Roasted by the heat in the plains, you head towards the hills to get some relief in cool and clean environs. If Shimla ~ Queen of the Hills ~ is your next destination for holidays or to attend a function, it is expected to be great fun. But it is a mistake to take a car to the capital of Himachal Pradesh. All plans can go awry due to the acute parking problem in Shimla.

Private vehicles are parked in every conceivable place, even far-off roads in residential areas, Shimla visibly lacks proper space even to accommodate local vehicles with HP vehicle registration numbers. Therefore finding a parking space for an outsider is all the more challenging.

The authorised park lots are jam-packed 24×7 and if you happen to park your vehicle anywhere else, trust Shimla traffic police to issue a challan and tow away such vehicles bearing registration numbers from outside Himachal. After reaching at the hotel in Lakkar Bazar at about 11.30 p.m., a visitor is told that the hotel parking is full and suggested a space on the roadside. Being assured of safety, he reluctantly parked the car there even as 8-10 other cars were parked there already.

The next day, the car was missing whereas other vehicles with HP registration number were still parked there undisturbed. When contacted, Police Control Room confirmed that the car had been towed away and taken to Kachi Ghati nearly 8 km from the hotel. It was too late for local bus service, auto rickshaws do not ply in Shimla and taxi drivers asked for Rs 600-700 for the short drive.

After taking a lift in a car from Lakkar Bazar to Victory Tunnel, this hapless tourist walked 3 km to old bus stand traffic police post, paid a fine of around Rs 2,000 and was then directed to reach Kachi Ghati, about 5 km from the bus stand, to take the car back. The car had been parked by police down the hill amid shrubs, getting to which was a risky proposition in the dark. He retrieved his car but back at the hotel, the same parking predicament presented itself all over again!