Shimla, also known as Simla, is a hill station located in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is the capital and also the biggest city of Himachal Pradesh. It is about 2,276 metres above sea level. The city of Shimla is probably best known as the Summer Capital of the British during their reign in India. A lot of time has already passed since the independence, but Shimla has retained its colonial charm with the several structures in the region. Perhaps this is what makes the city unique, set amidst the snow-clad background are these examples of colonial architecture that you won't find elsewhere in the country. Legend and History of Shimla The name Shimla came from Shyamala Devi, believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Kali. It is believed that the goddess was situated on a blue house which was built by a fakir. This blue house, initially, was situated in the Jakhoo Hill. However, during the reign of the British, the image of the goddess was transferred to a new place. This is now known as the Kali Bari Temple. Historically, the past of Shimla is a long and interesting story. During the early 19th Century, it was the peak of the Anglo-Gurkha War. At first, the Gurkhas suffered terribly from the Sikhs. Things changed though when in 1808, the Gurkhas were able to capture most of the areas in Shimla. The people of Shimla were unable to tolerate their new conquerors and hence, they turned to the British for help. The Gurkhas were defeated by the British and were then forced to sign the Treaty of Sanjauli. Thereby, giving the land of Shimla to the Maharajas of Patiala. After the war, the British began showing their interest in Shimla. It was Lt. Ross who first built a British residence in Shimla. Thereafter, British officers started building their homes and summer residences in the city like Captain Kennedy. After the independence from the British, Shimla became the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Before that, Shimla was the capital of Punjab. Getting There 1. By Air - The nearest airport to Shimla is the Jabarhatti Airport, about 22 kms from the city centre. However, despite the proximity, it can take hours before you reach Shimla through this airport because of the poor road conditions and traffic in the area. Another disadvantage of this airport is that it only has a single runway. Add to that, it's about 1,546 metres above sea level. A flight from Delhi operates daily on this airport but it was discontinued during September 2012. It only started resuming the flights this June 2016. Here is the schedule: Kingfisher IT 4349 - Departs daily at 7:45 am and arrives at 9:00 am. Flight duration is 1 hour and 15 minutes. Kingfisher IT 4350 - Departs daily at 9:25 am and arrives at 10:35 am. Flight duration is 1 hour and 10 minutes. Jagson JA 221 - Departs at 8:00 am and arrives at 9:00 am. Flight duration is one hour. This flight is only available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Your other option would be via the Chandigarh Airport, which is about 120 kms from Shimla. Flights operate from Delhi, Mumbai and Jammu. Some schedules for New Delhi to Chandigarh are: Jet Airways 9W-2653 - Departs at 6:00 and arrives at 7:15. Flight duration is 1 hour and 15 minutes. Fare is at Rs. 3,655 per passenger. Vistara UK-830 - Departs at 13:35 and arrives at 14:35. Flight duration is one hours. Fare is at Rs. 3,254 per passenger. Spicejet SG-2413 - Departs at 7:25 and arrives at 8:20. Flight duration is 55 minutes. Fare is at Rs. 2,711 per passenger. IndiGo 6E-516 - Departs at 10:35 and arrives at 11:25. Flight duration is 50 minutes. Fare is at Rs. 2,494 per passenger. From Chandigarh, Shimla is about 4 more hours away. You can either ride a bus or a taxi going to Shimla. 2. By Bus - You have three options for buses: Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation Bus - There is one bus departing daily from Delhi and going to Shimla. It leaves at 9:30 pm from the Anand Vihar Station. Fare is at Rs. 1,499 per passenger. This is an AC bus so it's quite comfortable. Himachal Road Transport Corporation - Several buses depart daily from Delhi ISBT to Shimla which are operated by HRTC. Their bus timings are: 6:45 am, 7:24 am, 8:05 am, 9:25 am, 10:32 am, 12:30 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:50 pm, 5:59 pm, 6:31 pm, 7:10 pm, 8:10 pm, 8:30 pm, 9:02 pm, 9:25 pm, 9:36 pm, 10:00 pm, 10:30 pm and 11:40 pm. Fare varies but it's between Rs. 414 (Ordinary) and Rs. 863 (Volvo Seater). Private Buses - There are several private bus operators going this route from Delhi to Shimla. One of which is the City Land Travels, they have a Volvo AC Seater Bus. It departs at 10:30 pm and arrives in Shimla by 8:00 am. Fare is at Rs. 889 per passenger. 3. By Train - The nearest train station is Kalka, at about 87 kms from Shimla. Several trains depart from Delhi to Kalka: Himalayan Queen Train No. 14095 - Departs daily at 5:35 and arrives at 11:10. Kalka Shatabdi Train No. 12011 - Departs daily at 7:40 and arrives at 11:45. Sainagar Shirdi - Kalka Super Fast Express Train No. 22455 - Departs Sundays and Wednesdays at 7:50 and arrives at 12:30. Howrah Dli Kalka Mail Train No. 12311 - Departs daily at 21:25 and arrives at 4:30. From Kalka, you ride the toy train going to Shimla. These are the timings: Rail Motor Train No. 72451 - Departs at 5:10 from Kalka and arrives at 9:50 to Shimla. Shivalik Deluxe Train No. 52451 - Departs at 5:30 from Kalka and arrives at 10:15 to Shimla. Simla Express Train No. 52453 - Departs at 6:00 from Kalka and arrives at 11:05 to Shimla. Himalayan Queen Train No. 52455 - Departs at 12:10 from Kalka and arrives at 17:20 to Shimla. 4. By Taxi - An estimated fare between Delhi to Shimla is about Rs. 7,180 to Rs. 10,000, depending on the vehicle. It can be quite expensive and it's not really recommended unless you have money to spare. 5. By Private Vehicle - The distance between Delhi and Shimla is about 342 kms. It can take you 6 hours or more to reach Shimla via car. The routes you can take are: Route No. 1 via NH 44 - Delhi > Sonipat > Samalkha > Panipat > Karnal > Kurukshetra > Ambala > Panchkula > Shimla. Route No. 2 via NH 152 - Delhi > Sonipat > Panipat > Pehowa > Ambala > Panchkula > Shimla. Shimla Quick Facts Destination Type: Hill Station State: Himachal Pradesh District: Shimla Local Language: Hindi, Garhwali and English Altitude: 2,276 Metres Above Sea Level Attractions: Temples, Wildlife, Peaks and Colonial Structures Best Time to Visit Shimla It depends on what your interests are but generally, the summer months are the best months to visit Shimla. From March to May, the temperatures in Shimla are quite pleasant as compared to the lower altitude cities in the country. Temperatures range between 15°C to 30°C during these months. You might also notice that this is the peak season for tourists so make sure that you book a hotel in advance. Now, the monsoon season, from July to September, is an interesting time to visit. During this time, waterfalls come alive and lush greenery surrounds the city. However, landslides en route to Shimla are quite common so make sure you check the weather reports before venturing to the city during the rainy season. The last season is the winter season, from October to February. During this time, temperatures can go as low as -2°C. Basically, this season is for the couples and people who enjoy cold climate. If you'd also like to see snow and participate in snow activities, then you can consider visiting Shimla during this season. Tourist Attractions in Shimla Religious Jakhoo Temple - This temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Supposedly, this is where the Lord Hanuman rested while he was searching for the sanjivni booti. It is located in Jakhoo Hill, which is about 2.5 kms from the city centre of Shimla. It is at an elevation of 2,455 metres above sea level. To reach the temple, you can either walk or hire a pony. The trek is a bit steep and so for the elderly, it's better to just ride a pony. There's also a 108 feet idol of Lord Hanuman outside the temple. Tara Devi Temple - This temple is about 11 kms from the centre of Shimla. This temple is about 250 years old already and is dedicated to the Goddess Tara. The temple is located on the hill of Tarav Parvat. The story goes that Goddess Tara appeared in a vision to Raja Balbir Sen and she wished to be installed in a hill named Tarav Parvat. This was how the temple came to be. Mata Hatkoti Temple - This temple is believed to have been built by Great Sage Sri Adi Shankracharya. It is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Durga and is located on the right bank of the Pabbar River. There's also a small shrine here dedicated to the Lord Shiva. Dorje Drak Monastery - The original Dorje Drak Monastery was destroyed in the Battle of Chamdo. The Dorje Drak Monastery in Shimla is a replacement for the destroyed one and it was built by Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche. This monastery is about 8 kms from Shimla. Here, you'll find several monks residing in the holy place. The Hemis Festival of Tibet is also held during the month of May here, in honour of Guru Padmasambhava. Banthia Devta Temple - This temple houses several idols of Lord Vishnu, Ravana and Mashishasurmardini. What is striking about this temple is that it's all made of wood, from the roof, to the doors and the windows. Pilgrims all over the country visit this temple but locals also deem this temple as sacred to them. Paramjyoti Temple - This temple was built in 1937 by Stokes. Quite interesting about this temple is that it is not dedicated to any god or goddess. You would find some Sanskrit writings on some of the walls of the temple as well. Kamna Devi Temple - The word Kamna means wish, as this temple is believed to grant the wishes of devotees. It was Rana of Junga who built this temple which is dedicated to Goddess Durga. This temple is just about 4.9 kms from the city centre of Shimla. Kali Bari Temple - This temple was built in the year 1845. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali or Goddess Shyamala. Initially, it was in Jakhoo Hill but now it's in the Mall Road. Historical Viceregal Lodge - This is also known as the Rashtrapati Niwas. This was the former residence of the British Viceroy of India but now, it houses some ancient articles and photos from the British era. The building has also been transformed into a university just recently. You can find this in Observatory Hill. Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex - This is located right at the heart of the city. In the past, all the theatrical, cultural and musical shows of the British were held here. It has about five floors back then, but it was found to unsafe and so many of the floors were demolished. Only the Gaiety Theatre remained now. Kuthar Fort - This fort is about 800 years old already. The main tourist attraction here is the natural water springs inside the fort. The Kuthar Palace can also be found inside the fort, which was the home for the royal family for many years. Photo Art Gallery - This is located in the city of Shimla. It was developed by the Himachal Tourism Department as a way of showcasing the history of the region. Aside from the photographs showing the culture and history of the region, you would also see pictures of the landscapes, flora and fauna of Shimla. State Museum - This museum is located in an old Victorian style mansion. It is perched on a hill called Inveram. This was also the residence of Lord William Beresford, Sir Edwin Collan and Sir Edward Law. It also served as the residence for Indian government officials thereafter. It was turned into a museum on 1974 and now, it houses many artefacts of the region. Peaks Scandal Point - This is the highest point at the end of the Mall area. It got its name from this story: Supposedly, the King of Patiala (Bhupinder Singh) had a crush on the daughter of the Viceroy of India. One day, the Viceroy's daughter was taking a stroll along the area and Bhupinder Singh kidnapped her. Other stories relate that she was not kidnapped at all and they just eloped together in the same spot. Because of these stories, Scandal Point has been a major tourist attraction in the city of Shimla. Jakhoo Hill - This is the highest point of the city. This is also where the Jakhoo Temple can be found. The trek to reach its peak is about 30 minutes. It's a picturesque trek with dense forests and plants along the way. From the top, you get to see the views of the snow-clad mountains and valleys below. Hatu Peak - The Hatu Peak is about 3,400 metres above sea level. It is about 71 kms from Shimla though but worth it to visit. This is also the highest point in both Shimla and Narkanda. You can trek to reach the peak, either by foot, by bike or by car. Shaily Peak - This is about 23 kms from Naldehra. You can either trek it by foot or by pony. It is best visited during sunrise or sunset as the peak offers amazing views of the mountains. Shopping The Mall - This is probably the main commercial area of the city of Shimla. You'll find shops, restaurants, municipal offices and even police headquarters here. Automobiles are not allowed on this area though. The Ridge - Further along The Mall, you'll find The Ridge. This connects Shimla to other areas in the region like Jakhoo Hill and Scandal Point. You would also find three statues here: one of Mahatma Gandhi, one of Indira Gandhi and one of Dr. Parmar. Aside from that, major cultural events are held here like the annual Summer Festival. Wildlife Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary - This is about 8 kms East of Shimla. Some animals to see here are: langurs, rhesus macaques, leopards and sambars. Aside from housing several species of rare animals, the sanctuary is also the main water source of the city of Shimla. Himalayan Bird Park - You can find this opposite the Viceregal Lodge. It is best visited during the summer to spot the rare species of birds here. You might be able to see: pheasants, peafowls and Himalayan monals. Others Shimla Glen - This is about 4 kms from Scandal Point. This is basically a reserve forest but many families enjoy having a picnic in the area. The surrounding greenery and rolling slopes make this one of the most popular attractions not only for tourists, but also for locals. Tattapani Hot Springs - This is about 52 kms from Shimla, located in the Sutlej River. The water from the springs have high sulphur which is believed to have some medicinal properties. Annandale - This is where the British soldiers used to watch sports, racing events and cultural events. It's very near the city at about 4 kms away. The name was derived from Captain Charles Pratt's childhood sweetheart, "Anna." He combined the name with dale, meaning valley. And from then on, this was known as Annandale. Today, the area is used for sports, events and as a helipad for the tourists. Accommodation Options in Shimla Budget Hotels in Shimla Hotel Dreamland -Their Regular Room is at Rs. 840 to Rs. 1,200 per night, depending on the season. Rooms have wooden flooring and wooden furnitures. They also have an attached bathroom and cable television. There's a restaurant, banquet hall and conference hall in the hotel premises. WiFi is available on public places as well. Their address is: The Mall, Jakhoo Road, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171001. Their contact number is: +91 177 265 3005. Hotel Auckland - Their Deluxe Room is at Rs. 1,800 per night. It has an attached bathroom, satellite television and free WiFi. The hotel has its own restaurant offering Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisines. They also have an open terrace where guests can enjoy the scenic views of the city. Their address is: Near The Mall, Lakkar Bazar, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171001. Their contact number is: +91 177 265 2621. Mid-Range Hotels in Shimla Sunrise Villa - Their Deluxe Room is at Rs. 2,500 per day without meals and at Rs. 3,100 per day with vegetarian meals. All their rooms have an attached balcony and bathroom. Room amenities include: satellite television, comfortable bed and some chairs. The management also provides sightseeing tours if requested. Their address is: Anandpur Road, Near Rail Under Bridge, Shoghi, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 173219. Their contact number is: +91 177 651 0075. Fairmount Shimla Forest Greens - Their Deluxe Room on EP is at Rs. 3,800 per night. It has two large windows offering views of the surrounding forests. Other amenities include: attached bathroom, television, WiFi, wardrobe cabinet and telephone. They also have a restaurant in the hotel premises. Their address is: Earl's Field Estate, Near St. Bedes College, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171002. Their contact number is: +91 177 284 4142. Luxury Hotels in Shimla The Oberoi Cecil - Their Deluxe Suite is at Rs. 11,000 per night. It has a master's bedroom, living room and private terrace. There's also a walk-in closet. There's a separate bath and shower cubicle too. There's also a mini-bar, safe, LCD television and DVD player. They have an in-house restaurant serving Western and Himachal cuisines. They also have a spa which guests can get treatments from. Their address is: Chaura Maidan Road, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171004. Their contact number is: +91 177 280 4848. Clarkes Hotel - Their Superior Room is at Rs. 9,000 per night. Rooms have spectacular views of the mountains through the windows. Amenities like WiFi, minibar, satellite television and tea/coffee maker are also in the room. They also have three different restaurants you can choose from. Their address is: The Mall, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171001. Their contact number is: +91 177 265 1010. Local Cuisine in Shimla Unfortunately, it's hard to find local dishes in Shimla. Due to commercialisation, many of the eateries here offer different cuisines but it's very rare to find authentic Himachal dishes. But these are some of the must try dishes in Shimla: Patore - The ingredients used here are corn flour, onion masala and grams flour or besan. Then, this mixture is stuffed in arbi leaves and fried in mustard oil. Khoru - This is a side dish made using buttermilk/yogurt and some spices. Channa Madra - This is made from peas, yogurt and sometimes, dried fruits. It is paired usually with rice, but can also be paired with bread. Chicken Anardana - This is a chicken dish, with a little bit of tanginess, spiciness and overall, just a delicious meal paired with flat breads. Auriya Kadoo - This dish uses ripe pumpkins and mango powder. The result is a pungent-smelling, tangy and flavourful dish. Enjoy your trip to Shimla.