Often called the “Queen of Hills,” Shimla is tucked away in the foothills of the majestic Himalayas and is a timeless example of both natural beauty and historical charm. For many years, tourists have flocked to this charming hill station in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla is a lovely getaway from the bustle of city life, with its historic buildings and picturesque landscapes.
Shimla’s architecture reflects its past as the summer capital of British India and bears traces of its colonial past. A popular destination for both residents and visitors is the bustling Mall Road, which is bordered by buildings designed in the colonial style. Another famous landmark, The Ridge, is a favorite place for leisurely strolls and provides expansive views of the surrounding mountains.
The Iconic Shimla-Kalka Toy Train:
A must-do experience is riding the narrow-gauge Kalka-Shimla Railway, a UNESCO-listed route that travels past verdant woods and charming villages. It is one of the most gorgeous train trips in the world because of the leisurely pace that lets passengers enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Himalayan foothills.
The Jakhoo Temple, devoted to Lord Hanuman, is a picturesque and spiritual sanctuary perched atop Jakhoo Hill. Visitors are rewarded with stunning views of Shimla and the surrounding mountains as they scale the hill. The enormous statue of Lord Hanuman in the temple heightens the atmosphere of spirituality.
Summer Retreats and Heritage Buildings:
Many magnificent heritage houses in Shimla were originally the summer residences of the British aristocracy. The Viceregal Lodge, presently recognized as the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, is a magnificent illustration of both historical relevance and skillful architecture. Over the years, a number of cultural events have taken place at the Gaiety Theatre, another exquisite colonial building.
Adventure and Nature:
Trekking routes such as the Glen Forest and the Himalayan Nature Park are available in Shimla for those seeking adventure. These pathways are ideal for nature walks and bird viewing because of their abundant foliage and diverse flora and fauna. A short drive from Shimla, Kufri becomes a winter wonderland in the winter and offers chances for snow activities like skiing.
Local Cuisine and Shopping:
A visit to Shimla wouldn’t be complete without sampling the native cuisine. The cuisine scene is varied and enjoyable, offering everything from Himachali specialties to street food on Mall Road. The Lower Bazaar and Lakkar Bazaar, which sell traditional handicrafts, woolen goods, and mementos, are great places to shop.
How To Reach?
Reaching Shimla is convenient, with various transportation options available depending on your preferences and starting point. Here are common ways to reach Shimla:
Self-Drive or Private Vehicle:
If you enjoy road trips, driving to Shimla is an option. The town is well-connected by road.
The distance from Delhi to Shimla is approximately 350 kilometers, and the journey takes around 7-8 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
Regular bus services operate between major cities and Shimla. Buses depart from locations like Delhi, Chandigarh, and other neighboring states.
Both government and private operators offer services, including Volvo and deluxe buses.
Kalka-Shimla Toy Train:
The UNESCO-listed Kalka-Shimla Railway connects Kalka, a town in Haryana, to Shimla. The train journey is scenic and takes about 5-6 hours.
Travelers can take a train to Kalka from major cities like Delhi and then transfer to the Shimla-bound toy train.
Nearest Railway Station:
The nearest major railway station with better connectivity is Kalka. Trains from Delhi and other major cities frequently run to Kalka.
Jubbarhatti Airport, located approximately 23 kilometers from Shimla, is the nearest airport.
Flights to Jubbarhatti are limited, and the airport is mainly connected to cities like Delhi and Chandigarh.
After reaching the airport, you can hire a taxi or use other local transportation to reach Shimla.
Tips for Traveling to Shimla:
Check the weather conditions, especially during the winter months when there might be snowfall.
Toy Train Reservations:
If you wish to experience the Kalka-Shimla Toy Train, book your tickets in advance, as it is a popular and scenic journey.
Shimla is situated at an altitude of around 2,205 meters (7,234 feet). If you’re driving or taking the toy train, acclimatize slowly to the change in altitude.
Hotels And Resorts In Shimla
Shimla offers a diverse range of accommodations, from luxurious resorts to charming boutique hotels, catering to different preferences and budgets. Here are some popular hotels and resorts in Shimla:
Wildflower Hall, An Oberoi Resort:
Situated in the serene Mashobra region, Wildflower Hall offers luxurious accommodation with stunning views of the Himalayas.
The resort features world-class amenities, a spa, and exquisite dining options.
The Oberoi Cecil, Shimla:
A heritage property, The Oberoi Cecil is located in the heart of Shimla and boasts colonial architecture.
Guests can enjoy elegant rooms, fine dining, and impeccable service.
Established in 1898, Clarkes Hotel is a heritage property near the Mall Road.
It combines colonial charm with modern amenities, offering a comfortable and memorable stay.
Hotel Willow Banks:
Centrally located, Hotel Willow Banks is a boutique hotel with well-appointed rooms and a rooftop restaurant.
The hotel provides easy access to popular attractions and shopping areas.
East Bourne Resort & Spa:
Nestled amid pine forests, East Bourne Resort offers a peaceful retreat with comfortable rooms and scenic views.
The resort features a spa, indoor pool, and a multi-cuisine restaurant.
Radisson Hotel Shimla:
Located on the lower outskirts, Radisson Hotel Shimla provides modern amenities, spacious rooms, and panoramic views of the Himalayas.
The hotel offers a range of dining options and recreational facilities.
Situated near the Mall Road, Hotel Surya is a budget-friendly option with clean and comfortable rooms.
The hotel is within walking distance of popular attractions and markets.
Shimla Havens Resort:
Located on the outskirts, Shimla Havens Resort offers budget-friendly rooms with scenic views.
The resort has a restaurant serving a variety of cuisines.
Places To Visit In Shimla
Shimla, with its rich colonial history and breathtaking landscapes, offers a variety of attractions for visitors. Whether you’re interested in historical landmarks, natural beauty, or adventure activities, Shimla has something for everyone. Here are some must-visit places in Shimla:
- The Ridge:
A spacious open space in the heart of Shimla, The Ridge offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
It’s a popular spot for leisurely walks, cultural events, and festivals.
- The Mall Road:
The main shopping street, The Mall Road is lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Take a stroll, shop for local crafts, and enjoy the colonial architecture.
- Jakhoo Temple:
Situated atop Jakhoo Hill, this temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman offers stunning panoramic views.
The climb to the temple is an adventure itself, and the temple hosts a massive Hanuman statue.
- Christ Church:
Located on The Ridge, Christ Church is the second oldest church in Northern India.
Its neo-Gothic architecture and stained glass windows make it a must-visit landmark.
A short drive from Shimla, Kufri is a picturesque hill station known for its scenic beauty and adventure activities.
Enjoy horse riding, visit the Himalayan Nature Park, and experience the thrill of skiing during the winter months.
- Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS):
Housed in the former Viceregal Lodge, IIAS is an architectural gem and a center for higher education.
The building and its gardens are open to the public.
- Shimla State Museum:
Explore the rich cultural heritage of Himachal Pradesh at the State Museum, which houses a collection of artifacts, photographs, and manuscripts.
- Summer Hill:
Located on the outskirts of Shimla, Summer Hill is a serene and peaceful place with lush greenery.
It’s a great spot for a relaxing walk and offers lovely views of the surrounding hills.
- Tara Devi Temple:
Situated on Tara Devi Hill, this temple dedicated to Goddess Tara offers a spiritual retreat and scenic views.
The trek to the temple is a popular activity for nature lovers.
Once the playground of the British, Annandale is an open ground surrounded by deodar trees.
It offers opportunities for golfing, picnics, and horse riding.
- Shaily Peak:
For those seeking panoramic views, Shaily Peak, located in Naldehra, provides breathtaking vistas of the Himalayas.
A serene town near, Mashobra is known for its apple orchards, dense forests, and the Presidential Retreat, Chharabra.