Shimla Travel Guide

Shimla Overview

Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, is a spectacular hill station positioned on the lower ranges of the Himalayas. The former summer vacation capital of India during British rule, the town is an intriguing blend of colonial era architecture and traditional Indian culture, setting it apart from other hill stations. With its diverse climate, Shimla remains popular with both summer tourists and winter honeymooners who come to cavort in the snow.

 
A big part of Shimla’s charm is, with it sitting precariously on a 12km ridge, that the town seems as though it could disappear into the valley below at any given moment. The town itself goes on for miles with the main action flowing from Scandal Point. East from here is the Ridge, a large open space housing a number of colonial buildings. Walking further east leads to Christ Church and on to the forest path to Jakhu Temple.
 
Down from the Ridge, and running in both directions from Scandal Point, is The Mall, a meandering pedestrian street of shops, cafes and restaurants. At the bottom is Cart Road, which can be reached via the passenger lift to the far east side of the Mall, or by strolling along the labyrinth of vibrant alleyways making up Middle and Lower Bazaar. These two bazaars are typically frantic, with stores offering the usual range of items, and come to life during the evening.
 
This is as busy a town as you will find in India but not only because of the people. The town’s monkeys are notoriously aggressive, with frequent reports of them breaking into hotel rooms, stealing washing and making attempts to snatch bags. As cute as they may appear, it is advisable to not feed, confront or make eye contact with these menaces to society.
 
Shimla is well connected to neighboring towns and cities with excellent bus and train services. There are three bus stations scattered around the town. Deluxe HPTDC buses for Manali and Delhi depart from the stand at Victory Tunnel and short journeys to Chail and Tattapani leave from Rivoli on Lakkar Bazaar. For other destinations, including Chandigarh, Dharamsala and Manali, government services run from the Inter State Bus Terminal (IBST). Arriving and departing by train is a fascinating experience, with services, winding through the hills, running to Kalka and on to Delhi. Reservations can be made at the bustling ticket office on the Ridge, but be prepared to stand your ground when in line. Due to its layout, the town is pedestrian friendly and the only way to explore is on foot.
 
Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, endless forests and green pasture, Shimla, steeped in history and with a diverse culture to match, is a town worthy of its title “Queen of the Hill Stations”.

Things to do in Shimla

Viceregal Lodge and Botanical Gardens - A magnificent mansion originally built for the British viceroys that today is home to the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. The lodge is reached via an enjoyable 4.5km walk west from Scandal Point. Opening times are 9am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm. Entrance fee Rs50, free on Sundays.

 
Himachal State Museum and Library - Fascinating array of ancient sculptures, paintings, coins and photos. The library houses a number of historical books and manuscripts. Located 2.5km west of Scandal Point. Opening times are 10am - 1.30pm and 2pm - 5pm, Tuesday to Friday and Sunday. Entrance Rs50 (camera/video Rs50/100).
 
Jakhu Temple - A striking temple dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey god, and fittingly infested with an abundance of the hassling animals. A gentle hike through the forest, from the east of the Ridge, leads to the temple and the breathtaking views across the valley, although the monkeys can be somewhat threatening at times.
 
Christ Church - Beautifully kept English church, built during the years 1846 and 1857, with some excellent stained glass windows. The church lights up at night to dominate the area around the Ridge. Although with only a few people attending, a Sunday service still takes place.
 
Himalayan Queen - Running from Shimla to Kalka, this 96km stretch of toy train is a relaxing and enjoyable way to enter and leave the town. Passing through no less than 103 tunnels the journey takes in some spectacular views of the surrounding hills, valleys and villages. The 1st class service includes food.

Hotels in Shimla

Budget Hotels Shimla

 
Hotel Classic - Cheap and cheerful hotel close to the train station. Pleasant garden with nice views, although beware of the monkeys. On The Mall, close to Victory Tunnel. Tel (91) (177) 2653078.
 
Hotel Dreamland - This well kept hotel with a homely environment is situated just behind Christ Church and has rooms overlooking the valley. The Mall. Tel (91) (177) 2653005.
 
Midrange Hotels Shimla
 
Hotel Gulmarg - This funky hotel is a favorite for honeymooners with some rooms furnished with mirrored ceilings and round beds. Gulmarg Road (below Computer College). Tel (91) (177) 2653168.
 
Hotel White - Welcoming and comfortable hotel with a range of good value rooms, those on the 2nd floor have great views over the town. Lakkar Bazaar. Tel (91) (177) 2656136.
 
Luxury Hotels Shimla
 
Le Royale - Located on the road up to the Jakhu Temple, this stylish hotel has great rooms, restaurant, bar and pleasant garden. Tel (91) (177) 2651002.
 
The Oberoi Cecil- This stunning hotel commemorates the Colonial era in a castle like building. Excellent restaurant/bar, swimming pool and billiards room. Chaura Maidan, The Mall. Tel (91) (177) 2804848. 

Shimla Weather

Shimla Travel Resources

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