Shimla
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Shimla


INTRODUCTION

Old times say that once Shimla gets into your blood, it never leaves. It calls you back time after time and at every moment, the town is capable of showing its rich and varied character. As the former summer capital of British India, Shimla has a rare range of built heritage and is surrounded by thick forests of pine, Himalayan oak, flowering rhododendron and tall cedar-the 'almost-legendary'deodar trees.

Today’s Shimla retains a substantial measure of a distinct lifestyle that had grace, leisure and elegance as its hallmarks. But unlike a place that lives on memories alone, the town has a youthful vigour in its step and it’s well developed facilities and numerous attractions and activities have ensured its popularity down the decades. It is perhaps the biggest hill station in the world, located at an altitude of 2,421 meters above sea level.

ORIENTATION

Shimla is located in the north-western ranges of the Himalayas at an altitude of 2397.59 meters. It coordinates 31°612N 77°1020E / 31.10333°N 77.17222°E.

HISTORY

Shimla which was once part of the Nepalese kingdom got its name from the goddess Shyamala the other name for goddess Kali. British were the founders of Shimla in the year 1819 and after which they laid down the Kalka-Shimla railway line in 1903 and soon it became the summer camp for the British. After independence,Shimla became the capital of Punjab and was later named the capital of Himachal Pradesh.

FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

LAVI FAIR

Lavi Fair is celebrated in commeration of the signing of a mutual trade treaty between Tibet and the former Bushahr state. The fair exhibits a number of cultural shows. However this fair mainly concentrates on small-scale trade and business among the shepherds and other locals.

BAISAKHI

One of the most important festivals celebrated in Shimla is Baisakhi. It is celebrated on the first day of the month of Baisakh (mid - April). Baisakhi is called as Bissu or Bisha in Shimla. It is celebrated just before the onset of the harvest season.

SIPI FAIR

Sipi Fair is conducted in the month of May in place called Siphur.The main highlight is to honour Sip Devta during which people come from different parts of the country to participate in it along with many cultural programmes being conducted.

RHYALI FESTIVALS SHIMLA

Apart from tourism the main source of living for the people of Shimla is agriculture for which rain is very important.Rhyali festival is celebrated during rainy season in order to keep the rain Gods happy.

SHIMLA SUMMER FESTIVALS

The best reason to visit Shimla during summers has to be the famous Summer Festival that is held every year in the month of May. This famous festival is a riot of colors and festivity and is celebrated on a grand scale. The Summer Festival in Simla is a beautiful amalgamation of various talented people of India who make it an event that is remembered for a long time to come. 

BHOJ FAIR

Bhoj Fair is celebrated to honour the deity Devta Bansor and it falls in the month of November and goes for three days attracting a huge crowd. Apart from the above festivals, the other common festivals celebrated like in any other part of the country are Christmas, Diwali, Lohri and Navratri.

PLACES OF INTERESTS

ELLERSLIE

A walk over Shimla's main spur will display some of Shimla’s finest colonial structures. Starting in the east, Ellerslie in Chotta Shimla was the former Secretariat of Punjab and now houses the government oh Himachal Pradesh. This is largely a dressed stone and iron building that was completed in 1902.An interesting structure near this the Tudor framed Police station.

BARNE'S COURT

Barne's Court now Raj Bhawan lies above this and is a splendid example of a neo-Tudor tmber framed building that is evocative of an English country house.

OAK OVER

This is the official residence of the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh which was once the property of the Maharaja of Patiala.

THE GAIETY THEATRE

The Gaiety Theatre abuts both the Mall and the Ridge.The first recorded amateurdramatic performance in Shimla was on 9th June 1838.The Amateur dramatic club was formally housed in the Gaiety thaetre in 1887.

SCANDAL POINT

This remains the hub of Shimla's social life and is said to be named after a British Commander in Chief's daughter eloped from the spot with the Maharaja of  Patiala.The story is unconfirmed and quite untrue.

CHRIST CHURCH

On Shimla's prominent ridge lies the Neo-Gothic Christ Church where the first cornerstone was laid on 9th September 1844 and the church was consecrated on 10th January 1857.Even today the church has some interesting memorial tablets while the pews still mark the seats of British Viceroy of India, the Commander-in -Chief and the Punjab's governor.

ST.ANDREWS CHURCH

The hill immediately behind the Post Office holds the deconsecrated Church of Scotland. Built in 1914, decorative cornerstones are the only concession to its Spartan brick facade. The building now houses a wing of the State Library and is a treasure trove of rare books.

ST.MICHAEL'S CATHEDRAL

Just below the telegraphic office is the St.Michael's Cathedral. Built with a partial though elegant vocabulary of the French gothic style, the exterior of St.Michael's is of dressed grey stone. A statue of Our Lady of Guadulupe, presented by the people of Mexico has also been installed in the Church.

JAKHU TEMPLE

Dedicated to Lord Hanuman; this shrine is situated 2kms,east of the city at an altitude of 2680 mts.This is the highest point on the ridge and half an hour of brisk walk can take you to this temple.The shrine abounds in monkeys and offers the visitor an excellent view of the city and the surrounding scenic hills and valleys.

KALI BARI

The temple of Kali Bari is near the mall and was founded in 1845 by Ram Charan Brhamachari, a Bengali Brahmin. The temple one of the oldest in Shimla is dedicated to the Goddess Kali.

SANKAT MOCHAN TEMPLE

Sankat Mochan Temple is at a distance of about 4kms from the town is dedicated to Hanumanji and lies just short of Shimla by the Kalka Shimla highway.

KAMNA DEVI TEMPLE

The Kamna Devi temple lies above Boileauganj and also offers superb view of the town and the mountain ranges.

TARA DEVI TEMPLE

The hill of Tara Devi which is about 12kms by vehicular road is crowned by a temple of the same name. Sunday mornings have a throng of devotees and there is a lunch 'bhandara'.

GLEN

The Glen is a pleasant picnic spot just 4kms from the Ridge. This densely wooded glen is by the side of a snow fed hubbling stream at an altitude of 1830 mts.

MASHOBARA

This is another popular picnic spot which is just 10kms away from Shimla.It offers interesting walks amidst stately oaks and pines with a night halt at Craignano Rest House atop a beautiful hill, 3kms from the actual spot of Mashobara.

KURFI

Sixteen kilometers from Shimla is a little hamlet famous as a best ski resort in the state. Situated at an altitude of 2501 mts, Kurfi begins to throb with life in winter when ski-enthusiasts congregate from all over the world and enjoy on its famous ski-slopes.

WILD FLOWER HALL

Near Kurfi this picturesque place famous for a fine view of the city and snowclad far off mountain peaks. Once Lord Kitchner,the then C-in Charge  of British Forces in India, lived here.

MASHOBRA

This is 13 km.away from Shimla and is a popular picnic spot in Shimla which offers ideal walks amidst forest of oak and pine. The area adjoining to Mashobra is famous for apples orchards. Nearby is the site of annual 'Sipi Fair' held in June.
 

NALDERA

Ten kms away from the Ridge,Naldera is well known for its nine-hole golf course. There a tourists bungalow, log huts, golf club huts and a cafetaria.The cahrms of Naldera which lies in its bracing and sylvan environs an quite splendour is really irresistible.

CHAIL

It is royal retreat nestled in stately deodar and tall pines of the Shivalik slopes. hail stands at an altitude of 2250 misfit is 45kms away from Sheila via Kurfi.Once the princely seat of the rulers of Patiala,Chail promises a variety of outdoor attractions including idyllic walks, both on easy and not easy trekks.Chail can boast of the highest cricket playground with concrete pitch in the world.

DARANGHATI SANCTUARY

This sanctuary located in the upper area of the Shimla district has an undisturbed forest area with plenty of wildlife-monal, tragopan, koklas and khalij pheaseants and musk deer, ghoral and thar. There is a network of bridle paths in the sanctuary. Visitors are advised to seek assistance from the forest staff posted at Dofda and Sarahan. The area is ideal for those who love to trek.

KALKA SHIMLA TRAIN

The Kalka Shimla Train, more than 100 years old, still runs between Kalka and Shimla, connecting Shimla to Kalka. The train has been declared as a World Heritage Site, by UNESCO. A journey on the train seems like a fairytale coming out of the story books. The train chugs through Himalayas, passing slowly through 103 tunnels, 20 railway stations and more than 900 curves.

SHOPPING

Local tweeds,shawls,horticultural products like jams and squashes,silver jewellery,Himachal's distinctive caps,handicrafts like carpets,jackets,paintings,metal ware and wooden items like bowls and walking sticks.
 
For handicraft and souvenirs the best place is the Himachals Emporium on the Mall road.
The Lower bazaar has several silversmiths and you can pick up jewelery and other items.
Shimla's Chinese shoemakers are famous for their handcrafted works.
The "Lakkar Bazaar"lies just off the Ridge and has number of souvenir shops.
The Tibetain markets sell a variety of inexpensive imports primarily apparels and electronic trinkets.

EAT OUTS

Alfa Restaurant - The Mall
Ashiana Goofa Restaurant - The Ridge
Baljees - The Mall
Cecil - The Oberoi
Devicos - The Mall
Embassy Restaurant - The Mall
Fascination Restaurant - The Mall
Himani Restaurant - The Mall
India Coffee House - The Mall
Lutyen's Room - Springfield
Nalini Restaurant  - The Mall
Solitaire Restaurant - The Mall

ACCOMMODATION

1.WelcomHeritage Woodville Palace
Raj Bhawan Road,
Shimla,
Himachal Pradesh 171002
0177 2623919.

2.Clarkes Hotel
The Mall,
Shimla,
Himachal Pradesh 171001
0177 2651010

3.Honeymoon Inn Shimla
The Mall, Shimla,
Himachal Pradesh 171001
0177 2624967

4.Combermere
Opp. Tourism Lift, The Mall,
Shimla,
Himachal Pradesh 171001
0177 2651246

.Sansar villa,
below shimla club shimla,
Himachal Pradesh 171001
0177 2653558

6.Wildflower Hall,
Shimla in the Himalayas,
An Oberoi Resort,
Chharabra,
Shimla - 171 012,
Himachal Pradesh (India) 
0177 264 8585 

7.Hotel Woodpark 
Woodrina Estate (kufri Road) Dhalli
Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171012
09816316448 

8.Grand Sunset Hotel 
Chail, Solan
Chail, Himachal Pradesh
09891414727

9.Hotel Sukh sagar 
Across Victory Tunnel, Near Tara Hall School
shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171003
0177 2803973

10.Ashiana Regency
Chotta Shimla to Vikas Nagar Shimla,
Himachal Pradesh 171002
0177 2621572

HOW TO REACH

By Air

The Jubbarhatti Airport, Shimla, is situated 23 Km from city centre and is connected by regular flights to Delhi, Chandigarh, Kangra and Kullu. From Delhi,the journey takes around 1 hour and from Kullu, it takes 30 minutes by means of air. The airport has capacity of one small (17-19 passengers) aircraft, and offers basic facilities only. From the airport, one can take taxi to reach Shimla, which takes about 1 hour.

By Trains

One has to visit Kalka, from where narrow gauge trains to Shimla can be boarded upon. The train takes around 6 hours to reach Shimla from Kalka.

By Road

One can also take a train for Shimla up to Kalka and then take the Kalka-Shimla toy train for a memorable journey through meandering rail tracks with quaint little stations on the way.