Shimla is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, having a history of being the summer capital of British India. It’s a very popular holiday destination especially visited by locals during school holidays.
Our holiday to Shimla was shortlisted because we wanted minimum road journey. We only had to worry about getting to the place rest was all on foot. Based on this we ventured onto our adventure to Shimla.
Walking along the streets with each having a story was just our kind of holiday. Along the street you come across many new-Gothic architecture which dates back to the colonial era. The famous Kalka-Shimla Railway which is the UNESCO World Heritage Site still attracts tourists.
TIME TO VISIT SHIMLA
It is said March to June is the ideal time to visit, of which May is considered to have a peak in tourists. The weather is pleasant during this time and makes the place ideal holiday destination. This also however is the school holidays in India hence expect crowd.
December to January Shimla enjoys heavy snowfalls. If you love the cold then this would be the ideal time. Be prepared for road closures though during this time.
We had chosen to visit in June, the weather was pleasant during our visit. We did experience crowd during our visit but it was mostly in the evenings. We were happy with our decision to visit in June and would recommend it.
TRAVELING AROUND SHIMLA
If you are staying or traveling from anywhere in North of India then you have various options to choose from. Should you be traveling from Delhi then buses are one of the option. You can choose from semi-luxury to luxury buses. There are also plenty of bus options from Manali and Chandigarh to choose from.
There is also the toy train option from Kalka to Shimla. This would be a very nice option should you want to enjoy the scenic views. I personally regret not choosing this option. If you have time then I would highly recommend this option.
If you use the flight option then the nearest airport to Shimla is at Jubbarhatti which is 22 km from the city.
The last option is private car, which is the option we choose. We were traveling from Kasauli and hence hired a private car. It took us two and half hour to reach Shimla. The whole journey was not bad but the end when we reached Shimla was tedious. Our driver advised us the line is usually longer and at times can take hours to reach the lift. Since we are usually not that good with road journey we decided to hire a private car. The bus option would be roughly an hour more than the private car.
WHERE WE STAYED IN SHIMLA
We stayed at Hotel Willow Banks for two nights. This is walking distance from Mall Road and also to the lift. We were very pleased with our decision to stay here because the location was ideal. We were also in love with the view from the hotel, Shimla looked very pretty from the hotel at night.
The rooms were spacious, clean and provided the necessary amenities. We were also happy with the hotel staff, they were courteous and always welcomed every query with a pleasant smile. We had also tried the restaurant for dinner and were happy with the food. We loved the food so much we had both our dinner in the hotel restaurant, the chef knows and presents the dish very well.
There were some who complained the hotel was noisy as it is right at Mall Road. We got a room facing Mall Road and didn’t experience any noise.
THINGS TO DO IN SHIMLA
Every hill station in India which I have visited so far had a Mall Road. Shimla was no different, but personally I felt every Mall Road had its own charm to it. This was constructed during the British Colonial times and is very close to The Ridge. Here you will find number of shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s also a very nice place to buy the local products like pottery items, wooden products and local woven clothes and jewellery.
The best part of the place is no cars are allowed, but be prepared as it’s always filled with tourists. Throughout my stay I personally loved the walks here. In a perfect weather even the crowd won’t bother you.
I have enjoyed my time at few of the cafe’s here and would highly recommend it. The staff are friendly and serve with a warm smile.
JAKHOO TEMPLE – HANUMAN STATUE
Situated in Jakhoo hills, around 2.5 km from The Ridge is this ancient temple. It is said to be at the highest peak of Shimla which is 8,054 ft. According to Ramayana, Lord Hanuman had stopped here to get the Sanjivni Booti to save Lakshmana’s life.
The statue is 108 feet high and can be seen from Mall Road. The temple is accessible by foot, horse, taxi or even ropeway. We only saw it from a distant and loved seeing the statue in between lush greenery. From a distant the statue felt like it is protecting the town.
This is a large open space which is very famous in Shimla. Situated near Mall Road the place is always filled with tourists and locals. April to May which is during the summer it’s the best time to enjoy here as there are many cultural activities.
It is said underneath The Ridge there is a huge water tank which during the British era supplied water. It has a capacity of holding 1000000 gallons of water. I believe even today it is still used to supply water for the locals. Since it was constructed in 1880s it was built without cement and only lime mortar was used.
This is the second oldest church in North India. Built in 1857 with a new-Gothic style look is still standing prominently in Shimla city.
There are five stained glass window which is said to represent Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Patience and Humility. The church also had a great collection of ancient scriptures and books.
The name came about when a British lady eloped with an Indian Maharaja of Patiala. Due to this the Maharaja was banished from Shimla by the British authority. He later went and settled in Chail which is 45 km from Shimla. Now however the place is known for its famous statue of Lala Lajpat Rai.
I have to admit while we were there we didn’t know it was called that, only later did we read about the story and really knew it. Now the place has become a nice meeting point.
GAIETY HERITAGE CULTURAL COMPLEX SHIMLA
This is the oldest theatre dating back to 1887. In the past there were many popular films which were shot here but now it’s mostly famous as a social club. Although the theatre has gone through some renovation, the original structure is still left as before.
During our visits there were displays showing the history of the place. It was fun reading it and learning more about the place.
Located at Lakhar Bazaar at The Ridge is the elevated pavilion. Known to show breath taking view of Shimla during winter of the snow along the Himalayan mountain ranges.
The view of Shimla is awesome from here and would recommend coming in the evenings. We saw the sunset from here and sat along the benches and admired the beauty the place had to offer.
This was constructed by the Scottish Architect James Ransome in 1908. At present the Municipal Corporation is operating here. The place had gone into major renovation and till date known for its architectural beauty.
OUR ITINERARY IN SHIMLA
Morning had hired a private taxi from Kasauli to reach Shimla. Checked in hotel and rested. Evening enjoyed a stroll in Mall Road.
Explored Shimla on foot with no set itinerary. Used google map to get around the place. We covered The Ridge, Scandal Point, Christ Church, Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex, Town Hall and Hawa Ghar. Saw Hanuman Statue from a distant. In the evening enjoyed sunset from viewpoint near Hawa Ghar.
Morning walked around Mall Road. Checked out from hotel, hired a private taxi to Chandigarh.
Traveling tip: Advise visiting the Jakhoo temple and also advise doing the Kalka- Shimla train ride if you have time.
THINGS TO NOTE IN SHIMLA
- Recommend choosing a hotel near Mall Road. The traffic and road is too narrow so avoid picking a hotel where you need to use public transport.
- The tourist lift is usually crowded but is also an easy access to Mall Road.
- Advise doing hotel booking before arrival. The place gets filled very fast hence better to come with booking to avoid compromising.
- During winter there are chances of road closures. Be prepared and take the necessary precautions ahead of travel.
- Advise carrying your own medical kit. There are chances of headaches so carry medicine. We didn’t have any issues but better to take precautions.