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>> Himachal Pradesh
Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, lies about 343 km from Delhi at an altitude of 2,213
meters above sea level. Before the British discovered it in 1819, Shimla was a small village that was part of the Nepalese kingdom. In 1830, the local Raja was persuaded to part with the land by the British and the settlement became the subcontinent’s most fashionable summer resort. Shimla was declared the summer capital of India in 1864. After India’s independence, Shimla became the capital of Punjab till 1966, when it came under Himachal Pradesh.
The summers in Shimla are quit pleasant as the maximum temperature rarely crosses 25°
C. Winters are cold and Shimla experiences quite a heavy snowfall. If you are among those who want to escape from the scorching heat of the plains, Shimla would be the ideal getaway. But for those who love snow, a visit in winters can be an exciting experience.
This pleasant sprawling town set among the pine-clad hills presents the visitor with glimpses of fading colonial charm. The buildings, The Mall, the picnic spots tell you the story of the era when it was the summer capital of the British India. A visit to the Mall brings you to the centre of activity in the city. Move around the city and you get to see some of the fascinating sights of the landscape around. Some of the major attractions around are Jakhoo Hill, Glen, Summer Hill, Chadwick Falls, Prospect Hill, Institute of Advance Studies, Sankat Mochan, Taradevi Temple and Himachal State Museum.
The excursions around Shimla are equally interesting experience as they unveil to you the glory of the Raj era. You can take a trip to the oldest and highest golf course in India and to the world’s highest cricket ground. For the religious minded, the ancient temples around the Shimla are worth a visit. Some of the interesting spots around Shimla are Naldhera, Tattapani, Wildflower Hall, Mashobra, Craignano, Kufri and Chail.
The Mall, which runs along the Ridge, is the main shopping centre of the Shimla. Filled with shops and restaurants, you will find the Mall always crowded with tourists. The Gaiety Theatre, which is a reproduction of an old British theatre, is a centre of cultural activities. The Ridge, an open space in the heart of the town, presents excellent view of the mountain ranges. The Mall further joins the Ridge at the \\’Scandal Point\\’ where a statue of the nationalist leader Lala Lajpat Rai has been erected.
||About 2.5 km from the city lies the Jahkoo hill at a height of about 2455 metres. The peak, highest in Shimla, offers a panoramic view of the town. The Jakhoo temple, dedicated to Lord Hanuman, is also located here.
The Glen forests lie at a distance of about 4 km from the Ridge at an altitude of 1830 metres. An ice-cold stream flows through the forest making it one of the fascinating picnic spots in the city.
About 7 km from the city, at a height of 1983 metres, is the Summer Hill. This picturesque spot lies on the Shimla-Kalka railway line and has pleasant shady walks in quiet surroundings. The place is also associated with Mahatma Gandhi as he had stayed in the Georgian House of Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur during his visit to Shimla. The Himachal Pradesh University is situated here.
You can reach these 67-metre-high falls from Summer Hill from where it is about 45 minutes walk. The falls, surrounded by thick forests, are situated at about 7 km from the city at a height of 1586 metres.
A popular picnic spot, the Prospect Hill offers excellent views of the surrounding country. The Hill is a 15-minute climb from Boileauganj and is located at about 5 km west of Shimla.
INSTITUTE OF ADVANCE STUDIES
About 4 kilometres from the city lies the Indian Institute of Advance Studies. The institute was formerly the Vice-regal Lodge. Besides the magnificent English renaissance structure, the lawns and woodland of the institute are the other sources of attractions. You will have to buy a ticket to enter the place.
Sankat Mochan is located on the road to Chandigarh at about 7 km from Shimla. Here a temple dedicated Lord Hanuman can be found. You can also get a fine view of Shimla from here.
Dedicated to Tara Devi, a Hindu version of the Tibetan Goddess Drolma, the temple lies at about 11 km from Shimla on the Shimla-Kalka road. This holy place is also accessible by rail.
HIMACHAL STATE MUSEUM
The state museum lies at about 3 km from the city centre. It has some good collection of statues, miniatures, coins, photos and other items from around Himachal Pradesh.
Excursions for Shimla
Forty-three kilometres from Shimla lies the lush green town of Chail, a former summer capital of the Maharaja of Patiala. The town is built on three hills, one of which is topped with the Chail Palace, the other with the Chail village, and the third one by the Snowview mansion. Three kilometres from the village lies the world’s highest cricket ground at a height of 2,250 metres. Chail is also a hiker’s paradise. There is a wildlife sanctuary at a distance of 3 km from here.
At 2,149 metres above the sea level and 16 kilometres from Shimla, Craignano is a beautiful picnic spot with a hilltop rest house and well laid out lawns and gardens.
Kufri lies 16 kilometres to the east of Shimla at an altitude of 2,510 metres above sea level. The surrounding countryside here offers you a good opportunity for hiking especially to the nearby Mahasu peak. The town also hosts a winter sports festival.
The small village of Mashobra lies at about 13 km from Shimla on Shimla-Naldhera road. The village is surrounded by thick forests and offers some pleasant walks including one to Sipi where a fair is held every year. A temple dedicated to Goddess Durga is worth visiting.
A pleasant little town, Naldhera is famous for having the oldest and the highest golf course in India. The town, perched at an altitude of 2,050 metres, is around 23 km from Shimla. An ancient Nag temple is also situated here. It is said that Lord Curzon was so enchanted by this place that he named his daughter after it.
Tattapani is located at about 65 km from Shimla on the Shimla-Mandi highway. The place is famous for its hot water springs that have sulphur content. You can also visit the nearby Hindu temples and Shiv Goofa at Saraur (4 km).
This building at Charabra, about 13 km from Shimla, was built as residence of the then British Commander-in-Chief Lord Kitchener. The place was run as a hotel by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation before it was severely damaged in a fire in 1993. The hotel is under renovation and is expected to reopen soon
• Area 31.60 sq. km
• Population 1,02,186
• Altitude 2,213 metres above sea level
• Languages Hindi, Himachali, Garhwali, English
• STD Code 0177
• Best time to visit May–July and September–November