Situated at the height of 2200m, Shimla is the capital and the largest city of Himachal Pradesh in India. Set amidst beautiful hills and mystical woods, Shimla has been a very popular hill-station among Indian families and honeymooners.
British loved this city so much that they made Shimla their summer capital in 1864 and used to rule the sub-continent from here whenever the temperature rose in the nearby plains. Shimla still retains its old-world charm with beautiful colonial architecture, pedestrian-friendly Mall Road and the ridge.
The weather is pleasant for most of the months with tourists flocking especially during the summer months. The winters are cold with some days of snow from mid-December till February end. Tourists flock to the centrally located Mall Road and the Ridge, a walking-only area which is lined up with multiple shops, cafes and restaurants.
Shimla is often covered with nearby towns of Kufri, a hill-station almost always covered by snow and Chail, famous for a huge palace and the highest cricket ground in the world. Tourists also visit the famous Jakhu Temple and engage in sightseeing at various viewpoints during their trip to Shimla
Shimla is well connected with many cities and is just 4 hours from the nearby city of Chandigarh. The city has an airport as well; however, there aren’t many daily flights from here. The railway station connects Shimla with the plans and is famous for the Kalka-Shimla train route; a UNESCO listed World Heritage site.
Places to Visit
Located in the heart of the ‘British Summer Capital’ – Shimla, The Ridge is a wide open street located on the side of Shimla Mall Road. The Ridge has everything, from shops selling some exclusive artefacts to the spectacular view of the snow-capped mountain ranges set against an orangish hued sky. It is famous for a lot of things, but best known for shopping. This place is a delight for all kinds of tourists, and the old British establishments beckon visitors from all over to this centre of the beautiful hill station. The Ridge is the most recognised face of Shimla. It is often the most photographed part of the hill station covered with pine, firs, Himalayan Oak and Rhododendron trees.
The Ridge is not just a market place but also the social hub of the city. This wide open space is thronged by locals and nature enthusiasts as well as travellers bored of the sightseeing. The road is lined with cafes, bars, boutiques, shops and restaurants attracting the huge crowd that visit the famous Mall Road. It runs from east to west on the side of the Mall Road and connects it to the famous Scandal Point on the west end. On the east end, it is connected to the Lakkar Bazaar, which is the most famous wooden crafts market in Shimla. Shimla’s rich past is evident from the Gothic buildings standing in this part of the town.
While in Shimla, visit its colder, higher and less crowded cousin, Kufri just 13 km away from the main town. The views and sceneries here only get better, and the landscapes more flattering, a bit untouched with the tourist rush.
However, Kufri too is becoming increasingly popular with the visitors, especially due to the zoo here. One must visit Kufri’s zoological park which is famous for having rare species of Antelopes, Felines, Bears and birds including Himalayan Monal, which is the state bird of Himachal Pradesh.
Mashru peak is the highest point here and one can reach by trekking upto that point. Otherwise, Kufri itself is very cold and is used as a ski ground during winters. There are accommodation options also available here. Wildflower Hall is also located nearby.
This small village in Himachal is situated at a height of 2250 m above sea level and is known as a hiker’s paradise. Surrounded by lush greenery and mesmerizing views from such a great height, Chail is bound to give a tourist a memorable travelling experience to a tourist.
This place is famous for having the world’s highest cricket and polo grounds and has a luxurious resort situated on three hilltops. Once the summer capital of the Patiala Kings, the palace has now been converted into a hotel and a tourist destination. This is the quintessential destination for tourists looking for a calm and relaxed vacation away from the more bustling and crowded tourist destinations in this state.
Kalka Shimla Toy Train
The Kalka to Shimla route is best travelled by way of the toy train that runs on a narrow-gauge track and is known for its dramatic views of the hills and surrounding villages. The historic Kalka Shimla Toy train is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List and takes individuals on a ride amongst vast green hills and deodar and pine forests.
The journey was carved through the abundance of nature in Himachal Pradesh during the British rule due to which the Kalka Shimla Toy toy train is bound to take you back to a completely different era in history and through one of the most scenic railway journeys in India. The 5 and a half-hour toy train journey provides special services and is must-do when visiting the mountainside of the North.
Literally meaning hot water in Hindi, Tattapani is a small village located 51km away from Shimla. This place is famous for hot water springs and the famous Shiva caves.
The Mall Road in Shimla, located in the heart of the town, is the main street that is lined up with a myriad of restaurants, clubs, banks, shops, post offices and tourist offices. At the same time, the place boasts of the other exciting attractions that it houses, such as the Scandal Point and Kali Bari Temple. One of the busiest and more commercial areas of Shimla till date, this stretch is a mini-world in itself. The Shimla Mall Road is the one stretch that truly celebrates the spirit of the hilltown, its tourist rush and valleys and hills covered with houses and hotels. The charm and beauty of the Mall Road can be enjoyed by groups of friends, families and honeymooners alike.
The stores that are located on the Mall Road are famous for their woollen clothes and exclusively handcrafted works, apart from the usual books and jewellery. The wooden furniture shops are particularly well-known; so do not forget to buy some exquisite wooden articles, which look like antiques, when you shop from here. Vehicles, except emergency ones, are not allowed on this street, which not only makes the Mall Road in Shimla an ideal place to stroll around in the evenings, without being concerned about the traffic. Other than shopping, Shimla Mall Road is also famous for its variety of cafes and the delicious delicacies that they serve. In fact, people here are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a place to have a meal at. The numerous leisure activities that Mall Road offers ensure that you do not get bored.
The Christ Church in Shimla is the second oldest church in entire northern India and is a site of pure devotion as well as architectural beauty. The church, which took 11 long years to complete, stands as a reminder of the British colonisation in India. There is something unique and exciting about the Shimla Christ Church that makes it the favourite destination of people of all age groups. At night, the church literally glows when it is lit up, while in winters, it dons the look of a magnificent castle.
The yellow building and its silhouette is visible from far across in the town of Shimla and is always full of architecture lovers, and devotees. The Shimla Christ Church is inspired by the neo-gothic style of architecture and is complete with a front porch, church bells and five stained glass windows that represent different virtues of Christianity. This is now the only place of religion that the Christians have and is open for service every day. Even with the hullabaloo outside at the Ridge, the Christ Church is peaceful and indeed removed from reality. This and the fact that this majestic church has appeared in a number of famous Bollywood movies, such as Black and 3 Idiots, makes it a popular tourist attraction that people love to visit.
Ice Skating is a famous sport in the beautiful city of Shimla. The Shimla Ice Skating Rink is well-known because it is a naturally formed rink found in the town and is also the largest and the only naturally formed rink found in South Asia. It draws not just the locals but tourists from all over the world. The experience of indulging in a sport at the foothills of the Himalayas is a breathtaking one. Families and friends often visit the rink to spend some fun and quality time with each other and create beautiful memories.
The ice skating rink has been used for sports and recreational activities since 1920. The Ice Skating Club of Shimla maintains it who enthusiastically hosts national level competitions and the annual carnival. Global warming and an increase in urbanisation are said to be causing a decrease in the events as it affects the ice formation in this naturally formed ice skating rink. The number of events arranged here is dependent on the weather and the ice conditions, but the popularity of the rink is unmatched.
Set amidst the lush green background of the Shivalik hill ranges on Jakhoo Hill, the highest point in Shimla, the Jakhu Temple is an ancient site shrouded in legends and offers a mystical vibe to visitors. The Jakhoo Temple is dedicated to the Hindu monkey god – Hanuman. The site is one of the most sought-after tourist attractions in Shimla, attracting tourists and visitors of all ages and religions apart from Hindu pilgrims and devotees. Jakhu Temple has the world’s largest Hanuman statue, which is visible from most parts of Shimla.
Overlooking the sister town of Sanjauli, the amazing setting of Jakhoo Temple in the thick of beautiful Deodar trees is complemented with an abundant monkey population in and around the Jakhoo Hill area which serves as a fitting tribute to the monkey god. It is located approximately 2 kilometres from the Ridge in Shimla’s centre, a journey of about 30 minutes. The construction of the Hanuman Statue is a marvelous piece of engineering as it is situated at the height of over 8000 feet, making it the tallest statue in the world at such a height above sea level, surpassing Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio De Janeiro which is 30 meters tall (excluding its pedestal of 8 meters), at the height of 700 meters (2,300 feet). According to the legend that surrounds Jakhu Temple, Lord Hanuman stopped at this spot to take some rest before resuming his search for the Sanjeevani Booti to revive Lord Lakshman. Your visit to Shimla would be incomplete without visiting the scenic Jakhoo Temple!
The Green Valley is a beautiful and breathtaking mountain range that falls on the way to Kufri from Shimla. This spectacular valley is every tourists’ answered prayer to being able to find a place bereft of pollution, constant traffic jams and incessant noise and din. The Green Valley is surrounded by verdant hills on all sides that are covered with thick forests of pine and deodar. It is not uncommon to sight some Yaks wandering and grazing around in the valley.
The Green Valley is a region that oozes beauty, magnificence and splendour; and hence, tourists love to stop by at this place to enjoy the lush green environs. The place is also an ideal spot to capture some fantastic pictures. The place is undeveloped for tourism, nevertheless, it continues to be a crowd puller and captures the attention of tourists with its natural and pristine beauty. The Green Valley is imbued with natural beauty, as is evident in the dense deodar and pine trees that line the majestic hills. Rare animals are also sighted here at times. This makes it one of the most famous tourist destinations and the most loved photography point in Shimla. The Green Valley, thanks to its beauty and grace, has also featured in numerous Bollywood movies.
Must Try Food in Shimla
1. Cafe Sol
2. Cafe Simla Times
3. Himachal Rasoi
4. 45 The Central
5. Eighteen71 Cookhouse & Bar
6. Hideout Cafe
7. Guptajis Vaishnav Bhojnalaya
8. Cafe Under Tree
10. Buddys Food Joint
How To Get Here
The nearest broad gauge railway station from Shimla is in Kalka which is 89 km away. One can either take a taxi, local bus or the toy train to Shimla. Shimla is easily accessible via road too and Chandigarh-Shimla highway is in a good condition and it only takes around 3 and a half hours to reach here from Chandigarh. Chandigarh is the nearest major airport from Shimla and is around 113 km away. The nearest airport is Jubbarhatti Airport which is 25 km away from the heart of Shimla, however, this airport is only occasionally functional.
The Shimla Airport, also known as Jubbarhatti airport is around 20km away from the main city and is one of the very few airports at any of the hill stations. Probably one of the smallest airstrips, the ride is pretty bumpy in the plane when it lands. However, since this airport is not functional throughout the year, hence it’s advisable to choose Chandigarh or Delhi as connecting airports. People coming by air till Chandigarh generally prefer to book cabs to reach Shimla, which will take 3-4 hours. There are regular buses too. From Delhi airport, it roughly takes around 7-8 hours to reach Shimla.
Nearest Airport: Chandigarh Airport (IXC) – 60 kms from Shimla
Shimla is a hot tourist destination and buses run for Shimla from as far as Delhi, Jaipur, Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh.There may or may not be a halt in Chandigarh while coming to Shimla from Delhi. Taxis are widely available to travel to Shimla from Chandigarh and Delhi or from any other local places. Shimla is also very well connected with HRTC buses from almost all parts of Himachal Pradesh.
The nearest broad gauge railway station from Shimla is the Kalka Railway Station which is only 90 km away. Chandigarh Railway station is also just 113 km away from Shimla. From both of these railway stations, Shimla is well connected with local buses and cabs. Shimla has its own railway station, but only narrow gauge trains from Kalka arrive here. It takes around 5-6 hours from Kalka to reach here by train, but it’s a very beautiful journey with a lot of tunnels and scenery which makes up for the extra time taken in the route.