The echoes of the British empire linger on in Shimla (2130m). As the 'summer capital' of the British in India, this was the country's focus for the better part of every year and now, it is the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. Today, its well developed facilities, easy accessibility and numerous attractions make it one of India's most popular hill resorts. Placed in the lower ranges of the Himalaya mountains, it is surrounded by pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron foests. Towards the north lie the snow-covered high-ranges. Within the town are a host of splendid colonial edifices, quaint cottages and charming walks.
How To Get There
The airport is at Jubbarhatti, 23 km away. Shimla is connected to Kalka by an enchanting narrow guage railway line - where even a quaint rail-car plys. By road, Chandigarh is 117 km, Manali is 219 km, Chail is 45 km and Delhi is at a distance of 370 km. From Delhi, the driving time is about eight hours. From Delhi, Manali and Chandigarh, Luxury coaches and taxis ply to Shimla.
In winter, the temperature can drop below freezing point when heavy woollens are required. Summer tempratures are mild and light woollens/cottons are recommended.
Places of interest in and around Shimla
More on Himachal
At a Glance
The Ridge: This large open space in the heart of town presents excellent views of the mountain ranges. Shimla's landmarks - the neo-Gothic structure of Christ Church and the neo-Tudor library building-are here
Lakkar Bazaar: Popular for its wood crafts and souvenirs, this is just off the Ridge.
Jakhoo Hill: At 2455m, this is the town's highest peak and a vantage point for Shimla's famous views. The summit is crowned with a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. The hill is full of paths and narrow roads which are enjoyable walks.
St. Michael's Cathedral: This dressed-stone church with fine stained glass has a cruciform design. It is located just off the Mall, below the District Courts.
State Museum: This houses a representative collection of Himachal Pradesh's rich heritage. Exhibits include archaelogical artefacts, carvings, paintings and sculptures. Closed on Tuesdays and holidays.
Indian Institute of Advanced Study: At 1983 m, this magnificent English renaissance structure was the former Viceregal Lodge. Its lawns and woodlands are added attractions. Entry by ticket (nominal charge). A portion of the interior is also open to the public, except on Sundays and holidays.
The Glen: At 1830m, this is a thickly wooded ravine through which a stream flows. It is a popular picnic spot.
Annandale: Surrounded by a thick deodar forest, this large glade has an ancient temple on an edge.
Bihargaon (4 km): Approached either past the cemetry below St. Edward's School, or through Tutikandi, this village has splendid example of traditional Himachali architecture.
Prospect Hill and Kamna Devi (6km): At 2125 m and crowned by a temple dedicated to Kamna Devi, the Hill offers spectacular views of the area.
Sankat Mochan (7 km): This is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
Chadwick Falls (8 km): At 1586m, these rain-fed falls are approached through Summerhil.
Tara Devi (11km): A thickly wooded hill at the peak of which is a temple dedicated to Tara Devi.
Mashobra (12km): At 2149m, this beautiful suburb is surrounded by thick forests. 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 every April.
Kufri (16 km): At 2501 m, this is famous for its wide views and ski slopes. An enjoyable walk leads up to the Mahasu Peak. At Kufri, Himachal tourism runs the Cafe Lalit.
Fagu (22 km): At 2510 m, Fagu has some enchanting views. Himachal Tourism runs the Hotel Peach Blossom here.
Naldehra (22 km): At 2044 m, this is a nine hole par 68 golf course. It was designed by the British Viceroy, Lord Curzon who was so enchanted by the place that his daughter Alexandra was given'Naldehra' as her second name.
Chail (45 km): This was the former 'summer capital' of the Patiala State. The palace is now run as a luxury hotel by Himachal Tourism.
Tattapani (51 km): At 656m, there are hot sulphur springs here. Himachal Tourism has a restaurant and a Tourist Bungalow at Tattapani.
During the 'season', Himachal Tourism runs a variety of sightseeing tours from Shimla.
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 Bashelo, Shimla to Chail, Shimla to Junga and Shimla to Tattapani. Angling for trout can be done on the river Pabbar, near Rohru.
There is an enormous range of goods that Shimla has to offer. This includes handicrafts, wood and metalwork, shawls, pullovers, local tweeds, caps, Tibetan carpets and pickles, jams and squashes.
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.