. Shimla Known as the Queen of Hill Stations. Shimla became the summer capital of the British Raj during the latter half of the 19th century when the soldiers of the British army, merchants and civil servants moved up here to get relief from the scorching heat of the plains.
One of the most popular tourist destinations of India, Shimla is also the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. This hill station derives its name from 'Goddess Shyamla', an avatar of Goddess Kali.
Shimla abounds in natural bounty and looks picture perfect. The small hill station amidst the lofty snow-clad Himalayan ranges, surrounded by lakes and lush green pastures look as though an artist has painted them. The unique thing about Shimla is that it still retains its colonial charm and this creates an ambience that is not found anywhere else in India. Shimla is one tourist destination that can be visited any time during the year. Summers are warm with cool and pleasant evenings while winters are bone chilling and the temperatures can fall below zero. But this difference is what makes Shimla all the more special.
. The Himachal Pradesh Secretariat (Ellerslie building) was designed by Lt. Col. H.E.S. Abbott 100 years back. This beautiful building was constructed after dismantling an old building of the same name that housed the Military Department of the Punjab Government till 1886.
Abbot sought permission for construction from the then Secretary of the Municipal Committee Major W.P. Larson and wrote ' you are aware of the intensions of the Punjab Government to pull down the house 'Ellerslie' and build on the site a new set of offices to accommodate the whole of Punjab Secretariat.' The permission was granted on 28th June, 1899. The inside of Ellerslie is made of stone quarried from Sanjauli and Barnes Court (Present Raj Bhawan) and stuck together using lime mortar. The brickwork too has lime mortar cementing. The Himachal Pradesh Secretariat occupied it in the summers of 1967. In July 1972 the 'Summit Hall' where the cabinet meetings are held was spruced up and was given this name as initial summit meeting for Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan. This building with sub-basement, basement and three floors, now has 143 rooms and 31 toilets. It covers and area of about 8663 meters.
Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex
. Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex is one of the most historic places in Shimla and of the historic British capital of India, designed by Henry Irwin. The Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex is 122 years old and has been recently been reopened to the public. It is an important centre for all the theatrical, cultural and literary events. The Gaiety theatre along with Town Hall, known as Municipal Corporation at present, were planned and constructed together.
Built in the Gothic Victorian style on 30th May, 1887, the theatre has been a stage to national as well as international artists over the years. For preserving the heritage and making the complex more attractive, the complex was renovated in recent years without touching the existing structure.
The Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex is used by schools of the region for performing arts since June 2010. Tourists can also pay a visit to the ancient monument in groups and as a part of conducted tours. The first recorded drama performed at the Gaiety Theatre complex was on 9 June 1838. Later in the year 1887, The Amateur Dramatic Club was founded. The attractions inside the complex are Art gallery exhibiting contemporary and traditional arts and a City Museum displaying historical arts and crafts of the Himalayan province.
. Woodville is one of the oldest and finest houses of Shimla east. It became the honoured residence of the Commander-in-Chief in the year 1865, and its first occupant was General Sir William Rose Mansfield. After the year 1881 the Commander-in-Chief deserted it for Snowdon, near Lakkar Bazaar, which was burnt down some year back and the site is now taken by Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, also called Snowdon Hospital.
In the year 1881 Woodville house was bought by Sir James Walker and afterwards passed on to the Alliance Bank of shimla, which used it as the manager's residence. The bank collapsed in the year 1923 and not long afterwards the house was bought over by Raja Rana Sir Bhagat Chand of Jubbal, who tastefully converted it into his summer Palace. After the Raja's death, the Palace has been turned into a hotel by one of his grandsons.
The house has lovely surroundings, beautiful wooded walks, clusters of pine and deodars, and well-groomed lawns, reminiscent of a large German country-house. Woodville is an ideal refuge for people who really want peace and quietude, away from the madding crowd. At present, Woodville is known as the Woodville Palace Hotel, which offers luxurious accommodation with advanced facilities and recreational opportunities.
. One of the most striking buildings of the British empire, Gorton Castle is a new-Gothic structure that had the famous Sir Swinton Jacob as its architect - the Rajasthan jaali work on its balconies obviously came from his forty five years of experience as the executive engineer of the princely state of Jaipur, completed in 1904, this was the Civil Secretariat of the Imperial Government of India and housed the Legislative, Lands, Education, Home Health and Finance departments. Today, this houses the offices of the Accountant General of Himachal Pradesh.
This three floored building with about 125 small and big rooms became the seat of the Accountant General in 1947. This finest house in Shimla, according to Sir Edward Buck also has one floor paved with rosewood like timber blocks which were brought from Andaman Islands by B.Ribbentrop head of forest department. The site belonged to one Mr. Gorton, ICS in 1840. After changing hands thrice, it was purchased by a banker, Sir James Walker for Rs. 80,000. He wished to gift it for construction of Hospital After much discussion and persuasion the building was acquired for its officers and Sir Walker was given alternate site where Walker Hospital was constructed.
Shimla State Museum
. The Museum, which was opened in 1974, has tried to project hill-out and the cultural wealth of the state. The Shimla State Museum was erected solely with the purpose of preserving the rich cultural heritage of the state and to spread the message of cultural legacy over generations.
The Shimla State Museum houses a huge collection of magnificent paintings, sculptures, coins, handicrafts, photos, etc of not only the state of Himachal Pradesh but outside too. The state museum is a major attraction of the Mall area of Shimla built in the style of colonial edifice with sprawling lawns all around. The paintings depicts the life and culture of the hilly people. Besides there is a huge collection of Mughal and Rajasthani paintings. The museum holds the sculptural merit of the 8th century stone works of Masrur and Bajaura. Also a wide lay out of Himachali dolls are displayed here.
. Developed as the playground of Shimla, Annandale is 2-4 kms. from the Ridge at a height of 6,117 ft located in a deep wide valley in the suburban village of Kaithu, shimla west. It is a favourite spot for cricket, picnics and the princely game of polo. This large glade has a golf course surrounded by thick deodar woods and has a charming temple by an edge.
Standing at a height of 6,117 feet above sea level, the round playground on a small patch of table-land is spread over a circumference of three-quarters of a mile. Captain Charles Pratt Kennedy, one of the first incomers to the place, named it Annadale, which is nowadays misspelt as Annandale.Since the 1830s, Annandale has been an important centre of Anglo-Indian playful activities, amusement and entertainment. Tourists visit the place for sporting, picknicing and for entertainment purpose.
Moreover, Lord William Beresford, the Military Secretary to Lord Dufferin expanded the ground to feature a pavilion for cricketers and a polo field for polo players. At present, the playground hosts army exercise and parades, sports and Dussehra festival celebrations. Besides, the field is utilised as one of the heliports in the city.
. Located on the Observatory Hill at the western end of the Shimla ridge, the Viceregal Lodge is a humongous structure ringed by tall pines. It was built in 1888 as the residence of Viceroy Lord Dufferin. Located 2km further west of the Himachal State Museum, it is now called Rashtrapati Niwas. The Lodge houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Study and is the only building in Shimla that occupies a hill by itself.
The architecture of the lodge is brilliant. A grand staircase which springs from the right and spirals up three full floors marks the hall. A grand fireplace faces the main entrance. Verandas and terraces surround the entire building at different levels which allures tourists and make the lodge totally immaculate.
. The Ridge of Shimla is a large open spacious platform from where you can have a panoramic view of the mountain peaks of Shimla. The snow capped mountain ranges engulfed in the beauty of the nature is a phenomenal view that the Ridge of Shimla offers to the crowd. Located in the heart of Shimla is the famous tourist attraction known as The Ridge. The Ridge is the hub of all cultural activities of Shimla. It is situated along the Mall Road, which is the famous shopping center of Shimla. Most major places of Shimla like Lakkar Bazaar, Mall, Scandal Point, Jakhoo hill, etc. are connected through the Ridge.
The main water supply of Shimla comes from the huge water reservoir that is located in the Ridge. The Ridge is famous for the various government functions and fairs that are held here. It is usually the venue for all such celebrations and events. The most famous festival that is held at the Ridge is the Summer Festival. This famous festival is held during the months of April or May and the whole of Shimla comes alive with colors and a riot of activities. The most famous landmark of the Ridge is the Christ Church. This beautiful building is constructed in Neo-Gothic style of architecture. It is a famous tourist attraction of Shimla and should be visited when you come to Shimla.s New years and Christmas celebration takes place here.
. Along the western end of Shimla where two of the most important roads of the city, the Mall road and the Ridge meet, the Scandal point is located. Any one visiting the city is bound to come to this place and feel the mysterious vibes of the long forgotten stories.
According to the historians, the place derived its name from the incidence, as emperor of Patiala, smitten by daughter of Viceroy of India, kidnapped her from this point. The reason of the incidence is not disclosed, with historians describing it as sinful as well as a national pride.
The highest point of the Mall area, Scandal point also features statue of the legendary freedom fighter of India, Lala Lajpat Rai. Behind the Scandal Point of Shimla, there is a general post office and a Scotland Church that also lures tourists due to its historic significance.
. Being the town's main shopping street, The Mall offers a number of restaurants, clubs, banks, bars, post offices and tourist offices. The place also houses the famous Gaiety Theatre, the famous ancient theatre in Shimla. As the key meeting place in Shimla, The Mall has two main meeting points as the Ridge and the Scandal Points. One can see numerous travelers and tourists who visit these places and enjoy some lighthearted talks amidst the most beautiful environs of Shimla. The mall is the best place to bag some excellent souvenirs such as embroidered shawls, caps, Pahari paintings and so on. We can say that it is the shopping centre of the capital city
. Being a residency of Viceroy Lord Dufferin at Masobra on at altitude of 1983 meter above sea level, The Retreat is known for its architecture. It was built in 1884-88 after the plan of Captain H H Cole in Elizabethan Style. It is shaded with pines; while ceiling was made of Burma Teak. Later the beautiful place in & around Shimla has become the summer resort for Indian President. The beautiful scenery, pine forest ranges, steep hills and a panoramic view of snow-capped mountain ranges make it an ideal destination to visit during your Shimla tours. It has also another historical significance as in the year of 1947 the place witnessed an agreement sign between British and PanditJawaharLal Nehru.
. Summer Hill is a suburb of Shimla, at a height of 2,123 meters. It is situated on a hill, 5 km west to the Shimla Ridge, and is part of the seven-hill cluster which forms Shimla. Locally known as Porter's Hill, Summer Hills is part of the seven-hill cluster forming this beautiful hill station.
Besides being a popular tourist destination, the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (estb. 1965), housed in the former Viceregal Lodge, which was built in 1884-88, is also situated on the nearby Observatory Hill. Today, it also hosts the Himachal Pradesh University, which mainly offers Post Graduate Programmes in the fields of Humanities, Commerce, Science, Management, Law and Languages, and was started in 1975. Summer Hills commands a panoramic view of the snow capped mountains making this place the best destination for a picnic.
. The word 'Jakhoo' is derived from 'Yakhsa', a link between humans and gods as per Hindu Mythology. The character is believed to be a protector of the divine treasure. Jakhoo Hill is located at about 2 kilometers from Shimla, at an altitude of about 2455 m above sea level. Jakhoo is the highest peak in the area and offers a great view of the magnificent Shimla. There is an ancient Lord Hanuman temple at the top of the Jakhoo hill and can be easily reached from Ridge near Church by walking for at most an hour.The way to the temple is a narrow pavement that needs walking sticks to climb from the base.
You can see so many monkeys in the area but they will not give you any trouble. If the pilgrims offer any fruits or eatables they just accept. The walk to the temple is through the dense forests of Deodar trees but the climb is very tiresome if one is not used to it. If you like you can get ponies for hire to reach the temple.
Kufri Hill Station
. Breathtaking views, stunning locales and tranquil surroundings - this is what Kufri hill station is all about. Popularly known as Switzerland of the East, the spell binding beauty of Kufri hill station of Shimla will definitely enchant you. Check out the Kufri hill resort near Shimla and make sure you stay here for some time to experience pure bliss. It is located at a distance of 19 kilometers from Shimla and can be reached very easily from Shimla. The best way to reach Kufri is by road as it is located near the National Highway - 22.
The best thing about Kufri is the skiing and hiking that should be absolutely tried once, if you are visiting. The snow-clad hills of Kufri provide the ideal locale for trying your hand at skiing. In winters, Kufri is literally filled with tourists who come here to seek adventure and get some excitement in their lives. For the weak hearted, there is always an option of trekking and hiking on the steep hill slopes. The best season to indulge in these sports is during winters, i.e. from November to February. If you are not into skiing and other adventurous pursuits, you can visit the hill station during the months of April to June. The weather is pleasant and cool and just perfect for enjoying your much-awaited vacation.
Kufri remained unexplored and hidden from the rest of the world for a long time. It was not until the time the British explored this area that Kufri came into the knowledge of people. As and when Shimla gained importance, Kufri was also identified as an important tourist place near Shimla. Shimla was an important place as the British declared it the summer capital of India till year 1939. Kufri, which was once a part of the Nepal Kingdom, was recognized as a part of Shimla after India gained independence. So visit this magical place and experience the fun and frolic yourself.
Chail Hill Station
. Chail, on the Sadh Tiba Hill, is a popular hill station located in the Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. The hill station is perched at an altitude of 2,226 metres. Located at a distance of 45 km from Shimla, it was once the summer capital of the princely state of Patiala.The Chail hill station of Shimla has an interesting story behind it. It is said that when the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh was expelled from his kingdom, he was determined to create his own summer capital. He came to Chail and was mesmerized by the beauty of this place. That is when he decided to make the Chail hill station of Shimla his summer capital. To experience the bliss and divinity of this place, you must visit Chail hill resort near Shimla and have an experience of a lifetime.
The Chail hill station is located at a high altitude and is covered with thick deodar trees, which give the hill station the look of a wonderland. The Chail resort is a place that shall bowl you over completely. You will be surprised to see the beautiful amalgamation of beauty and comfort over here. The resorts have elaborate log huts with modern amenities, perfectly manicured lawns, traditional cottages and everything else that goes in to make a perfect holiday.
Naldehra Golf Course
. Naldehra was the name of the youngest daughter of Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India in 1905. He was so enchanted by the splendor of this place located near the summer capital, that he built this spectacular golf course and named it after his third daughter.
Imagine teeing off at an altitude, amid tall trees and lofty mountains - and then realise this dream at this Himachali golfing town. It boasts the fact of housing India's oldest nine-hole golf-course with a quiet charm, with surreal fresh air that greets its visitors. If you love trekking, you'll love the winding roads, especially ones that lead to Shaily Peak that offers breathtaking views of Naldehra. Just 22 km from Shimla, this one will surely enchant you to keep coming back for more.
There are various other activities that you can enjoy here in Naldehra other than golfing which includes horse riding, trekking, picnics and many more.
Indian Institute of Advanced Studies
. The Indian Institute of Advanced Study was built during 1884-1888 during the British rule in India. Housed in Viceregal Lodge atop Observatory Hill, the premise is encircled by pine trees and gardens. Visitors can explore the entrance hall and gardens of the institution, as the rest of the monument is closed for public. The British mansion was constructed by Lord Dufferin in the European style and was designed by Henry Irvine.
One of the highlights of the institute is the teak-panelled interiors. Along with this, the entrance portion, the reception hall, grand staircase and fireplace are the other highlights.The state drawing room, ballroom and the wood-panelled dining room and an indoor tennis court draw a lot of visitors. The highlighting feature of the ancient Viceregal Lodge is the Burma teak interiors along with gracious grey sandstones.
The Indian Institute of Advanced Study has been a historic centre that hosted events like Simla Conference and Simla Agreement in the years 1945 and 1947. Post independence, the Viceregal Lodge became the summer retreat of the President of India. Thereafter, the decision to transform the residential seat into a museum known as Indian Institute of Advanced Studies was taken.
. The Chail Wildlife Sanctuary is a forest cover, perched over the Himalayas at an altitude of 1,000 metres to 2,180 metres above sea level. The hunting reserve of the Royals of the Patiala Kingdom, the forest reserve was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1976. The region demarcates itself from the rest of the Himalayan belt with sudden surge of pine, oak and cedar trees. The forest rich with Himalayan flora becomes dense with rise in altitude. The Chail Wildlife Sanctuary is a habitat of numerous wild animals, which includes leopard, rhesus Macaque, Indian Muntjac, wild boar, crested porcupine, panthers and ghoral.
The sanctuary is also home to European red deer, Himalayan Black Bear, Indian Wild Bear, Leopard Cat, Barking Deer, Red Deer, Goral, Indian Hare, common Langur, Leopard, Rhesus Macaque, Himalayan yellow throated Marten, Indian Porcupine, Sambar, common Giant and Kashmiri flying Squirrel.Locally threatened species are Leopard, Chir or Cheer Pheasant and Red Deer. A Cheer Pheasant breeding and rehabilitation program has been started in 1988.
Himalayan Bird Park
. Sight the rarest of the avian species in the picturesque environs of Shimla at Himalayan Bird Park. Located at a height over 2,000 meters, the park includes some of the most exotic birds that you have ever seen. It is an extremely popular tourist spot in Shimla that attracts bird watchers from far and wide, year in and year out. It is not just bird lovers, but any one who visits this park will me enchanted by the beauty of these birds that can be rarely spotted anywhere else.
Some of the exotic birds that you can spot here includes pheasants, peafowl, Himalayan Monal (which is also the Himalayan State bird) and many more. The park is located 4.5 km of the famous Scandal point of Shimla and is at a easy walking distance. The ideal time to visit the park is during the summers, as during winters the place is filled with snow and most of the migratory birds fly to warmer places.
. Chadwick Falls is located at about 7 kilometers from Shimla, just beyond the Summerhill. The waterfalls cascades down in to a deep gorge, from a height of 67 meters. This beautiful fall looks amazing and more beautiful during monsoon. Monsoon would increase the amount of water falling down and the speed with which the water falls is also increased during the time. September would be the best time to see and enjoy the Chadwick waterfalls. The water falling down is really cold and as it falls from such an altitude it looks like crystals falling.
. Christ Church in Shimla is the second oldest Church in India. Christ Church is one of the prominent landmarks of Shimla. The shadowgraph of Christ Church is visible for miles around the vicinity of Shimla city. Christ Church remains one of the enduring legacies of the British Raj. Its brass plaques and stained glass windows are an attraction that exhibit faith, hope, charity, fortitude, patience and humility. The fresco surrounding chapel window was designed by Rudyard Kipling's father, Lockwood Kipling.
Christ Church was designed by Colonel JT Boileau in 1844; but the Church was consecrated only after 1857. The clock which adorns Christ Church was donated by Colonel Dumbleton in the year 1860. The porch was added in the year 1873. During the regime of the British, officials and laureates of the Raj residing at this town offered prayers at the church on Sundays. The church remains the only worship place for the Christian community in the region. Christ Church has survived partition and the subsequent political upheavals of the Indian subcontinent.
. Jakhoo Temple which is also known as Jakhu is an ancient temple in Shimla, dedicated to Hindu deity, lord Hanuman. It is situated on Jakhoo Hill, 2.5 km /1.3 miles east from the Ridge, Shimla at a height of 2,455 m (8,000 feet) above sea level. Shimla's highest peak offers a panoramic view of the Shivalik Ranges and the town of Sanjauli. An ancient 'Lord Hanuman' temple is there and every year a big festival is held on Dushera.
The Jakhu Temple being situated at a height of around 2 Km from the base of Jakhu hill, a trek of 2 kms through dense pine forests is required to reach it. An alternative can be hiring ponies from the base of hills for a to and fro ride to temple. Walking sticks are also available at the shops on the base of Jakhu hill.
Tara Devi Temple
. Tara devi temple is an age old temple in Shimla, dedicated to Goddess Tara, located some 11 kms away from the city atop a small hill. The most unique thing about the temple is its history on which the temple was built. It is said that a locket of Goddess Tara that passed on from generations after generations in the Sen dynasty of West Bengal was the reason why the temple was built.
The story takes place once when Raja Bhupendra Sen visited Himachal Pradesh and went out hunting in the Juggar forest. After a tiring hunting day he dozed off under a tree, with the locket of Ma Tara tied on the upper torso of his arm. It is now when Goddess Tara with her consorts Dwarpal Bhairav and Lord Hanuman comes in his dream and wishes to be unveiled infront of the common populace of Himachal. Thus respecting the wishes of the gods, Raja Bhupendra Sen built this temple on around 10 acres of land introducing Goddess Tara to the people of Himachal.
The temple is today a highly revered place for both locals of the place as well as outsiders. The attractive part about the temple is its seclusion in the serene and beautiful environment of Shimla. Just by stepping inside the temple you will feel spiritual and pure.
Kali Bari Temple
. The Kali Bari Temple, one of the ancient temples of the city, was built in 1845. Dedicated to the fearsome reincarnation of Goddess Kali, known as Shyamala, the Goddess is believed to have existed near Jakhoo. The shrine of the blue Goddess existed near Rotheny Castle on Jakhoo before it was shifted to a place, known as Kali Bari at present.In the temple, a wooden image of the Goddess Kali in the form of Shyamala is worshipped. The original altar at the shrine was established by the Bengali devotees as per historians.
Goddess Kali is worshipped in the forms like Bhavani, Bhadrakali, Cchinnamasta, Chamunda, Durga, Himavati, Kumari Sati, Kamakshya, Meenakshi, Parvati, Rudrarani, Tara and Uma at the shrine. One of the popular shrines of the city, the Kali Bari Temple receives a heavy influx of devotees on the auspicious occasion of Navratri and Durga Puja. Located in close vicinity to the Shimla city mall, the temple can be reached by foot.
Winter Sports Festival
. Ice-skating in Shimla is a big attraction for the sports-lovers during winter. Shimla is the only place in Asia which has the privilege of having a natural Ice-skating rink of the kind and offers a popular pastime to the participants and on lookers alike. Ice-skating normally begins in early December and carries on to February. Clear skys and low temperatures provide series of uninterrupted sessions. There are two sessions every day, in the morning and in the evening depending upon the frozen ice on the ground . The hanging baloon on the Municipal Building adjacent to scandal point works as signal , whether the skating is going to be held on that day or not.Membership is available for the season as well as for shorter terms and even for single sessions. Skates are available at the rink.Fancy dress carnivals, 'gymkhanas' ice-hockey and dances enliven every season.