Shimla hill station is still the colonial summer capital (resort) to which British used to retreat in when heat of Indio-Gangetic plains used to become unbearable. Be it grey-stone work of Vice Regal Lodge, or Gaiety Theatre putting neo-gothic architectural excellence, the beauty of building seem to come alive and not only staying in eyes of beholder. The Elizabethan style mixed and merged with different other forms in buildings like Ellerslie, Christ Church, Gorton Castle, Wood Ville, etc are a must-see.
Spirits of that past attracts enthusiasts from India as well as abroad when this hill city has been made capital of state of Himachal Pradesh after India got its Independence. However, this is not the sole reason for why to come to Shimla. Smooth slopes of Snow-draped mountain peaks are absolute invitation to the skiers by spirit or profession. While camping and trekking trips, doing yoga facing the mild rays of waking sun might become the other reason. And this list is sure to go long, once tourists get to know what all they could do to make best time in Shimla.
The way it is nestled at a maximum altitude of 2200 m in the foothill of Himalayas, traveling Shimla is a perfect course to get to view this heaven in summer; and also in winter that brings a different glory altogether.
Named after Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of Goddess Kali, Shimla has emerged as a well developed city. Yet, the touch of Nature could be felt everywhere one goes too. The beauty of hill could be summarized by uttering the name of this place. It is no wonder why film Industry took to this city when shooting for some place abroad. Shimla tourism encompasses a complete experience, where entertainment, culture, sights like British architecture reminiscent of colonial era, temples and palaces could be spotted interspersed on its landscape.
Attraction literally means something that draws attention due to a significant appeal. When discussing Shimla, the whole city becomes the embodiment of this single word, as portrayed by different integrals that combined to make it. Here are some of them-
Places of Worship
Jakhu Temple- With a giant statue of Hindu God Hanuman, the aide and devotee of Lord Rama in his mission f life, this temple is symbolic of brotherly love and devotion.
Tara Devi Temple - Dedicated to goddess of stars, the temple is located 11 Km away from Shimla Bus Stand.
St. Mary's Church - Although 80 Km away from Shimla, the Church still is an attraction for the visitors who are in the hill station for their holidays.
Kali Bari - The temple is dedicated to the goddess who has given this city Her name and can be booked for staying as well.
Sankat Mochan - Another temple of Lord Hanuman, located some 7 Km away is visited feverishly by His devotees present in Shimla.
St. Michael's Cathedral and Christ Church- One of the oldest churches in India and second oldest in North India, devotees of every faith stream in here for few moments of peace, introspection and confessions. Henry Irwin designed this Church in 1885 to last in the minds of the worshippers as well as visitors to the church forever.
Dorje Drag Monastery - Buddhism also has left its mark in various places of India; this monastery is just another of them. A peaceful mind and rejuvenated spirit is guaranteed after coming here.
Kamana Devi Temple at Prospect Hill, Gurudwara, Bhimkali Temple are some other places of worship.
Seven Hills - With a major tourist attraction on every hill, Shimla is surrounded by these beauties augmented by the sensible designing of the city by British. Prospect, Summer, Observatory, Invererarm, Bantony, Jakhu and Elysium are the names of the hill that hold at least one significant tourist attraction.
The Glen - A picnic spot of sorts, this place is charmingly scenic with deodar and pine forests along with Chadwick falls. Some sources claim the place to be oldest picnic spot of Shimla, reached easily from Scandal Point, another attraction of Shimla travel.
Annandale - Most of the minor sports activities of Cricket and Polo take place in this favorite picnic spot of residents as well as tourists in Shimla. The place was initially developed as cricket ground and is only a small distance from The Ridge.
Himalayan Bird Park - For avid bird watchers, the place is good to spot some of the rare Himalayan species of these winged creatures.
Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex - The place is a treasure-holder of precious history. Housing attractions like State Museum showcasing rich arts and crafts in ancient artifacts, sculpture and paintings, a visit to the Henry Irwin designed complex is a must.
Rothney Castle - Located at Kakhu hills only, the building is home of A O Hume, now a heritage place.
Indian Institute of Advanced Studies - Located on Observatory Hill, this is another footprint of British in Shimla, known for historical events like Shimla Conference and Shimla Agreement. Most of the parts are now closed for public viewing except for entrance hall and gardens.
Lakkad Bazaar - Popular for the goods of wood craft, the place could be visited for taking souvenirs.
Scandal Point - Maharaja of Patiala is known to have kidnapped the daughter of then viceroy of India.
The Ridge - More known for the open space and picturesque view of surrounding hills, it is a path one ought to come to is has decided to see scandal point and intended to go to Lakkad Bazaar.
Kalka to Shimla Railway Track - a World heritage site, the track is often a part of the railway route taken to reach Shimla.
Some other additions to this list are Ellerslie, Woodvile, The Mall, Town Hall, Naldehra Golf Course, Manorvville Mansion, Gurkha Gate, Palace of Maharaja of Patiyala, etc
Places around Shimla
Scenery as represented by the verdant forests, hills, temples, etc is also found in following places near Shimla. See them to know them.
Mashobra - Separated by 13 Km from Shimla, at an altitude of 2149m this suburb is covered with dense forests. Nearby Sipur with deodar trees is easy to reach from here. People with religious bend can explore old temples which is more popular for an annual fair is held in the month of April.
Fagu - For enchanting Himalayan glimpses, Fagu around 22 Km away from Shimla is another attention-catcher and a must during the Shimla tour.
Kufri - At 2501m, views of snow and snow fun like ski and snow scootering are enjoyable. Mahasu Peak in Kufri another place to walk up to, to enjoy being in the lap of Nature.
Tattapani Popular for hot water springs and their medicinal values, the place is to be reached after a drive of 51 Km from Shimla. The surrounding forests only enhance its sighting.
Chail- The capital of Maharaja of Patiyala after being banned from entering Shimla, Chail is popular for housing world's highest cricketing pitch, which is also be used for Polo matches sometimes.
Sirmaur - This district is at a distance of around 162 Km from Shimla and known for Lake Renuka, the largest lake of the Himachal Pradesh state.
Other places nearby are Kasauli, Naldhera, Sarahan, Nakanda, etc.
Things to do
There are many exciting activities tourists can add to their itinerary and Shimla tour packages. Camping is a very popular activity that people choose to do here, but only those who have sufficient holidays in hand. There are few popular adventure-activities organizers who schedule days with activities like rock climbing, Rope walking, valley crossing, forest treks, rappelling, etc. For those who love to zip-zap-zoom on snow, Kufri serves all ski and ice skating intentions. Another exhilarating experience of adrenaline pumping is paragliding and hand-gliding from Bir and Billing peak in Kangra Valley.
Physical endurance is put to test on cycling and mountain biking trips that take to different routes to or from Shimla; a superb way to explore the beauty of hills and feel the tranquility in the air. Wildlife lovers can find their interests catered to in places like Shimla Reserve Forest Area, Chail Sanctuary, Daranghati Sanctuary and many other places that are located at some distance from the city of Shimla like in Solan, Sirmour, Kullu, Spiti Valley etc. Other activities are angling and golfing with time in this hill city could be made memorable.
Just as with every popular place, Shimla has numerous options that could be picked for accommodation during stay. Hotels in Shimla are found in range befitting to the budget tourist have kept aside; the only trick is to really be able to locate them at the right time. Peak season of summer and winters are a challenge to get the most suitable of them, not because of availability issues but mostly because of issues of finding the one.
Following are some names that could be considered while touring this place- Clarke's Hotel, The Oberoi Cecil, Aachaman Regency, Galleu Hill Resort, Radisson, Auckland, Fairmount, Hotel Amber, Alpine Heritage Residency, Combermere, Aashray and many others.
The winters are full of snowfall as many would have wanted to see; the ideal time being October to February. March is the beginning of good time of holidaying when tourists start pouring in here. Enjoying wildlife in April and Shimla Summer Festival in May is followed like a tradition. If monsoon of hills are a lure, July and August can be a feat, especially for budget travelers.
Best time to visit
Best time might depend on the choice of the tourist but on a general note September to June are considered as the most rewarding time for Shimla travel.
How to reach there
Air - Jubbarhatti is the airport in Shimla to which regular domestic flights are available from major cities of India.
Rail - Kalka, 96 Km away, is the nearest railway station connecting Shimla to various neighboring states. Then train to Shimla from Kalka could be taken to reach in as less as 6 hours time.
Road - Chandigarh and New Delhi are connected by National highways that lure the road hitters more than anything for starters of this tremendous journey to Shimla.