Shimla is known as the Queen of Hill Stations. It is the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla has the look and feel of ancient English village. With its grand ancient buildings, which are the remnants of the colonial rule, Shimla looks majestic and very different from all other hill stations of India. The panoramic views of the snow-clad mountains and the serene natural beauty, in spite of its growing modernization, have helped Shimla retain its old charm. The extensive pasture lands along with a blend of the colonial aura makes it a frequented destination and a favorite among tourists, Indian and foreign.
Shimla was the summer capital of the British Raj and is a witness to many historical events such as the signing of the Shimla Pact that was signed between India and Pakistan. Shimla as a district was established in 1972. Way back in the 19th century the Gurkhas had started settling in and around Shimla and had built quite a few forts. The growing influence of the gurkhas got curbed in 1815 through the Battle of Malaon where they got defeated by the British forces. Shimla and its adjoining areas were freed from the gurkha clutches and given to the Maharaja of Patiala by the Britishers.
The name Shimla is derived from the other name of the Hindu Goddess Kali, Shyamala Devi.
How to reach
Shimla is well connected by road to the cities like Delhi and Chandigarh. There are innumerable private and public transportation available from the nearby major cities. It is at a distance of around 365 kms from Delhi and around 115 kms from Chandigarh.
The narrow gauge railway constructed in 1906 from Kalka to Shimla is a major attraction among tourists of all ages, young and old. This train is also known as the toy train and as it winds up and down the hills and mountains it provides enchanting views of the Himalayas and its flora and fauna. Kalka is a major railhead and has trains connecting it all major cities of India.
The Jubbarhatti airport is the closest airport from Shimla and is about 23 kms away. Almost all major domestic airlines connect it with the other cities of India.
Places to see
Chail (43 kms) from Shimla, a lush green beautiful spot having the world’s highest cricket pitch and polo ground, is a primary attraction. Kasauli (12 kms) is a secluded serene small town worth visiting. Kufri (19 kms) is famous for tobogganing, hiking, and skiing and is a major attraction for adventure seeking tourists. Solan (48 kms) was established by the British and served as a district headquarters. Barog falls in the Kalka-Shimla Highway and has a quaint railway station built in the Scottish style and is blessed with immense natural bounty. Nahan (140 kms) from Shimla is an ideally set picturesque town. Narkanda is about 2 hours drive from Shimla and is a hilly town offering exquisite bird’s eye view of the green valleys, winding roads, and Fagu, a small village. Renuka Lake (45 kms) is the largest natural lake of Himachal. Mashobra and Craignano (11 kms), Naldehra (26 kms), Sarol (23 kms) are also worth giving a look. White Flower Hall (13 kms) the former place of residence of the British Commander in Chief is a building of historical importance and architectural excellence.
Lakkar Bazaar is extremely famous for wooden art and crafts. Shimla apples are worth gifting.
Places to stay
Radisson Jass, Cecil Oberoi Resort, and Wildflower Hall are luxurious options. Hotel Clarke’s and Hotel Asia are some other staying options.
Best time to visit
The winter months from October to March are the best time for visiting Shimla. The monsoon months of July and August are best avoided due to the innumerable landslides occurring as a result of increasing urbanization. The folk and dance festival in the month of June and the Ice Skating Carnival in the month of December are ideal time for visiting Shimla if you want to soak in the real flavors.
Shimla has a cool climate with mild summer and cold winters. The summer temperatures rarely cross 25 degrees Celsius mark and Shimla sees some snow fall in the peak winters around Christmas.