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Shimla is the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh. The city is named after the goddess Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Kali. During the British colonial period Shimla was the Summer Capital of the central government. The architecture of the British period buildings in the Tudor revival and Neo-Gothic styles still reminds one of the British influence on the city. If you want to get a feeling how the British rulers used to live in the summer months, Shimla is the place to visit.
It is now a popular tourist destination for both Indian and foreign tourists, and is often referred to as the Queen of the Hills. Himachal Pradesh is located in the northwestern Himalayan mountain chain bordered by Tibet and Jammu & Kashmir in the north, Punjab in south west and Uttaranchal Pradesh in south east. The western Himalayas extend across 500 kilometers or 311 miles and are comprised of 16 ridges interrupted by the Sutlej, a tributary of Indus River. The region incorporates some of the greatest mountaineering terrain in the world, including the high altitude area of the cold desert and the valleys of Spiti and Lahaul with their stark, elemental beauty. As the highest mountain range in the world, the grandeur, mystery and romance of the Himalayas cannot be surpassed. The ancient Hindu epic, Mahabharata, narrates the tale of Pandavas journeying through the Himalayas in the hope of reaching the Heaven alive. A Hindu vedic text says: In a hundred ages of the gods, I could not tell you the wonders of the Himalaya. Indeed, the Himalayas have held a special place in the spiritual consciousness of Indians since ancient times. Shimla is situated at an altitude of 2,130 meters or 6,988 feet above sea-level. The city is surrounded by forests of pine, oak and rhododendron. The summers in Shimla are pleasant and it receives substantial snowfall in winter. Kalka is the nearest northern railways station.
Tourist interest places:
The Mall: The Mall is the main promenade of Shimla. Contemporary commercial enterprises rub shoulders with stately colonial edifices, churches and other landmarks of the town on this street. At one end of The Mall is the colorful local market, called Lakkar Bazaar.
The Viceregal Lodge: A few minutes from The Oberoi Cecil, is the Viceregal Lodge. Built in 1888 by the British Viceroy Lord Dufferin, the premises house a museum surrounded by beautifully laid out gardens. Through its grand history, it has also been the Rashtrapati Niwas (The President's residence). Today, it houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies.
Jakhoo Hill is the highest point in Shimla and offers a panoramic view of the town and it is crowned by Sankat Mochan Temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
Mashobra: Set in the midst of these imposing ranges, at a height of 2,500 meters or 8,250 feet above sea-level, Mashobra is situated on a traverse spur, well known as the largest watershed of Asia with the water basins of the Indus on one side and the Ganges on the other. It is 13 kilometers or 8 miles from Shimla. The Viceroy, Lord Dalhousie, in 1850 initiated the construction of the historic Hindustan-Tibet road that links Mashobra to Shimla. Cut into the side of precipices that descend into deep ravines and hillsides densely covered with deodar forests, the road passes through colorful roadside bazaars and the Sanjauli tunnel. The construction of this road took a long time and it was finally completed at the turn-of-the-century during the period of Lord Kitchener. The bustling local bazaar of Mashobra provides the locals with their daily requirements, while its fertile, terraced fields grow fruit, vegetables and flowers to supply Shimla and the surrounding areas with the freshest of produce. Mashobra has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. In the summer months of April to June, wild flowers fill the meadows, and the air is cool, fresh and pine-scented. The rainy season from July to August has an appeal of its own with misty mountains and glorious sunsets. September to November is pleasant and bracing, while winter is crisp and invigorating with snow and bright, sunny weather. The Mashobra spur is dotted with orchards of fruit trees, and turn-of-the-century houses with evocative names like Fairlawn, Wildflower Hall and Apple Tree House. Its numerous shady glades, cool streams and flowery glens make it idyllic country for camping and picnics, as well as treks and river rafting. The thickly wooded slopes of Mashobra are part of the Shimla Reserve Forest sanctuary and the river catchments. The natural vegetation comprises cedar or Himalayan deodar, pine, oak and rhododendron, as well as maple and horse chestnut, interspersed with variegated shrubs, wildflowers and grasses. The wildlife consists of jackals, kakkar (barking deer), and the occasional leopard, as well as numerous bird species such as the Himalayan eagle, pheasants, chikor and partridges. The musk deer is the state animal of Himachal Pradesh, while the Munal pheasant is its state bird.
Commanding splendid views, Mashobra is ringed by the peaks of the Western Himalayas. On a clear day, the mountains of the Pir Panjal range in the state of Jammu and Kashmir can be seen stretching all the way across to Nanda Devi in the Garhwal region of Uttaranchal Pradesh. Mashobra was a favorite escape from the more formal atmosphere of Shimla during the days of the British Raj. Its thickly forested hills with a salubrious climate are an ideal getaway for both adventure and relaxation. More thickly forested than Shimla, Mashobra was a trekking and camping paradise in the hills. It was also a popular spot for British Raj picnics. The best known was the annual picnic held during the colorful Sipi fair in the middle of May. Enjoyed equally by Europeans and locals, the day of the fair was declared a public holiday and all of official Shimla, from the Viceroy down, participated in the outing. Mahasu, Kufri, and Fagu are other scenic spots further up from Mashobra. The beautiful spur of Naldehra, which was a favourite camping ground during the Raj, is about six kilometers or 4 miles away. Overlooking a magnificent grove of deodars and covered with fine, springing turf, Naldehra is noted for its golf links, and was frequently visited by Lord Curzon and his family.
Tattapani / Shiv Goofa: The hot sulphur springs is known for its therapeutic power and is a two hours drive along the Sutlej river.
Kufri: An inviting ski destination in Himachal Pradesh, Kufri, has lured mountain lovers for decades. The slopes are not for professionals, but the short to advanced runs are tailor-made for the enthusiast. Yak rides for children are an added attraction. It is at a distance of 16 kilometers or 10 miles from Shimla.
Chail: The former capital of the Maharajah of Patiala, Chail is built on three hills and is about 45 kilometers or 30 miles from Shimla. The cricket pitch here is the highest in the world. The old palace and the polo grounds are worth a visit. It is an attractive tourist spot and an ideal place for picnics.
Naldehra Golf Course is about 20 minutes drive from Oberoi Wildflower Hotel. Viceroy Lord Curzon was so enchanted by this spot that he chose Naldehra as the middle name of his daughter. He also created the first nine-hole golf course of India at this site. The perfect season for golfing here is between April and October. It is 22 kilometers or 14 miles from Shimla.
Narkanda Situated on the Hindustan-Tibet Road, Narkanda offers a panoramic view of the inner Himalayas. Apples and cherries abound in the orchards nearby at Kotgarh. Eight kilometers from Narkanda is the Hattu Peak, at a height of 3300 meters or 10827 feet, which has several ski slopes – a beginner’s run, a slalom slope and a sharper descent for the seasoned skier. It is 65 kilometers or 41 miles from Shimla.
Taradevi: Hop on to the “toy train” at Shimla and alight at Taradevi station. A trek through magnificent cedars up to Taradevi temple takes about two hours. The environment is serene and the view magnificent.
Akri: Arki is a town and a Nagar panchayat in Solan district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. The town is notable for its fort built in late 18th century when Arki was the capital of the erstwhile hill state of Baghal. The Arki Fort is a converted hotel and lovely to visit. It is 40 kilometers or 25 miles from Shimla.
- Oberoi Wildflower Hotel – 87 rooms (5-star deluxe)
- Oberoi Cecil Hotel – 79 rooms
- Radisson Jass Hotel – 59 suites
- Toshali Royal View Resort – 79 rooms
- Hotel Clerkes Shimla - 32 rooms
- Hotel Marina - 42 rooms
- Hotel Willow Banks - 35 rooms
- Hotel Combemere - 40 rooms
- Toshali Royal View Hotel - 77 rooms
- East Borne Resort & Spa - 60 rooms
- Hotel Willow Banks – 35 rooms
- Kapil Hotel - 15 rooms
- Honeymoon Inn - 20 rooms
- CK International Hotel - 40 rooms
- Hotel Hot Spring Therme - 20 rooms
- Sunrise Villa Hotel – 10 rooms
- Clarks Hotel – 39 rooms
- Hotel Springfields – 11 rooms
- Chapslee Palace - 8 rooms
- Hotel Silverine - 22 rooms
- Cedar Grand Hotel & Spa - 26 rooms
Distance from Shimla in Kilometers and Miles:
- Kalka: 110 kilometers or 69 miles
- Chandigarh: 115 kilometers or 72 miles
- Delhi: 227 kilometers or 141 miles