Height: Most of the town lies between 2,100 m and 2,300 m
Languages spoken: Hindi. Also English, Punjabi and Pahari.
Religion: Mostly Hindu. Also Sikh, Muslim and Christian
Medical Facilities: Good
Telecommunications: Worldwide links by the net, telephone and fax, code: 0177
With all its intricacies, history seems to have been the mortar for every brick and stone that has built Shimla. As the Summer Capital of the British in India, Shimla was the country’s focus for the better part of every year and now, is the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. The town of Shimla rose in the nineteenth century when the Gurkha Wars came to an end in 1815-16 and the victorious British decided to retain certain pockets as military outposts and sanitaria. In 1822 the most rigorous of dandies and the greatest of sticklers for form Captain Charles Pratt Kennedy, Political Agent to the Hill States directed that a house be built for him at the village whose name is variously reported as Sheyamalaya Shumlah, Shimlu and Shemlah. Kennedy House led the vanguard of the hundred-odd houses that were to scatter themselves by 1841 over every level or gently inclining space. Lured by the climate and terrain scores of European invalids began moving to the station and the only stipulation of the local chief who owned the land was that no tree be cut or cattle slaughtered.
In 1864 the Viceroy, John Lawrence anointed Shimla – then spelt Shimla, as the summer capital of British India. With Lawrence came the Viceroy Council, the Imperial Secretariat, representatives of the Indian princes and foreign envoys. As the town grew to become the workshop of the Empire, an awed visitor observed, every pigeonhole cradled an embryo of a war or death. Despite the fact that up to the time of Indian independence in 1947, Shimla officially remained only the summer capital, yet the Government spent more time in these hills than at the actual capital Calcutta and later New Delhi. As the bearer of the Vice regal scepter this tiny pocket became the cynosure of British Empire. Imperial grandeur, and all the panoply and trappings of power came along for the ride. And there was a popular local saying that went, “You cannot sleep the nights in Shimla for the sound of grinding axes”. A social whirl of parties, gymkhanas, balls, fancy fairs and affaires du Coeur ensured that a heady mixture of scandal and intrigue constantly wafted through the town.
Quite inevitably the freedom movement had a close connection with Shimla. Ornithologist and former Civil Servant, Allan Octavian Hume created the Indian National Congress which spearheaded the struggle while living in the town. Stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, C. Rajagopalachari, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya and Maulana Azad regularly visited Shimla. Major events that took place in the town were the Shimla Conference in 1942, the deliberations of the Cabinet on and finally the decision to partition India.
And while the British Empire may have ceased to exist, its echoes linger on in the architecture and ambience of this hill resort. The elements of nostalgia may be strong but Shimla also has a youthful vigor in its pace. Its easy accessibility and several other attractions have made it one of India’s most popular hill resorts. There are many unforgettable walks, day-excursions by the dozen, a variety of convenient shopping and entertainment museums, and ice-skating in winter. Shimla is the base or the unwinding point for numerous exhilarating routes to the state interior.
Today the town is distinctive for its variety of architecture. It has one of the rare surviving urban forests, made all the more unique, for its species are temperate to alpine ones in what is otherwise a tropical zone. And then Shimla’s famous Mall offers one of the longest stretches of pedestrian shopping in the world.
As the Summer Capital of the British in India, Shimla was the country’s focus for the better part of every year and now, is the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. Today, it has well developed facilities, easy accessibility and numerous attractions making it one of India’s most popular hill resort. Situated in the lower ranges of the Himalayan mountains, it is surrounded by pine deodar, oak and rhododendron forests. Towards the north lie the snow-covered high-ranges, while the valleys breathe whispering streams and swaying fields. Within the town are host of splendid colonial edifices, quaint cottages and charming walks. Shimla offers a variety of shopping, sport and entertainment activities
Take a leisurely evening stroll down the Mall Road.
2. Enjoy picnics at The Glen and Craignano.
3. Get on the Kalka-Shimla Railway and savour the scenic beauty on the way.
on the way.
4. Watch rain-fed Chadwick Falls.
5. Sight-see Shimla’s landmarks, the Neo-Gothic structure of Christ
Church and the new Tudor library building at The Ridge.
6. Enjoy the view and stay from Hotel Peach blossom at Fagu.
7. Play golf at Naldehra.
The climate in Shimla is predominantly cool during winters and moderately warm during summer. Temperatures typically range from −6°C to 31 °C over the course of a year.
The average temperature during summer is between 19°C and 28 °C and between −1 ° C and 10 °C in winter.
Snowfall in the city, which historically has taken place in the month of December, has lately (over the last twenty years) been happening in January or early February every year.
What to wear Winter :
Winter : Heavy woolens are required.
Summer : Light woolens/
What To See And Do
The Mall – This is the hub of Shimla’s social life. Lined by shops and restaurants this pedestrian thoroughfare loosely resembles an English Home County’s marketplace. The Gaiety Theatre, which is a reproduction of an old British theatre is a center of cultural activities. A passenger lift operated by HPTDC can be taken from the Cart Road to The Mall. Lakkar Bazaar adjacent to the Ridge is popular for its wood crafts and souvenirs.
The Ridge – The large open space in the heart of town presents excellent view of the mountain ranges.
Jakhoo Temple – Two Km from city centre, this is Shimla’s highest point and offers a panoramic view of the town’s hills and distant mountain ranges. There are spectacular views at sunrise and sunset especially during the monsoons. The peak has a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Legend has it that he stopped here while searching for the sanjivini plant – the herb required to cure Laxman who lay mortally wounded on a battlefield in Lanka in an episode from the epic Ramayana. A variation of the legend says that his sandal fell here. The temple has been exhaustively renovated and this vantage point is being connected by a ropeway. At the top of the hill in the temple complex is a 108 feet tall idol of Lord Hanuman is a big attraction for the tourists.
Kamna Devi Temple -Situated above Boileauganj, the temple offers splendid views of the town, the airfield and the ranges.
Christ Church Standing tall through the tough rapids of time, the Christ Church is one of the most important buildings of Shimla. It tells the story of a part of the town’s rich history – and its pews mark the seats of the Viceroy, the Commander-in-Chief and the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, while the fascinating memorial tablets in brass and marble sound a roll call for some who shaped what was the British Empire.
The Glen – 4 Km away, this is a thickly wooded ravine through which a stream flows. This is a popular picnic spot and is especially attractive after crossing the initial two hundred metres or so.
Anadale – – 5 Km away from the city centre, this place is best known for a helipad. This large glade has a golf course surrounded by thick deodar woods and has a charming temple by an edge
Chindi (2,010 m) – Motorable on Shimla-Mandi highway via Tattapani – A beautiful place in Karsog Valley. Himachal tourism’s tourist Resort is opening shortly. One can also visit famous mahunag Temple (18 Km). Mamleshwar mahadev Temple (13 Km) Kamaksha Devi temple (19 Km) Pangna Killa/temple (8 Km) and Shikari Devi Temple (18 Km).
Tattapani (680 m) – Motorable on Shimla-Mandi Highway via Naldehra. Tattapani has hot water springs having sulpher contents, also Hindu temples and Shiv Goofa at Saraur (4 Km) are worth seeing places
Naldhera (2,044 m) -Located at distance of 22 Km from Shimla, Naldehra is a heaven for tourists. It boasts of the oldest 9-hole golf course in the country. The well groomed Golf Course is a lovely verdant, perhaps one of the finest and sporty in India. Crowned with a springing turf the Golf Course was suggested by Lord Curzon. He was so enchanted by the place that he gave his daughter Alexendra, “Naldehra” as her second name. It is the venue of many competitions. The Nag temple is also situated here and Naldehra derives its name from it.
Craignano – Motorable on Shimla-Naldhera road, Ideal picnic spot with lawns and garden.
Chail – Chail was the summer capital of the former princely state of Patiala built by maharaja Bhupender Singh on a hill that was within sight of Shimla but a good hundered meters above Shimla’s average height. There is a famous shrine known as the Sidh Baba Ka Mandir and is revered by many who claim that the sage has the power to grant boons. Bhupinder Singh had another site levelled out and a splended mansion was built and sumptuously furnished.
The property including peripheral cottages, woods, sport and recreation facilities and even an orchard – passed into the hands of Himachal Tourism. This is now the Palace Hotel – a full- fledged destination resort. Chail’s famous cricket ground stands at 2444.4 m and is perhaps the highest cricket pitch and the polo ground in the world. Several easy walks can be done in and around Chail. The small wild life sanctuary has a variety of wild life that includes the ghoral, kakkar, sambhar, red jungle fowl, and the khalij and cheer pheasents. There are Machan-like sighting posts near ‘Blossom’ at Khariun and on the blade pate of the prosaically named Roda Tibba. Fishing is possible on the Gaura river 29 Km from Chail and there are several trek routes that lead out of the resort, including the one to the Choor Chandni mountain which is visible from Chail and poetically translates as “The Mountain Of The Silver Bangles”. Chail is 86 Km from Kalka via Kandaghat and 45 Km from Shimla via Kufri.
Summer Hill – A picturesque superb on Shimla-Kalka Railway line. Offers shady walks in quiet surroundings. The Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to Shimla lived in the elegant Georgian House of Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur. HP University is situated here.
Mahsobra (2,148 m) – Motorable on Shimla-Naldehra road. Surrounded by thick forests and offers ideal walks. Goddess Durga temple is worth seeing.
Hatkoti (1,400 m) – Motorable on Shimla-Rohru highway. Famous for ancient temple of Mata Hateswari in the midst of paddy fields on the right bank of the Pabber river. HPTDC runs Hotel Pabber here.
Kharapathhar (2,673 m) -Motorable on Shimla-Rohru road. A famous religious shrine Giriganga is 7 Km on foot or by jeep. HPTDC Tourist complex Giriganga Resort.
Sarahan (1,950 m) – On Hindustan Tibet Road from Jeori Sarahan is (17 Km) with spectacular view of Srikhand range. Sarahan has the majestic Bhimkali Temple. Himachal Tourism runs Hotel Shrikhand. Saharan is the gateway to Kinnaur. A Pheasant Breading Centre and stadium are worth visiting.
Rampur (924 m) On the Hindustan Tibet Road. Once the capital of the Princely State of Bushahr, the town is situated on the banks of Satluj river, Big Commercial Centre and famous International Lavi fare which is held in November every year, Dumgir Buddhist Temple, Padam Palace, Raghunath Temple, Ayodhya temple and Narsingh Temple, are worth visiting. Himachal Tourism runs a tourist Complex and air conditioned Cafe, Satluj.
Kotgarh (1,830 m) – Motorable, bifurcation from Narkanda (18 Km) Land of apples and apricots.
Narkanda (2,708 m) – On the Hindustan Tibet road, Narkanda offers spectacular views of snow ranges. An uphill trek through Deodar woods leads to Hatu Peak (8 Km). Ancient temple of Hatu Mata is alive with skiers. HPTDC runs Hotel Hatu and in winters short skiing courses are organised.
Fagu (2,450 m)¬ – On Hindustan-Tibet Road. It has enchanting views. Himachal Tourism runs the Hotel peach Blossom.
Tara Devi (1,851 m) – On Shimla – Kalka road (NH-22) this holy place is accessible by Rail, bus and car. From the station/road-one can visit the temple either on foot or by taxi / jeep.
Sankat Mochan (1,975 m) – On Shimla-Kalka road (NH-22) is famous “Lord Hanuman” temple. It commands an excellent view of Shimla town. The place can be visited by Bus/Taxi.
Chadwick Falls (1,586 m) – 7 Km away from the town, past the Summer Hill, surrounded by woods, rain-fed falls greet the visitors here.
Summer hill (1,983 m)- A picturesque superb on Shimla-Kalka Railway line. Offers shady walks in quiet surroundings. The Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to Shimla lived in the elegant Georgian House of Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur. HP University is situated here.
Prospect hill – Crowned by a temple dedicated to Kamna Devi 15 minutes walk from Boileauganj on Shimla – Bilaspur road. the hill offers a spectacular views of the area.
Indian Institute of Advanced Study – Viceregal Lodge- 3 Km away, IIAS is housed in the former Viceregal Lodge. Built in 1988 this is a spectacular English renaissance-inspired grey-stone structure with superb Burma teak woodwork on the interiors. It is surrounded by magnificent grounds and also has a small museum.
State museum & other museums -The State Museum lies atop mount pleasant in a house called ‘Inverarm’. It has a rich display of the state’s cultural, artistic and archaeological heritage, ancient historical sculptors and paintings of Himachal Pradesh. Visiting hours 10 AM to 5 PM. Closed on Monday and gazetted holidays
The way to the temple is, on foot, from the Ridge near Christ Church. Other option is to hire pony from the Ridge or drive taking via the Cart Road.
Kaali Bari temple – Few yards from scandal Point towards General Post Office. It is believed that the idol of Goddess Shayamla is enshrined there.
Where To Stay
Many hotels and Resorts are available at Shimla
How To Get Around
By Road – Broad well surfaced road connects to Kalka, Chandigarh, Delhi, etc.
By Rail – Broad gauge track upto Kalka connecting to Delhi, Kolkata and Amritsar. Narrow Gauge from Kalka to Shimla
By Air – Daily Flights from Delhi and Kullu. Airport at Jabbarhatti 23 kilometers from the city.