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The road to Shimla is a foodie's delight

The eating joints lined up on both sides of the Kalka-Shimla road and the cool breeze from the hills make for a heady combination.

india Updated: Apr 21, 2007 12:12 IST

This is one journey that should definitely be undertaken empty stomach. The one thing those driving uphill from Kalka to Shimla are not likely to miss is food.

From the times when 'desi dhabas' (local eateries) were the only option along this 85-km stretch, the National Highway 22 now boasts of a McDonald's, a couple of Café Coffee Day outlets and many more family-owned restaurants.

"There is never a boring moment on this road. The eating joints lined up on both sides of the road and the cool breeze from the hills make for a heady combination," says entrepreneur Rohit Sehgal. "For those coming uphill to beat the summer heat, the options are there for the taking."

The small town of Dharampur along the highway now has nearly three-dozen well-established dhabas, restaurants and fast food joints.

With the road to Kasauli hills and the famous Sanawar boarding school - where the likes of Sanjay Dutt and Omar Abdullah have studied - also taking off from here, the convoy of travellers is almost non-ending.

The most popular food joint for tourists though is still 'Giani da Dhaba' on the outskirts of this town.

For nearly three decades now, this dhaba has been satisfying the appetites of those going to and coming from Shimla and other places. It has expanded considerably, from being a small eating joint a decade back.

"We get hundreds of customers every day. The rush is particularly high on weekends," said an employee of the dhaba.

Bang opposite Giani's is Shan-e-Himachal, run by a retired Indian Army officer and his family. This dhaba-cum-restaurant is famous not only for its food but also the midnight knock that it got from celebrated author Salman Rushdie five years back.

The India-born Rushdie - one of the most well protected persons in Britain following an Islamic fatwa against him - came here in a cavalcade of five black Mercedes cars en route from his ancestral property in Solan, 20 km away.

Near these two dhabas are the modern Café Coffee Day, Golfer's multi-continental cuisine restaurant and Chandigarh's fast food chain Hot Millions.

Everyone along the highway does brisk business - be it dhabas or the regular restaurants. Many people just travel uphill from Chandigarh, Panchkula, Mohali and other nearby towns of Punjab and Haryana for a drive and a meal.

"Business is good for all eateries that make good food and offer a variety of services like phone booths, confectionery and proper sitting arrangements," says dhaba owner Pawan Kumar.

First Published: Apr 21, 2007 09:27 IST