Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh as it stands today. Prior to the Independence, Shimla was the most important hill station. It was the summer capital of India during the hot season. Although Shimla was first discovered in 1819, it wasn’t until 1822 that the first permanent house was constructed here. It was many years later that Shimla came to be known as the summer capital. The bridge parties, balls and parades in Shimla were legendary.
Shimla is at an altitude of 2130 meters. Shimla is a sprawling locale whose suburbs adhere to the slopes. The Mall runs along a ridge. The Mall is lined with majestic English style houses. You find some panoramic views of the valley overlooking the Mall and mountain crests adorning both sides. Steep streets lead away from the ridge where you will find colorful local bazaars on the southern slope.
There are plenty of theories with regards to the source of the name. If the natives are to be believed, the name came from Shyamali Devi who was the re-incarnation of Goddess Kali. The natives of Himachal Pradesh are called Pahadis. The languages spoken in Shimla are Pahadi, Punjabi, Hindi and English.
Several modes of transport are available to travel to Shimla. You could get there either by air, train or road. The Jubbarbatti airport is at a distance of 23 kilometers from Shimla. Shimla is connected by air with several major cities making it very accessible. Some of these cities are Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Jammu. Traveling from Delhi is a four hour journey up to Kalka by train. From Kalka one needs to change to the narrow gauge track and take the mountain train to Shimla. There are a total of 103 tunnels en route to Shimla. The incredible view this journey offers while cruising and chugging up the mountain at a leisurely pace is out of this world. There are two types of toy trains plying up to Shimla, one of them is a single car which has a glass roof presenting an enchanting outlook and the regular multi coach train. Conversely you could take the road and travel by bus or taxi. One could avail of AC coaches, deluxe and semi deluxe buses from cities such as Chandigarh, Kalka, Amritsar, Jammu, Delhi and other adjoining states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana.
One could enjoy all sorts of activities in Shimla. Leisurely walks in the evenings are the trend here. In addition to the aesthetic value of the Victorian architecture you inevitably wind up making new friends or even bumping into people you know. The Mall is a seven kilometer stretch of road and the highest point here is called Scandal point where you will find the statue of Lala Lajpatrai.
You also have the option of playing golf at the Naldhera Golf Course. Lord Curzon designed this 9-hole golf course in the 19th century. For people who would like to experience ice skating, there is an ice skating rink, which operates from November to March. Kufri, which is situated at a height of 2501 meters above sea level, has been acknowledged for skiing, but due to the irregularity of snowfall in recent years, Himachal Pradesh tourism has ceased operations now.
Some of the most stimulating and testing mountaineering opportunities in the world are offered by the Himalayas. Camping, Horse riding, Safaris, Trekking, Bungee Jumping, Yak riding, and Para Gliding are some of the sports you can enjoy in Shimla.
The best season to visit would be from May to July or from September to November. If you are interested in catching the snowfall, then you the ideal time to travel there is between the months of December and March.
During the months of March and April you will find clear skies with occasional rain and thunderstorms. The temperature ranges from 10 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius. During summer, which is the month of May and June, the weather is usually clear but the atmosphere could be smoky thanks to the forest fires. The temperature ranges between 16 degrees Celsius to 28 degrees Celsius. The monsoons arrive in the months of July, August and September. The temperature is between 13 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius and it is cool and humid with nonstop showers. Autumn comes around in the months of October and November. The days are generally bright while the evenings are cold. The temperature ranges between 10 degrees Celsius to 23 degrees Celsius. The winter season falls in the months of December, January and February. There is frequent snowfall and the weather is normally dull. The temperature could range from -7 degrees Celsius to 10 degrees Celsius.