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Shimla

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History: The summer capital of British Govt.
Shopping: -
History of: 200 years approx.
Population: 1.23 Lac.

It was an English dream made a shade delirious and out of the true by the thin, high air, combined with all that many a heart loved with passion in India – the outdoor life, the horses, the wild animals, the early walking in the Indian mornings, with their matchless dazzling purity that makes each day seem the first ever created. The lanes, the downs, the tumbling streams were all there, to be tamed and enjoyed as much as possible in the likeness of home."

Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh and a major travel hill station in India. Shimla is also an important administrative centre. It has been variously described as the Indian Capua, Mount Olympus and the Abode of the Little Tin Gods. At the other end is Sir Edward Lutyen’s (the architect of New Delhi) snooty remark – "If I had been told it had all been built by monkeys, I would have said, what wonderful monkeys, they must be shot in case they do it again."!! Shimla and attention have always courted each other.

The city spreads over a 12km ridge with just two main roads – The Mall which runs from the far west to the lower eastern side, and the Cart Road which circles the southern part of Shimla. This is where the railway station and the bus and taxi stands are located. The crescent of the wooded Ridge stretches from the lofty 2476 m high Jakhu Hill and Chhota Shimla in the east, to the Observatory (2,148 m) and Prospect hills (2,176 m) in the west. The best time to travel to Shimla is in autumn, when the days are warm and bright and the nights crisp and cool. Summer sees a burgeoning tourist population and this is precisely why you should avoid going there at this time.

The people of HP are simple and warm. They feel strongly about their natural and cultural heritage so do not in any way belittle their customs or rituals. Norms of dress and behaviour are pretty relaxed in Shimla, as the tourist traffic every year has made the place almost cosmopolitan. A word of caution, however, don’t travel to the interiors of the state without a reliable and authorized tourist guide and also beware of touts.

Shimla - the Summer Capital of British Raj
There probably isn’t one mountain freak in India who hasn’t set foot in Shimla. Having been the official summer capital of the British Raj, it is among the largest and most popular hill stations in the country today.

Shimla (formerly spelt Simla) is set amidst spectacular hills and seeped in an aura of crumbling colonial charm. More than a government seat, it worked as the perfect setting for romance in the days of the British.

Major Attractions

 

Today Shimla tourism has translated into being the grooviest spot for honeymooners.

Apart from seeing evidences of some great colonial architecture in monuments like the Christ Church, Viceregal Lodge, Gorton Castle and others, there are dozens of tiny travel places around which offer the most pleasant walks like Summer Hill, Prospect Hill, Chadwick Falls, Tara Devi, Chharabra and others. Two of the most famous nearby getaways are Kasauli and Chail. and its not that there is nothing for the more adventurous kinds; Shimla tourism has excellent scope for treks too.

Splendid by itself, Shimla is also the tee off point for the rest of Himachal, with roads leading west to the Kangra and Chamba valleys, north to Kullu and Lahaul valleys, and east to Kinnaur and Spiti Valley. South of it lie the lower districts of Solan and Sirmaur.

 

Fun Festives

 

Christmas
Christmas is particularly fun here owing to the overwhelming British presence in the past. A white Christmas is what Shimla’s inhabitants really look forward to. Here we will only discuss festivals that are unique to this area or celebrated here in a manner distinct from the rest of the country.

Baisakhi
Though celebrated in many northern states, this agrarian festival is celebrated differently in different regions of Himachal. Generally held on the first of Baisakh (13th April), it is called Bissu or Bisha in Shimla.

It signifies vigour and vitality and serves as a ritual before the onset of the harvesting season. Burning the jhalra – a pile of dry twigs with a pole bearing a conical bamboo basket erected in the middle – is an important ritual. It is set afire in the morning as young boys sing and dance around it.

Rhyali
Rhyali is the festival of the rainy season. In the Indian society rains denote good harvest thus ensuring prosperity. Therefore it’s an absolute must to keep the rain god happy.

Rhyali is celebrated on the first of Shravana (16th July). Some ten days before this, seeds of five or seven kinds (wheat, barley and the like) are mixed together and sown ceremoniously by the head of the family or the family priest in a small basket filled with earth, or near the place where the household gods are kept.

Then one day before the actual day, a kind of a mock wedding is performed with a wooden hoe, and as many kinds of available fruits are placed near the tender saplings.

Clay images of Shiva and Parvati are placed amidst the tender growth, and the priest chants, "O Haryali, may thou ever remain in the green fields..." and a whole lot of rituals follow. Rhyali is same as Haryali of Kangra.

Contemporary Carnivals
A Summer Festival conducted by the tourism of Himachal is held in Simla every June which includes cultural programmes from Himachal and neighbouring states. An art and handicraft exhibition, a folk dance festival, a Mushaira (recitation of Urdu poetry), the Red Cross Fair, sports tournaments, a fashion show based on folk costumes and a flower show are also scheduled around this time to make most of the tourist season. The extravaganza of the Ice Skating Carnival is normally reserved for December, where the winter winds carry with them the delights of ice skating at Shimla.

Distance from major cities

Delhi 498 Kms
Chandigarh 112 Kms

 

How to reach there

by Air Shimla's Jubbarhatti Airport is well connected with daily flights from Delhi.
by Rail Shimla has meter gauge railway station and connected with Kalka (close to Chandigarh).
by Road Shimla is well connected by Jaipur, Delhi and other major nearby cities.

Recommended Restaurants

  • Sher-e-Punjab, Shimla

  • Indian Coffee House, Shimla

  • Hotel Combermere, Shimla

Hotels in Shimla

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Travel Destinations in Himachal Pradesh

Dalhausie
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Shimla
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