Suave Shimla

Shimla or Simla is the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is a very popular holiday-retreat during the summer months and is well-known for its Victorian architecture, which is reflected in certain areas of the Mall and The Ridge. It is also a famous holiday spot for honeymoon. There are quite a few theories regarding the origin of the word Shimla. Locals insist that the name originates from Shyamali Devi, a re-incarnation of the fearsome Goddess Kali.

Back in the year 1864, this, then small town was declared as the summer capital of the British Raj in India. A very popular hill station, it is often known by different names like ‘Queen of Hills’, which was incidentally a term coined by the Britishers. Located in the north-west of the Himalayas at an altitude of 6,980 odd feet, the city of Shimla is draped in forests of pine, rhodendron and oak. The salubrious air and scenic views of the Himalayas accompanied by the structures made during the colonial era creates an aura which is very different from other hill stations. Ofcourse, it is over-run by tourists and very commercialized, but the old world charm is still visible in places in and around the town.

Nature has blessed this capital city of Himachal Pradesh with innumerable gifts and man has actually used them to make Shimla one of the best locales in the state, if ofcourse, a little too much populated. The city is spread 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 the city. This is where the railway station and the bus stand & taxi stands are loaced. The crescent of the wooded Ridge stretches from the high 2,476m. high Jakhoo Hill and Chhota Shimla in the east to the Observatory, which is located at 2,148m and Prospect Hills (2,176m) in the West.

One can visit Shimla anytime during the year, its forever beautiful. But it surely gets an added charm during the monsoons when the hills turn lush green. Winters too make it brilliant as soft snow covers the land and makes it shine pristine white. Ancient temples and old churches are worth visiting. Stop at one of the hills and find mist enveloping you and everything else around. Shimla has the only natural ice-skating rink in the whole of India. An ice-skating carnival is arranged every year by the Ice-skating Club during the month of January. During this festival, members display their skill on ice and participate in a fancy dress competition as well.

There are many places worth visiting in Shimla, of which some, I am mentioning below. I visited Shimla on a weekend trip; so, visiting everything is not really possible. But, whatever little I have explored on my earlier innumerable trips there and this trip, these are the places worth visiting:

Christ Church & St. Michael’s Cathedral : This famous landmark church of Shimla was built over a span of 11 years (1846-1857) and is the second oldest church of Northern India. The beauty of the church is enhanced by the stained glass in its windows. The building looks all the more beautiful at night when its grand architecture glows with amazing lighting. Another important church in Shimla is the Church of St. Michael’s Cathedral.

Jakhoo Temple : Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, this temple is at an altitude of 8048 feet above sea level and is the highest point of Shimla. It offers a panoramic view over the surrounding valley.

Sankat Mochan : The famous “Lord Hanuman” temple is Situated on Ambala-Shimla highway 5 Kms short of Shimla It commands an excellent view of the whole town of Shimla. The temple has beautiful campus and langar is held every Sunday.

Kali Bari : The temple is situated near to The Mall, and is dedicated to Shyamala Devi (Shimla is named after this goddess), an incarnation of Goddess Kali.

Tara Devi :Located on Tara Parvat is the temple of Tara Devi, about 15kms. from Shimla. The view from the temple is very beautiful. The forested hills around lend a tranquility to the area. A road meanders uphill through the pine forest.

The Ridge : The large open space in the heart of town presents excellent view of the mountain ranges.

The Mall : The hub of Simla is the Mall, which runs along the Ridge and is crowded with tourists. It is the city’s most famous shopping center, with shops selling all items, from clothes to junk food. Most of Shimla’s landmarks are located here. The Mall further joins the Ridge at the ‘Scandal Point’ , where a statue of Lala Lajpat Rai has been erected. This is the main shopping center of Simla with restaurants

Prospect Hill : Crowned by Kamna Devi temple, it is 15-min walk from Boileauganj on Shimla-Bilaspur road.

Glenn : Its about 4 km walk from the Ridge through dense forests, a sprightly stream flows through the Glen forests. It is a famous picnic spot.

Annandale : Beyond the Glen is Annandale, another picnic spot. The big open ground rarely found in the hills is covered with deodar forests.

Elysium Hill : On the road leading through Lakkar Bazaar, houses the famous Auckland House, the former residence of Viceroy Lord Auckland. It is a well-known girls’ school now.

Chadwick Falls : These are the 67 meters high water falls which come streaming down from the Summer Hill. The falls are set amidst thick forest at a height of 1586 meters. The falls are at their best after monsoons. You can go and explore the tracks in the forest on your own, deodar trees line the forest. There are also some old temples close by and a fair is held here in April every year.

It is also interesting to note that Shimla is surrounded by seven hills:

– Jakhoo hill: in central Simla, which is crowned by the temple indicated to Lord Hanuman
– Bantony in central Shimla, which has the Grand Hotel
– Prospect Hill: Famous for Kamna Devi temple
– Summer Hill: Here Himachal Pradesh University campus is located
– Observatory Hill: Famous for Indian Institute of Advanced Study
– Invererarm Hill: The hill top has the State Museum and TV broadcast tower
– Elysium Hill : This holds The Auckland House and Longwood and reaches out towards Bharari.

What follows are a few more pictures of Shimla, in which I tried to capture the charm that seems to have been lost in time, with the growing populace.

My ride for this trip - A 1000cc superbike, the Yamaha YZF-R1!

Comments

  • Shivanshu  On December 3, 2009 at 10:30 AM

    dada the wordings are as magnificent as the bike and the ride… awesome work brother…..keep it up. Another beautiful expression penned down with nostalgic pics… GREAT

    Like

    • Bobby Roy  On December 3, 2009 at 10:47 AM

      Thank you Shivanshu. I am glad you liked the article. Yes, another successful trip completed and penned down. 🙂 And this will continue for as long as I am alive. 🙂 Thanks, yet again!

      Like

  • Debarpita  On December 4, 2009 at 1:03 PM

    Suberb again bro, loved again all your words and photographs…
    And yes we all wish you a very very looong LIFE, so that we get to know each and every corner of India 🙂

    Like

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