8 July, 2021 | Reccy Guide
The encapsulating beauty of Shimla is famous all over the world. Once the British Summer Capital of India, this beautiful place has enamored millions of tourists ranging from every corner of the planet. Today, Shimla stands as the capital of Himachal Pradesh, at 2276 meters above sea level, and is primarily known as a heavenly vacation spot. With ancient Victorian architecture scattered all around the sloping landscape, this mesmerizing town is surrounded by the exalted Himalayan Mountains. Even if you are up for skiing in winter or opting for adventurous treks like the Pin Bhaba Pass Trek from end-summer to early autumn, Shimla is the place to be.
The summers here are cool and tranquil. The temperature fluctuates between 10 degrees to 20 degrees Celsius from March to April. Winters can be pretty cold, with temperatures ranging from -7 degrees to 10 degrees Celsius. Shimla is covered in a cloak of milky snow during this time, resembling nothing short of a celestial plain on Earth.
How to reach?
Apart from serving as one of the most sought-after hill stations for tourists across India and the world, Shimla is also the central hub for adventures in the Himachal. Therefore, it is easily accessible by air, railway, and roadways. The Shimla Airport, located at Jubbarhatti, is just 23 kilometers away from the city center. It is a well-known domestic airport that enjoys regular flight schedules from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi and other airports across India. However, after the Kingfisher airline shutdown, there are no scheduled flights that connect New Delhi to the Shimla Airport at Jubbarhatti. Thus, your best bet could be the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi or the Chandigarh International Airport at Mohali. You can take private or government buses or hire cabs to reach Shimla from any of these two. The distance between the Chandigarh Airport to Shimla is 125 kilometers, and it takes merely 3.5 hours via NH5 to reach this place. On the other hand, you can board a Himachal Tourism bus or those offered by private operators (ac Volvos, sleepers, and semi-sleepers) from the New Delhi Airport to reach Shimla within 7.5 to 8 hours via NH5 or NH44.
Alternatively, you can reach Shimla easily via the Indian railway service. The Kalka Railway station and the Chandigarh Railway station are the two nearest broad-gauge railway stations, the former being the closest to the city. Both these railway stations enjoy superb connectivity with various Indian cities, including New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, etc. From the Kalka Railway station, you can take the narrow-gauge connecting railway to Shimla while boarding the famous toy train service. Tickets are pretty cheap, a shade less than USD 5 (INR 320). Conversely, you can also take a bus or hire a cab from the Chandigarh Railway station at Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, and it will take you merely 3 hours via the NH5.
Being one of the oft-preferred hill destinations for tourists across India, Shimla is well-connected via roadways to major North Indian cities like New Delhi, Ambala, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Kalka, etc. While New Delhi is the farthest amongst these, 370 kilometers from Shimla, there is an excellent bus service provided by both private operators and Himachal Tourism. Shimla enjoys superb connectivity to other important tourist destinations like Manali (280 kilometers), Kullu (235 kilometers), and Ambala (154 kilometers), with public and privately operated buses plying every day between these places.
Where to stay?
Shimla is one of the prime destinations for tourists from different parts of India. Hence, there is no shortage of accommodations at this place. The range of accommodations is seemingly endless. From budget hotels to five-star rated ones, guesthouses, homestays, backpackers’ hostels, dormitories, luxury hotels, deluxe hotels, boutique hotels, villas, etc., you can choose any form of accommodation according to your convenience, choice of amenities, and budget. While some of these offer basic amenities, others might offer superb amenities and add-ons with breathtaking Himalayan vistas all around. Starting from USD 10 (INR 750) per night, the price goes up to USD 100 (INR 7500) and more according to your choice of accommodation.
Shimla has numerous bazaars offering an eclectic range of items. The Mall Road is the central shopping hub of this town. It is filled with a plethora of shops selling antiques, clothing, carpets, rugs, and so on. The Himachal Hats and Pashmina Shawls are extremely famous here. Another popular place to get them is the Tibetan Market, specializing in Tibetan handicrafts and antiques. You can also get some ethereal silver jewelry pieces at this place.
The Lakkar Bazaar is another extremely popular market, known for Wooden and Jute Items. Filled with handmade figures made of wood, as well as Jute Bags, Toys, and Walking sticks, the outstanding carpentry of Shimla is well represented in this market. The Lower Market and the Himachal Emporium are two of the best places to get some authentic memorabilia and souvenirs from Shimla.
Shimla brims with umpteen attractions for tourists of all kinds. You can choose between natural beauty or exhilarating treks. Amongst the majestic natural attractions, Kufri offers an unforgettable panoramic view of the snow-capped Himalayas. The Green Valley stands as another breathtaking natural attraction, offering miles of soothing, lush green landscape cradled within the boughs of the alpine trees.
The Jakhoo Temple is shrouded in mystery and beauty, in a perfect ratio. This temple stands at 8000ft above sea level with a mythical significance, atop a hill that offers a scenic view of this traveler’s paradise. The Kalka-Shimla Train ride pulls the heartstrings of every hardcore nature lover, passing through several staggeringly beautiful locations. The Chadwick Falls is another stunning attraction to check out in Shimla.