’s, making it an ideal hill station for British colonialists. Wildflower Hall, the former summer residence of an English lord, rests in 38 acres of protected forest, making it a sanctuary amidst the bustle of Indian city dwellers escaping the heat.

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This hotel stands apart from an often-congested mountain scene.

Wanting The Oberoi’s activities coordinator arranged a six kilometer hike for us to see some sights and burn some calories before indulging in a two-day wedding feast.  We walked by the summer residence of the Indian Prime Minister and made some new friends.

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A monkey greets us on the path at Wildflower Hall
Aside from the primates, we had the path to ourselves as we walked among the pines.

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The Wildflower Hall activities director found a peaceful 6 km hike for us.
We also mades sure to get in some pool time. 

The Oberoi offers a number of quiet nooks and crannies to read a book or catch up with postcards.

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Enjoying a quiet moment at the bar, the Wildflower Hall
The spacious mountain view rooms have close to floor-to-ceiling rooms to keep the mountains in sight at all times.  Note: published signs warn guests to keep windows closed unless they would like a visit from monkeys.

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Mountain view room, Wildflower Hall
That night of the wedding, Vibhuti, the Front Office supervisor, helped us wrap our saris-it is a lot harder than it looks so we could set off to the wedding in style.

Can’t wait to go back! 
Three things you should know before you go: 

1. Bring comfortable shoes for a walk.  The activities coordinator can also arrange trips to a nearby leopard and monkey sanctuary. 

2. The Oberoi offers a free Patanjali yoga class every morning.  In the class we took, the instructor focused on breathing, meditation and joint exercises.  

3. You can order off-menu dosas for breakfast. 

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