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Shimla: The Queen of Hills
 
 

The British called Shimla the "Queen of Hill Stations." Situated in the north-West Himalayas, ShimlaShimla the summer capital of India before independence is now the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla derives its name from "Shyamala";- the goddess Kali, whose temple existed in the dense forest that covered Jakhu Hill in the early 19th century. The English named it Simla. Shimla is well connected by air, road and rail with all parts of Himachal Pradesh, and the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashimir and the Union territory of Chandigarh. Covering the area of 18 sq. km. at a height of 7,238 ft. Shimla is surrounded by pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron forests. Its well developed facilities, easy accessibility and numerous attractions make it one of Indian's most popular and biggest hill-stations. Shimla

A narrow-railway links Kalka with Shimla. This important rail-link was built in 1924 and its "toy trains" still ply between the two stations, passing through 105 tunnels and beautiful rail-road stations. Half-way through the journey, after Solan, the lights of Shimla flow in the distance, looking like glimmering jewels studding the dark green of the mountains. The train takes six hours, and at every stop on the journey are smiling faces giving a warm welcome.

Situated in the North-West Himalayas, the climate of Shimla varies from a maximum of 10-11 degrees in winter to a maximum of 25-26 degreesShimla in summers. Shimla never allows the gods to raise the temperature above that limit and the gods always oblige. Shimla changes its moods with the seasons. In spring we see flowers of all kinds, both wild and cultivated, smiling in each garden. During the monsoon, we see some of the best sunsets in the world.

Winter in Shimla is known as the season of "Long moon-night." It becomes a frost glistening silent city. A gathering of dark clouds tells us of the approach of snow generally a slight fall first, followed by a heavier one when the snowflakes sweep down through the fine-needles bending long branches to the ground. The following morning sees the town as a fantastic fairyland of white beauty.

 
  Places of Interest in and Around Shimla  
 

The Mall: The Mall is the main shopping centre of Shimla. It also has many restaurants, clubs, banks, bars, Post Offices and tourist offices. The Gaiety Theatre is also situated there. People walk up and down the Mall slowly, stopping to gossip, as it is the main meeting place for everyone. The Ridge and Scandal point are the two main meeting points at the Mall.

Christ Church, Ridge ShimlaChrist Church: Situated on the Ridge is Christ Church, which is the second oldest church in Northern India. It has a very majestic appearance and inside there are stained glass windows which represent faith, hope, charity, fortitude, patience and humility. Christ Church is a place all visitors should spend some time in.

Jakhu Hill: 2 kms. from Shimla, at a height of 8000 ft, Jakhu Hill is the highest peak and offers a beautiful view of the town and of the snow-covered Himalayas. At the top of the Hill, is an old temple of Hanuman, which is also the home of countless playful monkeys waiting to be fed by all visitors.

Shimla State Museum: The Museum, which was opened in 1974, has tried to project hill-out and the cultural wealth of the state. There is a collection of miniature Pahari paintings, sculptures, bronzes wood-carvings and also costumes, textiles and jewellery of the region.

Indian Institute of Advanced Studies: This institute is housed in the Viceregal Lodge, which was built in 1884-88 during the British times. It has spacious gardens and is ringed by beautiful pine trees. All is calm and serene just the right atmosphere for a student of literature or politics.

Summer Hill: Situated at a distance of 5 kms. from the Ridge is the lovely township of Summer Hill at a height of 6,500 ft. on the Shimla-Kalka railway line. Mahatma Gandhi lived in these quiet surroundings during his visits to Shimla. Himachal Pradesh University is situated here.

Annandale of the yesteryearsAnnandale: Developed as the playground of Shimla, Annandale is 2-4 kms. from the Ridge at a height of 6,117 ft. It is a favourite spot for cricket, picnics and the princely game of polo.

Tara Devi: 11kms. from the Shimla bus-stand. Tara Devi has a temple dedicated to the goddess of stars on top of the hill. There is a military Dairy Town here as well as the headquarters of Bharat Scouts and Guides. At a height of 6,070 ft. Tara Devi is an ideal place for a person wanting peace and some rest.

Sankat Mochan: A popular Hanuman temple is located here. We get an excellent view of Shimla from the temple. It can be reached by car or on foot.

Mashobra: 13 kms. away from Shimla, Mashobra has several excellent picnic spots. Mashobra is the site of the annual Sipi fair in June. The nearest rest house is at Craignano which is 3 kms. from Mashobra, and is a beautiful holiday resort.

Ski Slopes at KufriKufri: 16 kms. from Shimla at a height of 8,600 ft. 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. Equipment for sking is available from HPTDC winter sports club at Kufri. Apart from skiing, Kufri is a lovely picnic spot with a beautiful view of the hills around and the snowy peaks. There is also a zoo that delights children.

 

Naldehra


Naldehra: 22 kms. from Shimla and surrounded by beautiful deodar trees. Naldehra has a well kept nine-hole golf-course. It is a lovely, popular picnic spot. The annual Sipi fair in June is held in Naldehra.

 

Chail

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 the highest cricket ground in the world.

 
  General Information  
 

Shimla is the best market for the handicrafts of Himachal Pradesh. Woollen and pashmina shawls, decorative items, handmade shoes, dolls, woollen caps, carved wooden sticks, toys and other items made form wood are made in Shimla itself and are on sale in the Lakkar Bazar. Tibetan jewellery and trinkets are found in the small Tibetan shops near the Ridge.

Shimla has the only natural ice-skating rink in India. An Ice-skating Carnival is arranged every year by the Ice-skating Club during January. During this festival, members display their skill on ice and participate in a fancy dress competition.

The summer festival in Shimla offers the best entertainment of the year. Artistes are invited from all parts of Himachal Pradesh and from other parts of the country to entertain visitors with song, dance and music both Indian and Western.

Besides the summer festival, regular cultural programmes are organised in Shimla during the tourist season.

 
  Climate  
 

Shimla is situated at an altitude of about 2100 m. All the seasons of nature visit Shimla during the year. The isotherms of Shimla happen to match with that of London throughout the year and is the reason for Britisher's choice of Shimla as its summer capital. The duration and temperatures of different seasons are as follows:

Season

Period

Temperature

Clothing

Summer May to June 15°C to 28°C Cotton Clothes
Rainy June to September 12°C to 22°C Cotton & Light Woollens
Autumn October to November 7°C to 20°C Cotton & Light Woollens
Winter December to February -4°C to 7°C Heavy Woollens
Spring March to April 11°C to 20°C Cotton & Light Woollens
 
  Language  
 

Shimla has a multilingual, cosmopolitan character. People speak and understand both Hindi and English. Punjabi and Pahari languages are also spoken and understood in and around Shimla.

 
 
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