One of the most popular hill stations in all of India, people flock from all over the world to see the wonder that is Shimla. Though modern day commercialism has tried to take over the essence of Shimla, it still retains its colonial heritage and architecture. Surrounded on all sides by luscious green hills and snow capped peaks, it transports you to a different dimension.
Shimla’s aura is what makes it unique from all the other hill stations, giving it’s name of “Queen of the Hills.” History seeps from every brick and stone that been build and flows from every narrow lane that circles through the city. This little town nestled in the bosom of the Himalayan mountain range, is the perfect get way from modern metropolitan life.
- Currency – Indian Rupees
- Type of Location – Subtropical highland climate, located on a ridge of the Himalayas.
- 3. Neighboring Cities – The closest towns to Shimla are Jutogh and Kufri, 5.8kms and 6.8kms away respectively. The closest urban city to Shimla is Chandigarh at a distance of 54.1kms and next closest is Yumunanagar 106.7kms away.
Climate conditions and the best time to plan your trip
Shimla is cool even during the summer months and absolutely chilly during winters. It’s the ideal location to visit any time during the year. If you’re looking to enjoy the snowfall and ice skating, October through February are the best months to plan your trip. March, April and June give you perfect weather for summer activities like trekking, camping and enjoying the scenic beauty around Shimla.
July to mid-September faces the monsoon season, so to avoid the rain and clouds, it’s best to not go during this time if you want to make the most out of your vacation. Temperatures in Shimla range from -4 degrees Celsius to 31 degrees Celsius. It’s recommended that you carry a jacket because it gets very cool after sunset, given any month.
Top spots to visit
The gorgeous hill station and current capital of Himachal Pradesh has a lot of little monuments in and around the town for you to enjoy. Out of the numerous wonders, there a few that stand out of the crowd.
- Jakhu Temple – Not only is it the highest point in Shimla that offers an incredible view, it’s also a tribute to lord Hanuman. It’s best to hire a driver to take you up to the point because the climb is incredibly steep. The 108ft high Hanuman statue is definitely worth a visit though. A lot of monkeys are scattered over the hill side, so beware but they generally won’t bother you unless you bother them first.
◦ Opening Hours – 8.00am to 6.00pm during winter and 7.00am to 8.00pm during summers.
◦ Entry Cost – Free.
◦ Location – Jakhu hill, Shimla.
◦ Time Required – An hour and a half including travel time.
- The Mall – Your trip in incomplete if you don’t take the time out to explore “The Mall Road.” Located in the absolute center of Shimla it’s offers an array of services like hotels, shops and little ridge side cafes. The Gaiety Theater is also located on this road, which is a heritage cultural complex is a remarkable piece of Victorian theater architecture. They conduct a 45mins tour throughout the day that is well worth the visit. Scandal Point is another main attraction located on the mall, along with the Shimla Ridge.
◦ Opening Hours – The Mall Road is open throughout the day into late hours of the night, and the Gaiety Theater is open from 11.00am to 7.00pm.
◦ Entry Cost – Entering the Mall Road is free of cost, and the each tour of the Gaiety Theater costs Rs.10 for Indians and Rs.25 if you have a camera. For foreigners, entry is Rs.25, and Rs.50 if you have a camera.
◦ Location – The Mall Road, The Mall, Shimla.
◦ Time Required – You can roam up and down the road for hours, but you’ll need an hour at most to travel up and down the road.
- Lakkar Bazaar – The Lakkar Bazaar, or loosely translated at the “Wood Market,” is another top spot for roaming around in Shimla. It’s famous for it wooden handicrafts at cheap rates and souvenir shops that especially popular among the tourists. There’s a roller skating rink located centrally that transports you into the 70’s.
◦ Opening Hours – Open throughout the day until around 9.00pm, when most of the shops shut down.
◦ Entry Cost – Free.
◦ Location – Lakkar Bazaar, Shimla.
◦ Time Required – 45mins to explore the whole place once on foot.
Due to the cultural integration in Shimla, there are a wide variety of cuisines that you can enjoy. Rather than having their very own dish, Shimla has a few eating joints that quite popular and unique to the little hill town.
The Indian Coffee House on Mall Road is a popular cafe for anyone and everyone. It’s an old boy’s club with old school furniture and uniformed waiters. It really makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a different century. Another perfect place to grab a bite is the restaurant sponsored by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Board located on The Ridge. The ambiance is spectacular, the food is reasonable and view is breath taking. They indoor as well as outdoor seating, but sitting outside really enriches the experience.
The region of Himachal Pradesh is known for it’s Solan Whiskey which can be found at any local wine and beer shop. Even the fruit wines that come in range from apple to cherries and peaches to plums are locally produced and can’t be found anywhere else in India.
Why Shimla is amazing!
Shimla is known for it’s beauty and serenity. Once you’re there you won’t feel like going back home because you’ll either be enjoying the ambiance too much or the cozy feeling of the warm blankets enveloping you in your hotel room.
To travel up to Shimla you should definitely go via Toy Train, it’s one of the few experiences that you can’t enjoy else where. The Toy Train starts from Kalka and is the only train in India to run on a small gauge track.
First and foremost, be careful of the monkeys. They won’t bother you, but that doesn’t mean that you should get friendly with them either. They may be adorable to look at, but in case you offer them any food or treat, they won’t leave you alone until they’ve had everything that they can sniff off of you. Keep your camera and other valuables on a strap so that the monkeys can’t easily snatch them from you.
The only other thing that you need to be worried about when you’re in Shimla is that if you’re female, you probably shouldn’t roam around after dark, especially if you’re alone. Try and stay in a group and reach you room by 10.00pm at most.
It’s cold, so be sure to pack warm clothing!
Planning your budget
Shimla is fairly light on your pocket. Aside from accommodation and maybe hiring a guide, there isn’t a lot that you’ll be spending money on. The entry to most places within Shimla is free except for a few select locations, where the fee doesn’t go beyond Rs.100 at most. Food is reasonably priced as well, on average one meal per person at a decent restaurant will cost Rs.150 but if you opt for street side food, you won’t spend more than Rs.50.
Leave aside woolen garments, most of the souvenirs in Shimla are reasonably priced. Even the woolen garments are a steal if you can bargain your way around the vendors. Hotels in Shimla are priced according to their proximity to the main Mall Road. It’s best to reserve a room before hand, but even if you arrive without a reservation, it’s not too hard to find a hotel that will accommodate you. The cheapest hotels cost around Rs.500 a night and depending on luxury, they can go up to Rs.5000. Rs.1500-2000 is a reasonable amount to spend and you’ll get the basic necessities required within that budget.
While hiring a guide, it’s best to go with the ones provided by the Himachal Tourism Board. The prices are more or less fixed and the service is dependable.
Shimla is an adorable location for a romantic get away as well as an adventurous one. Have fun enjoying the rich culture and heritage that this hill station has to offer.