Add to favorites

Shimla, India

  • (worth a detour)
  • 3-5 km
  • Moderate
  • Average
  • 2-3 days
  • 2 2

The designated summer capital of the British Raj

Shimla Himachal Pradesh
There are endless snack shops and restaurants around the town, the main concentration of which lies encircling the Mall road. Channa Puri (puffed rice break with spiced chickpeas), samosas, potato cakes, and many more! Indian Coffee House, considered almost as a Shimla Institution, is a must-stop place at least once during your visit to this hill town. It’s like one of the old boys’ club with its almost ancient boots, uniformed waiters, and menu on the blackboard! Come here for breakfast, cheap dosas (a south-Indian delicacy), and of course Coffee (do NOT even ask for tea)! You must experience the atmosphere once if not the food. Alternatively, go to Wake and Bake for your shots of espresso, pizza by the slice, and amazing crepes. Café Sol, located in the hangar-style atrium on the roof of hotel Combermere is a nice place to try tasty Mexican, Italian, and Mediterranean food. It is also famed to have the best cake selection in Shimla. There are a couple of bars in the town if you want to grab a beer or enjoy a cocktail. Himani’s and the Devico’s Bar, both on the Mall, serve beer and cocktails along with a handful of snacks and mains.
Everything in this small town can be reached on foot. Even if the touts claim it’s very far, that is just to have you go with them so they can charge you can exorbitant fee for the services later. Keep in mind that they can be really persistent and annoying at times in which case it is best to keep a straight face and ignore them. If you are carrying a lot of luggage and would need someone to carry them for you to your hotel, make sure you haggle the costs and make sure that they take you to the hotel you want and not the one they want for extra commission from the hotel owners. Note that, some parts of the town can be a very steep walk so be prepared accordingly.

Shimla is a popular hill town in the state of Himachal Pradesh in North India. The city is approximately 359 km from New Delhi and is strung out on a 12 km ridge. While the Mall and the areas around are swarmed with tourists, the lower bazaars are frequented by locals where you can get a glimpse of the local lifestyle as well as go for shopping. Cars aren’t allowed in the main part of the town and some of the signboards look like they haven’t been changed ever since the British left! With no vehicular traffic, walking through the main town is fairly easy and a pleasant experience.

 

The official centre of the town is the Scandal Point (don’t go by the name). From here follows the flat open area known as the Ridge which carries until the famous Christ Church in the east, and further uphill till the Jakhu Temple. There are quite a few interesting forest walks in the eastern part of the city.

 

Come April to June or October and November, you can easily see the some of the snow-covered peaks from certain parts of the town.

 

The Mall Road aka the most happening tourist spot in the town is a long, pedestrian-only stretch encircled by various souvenir shops, snack shops, and some good and affordable restaurants. This stretch of road cascades downhill to the main Cart Road, which will most likely be your arrival point in the city with Shimla’s train station, the old bus terminal, and several taxi stands. There is a passenger lift between Cart Road and the Mall.

 

Now, let’s explore some of the popular tourist attractions in the city:

    • Jakhu temple – Dedicated to Lord Hanuman (the Hindu Monkey God), this temple is the most significant temple in the city. Quite appropriately, there are hundreds of rhesus macaques doing rounds in and around the vicinity, often harassing devotees for Prasad (a food offering given to devotees in Hindu temples after they have offered their prayers). Perched up on a hill, there is a small shrine within the temple complex which has murals and statues of Lord Hanuman running several errands for Lord Rama (Lord Hanuman was the prime devotee of Lord Rama and was his favourite). Neighbouring is a 33 metre high newly built statue of the deity which overlooks upon the town. There is a dining hall which serves langar (all-you-can-eat) comprising rice, daal (lentils), and sabzi (vegetables) starting 10:00 A.M. Note: It is a good idea to bring a walking stick to scare away the monkeys. Do not indulge in any teasing or feeding activities with the primates as they are too many and it could get fairly dangerous.

 

    • Viceregal Lodge – Constructed as the official residence of British Viceroys in 1888, the lodge looks like a unique combination of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School meets the Tower of London. Now, it houses the Indian Institute of Advanced study but you can take a guided tour which takes place every half hour starting at 10:15 A.M. The often overlooked photo gallery behind the ticket office is worth a visit. Opposite the Viceregal Lodge entrance is the Himalayan Bird Park where you can observe different birds including the Himalayan state bird, the monal pheasant. Entry to the Lodge – INR30 (Indians)/INR65 (Foreigners); Cameras – INR20. Entry to the Bird Park – INR5.

 

  • Christ Church – Christ Church is the second-oldest church in North India and here it dominates the top of the ridge. Constructed between 1844 and 1857, the church contains some interesting Raj-era memorials and fine stained glass. Timings – 10:30 A.M. to 01:00 P.M. and 02:15 P.M to 05:30 P.M. Services in English are held every Sunday at 09:00 A.M.

How to get there

Jubbarhatti airport is the only airport in Shimla though it’s a very small airport. But, there are a few flights that offer connectivity between Delhi and Jubbarhatti Airport.

The train journey is not just a way to enter the town but also a joyful experience in itself. Take the narrow gauge toy train from Kalka and enjoy a scenic 4-6 hour ride to town, passing through 103 tunnels, before you finally reach the Tiny Railway Station 1.5 km (approx..) from the Cart Road. There are ordinary trains as well which connect Shimla to nearby main cities such as New Delhi and Kalka.

Frequent buses to and from New Delhi, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Haridwar, Manali, Rekong Po, and Dharamshala arrive at the Government Deluxe Bus stand whereas buses to and from the nearby small town of Chail, Naldehra, and Tattapani arrive at the small Rivoli Bus Stand along the Ridge.

Location: