Shimla – The Summer Capital

Shimla_Header

Shimla, which was incidentally the summer-capital of India before Independence is now the capital of Himachal Pradesh. It actually derives it’s name from ‘Shyamala’ which means – Goddess Kali, whose temple existed in the dense forests that covered this place back in the 19th century.

Situated at an altitude of 7,200 odd feet, Shimla has now become a literal commercial hub with hundreds of hotels on each side of the road

Beautiful Shimla

Beautiful Shimla

catering to every kind of traveler/ tourists, number of shops, markets, etc. Almost whatever you can find in an urban city, you can find it in Shimla. This is one of the major reasons why I wouldn’t really recommend anyone to stay there for more than a day or something. I mean think about it – you work your arse off all week for a nice holiday for say 3-4 days. And what do you do? You go to Shimla! That would really be a disaster.

Reaching Shimla is not really tough at all. You take the NH-1 all the way till Zirakpur from where you take the NH-22 to reach Kalka and

Christ Church, Shimla

Christ Church, Shimla

onto Shimla. However, if you are more interested in reaching Shimla by air, then you would need to take a flight to Jubbarhatti, which is at a distance of about 25kms. from Shimla. And by rail, you would need to board the Kalka express, which goes all the way upto Kalka after which you can take the Kalka – Shimla toy train which is the best thing about Shimla!

Shimla is perhaps one of the best places to shop for handicrafts. Any and every kind of handicrafts – right from woolen and pashmina shawls to decorative items, handmade items, woolen caps, carved wooden sticks, etc. are found there on sale in a place called the Lakkar Bazaar or the Market of Woods. One can also have fun at the natural ice-skating rink, which is the only one of it’s kind in the whole of India.

I would suggest instead of loitering in Shimla, and going to places like the ‘Mall Road’, market, restaurants, etc. what you can do is visit some of the more off-beat places in and around the place, some of which I would be mentioning below:

1. Jakhu Hill – It is located about 2 kms. from Shimla, at an altitude of 8000 feet. It is the highest peak in Shimla and offers a very beautiful view of whole town that is situated below. From here, one can also get a wonderful view of all the snow-capped moutains that surround the city of Shimla.

Winter in Shimla.

Winter in Shimla.

At the top of the hill, there is a Hanuman temple, where you would find countless monkeys waiting to be fed by the visitors who come visiting the temple.

2. Museum – Shimla has this wonderful state museum, which was opened back in the year 1974. It has some beautiful miniature Paharai paintings, scultures, bronzes wood-carvings and also some costumes, textiles, etc. of the region of Himachal Pradesh.

3. Tara Devi: Tara Devi has a temple dedicated to the goddess of stars (hence the name ‘Tara Devi’) on top of the hill. There is a military Dairy Town here as well as the headquarters of Bharat Scouts and Guides. Located at about 6,100 feet, Tara Devi is an ideal place for a person wanting peace and some rest.

4. Kufri: Kufri is a place that I would, personally, highly recommend one to visit. Located about 16 kms. from Shimla ,at a height of 8,600 feet, Kufri is the winter sports capital. During winter, visitors have the facility for skiing. The skiing season is at its best during January and February.

Ice crystal

Ice crystal

However, if you are not much interested in skiing, even then Kufri must be visited by one and all. It is a wonderful small hamlet with some awesome views all around. After the hustle-bustle of Shimla, Kufri feels like an absolute heaven.

5. Mashobra: Another beautiful spot, situated just 13kms. from Shimla, is Mashobra. This is generally a picnic spot. It is also the site of the annual fair called the ‘Sipi Fair’ which is held in the month of June.

6. Chail: Chail is a little mountainous heaven 45 kms. from Shimla. It was the summer capital of the Maharaja of Patiala before Independence. The forests near Chail have many species of birds and deer. Chail is known for its cricket pitch, which is also the highest cricket ground in the entire world.

I visited Shimla during the winter month of February, and the whole atmosphere was really wonderful. Snowfall, cold, chill – these are the things that I found lovely about the place as a whole. Other than this, sadly, Shimla has somehow lost all it’s charm to the multi-storeyed hotels, plethora of shops and fast food restaurants and to the humdrum culture that is ever so prevalant in the urban life…

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