Shimla

Shimla, formerly known as Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. It is bounded by Mandi and Kullu in the north, Kinnaur in the east, the state of Uttaranchal in the south-east and Solan & Sirmaur to the South . The elevation of the city ranges from 300 to 6000 metres. The town of Shimla is built over seven hills and connecting ridges. The hills are :

1. Jakhoo Hill
2. Prospect Hill
3. Observatory Hill
4. Elysium Hill
5. Summer Hill.
6. Bantony Hill
7. Inverarm Hill

The name Shimla has been derived from the goddess Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Kali.

In 1864, the Viceroy, John Lawrence declared Shimla as the summer capital of British India. After Independence, city became the capital of Punjab and was later named the capital of Himachal Pradesh.

Shimla came into existence from 1st September,1972 on the reorganisation of the districts of the state. After the reorganisation, the erstwhile Mahasu district and its major portion was merged with Shimla.

Major events that took place in the town were the Simla Conference in 1942, the deliberations of the Cabinet on and finally the decision to partition India.

The Shimla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan on July 2, 1972. The Shimla Agreement followed in the wake of the Indo-Pak war on 1971 that had led to the independence of East Pakistan as Bangladesh. The Shimla Agreement was an effort at diffusing tension between the two nations that had remained hostile after independence and partition.

Its easy accessibility and several other attractions have made it one of India’s most popular hill resorts.

Best Time To Visit Shimla

Shimla can be visited throughout the year, as each season has its charm.

Summer (March to June) : Days are warm and nights are cooler, so light woollen is recomended.

Monsoons (July, August) : Monsoon is the best time for nature lovers. Summers are washed off and there is a sudden drop in temperature.

Winters (November to February) : The snowfall in winters attract many tourist during winter. There is shortage of water in winters.

Whether Chart of Shimla

How To Reach

By Air:

Shimla has its own airport that offers connections for Delhi and Kullu.

By Rail:

Kalka is the nearest major railhead which is connected with Shimla on the meter gaugeThe train cruises its way through valleys and beautiful landscapes at a very slow pace making the journey very pleasant.

The Kalka-Shimla railway line, constructed in 1906. The railway route from Kalka to Shimla, with more than 806 bridges and 103 tunnels, was touted as an engineering feat and came to be known as the “British Jewel of the Orient”. In 2008, it became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mountain railways of India.

By Road:

Access to Shimla by road is made possible by the well-maintained and efficient network of roadways and National Highway 22 that links the town with Chandigarh.

Tourist Attraction

The Ridge

The large open space in the heart of town presents excellent view of the mountain ranges. Shimla’s landmarks – the Neo-Gothic structure of Christ Church and the new – Tudor Library building is worth seeing.

The Mall

Most of Shimla’s landmarks are located here. The Mall further joins the Ridge at the ‘Scandal Point’ of Kipling’s Shimla, where a statue of the nationalist leader Lala Lajpat Rai has been erected. This is the main shopping centre of Shimla with restaurants. This is especially pleasant in the evenings when the views and lights are wonderful. The Gaiety Theatre, which is a reproduction of an old British theatre is a center of cultural activities. A passenger lift of HPTDC can be taken from the Cart Road and the Mall.

Gaiety Theatre

The five storey building built in 1887 was one of the tallest buildings of its times and served as a major place of entertainment for the Anglo-Indian society as it housed a stage for Shimla Amateur Dramatic Club.

Town Hall

Built in 1860 out of stone and timber, the Town Hall which represents typical European architecture, housed the Municipal Corporation offices. Town Hall was built on a commanding ridge at the confluence of the grounds of the ridge and the Mall.

Post Office

The building of the General Post Office, Shimla, the oldest post office of Northern India was constructed in 1882 and was earlier known as the Conny Cottage. Before the establishment of rail or road links with Shimla, mail was sent through a special “dak gari” from Ambala to Kalka. It was further transported by postal employees using horses, ponies and even elephants.

The Lakkar Bazaar

0.5 km off the Ridge and is famous for its budget-range woodcrafts and souvenir shops, while the Subzi Mandi or lower Bazaar has stalls stocked with fruits, vegetables and dry fruits. A cluster of Tibetan shops sell imported goods, though some could be fakes.

Scandal Point

Located on the Mall Road in Shimla, Scandal Point is a major landmark and tourist spot of the town, owing to its interesting past. The place derives its name from the story of the commotion caused after the Maharaja of Patiala had eloped with the British Viceroy’s daughter at this junction point. One day while she was taking a leisurely walk in this place, he kidnapped her. From then onwards the place came to be known as the Scandal Point of Shimla. The Scandal Point is where the Ridge Road and Mall Road intersect.

This had led to the Maharaja being banished from entering Shimla by the British authorities. He countered the move by setting himself a new summer capital – now famous hill resort of Chail, 45 km from Shimla.

The most prominent feature of the point is a statue of the Indian freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai. Next to Scandal Point is the General Post Office, Shimla. The Scandal Point is considered to be the highest point in Shimla and is lined by various restaurant and shops.

Christ Church

Built in 1846-1857, Christ Church is the second oldest church of Northern India. It is located just off the Mall, below the District Courts. The town’s other important churches are St. Michael’s Cathedral and Roman Catholic Cathedral.

Jakhoo Temple

Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the Jakhoo Temple or known as Hanuman Mandir is located at Jakhoo Hill. The Jakhoo Hill is 2 km from the Ridge and at an altitude of 2,591 metres above sea level near the highest point of ridge.

This temple of Lord Hanuman was constructed by the sage Yaaku in remembrance of lord Hanuman. The temple also has a pair of feet engraved in white marble which devotees believe are of Lord Hanuman. The festival of Dussehra is celebrated at the temple with much aplomb.

A 33 metre high orange statue of Lord Hanuman is single statue to stand at the highest altitude among several other master pieces in the world. It offers a panoramic view over the surrounding valleys. The temple is a 45-minute walk from the Ridge, one can also hire pony or taxi to visit temple.

The temple also has a large amount of monkeys lurking around looking for some food from the visitors, so do be careful not to provoke them.

Kali Bari

The temple was built in 1845. It is dedicated to the goddess Kali. The temple is situated near to The Mall and its 5 minutes walk from The Mall. The temple is dedicated to Shyamala Devi (Shimla is named after this goddess), an incarnation of Goddess Kali.

Chotta Shimla

5 km , makes for a pleasant walk and enroute, near the Chief Minster’s residence, ‘Oakover’, lies Shimla’s oldest Christian cemetery

Himachal State Museum & Library

Himachal State Museum located at a hilltop in a house called ‘Inverarm,’. The Museum, which was opened in 1974, has tried to protect hill-out and the cultural wealth of the state. The museum is located 2.5-km west of the scandal point and opens daily except on Mondays and public holidays. The museum houses a good collection of Kangra and Mughal miniatures, Chamba embroidery, photographs, local handicrafts, coins, jewellery, temple carvings, paintings of Shimla and weapons.

It has also got a library, which houses many historical books and manuscripts.

The building also features a doll gallery that showcases a collection of Himachali bride and tribal dolls while the collection which is worth a look. The museum houses a remarkable selection of Himachal’s rich heritage.

Viceregal Lodge & Indian Institute Of Advanced Studies

On the Observatory Hills is located a six-story building and is surrounded by well-maintained gardens and lawns Viceregal Lodge, which is also known as “Rashtrapati Niwas”. This building was designed by British architecture Henry Irwin and is built in Jacobethan style. This magnificent building was the residence of the British Viceroy Lord Dufferin. The lodge has now been converted into Institute of Advanced Study.

The entry in the institute is by ticket and only on Sundays the grounds are open for the public.

The Peterhof

The Peterhof housed at least seven Viceroys and Governor Generals during the British rule. After independence the building served as Punjab High Court When Himachal became full fledged state the building became the Raj Bhawan, Unfortunately it burnt down in 1981 but it was restructured in 1991 and now is a heritage luxury hotel.

The historical Peterhof complex is located in the heart of city ‘Chaura Maidan’. It is also strategically situated with the State Museum on one side and famous Viceroy Legal Lodge on the other side, now housing the Institute of Advance Studies.

Prospect Hill

Crowned by a temple dedicated to Kamna Devi 15-minutes walk from Boileauganj on Shimla-Bilaspur road. The hill at an altitude of 2,155m offers a spectacular view of the area, crowned by the Kamana Devi temple .

Summer Hill

At an altitude of 1,283m, is located on the way of Shimla to Kalka and is only 5km from the Ridge Road of Shimla. The place is surrounded by serene beauty of quiet hills, which give it a breathtaking aura.

The Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to Shimla lived here. HP University is also situated over here.

Potter Hill

Situated at a distance of 1 Km from Summer Hill is very beautiful Picnic spot with all the natural beauty. Ecological Park is situated here. Many potters used to visit the place to gather clay for making pots.

Chadwick Falls

Located in the dense woods at a distance of about 7 km from the Summer Hill Chowk. The beautiful Chadwick Falls flow from a height of 1586 meters.
There are some ancient temples around the Chadwick Falls and also a fair is held annually in the month of April.

Glenn

Its about 4 km walk from the Ridge through dense Forests, a sprightly stream flows through the Glen forests at an altitude of 1830 meters. It is a secluded picnic spot.

Annandale

Beyond the Glen is Annandale, another picnic spot at a height of 6,117 ft.. It is a favourite spot for cricket, picnics and polo. Surrounded by deodar trees, this glade has an ancient temple on the edge.

Elysium Hill

On the road leading through Lakkar Bazaar, houses the famous Auckland House, the former residence of Viceroy Lord Auckland. It is a well-known girls’ school now. Nearby is the Stirling Castle, now an orphanage for the Tibetan children and a center for the Tibetan exiles who have settled locally.

Sankat Mochan

On Shimla-Kalka road at a distance of around 5 KMs is the famous “Lord Hanuman” temple. Situated at an altitude of 1,975m, it commands an excellent view of Shimla town. Temple has beautiful campus and Langar is held every Sunday.

Tara Devi

Situated on top of a hill on Shimla-Kalka road is accessible by rail, bus and car (11-km). One can visit the temple on foot around 5 km walk among dense forests from railway station/bus stand . A thick forest of oak and rhododendron surrounds it. It is famous picnic spot.

Nearby Places

Wild Flower Hall (13KM)

On the Mahasu range, at Charabra, 13 km from Shimla, is the Wild Flower Hall situated at an altitude of 2,498 m. Nestling among picturesque sylvan surroundings, the Wild Flower Hall commands a breathtaking view of the snows. A major fire damaged it in 1993. Serving as a hotel today, it attracts many tourists who wish to revisit the grandeur of a bygone era.

Mashobra (10KM)

Situated on Shimla-Naldehra road at a height of 2149 mt. . A place of unique beauty, Mashobra is an ideal interlude beneath the oaks and the pines. Featuring beautiful gardens spattered with the daffodils, hyacinths, asphodels and celandines, it is a popular weekend resort, dotted with delightful villas and innumerable picnic spots. Goddess Durga temple is worth seeing From here, a track leads down to Sipur, which is an exquisite glade shaded by ancient deodar trees. A fair is held here every April/May. About 3 km from Mashobra is the lovely resort of Craignano.

Kufri

Kufri, at distance of 16 km from Shimla and at an altitude of 2510 m above sea level, is well known for its ski slopes in winters. Kufri is a quiet little town which becomes a busy winter once the snow starts falling. An enjoyable walk leads up to the Mahasu Peak. It also has a Potato Research Station. The Himalayan Nature Park has been set up at Kufri in 1992 which is spread in 90 hectare area and mini zoo has been set up in this Park. There has about 140 wild animals including different verities ‘Monal’ the State bird of Himachal Pradesh. The other attraction of this zoo are Tibetan wolf, Brown Bear and Barking Deer, leopard, Ghoral, Samber, Himalayan Thar, Yak, black bear and number of pheasants varieties.

Fagu (22KM)

Fagu , a tiny village is situated at an altitude of 2,450 m on Hindustan-Tibet Road. Fog characterizes the hillside landscape endowed with romantic ambience. Fagu is gifted with some enchanting views.

Naldehra (23 KM)

Naldehra, at an altitude of 2050 m and 23 km from Shimla houses the oldest nine-hole golf course. In the middle of the course is a temple, Mahunag Mandir. It was a favorite pastime spot of Lord Curzon. He was so enchanted by the spot that he named one of his daughters ‘Naldera’ after the spot.

Junga (26 KM)

Junga is near Tehsi, 26 km from Shimla. Its original name (with diacritics) is Junga and is a former royal retreat of the princely state of Keonthal. It is also known as the Keonthal Estate.

Anand Vilas

Midway between Shimla and Junga. “Sarva Dharma Mandir”, Temple of all Faiths, is a spiritual group dedicated to Mother Nature. Thousands of visitors and devotees come here every year. There is an “Art is Values” school with students from all over India. Classes are provided free of cost.

Chail

Chail, spread over three hills at a height of 2150 meter, about 45 kms from Shimla, was the summer retreat of the Maharaja of Patiala, the settlement of Chail came into when Maharaja of Patiala was expelled from the British dominated town of Shimla. Completed in 1891, the Maharaja built a Palace which is now owned as a Heritage building by HPTDC. It has the highest cricket ground in the country at a height of 2350 meter built in 1893. Also famous for Wildlife Sanctuary and Sidh Baba ka Mandir.

The Chail is built over three hills – the palace hotel crowns the Rajgarh Ill, the ‘Sidh Baba ka Mandir’ is atop the Sidh Hill, the third is Pandhewa hill which holds the house of the former British Resident of Patiala.

Tattapani (51 km)

51 km from Shimla, is a spot well known for hot sulphurous springs. Shiv Goofa at Saraur (4 Km) is also worth visiting. One can enjoy fishing.

Narkanda (64KM)

Situated at an attitude of 2708 meters on the Hindustan Tibet road (NH – 22), Narkanda offers a spectacular view of snow ranges. An uphill trek (8 km) through deodar woods leads beholder to Hatu Peak famous for ancient Hatu Mata Temple (3475 m) which is now connected with a motorable road. The peak offers spectacular view of the entire Himalayan ranges, snow clad mountains and the dense forests. Narkanda is also famous for Skiing & Winter sports. Narkanda is a gateway to apple country of Himachal Pradesh.

Kotgarh and Thanedhar (82 KM)

17 km link road bifurcating from Narkanda and 82 kms from Shimla and is the apple heartland of Himachal, Kotgarh and Thanedhar, renown for apple orchards. It was here that Satyanand Stokes, an American missionary, first sowed the apple seed brought from back home and pioneered the apple cultivation revolution in Himachal. He started the apple farm which soon became renown with its Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Royal Delicious apples.

Adventure & Trekking

Shimla district is full of thickly populated pine trees and small rivulets, rivers in deep gorges and placid mountains lakes, mountain sides draped in snow, and green alpine meadows, all form a part of this immense spectrum. And the possibilities for a wide range of adventure activities is enormous. There are day-hikes by the thousand, and trek routes follow trails that last couple of days or can even extend over few weeks. These vary from gentle walks over easy terrain, to grueling expeditions. There is skiing, heliskiing and ice-skating. there is the thrill of paragliding and the test of stamina with mountain-cycling. One can go camping and fishing and play golf or take a safari by car, jeep or on motorcycle.

Trekking Routes :

Shimla to Kullu over the Jalori Pass

Shimla to Kullu via Bashleo Pass

Shimla- Rohroo- Sangla

Sarahan to Sangla.

Shimla to Hatupeak

Shimla to the Shalipeak,

Shimla to Churdhar

Shimla to Chail,

Shimla to Junga

Shimla to Tattapani

Skiing

Skiing is possible at Narkanda and Kufri (January–mid-March). HPTDC organises ski courses of 7 days and 15 days duration at Narkanda. One can get himself registered with the HPTDC for the course and all the facilities of equipment, lodging and boarding are provided.

Ice Skating

The Shimla ice-skating rink has the largest open-air area with naturally frozen ice in this part of the world. Ice-skating normally begins in early December and carries on to February. Clear skies and low temperatures provide series of uninterrupted sessions.

Shopping

The best shopping area in Shimla are The Mall, Lower Bazaar , Tibetan Bazaar and Lakkar Bazaar. There is an enormous range of goods that Shimla has to offer. This includes handicrafts, wood, and metalwork, shawls, pullovers, local tweeds, Wooden articles and Toys, caps, Tibetan carpets and pickles, jams and squashes. The Lakkar Bazaar is famous for its Wooden Crafts. There are many Emporium’s and Showrooms on the Mall .The day today items can be purchased from the shops in the lower bazaar. The Tibetan Market near Kusumpti, about 6 kms from the centre is famous for imported goods mainly electronics goods and fancy items.

What to Eat

There are a variety of restaurants and eating places in Shimla that are centred around the Mall with restaurants offering Punjabi, South Indian, Chinese and Continental Foods. One can find good Punjabi Dhabas and Vaishnav Dhabas near the mall and lower bazaar having reasonable rates. There are many Fast Food Centers on the Mall, where Burgers, Pizzas, Patties etc are available.

Where to Stay

Shimla is full of Hotels and Restaurants and there are around 500 hotels in and around Shimla, which includes One Five star hotel (Cecil Hotel) and many three star hotels. There are many Govt. Guest Houses and private Guest Houses. So accommodation is no problem in Shimla but to be on safer side one should book accommodation in advance for stay in Shimla, especially during the peak seasons of summer and Christmas.

Shimla