Situated at an altitude of around 7,238 feet above sea-level (2,205 metres) is the hill station of Shimla in Himachal Pradesh which is also arguably the most famous Himalayan holiday destination in India. Shimla was also the summer capital of the British during their rule in India.
There are multiple ways of getting into Shimla. The fastest is to board a flight from either New Delhi or Mumbai to Shimla. There are daily flights from both these cities with the former having more connectivity.
The most scenic way to reach Shimla is to take the mountain train from Kalka to Shimla. Kalka is around 274 kms from New Delhi and there are regular buses and trains from the capital to the train station. The journey by train is a preferred one since it’s much faster than bus. Chandigarh to Kalka is around 28 kms and the journey takes around 50 minutes.
Once in Kalka, take the mountain train to Shimla which has now gained status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The train ride takes travellers through 103 tunnels and has tiny railway stations which bring back memories of the British era with the setup. The view is simply breathtaking and is something totally worth a try.
The last option is to hop onto one of the many HRTC government buses from either New Delhi or Chandigarh which is at a distance of 360 kms and 113 kms from Shimla respectively.
The main attractions in Shimla include the Mall which is also the main shopping centre in the town. Jakhu Temple which is situated on Jakhu Hill is open every day and offers visitors spectacular views of the mountains from its location above the town. According to the epic Ramayana, the monkey god Hanuman rested here during his journey to the Himalayan Mountains. The climb up is a physically demanding one-hour walk.
The Ridge situated on Jakhu Hill built at the top of the town is the centre of Shimla’s cultural and social life and is an excellent place to view the surrounding mountains. Along the Ridge is the famous Christ Church which was constructed in 1846, this is the second oldest church of North India. The stain-glass windows representing charity, faith, patience, hope, fortitude and humility, and the 19th century piano are particularly impressive.
Shimla is pretty big and the best way of getting around the town is on foot but keep in mind that here the walks are generally uphill climbs and pretty strenuous for an average city dwellers. If walking is not your thing then the next best way of getting around is by hiring a taxi. Taxis can be hired from anywhere in town, but be prepared to shell out a bomb for even short distances.
Accommodation in Shimla is in plenty and to meet the needs of all kinds of travellers from budget guest houses and lodges for the backpacking crowd to luxury villa stays for the family and business travellers. Shimla pretty much has it all for anyone who wants to visit this Himalayan town. Nearly all the guest houses have free WiFi, TV and geysers.
Avoid interaction with touts who will bump into you at every point in Shimla trying to offer you better accommodation deals. These tours are mostly Kashmiris who have been staying in Shimla for the last couple of generations and will always end up scamming you for the room rent cost. It’s easier to find a place on your own or book a room online in advance.
Eating options in Shimla are also in abundance. At every nook and corner of the town, one will find an eatery. The better restaurants are located near the Mall and serve nearly everything from South Indian, Chinese, continental and amazing tandoori dishes. A must-try is the pan which is sold in the small tiny shops along the Mall.
is a hill station which can be visited all year round. The best time to visit the hill station is during the winter months from mid-October to the end of March. Plenty of tourists also flock to Shimla during the summer months to beat the heat in central and southern India.
Being a hill station there are plenty of monkeys all around the town and feeding them is a very bad idea since that only makes them more greedy and aggressive.
Even though Shimla is considered rather mainstream by most travellers it is a place totally worth visiting as it has a very nice vibe and is a place where one can easily spend a couple of days just wandering through the lanes and chilling in some really nice cafes at the Mall road.
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