The capital of Himachal Pradesh and former summer capital of British India; Shimla is the states most important centre. Overlooking terraced hillsides and cultivations, Shimla is magnificently robed in dense forests of oak and pine, fur and rhododendron, and it is best to travel here on the slow train from Kalka.
Bulging at its seams with unprecedented expansion, Shimla retains a colonial aura, with its grand old buildings, colonial edifices, quaint cottages, charming iron lampposts and Anglo-Saxon names.
Offering a view of distant snow clad peaks, charming walks, whispering streams and swaying fields, Shimla is also a convenient base for a variety of adventure sports such as Skiing, Trekking, Fishing and Golfing etc.
The British developed Shimla (called Shyamala earlier, another name, by which the goddess Kali is called), after the location was discovered first in 1819. In 1864 Shimla became summer capital city of India.
Rapid progress indeed! And then on, every summer until 1939, the Government of India, literally transported itself 2000 km, from the extreme summer heat that trapped the British administrative centres of Delhi and Calcutta.
The Kalka-Shimla railway line, built in 1903, made it easier for the sahibs to reach the cool altitudes of Shimla. After 1947, Punjab was administered, from here. It became the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh in 1966.
The art of miniature painting is one of the finest gifts of India to the art world. Pahari is the popular term coined for the paintings, done in the various Sub-Himalayan states. Most of the schools of Pahari painting, developed and flourished from about 17th to 19th centuries in the present state of Himachal Pradesh.
This hilly region, then divided into twenty-two small principalities, was ruled by Rajput kings or chieftains, who were all great connoisseurs of art, with and most of them maintaining ateliers. The Pahari rulers were tributaries to the Mughals and they often visited the Imperial court and were familiar with Mughal traditions and tastes.
With the decline of the Mughal Empire, many of the painters trained in the refined Mughal style migrated to the Hills.
Indian and International.
The Mall is packed with big showrooms. The Himachal Emporium, a little beyond Scandal Point, has an interesting collection of Kullu shawls, caps and hand-knitted socks and gloves. The Lakkad Bazaar is flooded with wooden knick-knacks and handicrafts. Some Chinese shoe shops along The Mall are quite sought after for their shoes. Diwanchand Atmaram is famous for its latest collection of woollens. Some other items you might want to include in your shopping list are carpets, rugs, shawls, leather craft and silver jewellery. The Tibetan market, right down the lane from Scandal Point, has some very 'genuinely' fake imported goods, like jeans, T-shirts, bags, shoes, jackets et al.
Inaugurated in 1974, the museum's most famous collection is a gallery of Pahari miniatures -- a style of painting that flourished before the impact of the west on India. Pahari stands for hill, and was practised at the Hindu courts in the Himalayan foothills. Its exact origins are obscure. The paintings which resemble miniatures in colour are usually scenes suffused with poetic metaphor as well. They are in contrast to Mughal miniatures which are rendered more realistically. The museum also has temple bronzes, jewellery, textiles and masks from Kullu. The library has historical books and manuscripts. The museum has more than 1,500 objects on display.
Open Tuesdays to Sundays. Entry is free. Near Chaura Maidan.
This was not where the British Viceroy lived. In fact from 1862 to 1888, he lived at the now gutted Peterhof -- which Lord Lytton thought resembled a 'pigsty'. The present Lodge sits on the Observatory Hills and was built by Lord Dufferin who moved here in 1888. Also called Rashtrapati Niwas, it has a natural drainage which flows into the Sutlej on one end, and into the Yamuna on the other.
Built in the Elizabethan or English Renaissance style, it has a crenellated tower and blue and grey local limestone and sandstone facings. The entrance opens out to a teak staircase with upper stories and a gallery. The sense of space is immense. The mirrors are from King Thebaw's palace in Burma.
t is six storeys high with a good lawn and garden and is now the Institute of Advanced Studies. Two km from the state museum.
Close to the Viceregal lodge. It is also called the Himalayan Bird Park. This park has a very good collection of birds found in Himachal such as Himalayan monal, pheasants, peafowls and the national bird of India, the peacock.
There are numerous walks within and close to Shimla And there are many soft to medium treks that can use Shimla as the base. Some treks are to the Shalipeak, to the Kullu valley over the Jalori pass or the Bashleo pass, Shimla to Chail, Shimla to Junga and Shimla to Tattapani. Angling for trout can be done on the river Pabbar, near Rohru.
Centre of Himachal Pradesh, 104 km from Chandigarh and about 342 km from Delhi.
IA has flights to and from Delhi via Chandigarh thrice a week. Airport: The main airport at Jubbarhatti is 20 km away from Shimla.
Kalka and Chandigarh are the closest railheads. Shatabdi Express and the Himalayan Queen connect Delhi with Kalka, and there is also the Howrah-Kalka Mail via Delhi. For the onward journey from Kalka, take the narrow gauge Toy Train. Taxis can also be hired from Kalka to Shimla at negotiable rates. Railway station: Situated close to the Victory Tunnel.
Deluxe coaches leave for Shimla via Chandigarh at regular intervals from the ISBT terminal at Delhi. A one-way trip costs anything between Rs 200 and 300. You could even hire a taxi from Chandigarh for about Rs 650. Or drive down the well-metalled roads. Bus terminus: Most day tours begin at Rivoli while the inter state bus stand connects you to other places in and around Shimla. Both are situated about 3 km apart on either end of the Victory Tunnel.
Extremely cold winters, with temperatures ranging between - 4?C and 18?C. Summer temperatures can rise upto 30?C.
This is the main shopping centre of Shimla with restaurants. Shimla mall has come up after years of careful and loving care. The city's main shopping center houses shops filled with the latest in fashion. After the shopping on mall, the road leads down to lower and middle bazaars below the mall where the hill men display their crafts etc. At the top and of the Mall is Scandal Point, a large open square with a view of the town-a favorite rendezvous for visitors and the local people.
2 kms. from Shimla, at a height of 8000 ft, Jakhu Hill is the highest peak and offers a beautiful view of the town and of the snow-covered Himalayas. There is an old temple at this point dedicated to Hanuman, whose descendants, the monkeys wait cheerfully around and expect a bite from the visitors.
"Shri Sankat Mochan" temple is situated at a distance of about 5 K.M from Shimla and is located at Taradevi on the Kalka- Shimla National Highway. Here a temple dedicated Lord Hanuman can be found. You can also get a fine view of Shimla from here.
Dedicated to the monkey god, Hanuman, Jakhu Temple is east of the town centre, near the highest point of the Shimla ridge at 2455 meters. A steep 45-minute walk from Scandal Point, it offers fine views over the surrounding valleys out to the snow-capped peaks, and over Shimla itself. Appropriately, there are many monkeys around the temple. It's a steep 45-minute walk from Scandal Point.
" Ma Bhagwati Tara Devi" temple is located on Tarav Parvat in the western side of shimla Town about 15 Km from Shimla situated by the side of Kalka- Shimla National Highway near Shoghi. There is a military Dairy Town here as well as the headquarters of Bharat Scouts and Guides. At a height of 6,070 ft. Tara Devi is an ideal place for a person wanting peace and some rest.
A popular picnic spot, the Prospect Hill offers excellent views of the surrounding country. The Hill is a 15-minute climb from Boileauganj and is located at about 5 km west of Shimla. The hill at an altitude of 2,155m offers a spectacular view of the area. There is a little temple to Kamna Devi on the top of the hill.
You can reach these 67-metre-high falls from Summer Hill from where it is about 45 minutes walk. The falls, surrounded by thick forests, are situated at about 7 km from the city at a height of 1586 metres. From here,a track leads down to Sipur which is an exquisite glade shaded by ancient deodar trees. There are old temples on a side and a fair is held here every year in April. The Falls are best seen after the monsoon.
About 7 km from the city, at a height of 1983 metres, is the Summer Hill. This picturesque spot lies on the Shimla-Kalka railway line and has pleasant shady walks in quiet surroundings. This is a place where Gandhiji once stayed in the elegant Georgian House of Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur, daughter of last ruler of Punjab, Maharaja Dalip Singh. Himachal Pradesh University is situated here.
The Glen forests lie at a distance of about 4 km from the Ridge at an altitude of 1830 metres. It is a delightful picnic spot having bubbling streams of icy cold water, fresh from the melting snows. This place is accessible by two different routes, one near the Cecil Hotel and the other from Kennedy House.
The second oldest church in northern India the Christ Church, overlooking the ridge, was built between 1846 and 1857. The clocks were added three years later, but none of them work now. The church is one of Shimlas major landmarks and is renowned for its stained glass windows. You can discreetly have a look inside the church, or attend English-language services every Sunday morning during the tourist season. The other main church in Shimla is St Michaels Cathedral, just below the Central Telegraph Office.
Zoo( 4 kms) Navbahar (4 kms), Institute of Advance Studies( 4 kms), Aviary at Old Raj Bhavan(1 km), Tibetan Monastery( 8 kms) and Dhengu Mata Temple(5 kms).
This picturesque resort, located amidst scented forests of chinar, pine and gigantic deodars, was once the summer capital of the Maharaja of Patiala. The Palace was built in the 19th century, as the King of Patiala (now a Heritage Hotel), was determined to develop Chail into a resort par excellence. Chail is built on three hills, on the other side of the massive Himalayan ranges, spectacular in the sun and snow. Away from hustle and bustle, Chail is quite a peaceful and comfortable place to visit. Surrounded by gigantic deodar and well-maintained Chail Cricket ground, which is the highest cricket ground in the world. Several trek routes lead out of Chail, up to the Chur Dhar peak and to Shimla. During winters, skiing is possible at Narkanda. There is also a wildlife sanctuary 3km from Chail with a limited number of deer and birds. This is also a great hiking country.
Kufri at 8,150 ft has some good hiking trails, including the one to Mahasu peak. Ponies are a convenient way to explore the delightful valleys and hills. The Indira Tourist Park, also offers some delightful views of the countryside. The Himalayan Nature Park is home to local animals and birds, but apart from a picturesque countryside, there is not much to see here!
Located at distance of 22 km away, Naldehra is a pleasant little village, famous for having one of the oldest and highest 9 hole golf course, in the country. The well-groomed Golf Course is a lovely verdant, perhaps one of the finest and sportiest in India. Crowned with a springing turf, the Golf Course here was suggested by Lord Curzon. So enchanted was he, by this place, that he gave his daughter Alexandra, Naldehra as her second name. The venue of many competitions, it is a spot of great natural beauty. The Nag temple is also situated here and Naldehra derives its name from it.
Solan is known as the home of the Mohan Meakin brewery, built in 1835, and is the capital of the Solan district. It pretends to be another hill station, but does not have the scenery, facilities or charm of nearby Shimla.
About 12km from the Shimla to Kalka Road, Kasauli is a charming place and a popular side trip from Shimla. There are numerous lovely walks around Kasauli, including one to Sanawar, another picturesque hill town, and the location of an established public school. The 4km walk to Monkey Point has a great view.