Shimla: The Queen of Hills

Shimla or Simla, is the capital of Himachal Pradesh, a city established by the British Government during the colonial rule in India. It was the summer capital of the British kingdom in India. The city and its outskirts are full of awesome and breathtaking views. Natural wonders to some classic British architecture to some man-made marvels, Shimla’s got them all.

Shimla is at a distance of 390 kms. from Delhi and 139 kms from Chandigarh, it and is easily accessible by road, train and air. Though the best way to reach there is undoubtedly the railways. The Kalka-Shimla railway line was constructed in 1906. Toy trains operate on the route making their way through hills while providing you with some splendid natural scenery. Hills full of pine and deodar trees, this journey is etched forever in your mind. This route having 101 tunnels in its way with the longest one being over 1km long, and more than 800+ bridges is a perfect engineering marvel, and has rightly been blessed with UNESCO world heritage site status. So the fun starts even before you actually reach Shimla.

Shimla is situated at an altitude of around 2300m. The weather is chilly in winters and moderately hot in summers, though it gets quite cold if it rains which happens often. So it is advisable to carry a light sweater even in summers. On reaching Shimla the flow of tourists is directed towards the most happening hangouts The Ridge and The Mall Road. These places give a perfect cosmopolitan look to the city and are favorite amongst the locals too to just chill out. Its better take the accommodation nearby as these places look awesome in the night and its worth paying a few bucks more just to be able to enjoy strolling out there at night. The Church on The Ridge gives a breathtaking view under the lights. And the adjoining Lakkar Bazar is famous for its unique wooden artefacts which can even be personalized. Nearby is the famous Jakhu Mandir. It is a temple of lord Hanuman and is full of monkeys who though a bit notorious, are harmless and will provide you with an experience of a lifetime.

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. A visit to the Viceroy Hall, now Advanced Studies Institute, is a must. It used to be the residence of the Viceroy of India, now it houses artefacts, some rare pictures, tapestry of the olden days which can suddenly make you feel like having gone back to the British era. It also houses the table on which the papers of the infamous India-Pakistan partition were signed.

Around 30kms from Shimla is a place called Tatapani. And as the name suggests the place is a natural hot water geyser. With the Satluj river flowing alongside through the rocks, it’s a treat to just sit over on the rocks or get crazy in the bone chilling water of Satluj. The beauty of this place is serene and undisturbed from the commercialization of the capital. Near it is a secluded place Naldehra. It houses an golf course of 18 holes and an area full of trees where one can enjoy horse rides. Then there are places like Kufri and Chail too. Kufri is a place to visit during snowfall, when it provides you with such beautiful scenes that you’ll be left with your mouth wide open. And one can always enjoy a Yak ride there and also visit the Himalayan Zoo which houses some of the endangered Himalayan species. And Chail is the place where world’s highest cricket ground, belonging to a Military School, is present. Chail is also famous for its heritage Palace Hotel. Surrounded by Deodar forests this place can even relax the most stressed out mind.

Though the climate here permits one to visit the place anytime, the best season to visit Shimla is in the summers to escape the sizzling heat of the tropical country or in the winters to enjoy the bone chilling cold weather. Snowfall is not a certainty but a rarity these days. One can visit Shimla during other seasons if one wishes to avoid the huge rush of the peak-seasons.

Pawan Gupta

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