Shimla is the beautiful capital of Himachal Pradesh, which beckons travellers with its promise of adventure, romance, and simple relaxation. The British were so captivated by its beauty, it remained their summer capital for over 75 years. Today, in a state known for its many destinations of great scenic beauty, Shimla has been chosen to be Himachal Pradesh’s capital.
Rising high above the northern part of India, at an altitude of 2205 m, Shimla is a town of just over 171,817 people. It is enveloped by snow-capped mountains, green pastures, and dense forests. The landscape of this hill town transforms with each season, but it still has a special experience to offer travellers throughout the year.
Shimla’s dense forest cover is made by its oaks, deodars, pines, and rhododendrons. It is also famous for its apple trees, well-loved across India. When you are there, visiting an apple garden is a must. Who knows, you might have a chance to sample some freshly fallen fruit!
WHAT TO SEE
Incredible viewpoints: Every hill station experience is made by its many viewpoints, each offering travellers a birds-eye view of the town. This is true of Shimla as well. For those searching for a special view of the sunset, we recommend you head to The Ridge. It is the buzzing heart of all activity in this hill town, as all travellers head here to get a panoramic view of Shimla’s seven hills.
Colonial landmarks: The British built extensively in Shimla, and they have left their mark on this town, which continues to illuminate Shimla in the mystique and the romance of the Raj. You see this at the old Clock Tower, the Mall Road, and the Viceregal Lodge. All reflect the neo-gothic style, which dominated colonial architecture. But its most famous symbol is the nineteenth-century Kalka-Shimla Railway, which has been d a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Churches, monasteries, and temples: Spirituality mingles easily with history here. Shimla is also home to revered churches, monasteries and temples. You can visit North India’s second oldest church, the Christ Church here or St Michael's Cathedral as well as the Dorje Drag Monastery. It also hosts temples such as the shrine of the Goddess of the Stars Tara Devi and the Jakhu Temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, which stands at a height of 2455 m. Travellers visit the site for its incredible views as much as its religious significance. Also close by is Sankat Mochan, dedicated to Lord Hanuman and known for its numerous monkeys. Also in the vicinity are the Kali Bari Temple dedicated to Goddess Shyamala, Anand Vilas, and the temple of all faiths Sarva Dharma Mandir.
WHAT TO DO
In Shimla, you can go for a nature walk, go fishing, golfing, ice-skating, trekking, skiing, adventure sports, and much more. Major trekking and adventure destinations are the hill stations of Fagu, Kufri and Naldhera. Kufri is a ski resort for the winters only. If you are in the mood to take on a game of golf, you can pay a visit to the Nalendra Golf Club, which is 22km away from Shimla. One can enjoy the pleasures of roller skating at Lakkar Bazar and open-air ice skating at Rivoli bus stand. Unbelievable it might sound—Shimla has Asia's only natural ice-skating rinks. Another 55 kilometres from the main city, on the banks of river Satluj, you will also find the hot sulphur springs of Tatta Pani, which is where the weary and the sick travel, seeking rejuvenation.
What to eat: The Mall Road has its share of cafes and restaurants, including the legendary India Coffee House. But whatever you do, don’t leave Shimla without trying some traditional Himachali madra, dhaam, and sidu.
What to buy: Like in most North Indian hill station towns, Shimla has its own Mall Road. First set by the British as the town’s designated shopping area, it remains the place to buy jewellery, embroidered shawls, and garments. It’s also a great place to sample Shimla’s local cuisine. You could also visit Lakkar Bazaar, which is famous for souvenirs and handicrafts made of wood.
Getting around: Most places within Shimla are accessible on foot, but to visit its more distant points, you would need to hire a cab. Public transport is hard to find and is not very reliable.
Where to stay: Tourists visiting Shimla choose accommodation at its many homestays and resorts. When arranging your accommodation, check for the best views. Later work with your hosts to arrange transportation to visit the town’s top sites.
The best time to visit: The perfect time to visit Shimla is between April and mid-July or between mid-September and October. But, for snow lovers, the best time to visit is in winter.
How to get there: Shimla is connected by road and rail to the rest of India. The rest nearest airport is at Jubber Hatti, which is just 23 km away.
Our tip: If you choose the rail route, take the toy train ride from Kalka station to Shimla. It is a picturesque route, which promises to leave you spellbound.
Trip to Shimla is an incredible experience. It fills our memory album with unique moments. Vividity is its signature. It offers bouquet of mind blowing scenarios, peaks and people. Snow clawed peaks, green blanket landscapes and thrilling climate and lasting hospitality are the chosen gifts of Shimla.