Journey to Shimla

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Map Of Shimla

Below is the map of Shimla. Use the scroller to enlarge.
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Videos Of Shimla

Toy Train Ride On The Shimla Kalka Lane:

This video shows the first few and the last few boogies of the train as it chugs away. You can also see nice greenery as it passes the valley when crossing the bridge.

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Shimla covered with snow:

This one contains beautiful pics of places on Shimla completely covered with snow. Worth watching!

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Jakhu Hanuman Temple:

This video shows the Jakhu Temple and its surroundings, as well as an aarti performed live.

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Fairs and Festivals in Shimla.

Another attraction here is the festivals that are held every year. The Renuka Lake fair is held at Sirmaur, which is to the south of Shimla. This fair is celebrated to honor the immortality of Renuka and her son on the shores of the lake, which is shaped in the form of a sleeping woman. People from the surrounding villages arrive in droves for this celebration. Part of the ceremony is taking dips in the lake to cleanse oneself of impurities. Shivratri too is celebrated with great zeal at Mandi in February/March.

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The Shimlaites also celebrate the “Shimla Summer Festival” which is held every year during the peak tourist season, which lasts for 3 to 4 days only. Popular singers from all around the country gather and perform on the Ridge. In fact, some government functions and other local celebrations are also celebrated on the Ridge during New Year’s Eve.

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Other than the town of Shimla there are several places of interest around Shimla. All the roads leading out of Shimla are lined with orchards. The hills are covered in pine and cedar forests, contributing to the fantastic sights of wide floored valleys and the Himalayas in all their majestic glory. Some of these places around Shimla that one could visit are Chail, Craignano, Kandaghat, Hatkoi, Narkanda, Bihargaon, Kasauli, Chadwick Falls, Prospect Hill, Tattapani Chuddoil, Shiharo, Sanjauli, Kharal, Kotgarh, Rampur and Barog.

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Places to visit in Shimla

There are lots of lovely places to visit in Shimla. Jakhu temple is dedicated to Hanuman. This temple is situated at an altitude of 2455 meters. It offers a superb panorama over the surrounding valleys right up to the snow capped peaks. It takes about 45 minutes to walk from the Mall to the temple. The temple is aptly surrounded by a huge number of monkeys. There are many interesting trails in Shimla besides the promenade along the Mall and the walk to the Jakhu temple. Some of the other scenic spots are summer hill (1893 meters) is 5 kilometers away and the walk there is pleasant and offers plenty of shade. Chadwick Falls stand at a height of 1586 meters but its true beauty only shows during the monsoons. Chadwick falls is 7 kilometers away from Shimla. Prospect hill is much higher up at a height of 2145 meters. It is 5 kilometers away from Shimla. This hill is all the rage for picnics. You will come across a temple over here called Kamna devi temple.

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Sankat Mochan (1875 meters) is yet another temple devoted to Hanuman and offers you a splendid view of Shimla. Tara devi (1851 meters) is a temple sitting on top of a hill. One could get there by rail or by road. It is at a distance of 7 kilometers from Shimla. Wildflower Hall at a height of 2593 meters is at a distance of 13 kilometers en route to Kufri. This used to be the residence of the Indian commander-in-chief Lord Kitchener. The colossal mansion you see standing there today is not the original one. It was damaged in a fire in 1994, and it has now been reconstructed as a luxury hotel. A spectacular vista of Shimla and the mountain peaks of Pir Panja and Badrinath ranges greet you here. Mashobra (2149 meters) is great place for a picnic. Here you could go for a nice walk in the forest. It is 14 kilometers away from Shimla.

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About 1 kilometer west of the center of Shimla you will find the Rashtrapati Niwas on observatory hill. This was previously known as the residence of the British Viceroy. This large building has six floors and an opulent reception and dining halls. Scenic gardens surround this building. Another place to visit is the Himachal State Museum. If you walk down from the church on the Mall, it would take you an hour to get to this quaint museum which houses an unassuming collection of stone statues from other parts of Himachal Pradesh. Take note that the museum is closed on Mondays not Sundays as one might presume.

The world’s highest cricket ground is in Shimla. You will find hot water springs in Tattapani. You could go on a picnic to Craignano, which has a rest house on a hilltop.

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While Shimla does not manufacture much of anything for the tourists they do sell handicrafts from the other parts of the state. Garments and textiles are freely available at the Mall. These woolens come from places such as Ludhiana and other places around. If you are looking for something in wood, the best place to visit would be Lakkar Bazaar. The soft wood common to this region is the source for the wooden items on sale here. The shops here also have natural herbs with medicinal properties on sale here. In conclusion, Shimla is best for those wanting to unwind or to get a taste of the outdoors and nature’s wonders rather than a shopping paradise.