One thing is sure, this is the most complete travel guide to Shimla and you can get every information that you need regarding you visit to Shimla. For us Shimla includes the entire district of Shimla not only the crowded urban center. You will truly be able to discover the real Shimla through this travel guide. Let us begin our exploration of Shimla the perfect destination.
SHIMLA THE PERFECT HILL DESTINATION
Shimla one of the most popular and urbanized yet beautiful hill stations in Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is also among a favorite destination for honeymooners and families across the country. It perfectly sits midway between the plains and the Kullu Valley and is also the point to venture into deep Himalayas and remoter regions of Kinnaur and Spiti.
THE JOURNEY TO SHIMLA, VENTURE INTO OUR ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO SHIMLA
To reach Shimla one has to approach a long stretch of hilly road, nearly 100 km of precipitous river valleys, pine forests, and mountainsides swathed in maize terraces and apple orchards. It’s not hard to see why the British chose this inaccessible site as their summer capital. At an altitude of 2159m, the crescent-shaped ridge over which it spills is blessed with perennially cool air and superb panoramas.
Do check our list of Must buy car accessroies for a long trip if you wish to drive down to Shimla.
Southeast of Shimla, Kasauli is a peaceful place to break your journey from Chandigarh in Punjab, while nearby Nalagarh Fort has been converted into the finest hotel in the state. The southernmost area of the state, Sirmaur, is Himachal’s most fertile area, with the major Sikh shrine in Paonta Sahib as a noteworthy sight.
Northeast of Shimla, the apple-growing centre of Narkanda and Sarahan, site of the famous Bhimakali temple, set against a backdrop of the majestic Himalayas, can be visited in a two- or three-day round trip from Shimla, or en route to Kinnaur via the characterless transport hub of Rampur.
THE TOY TRAIN TO SHIMLA-ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE
Until the construction of the Kalka–Shimla Railway, you could reach Shimla only by Cart Road – a slow, winding trail trodden by lines of long-suffering porters and horse-drawn Tangas. This leads to the construction of famous toy train of Shimla. A journey on “toy train” is amazing and highly recommended if you have time in your hand.
TOY TRAINS RUN FROM KALKA TO SHIMLA
You have wonderful view of nature through the glass-windowed rail cars. However be prepared for a 7 to 9 hours of journey for the stretch which can otherwise be traveled in 3 hours by car.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SHIMLA
You can visit Shimla throughout the year. The winters are cold but not bitterly cold in the urban areas. Shimla receives good snowfall during late December to early March. However snow seekers should travel to Kufri or even better Narkanda to enjoy the snowfall and snow covered landscape and even skiing.
I would recommend that you avoid late July to September months, due to the rainfall and landslides. The area however is not very prone to landslides like some other famous hill stations.
The temperature chard is given below for you to make an informed decision about the weather conditions.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN SHIMLA
1. THE RIDGE
Although Shimla and its satellite districts sprawl over the flanks of five or more hills, the centre is fairly compact, on and immediately beneath a shoulder of high ground known as “The Ridge”. Shimla’s busy social scene revolves around the broad and breezy piazza that straddles The Ridge, overlooking rippling foothills with the jagged white peaks of the Pir Panjal and Great Himalayan ranges on the horizon.
It is said all water that drains off the north side of The Ridge ends up in the Arabian Sea, while from the south side it ends up in the Bay of Bengal. During high season it is a hive of activity, with entertainment provided by brass bands, pony rides and a giant screen showing sporting events. The Victorian Gothic spire of Christ Church is Shimla’s most prominent landmark.
The stained-glass windows, the finest in British India, depict Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Patience and Humility. There is still a service in English at 9am every Sunday. At the other end of The Ridge, Scandal Point is the focus of Shimla’s famous mid-afternoon meet when crowds gather here to gossip.
2. THE MALL ROAD
From The Ridge, a tangle of roads and lanes tumbles down in stages, each layer connected to the next by stone steps. The Mall, the main pedestrian thoroughfare, curves around the south slope of the hill. Flanked by a long row of unmistakeably British half-timbered buildings, Shimla’s main shopping street was, until World War I, strictly out-of-bounds to all “natives” except royalty and rickshaw-pullers. These days, rickshaws, man-powered or otherwise, are banned and non-Indian faces are in the minority. The quintessentially colonial Gaiety Theatre was renovated in 2008 and puts on regular performances and exhibitions, now billing itself as a Heritage Cultural Complex.
3. THE BAZAAR
Walk down any of the narrow lanes leading off The Mall, and you’re plunged into a warren of twisting backstreets. Shimla’s bazaar is the hill station at its most vibrant – a maze of dishevelled shacks, brightly lit stalls and minarets, cascading in a clutter of corrugated iron to the edge of Cart Road. Apart from being a good place to shop for authentic souvenirs, this is also one of the few areas of town that feels Himalayan: multicoloured Kullu caps (topis) bob about in the crowd, alongside the odd Lahauli, Kinnauri or Tibetan face.
4. THE STATE MUSEUM
The HP state museum is well worth the effort to get to. The ground floor of the elegant colonial mansion is given over largely to temple sculpture, and a gallery of magnificent Pahari miniatures – examples of the last great Hindu art form to flourish in northern India before the deadening impact of Western culture in the early nineteenth century.
The Mughal-influenced Pahari or “Hill” school is renowned for subtle depictions of romantic love, inspired by scenes from Hindu epics. Among the museum’s paintings are dozens of Mughal and Rajasthani miniatures and a couple of fine “Company” watercolors, produced for souvenir-hunting colonials by the descendants of the Mughal and Pahari masters. The fakirs, itinerant sadhus and mendicants they depict could have come straight from the pages of Kipling. There is a room dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, contains photos of his time in Shimla and amusing cartoons of his political relationship with the British.
- 1.5km west of the centre via The Mall – take the right fork at the first intersection after the Classic hotel and left at the second, from where it is signposted
- Tuesday–Sunday 10am–1pm & 2–5pm, closed 2nd Saturday ofthe month
- ₹50 (₹10), camera ₹50
5. THE HIKE TO JAKHU TEMPLE
The early-morning hike up to Jakhu, or “Monkey”, Temple is something of a tradition in Shimla. The top of the hill (2455m) on which it stands offers a great panorama of the Himalayas , especially breathtaking before the cloud gathers later in the day. The relentlessly steep climb takes thirty to 45 minutes. The path starts just left of Christ Church; during the season, all you need do is follow the crowds.
After the hard walk up, the temple itself, a red-and-yellow-brick affair crammed with fairy lights and tinsel, comes as something of an anticlimax, although the new 30m-tall orange concrete statue of Hanuman is an impressive sight.
The shrine inside houses what are believed to be the footprints of Hanuman himself. Legend has it that the monkey god, adored by Hindus for his strength and fidelity, rested on Jakhu after collecting healing Himalayan herbs for Rama’s injured brother, Lakshmana. Watch out for the troupes of mangy monkeys around the temple. Pampered by generations of pilgrims and tourists, they have become real pests; hang on to your bag and don’t flash food. Hold onto your specs too – one or two monkeys have even been trained to swipe them from unsuspecting victims’ faces and turn them over to a local, who will hand them back … for a small fee, of course.
6. THE RASHTRAPATI NIWAS, VICEREGAL LODGE
- Located 2km west of Shimla on the summit of Observatory Hill. Some wonderful panoramic views over the region
- Open all days with 30 min guided tours except during lunch time of 1 PM to 2 PM
- Entry fee 50 Rs for Non-Indians and 20 Rs for Indians
The Rashtrapati Niwas, also known as Viceregal Lodge, is located on the Observatory Hills of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India. It was formerly the residence of the British Viceroy of India
Shimla’s single most impressive colonial monument is the old Viceregal Lodge, summer seat of British government until the 1940s and today home to the Institute of Advanced Studies. The lodge is Shimla at its most British.
The solid grey mansion, built in Elizabethan style with a lion and unicorn set above the entrance porch, surveys trimmed lawns fringed by pines and flowerbeds. Inside is just as ostentatious, though only sections of the ground floor are open to the public: a vast teak-panelled entrance hall, an impressive library (formerly the ballroom) and the guest room.
The conference room, hung with photos of Nehru, Jinnah and Gandhi, was the scene of crucial talks in the run-up to Independence. On the stone terrace to the rear of the building, a plaque profiles and names the peaks visible in the distance.
7. PROSPECT HILL
The short hike up to Prospect Hill (2176m), a popular picnic spot, ties in nicely with a visit to the Viceregal Lodge. By cutting through the woods to the west of the mansion, you can drop down to a busy intersection known as Boileauganj, from where a tarmac path climbs steeply up to the small shrine of Kamana Devi, which affords fine views.
BEST DESTINATIONS NEAR SHIMLA
As I said at the beginning of the Shimla Travel Guide, it is not only about the city of Shimla but the entire Shimla District Travel Guide. It is therefore necessary to discuss some great destinations within the Shimla district which I recommend you must visit.
Fagu is the hill resort located around 22 km away from Shimla. It is well known for its swaying green fields with the snow covered Himalayas at its backdrop. Fagu surprises vacationers with its splendor, charm and serenity. It is one of the secluded snowy retreats in the state, others being Narkanda and Theog.
A lesser known fact about Kurfi is that the region around Shimla which includes Kufri was once a part of the Kingdom of Nepal. This region remained obscure from the rest of the world until the British discovered it in 1819. The British made Shimla their summer capital in 1864 and it remained so until 1939. As Shimla gained importance, Kufri also began to be recognized as an important place to visit.
An annual winter sports festival is organized every year in the month of February in Kufri, when skiing enthusiasts and adventure seekers participate in this festival. There are plans to suspend tourist operations. It is famous for it’s ski slopes, and panoramic views where deep valleys and forests rise towards the lofty Himalayas.
Narkanda is a small town approximately 65 KM from Shimla . It is a town and a Nagar Panchayat in Shimla district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Narkanda sits at an altitude of 2708 meters on the Hindustan-Tibet Road in Himachal Pradesh, India.
If you ever visit Shimla, you must consider visiting Narkanad as well. It is known for a temple at Hatu Peak called Hatu Mata Mandir. The entire stretch is completely blanketed in snow during winters. There is also a skiing point where people can really enjoy some great Maggi and skiing ofcourse.
Theog has an average elevation of 1965 Meters (6446 feet). It is situated on National Highway NH22 (on the Hindustan-Tibet Road), is 32 km away from Shimla, and is a town of five ‘Ghats’ (or ridges): Rahi Ghat, Deori Ghat, Prem Ghat, Janoghat,and Bagaghat.
You will travel throgh Theog while travleling from Shimla to Narkanda, It is a great hill stations in itself surrounded by mountainous village. Want to experience real village life in Himachal Pradesh? This is the place to be
Thanedar is at around 79 KM from Shimla on the old Hindustan – Tibet road. It is full of magnificent panorama view of snow clad mountains. The slopes of Thanedar (part of Shimla hills) are filled with apple orchards and is a main source of income for locals
In this wonderful part of Shimla district, apples are not only eaten fresh, off trees and cases, but slices of apple are also dried on rooftops to be munched as a sweet in winter. Every year several millions of cases of apples are exported to Thanedar & Kotgarh for different parts of the country and abroad. This accounts for the unbroken line of trucks that ply these roads during harvest time, from July through September.
It is s must visit place around Shimla during apple harvest season
THE REAL JOURNEY TO SHIMLA
Shimla is often frequented by many travellers from India and abroad but they do not venture out to visit some of the best places in and around Shimla. This is our attempt to apprise you about the best travel destinations in Shimla through our travel guide to Shimla.
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