The early-morning hike up to Jakhu, or “Monkey”, Temple is something of a tradition in Shimla. The top of the hill (2455m) on which it stands offers a superb panorama of the Himalayas – particularly breathtaking before the cloud gathers later in the day. The relentlessly steep climb takes thirty to 45 minutes. The path starts just left of Christ Church; during the season, all you need do is follow the crowds.
After the hard walk up, the temple itself, a red-and-yellow-brick affair crammed with fairy lights and tinsel, comes as something of an anticlimax, although the new 30m-tall orange concrete statue of Hanuman is an impressive sight. The shrine inside houses what are believed to be the footprints of Hanuman himself. Legend has it that the monkey god, adored by Hindus for his strength and fidelity, rested on Jakhu after collecting healing Himalayan herbs for Rama’s injured brother, Lakshmana. Watch out for the troupes of mangy monkeys around the temple. Pampered by generations of pilgrims and tourists, they have become real pests; hang on to your bag and don’t flash food. Hold onto your specs too – one or two monkeys have even been trained to swipe them from unsuspecting victims’ faces and turn them over to a local, who will hand them back … for a small fee, of course.