It was in the year 1864 that the British declared Shimla as the summer capital of India. In 1947, when India received its independence from the British, Shimla became the capital of Punjab and now stands as the capital of Himachal Pradesh. As soon as you step into Shimla, something royal and regal about the place will grab your attention. And fellow travellers, this grandeur is all that a Shimla trip is about. Here, the past meets the present, and the colonial heritage meets the cosmopolitan creations.
Reaching the Queen of the Hills:
If you happen to be travelling by air, you will need to get off at the Jubbarhatti Airport situated 23 km away from the main town of Shimla, 2130 m above sea level. You can also get off at the Delhi airport and book a car or a bus to Shimla, 370 km away. Within 8 hours, you will find yourself soaking in the mist of the hills.
A Peaceful Stay
What can be better than a homestay in the hills, where you can get healthy and homely food, ambience and not to mention friendly hosts. Well, here are a few of the best homestays in Shimla.
What is worth mentioning most about this homestay is that it is pet friendly. So if your furry friend is travelling with you, there is no better option than this cottage. The food available is for everyone. From Irish to American, Bengali to local, all sorts of foods are at your disposal.
If the hullaballoo of city life bothers you much, there is simply no better place than this homestay. Situated around 10 km away from Shimla, Mystic Homestay is built within nature. Every room has a balcony overlooking the serenity outside. So you can absorb the chill and calm of the forest while sipping your morning tea.
White Haven Homestay
This is the one that offers you a view of the city. You might want to take a stroll in the garden as well. This homestay also provides free wifi to all its residents.
The Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills
A fan of ghost stories is sure to fall in love with the place. With the thick fog, the dense forests, the narrow, winding roads, and the constant chirping of crickets, Shimla has the perfect setting for all the ghost stories that surround it. The forest area, covering a trail of 2 km has numerous stories of hauntings related to it.
During their rule in India, the British had constructed perennial water holes all over Shimla. The tanks were built underneath the roads. Hence, the water leakage, the wet and cold atmosphere coupled with the fog, and the much-heard stories about the chudail (the witch of an English woman) haunting the Carter’s Road have made this area well renowned as the chudail bauri. This is a must-visit for all travellers in Shimla.
Other stories about faceless ghosts walking alongside lonely travellers in the dead of the night and friendly ghosts in chemistry labs have also been heard.
Travellers and policemen in the area have reported a ghost that asks for a lighter before mysteriously disappearing as if gobbled up by the fog. And who hasn’t heard of the phantom rickshaw of the Englishwoman? Tunnel 103, a dilapidated tunnel built in the 1900s is said to be haunted by a girl who runs around within the tunnel and eventually jumps off into a well.
Even if you aren’t a fan of ghost stories, all these places are historic and have a rich past. They all are worth a visit. Not to mention you can click beautiful vintage pictures there.
Where Else to Go?
Well, you can spend all day taking strolls on the foggy, damp roads where sunlight hardly ever reaches. The roads are lined by deodar trees and rhododendron forests. If you are lucky enough, you might get a glimpse of the snow-covered mountain ranges. You can also look around the town that stands witness to stone edifices with magnificent carvings and artwork.
The Ridge is a huge open space in the center of town that presents you with an excellent view of the mountain ranges surrounding Shimla. You will also find here, the Christ Church with its splendid neo-Gothic structure. You will also find the neo-Tudor library building. You simply cannot miss this experience of a lifetime.
St. Michael’s Cathedral
Located right off the Shimla Mall, below the District Court, the Cathedral is designed as a cruciform. The structure is made of stone and is decorated with stained glass-like you have nowhere found.
Built-in 1983 in a Renaissance style, the Viceregal Lodge has now been converted into the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. The magnificent structure alongside the vast lawn and the surrounding woodland is worth a visit. You will be charged a nominal entry fee. On weekdays and Saturdays, except holidays, a part of the portion is kept open for public view.
Other places to visit include The Glen at a height of 1830 m above sea level. This is more or less a thickly wooded ravine with an array of huge trees around. The best part of it is the small stream that can be heard making its way through the forest if you happen to be picnicking there. Annandale will mesmerize you with its natural beauty and the ancient temple.
A Place of Adventures
Apart from the endless trekking, there are loads of adventures to experience in and around Shimla. Shali Peak and Kullu Valley are the most popular destinations for a trek whereas treks to Tattapani and Chail as well as Bashelo are the roads generally not taken. You can also go fishing at the Pabbar River and somewhere near Rohru. The locals are well acquainted with these spots.
It’s Shopping Time!
There is no better place than the Lakkar Bazaar if you are on a shopping spree. From wooden and metal crafts to spices as well as pickles, there is much to buy here. Souvenirs include shawls and caps. Tibetan carpets and local jams are a must-buy from Lakkar Bazaar.
Let us warn you of the monkeys in the vicinity. You need to be careful while sitting on an open terrace or open cafe. The Gaiety Theatre will mesmerize you with the beauty of old architecture and the nightlife will leave you in awe of the place. Here, in Shimla, the old vs new debate is ever ongoing. Here, at Shimla, there is beauty in everything. What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and plan your Shimla trip TODAY!