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Occupying a scenic location in northern India, Shimla is the capital city of the state of Himachal Pradesh. Bestowed with natural bounties, this city once served as the summer capital of British India. It is a major tourist destination in the Himalayas. Pleasing weather, picturesque hills and the stunning architecture of the colonial era along with various opportunities to partake in thrilling activities like camping and trekking, make it a preferred choice among holidaymakers.


Although the city features pleasing weather almost round the year, the best time to be here is between April and August, and December and January. Since the time it was designated as a hill station during the British rule, Shimla is flooded with many accommodation options; ranging from standard and luxury hotels to lodges and guest houses.


Surrounded by green hills and snow-laden mountains, the city has numerous fascinating natural sites. The Ridge, Summer Hill, Potters Hill, Annandale and the Glenn are either prominent viewpoints to see the realm or picnic spots, where people can relax with friends or family. This city is also home to some well-known Hindu temples, namely Jakhoo, Sankat Mochan, Tara Devi and Kali Bari. These temples observe pilgrims not only from within Himachal Pradesh, but from different parts of the country, throughout the year.


Showcasing an outstanding collection of historical photographs, sculptures, paintings and coins, the Himachal State Museum & Library is a spot, which could be of interest to history and art lovers. Besides, the impressive Viceregal Lodge & Botanical Gardens is perfect for nature lovers and those, who have interest in colonial architecture.


The city does not disappoint adventure enthusiasts, as the area in and around Shimla is blessed with extensive geographical diversity, offering a perfect base to perform many activities. With assistance from Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC), trekking, camping, ice skating and paragliding are organised here. Rafting on the Sutlej River, mountain biking and heli-skiing are a few other sports that can be tried in the area.


Another thing, which the city is renowned for, is handicrafts, especially wooden products. The intricate works that are on sale in the markets of Shimla are priced reasonably. The Mall, Tibetan Bazaar, Lower Bazaar and Lakkar Bazaar are some markets, where decorative and fancy items made of wood and metals, and Tibetan carpets, embroidered caps and hand-woven shawls are sold. Various cultural events are annually organised here that add to the vibrant spirit of the city. The Ice Skating Carnival, Rhyali Festival and Shimla Summer Festival pay homage to the natural beauty and rich culture of the city.


The cuisine of Shimla or more precisely Himachali cuisine is typical of Northern Indian cuisine, but with some influences from Punjabi as well as Tibetan food. Major ingredients of Himachali food include rice, vegetables, red meat and spices. Chha Gosht, Bathu Ki Kheer, Sepu Badi, Khatta Kaddu and Chicken Anardana are some of the most prominent Himachali delicacies. The city is also cluttered with an array of historical structures, such as The Gaiety Theatre, Christ Church and Viceregal Lodge that remind of the British rule.


Until the 18th century, Shimla was nothing, but a dense forest, with the existence of several distant houses and the famous Jakhoo temple in the name of civilisation. The city was named after the Hindu deity, Shyamala Devi, who is considered an incarnation of Goddess Kali. The region was captured in the early 18th century by Bhimsen Thapa, a high-ranking official from Nepal. After the end of the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1816, the British East India Company took charge of the region in accordance with the Sugauli Treaty, signed between the then British Government and Nepal.


As the climate of the region is quite similar to what British officers experienced in England, Shimla started attracting a few of them during the unbearable months of the summer season. Subsequently, British officials started spending their vacations in Shimla, and soon the quaint village transformed into a hill station, frequented mostly by the British. This led to the development of Shimla as a centre for socialisation, art exhibitions and theatre.


After 1860, efforts were taken to relocate the capital of British India to Shimla. In an attempt to do so, most of the forested areas were burned. The natives of the region were forced to settle in the Middle and Lower bazaars, whereas Upper bazaar was left for the establishment of the town hall along with office buildings for the police, military and municipal administrations. The city also held political significance at the time of the colonial rule and hosted legislatively important meetings, such as the Simla Conference of 1945 and Simla Accord of 1914.


Shimla further became popular as well as conveniently accessible after the construction of the Kalka-Shimla railway line in 1906. This track with around 806 bridges and 103 tunnels was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site under Mountain Railways of India in 2008. After the Indian Independence in 1947, Shimla was declared the capital of Punjab, but was later integrated into the state of Himachal Pradesh as its capital in 1966.


Located in the south-western part of the Indian Himalayas, Shimla is surrounded to the north by Mandi and Kullu, and Kinnaur to the east. It is bounded by the Indian state of Uttarakhand in the southeast and also shares its boundaries with the Solan and Sirmaur districts of Himachal Pradesh. The city lies along the length of a ridge at an altitude of around 2200 metres. From west to east, Shimla extends for about 9.2 km in length. The seven hills, on which the city is perched, are Observatory Hill, Inverarm Hill, Prospect Hill, Bantony Hill, Summer Hill, Jakhoo Hill and Elysium Hill. At an elevation of around 2454 metres, Jakhoo Hill is the highest point in the city.


Shimla is an earthquake-prone area and falls under Zone IV of the Earthquake Hazard Zones of India. Further adding to the earthquake-related risks to the region are weak construction methods and the increasing population.


This city is devoid of any river, and the closest one is the Sutlej, approximately 21 km away. However, the Pabbar and Giri Rivers that are tributaries of the Yamuna River meander through the district of Shimla. The green zone of Shimla’s Planning Area spans approximately 414 hectares. Deodar, pine and oak are major trees that dominate the forested area of Shimla.


Although the weather here is quite unpredictable, the city has a salubrious climate that attracts a horde of travellers, not only from India, but outside as well. Technically, Shimla experiences subtropical highland climate with cool winters and moderately hot summers.


The average temperature during the summer season varies between 15 °C and 27 °C, whereas in winters it ranges between 0 °C and 10 °C. The summer season lasts from April to June and winters from December to February. Snowfall also occurs in the region, when the temperature drops to its lowest expected levels, chiefly between December and January.


Most showers occur during the rainy season, which lasts from July to September. The average annual rainfall here is around 166 cm. Landslides are also common here during the rainy season as the city is hilly, with significant deforestation.

How to reach

Shimla is connected to the town of Kalka by the famous Kalka–Shimla railway line. It takes about 6 hours to cover a distance of approximately 96 km from Kalka to Shimla by train. Kalka is easily reachable from major Indian cities, such as Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Two luxury trains also operate between Kalka and Shimla, namely Shivalik Deluxe Express and Shivalik Palace. The former has a pantry facility, while the latter comes with a well-appointed kitchen.


This city is also linked to major towns and cities of Himachal Pradesh and its neighbouring states. Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) along with the respective road transport authorities of neighbouring states operates buses to Shimla. Kalka, Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Sri Nagar, Jaipur, Dehradun and Manali are some of the major destinations, from where buses (luxury as well as standard) to this city are available.


About 23 km from the city, Shimla Airport in Jubbarhatti offers scheduled flights to Chandigarh, Kullu and Delhi. The nearest international airport to Shimla is Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.

Getting Around

Local buses are frequently available from various points within the city. Cheapest among all the transport options available here, these buses cover various attractions within the city, including Chotta Shimla, Sanjauli, Kasumpti, Victory Tunnel, Lakkar Bazaar, Summer Hill and Boileauganj. Taxis can also be availed to access major places of interest within and around the city. Moreover, HPTDC also runs daily tourist buses for sightseeing.


Certain places in Shimla are only accessible on foot, and people have to walk on hilly slopes to reach there. Another mode of transport, between Cart Road and Mall, is the lift operated by HPTDC.

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