Reasons to visit Shimla are far too many. This beautiful hill station has been witnessing a spurge in the number of Indian and foreign visitors flocking the land on an annual basis. Shimla is popularly known as the “Queen of Hills” and the title is well earned and deserved.
Reasons to visit Shimla are so many that even a full-length blog will not suffice to elaborate on the travel experience in this part of North India. However by means of the current write up, I will endeavour to enlist the best travel reasons to visit the ‘Queen of Hills.’
As you take a walk amidst nature in Shimla town, you will feel a freshness in the air around. You will be enchanted by the chirping birds and the natural melody around. You will feel inspired by the native hill culture and the love with which the residents of this town will greet you.
Best Reasons to Visit Shimla – The Queen of Hills
Shimla has been a significant place throughout modern Indian history. The British impact on the culture, architecture and general lifestyle of people here is all quite prominent. Also, the stroll culture that begins at Mall Road and ends at some delectable eatery.
Shimla is a magnificent hill town. You should plan for traveling to Shimla soon to experience all the good things. Visit Shimla once and you will be sure to visit here again. It won’t be incorrect to call it the mountain Queen in all magnificence. There are numerous numbers of reasons to visit Shimla. However, at this point in time, the ones that instantly come to my mind are the following thirteen reasons.
|1. Ride your way through the rock-cut trails of the Shimla Toy Train|
|2. Discover nature at its finest|
|3. Find wonderful attractions to explore|
|4. Take a walk through the pine forests|
|5. Make a historic connect with places|
|6. Gaze at the Elizabethan style architecture|
|7. Go on a morning stroll to observe some amazing wildlife|
|8. Feel the amalgamation of both adventure and lazy inactivity|
|9. Get a glimpse of Theatre and some memorable performances|
|10. Enjoy the year-round pleasant weather|
|11. Witness the land turning white during winters|
|12. Connect with the super loving locals|
|13. Relish baked goods, snacks and coffee at the most delectable cafes|
1. Ride your way Through the Rock Cut Trails of the Shimla Toy Train
One of the first reasons to visit Shimla is the opportunity to travel through the slow-paced yet extremely cute and comfortable Toy Train. The majestic Toy Train will embrace you to a royal welcome and invite you to be a part of the lovely journey from Kalka to Shimla.
You can also choose to travel via the Rail Car. This is a one wagon vehicle and is faster than the Toy Train. I can vouch for the fact that you must have never experienced something like the Rail Car.
If you’re one of those people who would love to ride through the trails through rock cut mountains and witness nature, you will most certainly hop on to the Toy Train or the Rail Car without a blink
Your journey will begin with the tunnels that open up into the wonderful landscape. On the route between Kalka and Shimla, there are 108 tunnels which were possible due to the manual tracking of a native man – Mr Balku. He made it a point to let the Britishers (who ruled India that time) know of the possibility of constructing numerous tunnels. It is due to his efforts that the Kalka Shimla rail line is a possibility today.
You will experience wonderful moments as you cross the tunnels. You will hear your own echo as you ride through them. You will exclaim more and more joy as tunnels close in and will finally cross by Tunnel number 108. The one that opens up into the glorious, ever shining Shimla. It will thrill you beyond measure.
While planning your trip, each time you had visualized your journey, the natural scene outside the Toy Train would have been your visual construct. Your mental imagery will now turn real and you will be able to view Shimla in all its splendour. This will brighten you up.
2. Discover Nature at its Finest
Shimla has been most deserving to have won the title of the “Queen of Hills” in the past. Till this day, the title justifies this wondrous hill town. Shimla lies literally in the lap of nature. The colour green is what defines it in every way. If you’re unable to find enough reasons to visit Shimla, make this one a part of your list.
The canopy of shrubs and herbs is visible throughout. In the backdrop of this canopy stands tall the age-old pine trees. Most of them are hundreds of years old. They have stood the test of time and continue to bless Shimla with grace and beauty.
The landscape of Shimla is made ethereal because of trees like Pine, Deodar and Spruce. The cones present on these trees add to the natural aroma of the breeze blowing across the town. Also, these trees provide Shimla with a natural cover that is enjoyed by travelers throughout the year.
3. Find Wonderful Attractions to Explore
As you step in Shimla, you will delve into a world of beauty and magnificence. The crown of natural opulence on the Queen will enthrall you as you begin exploring the attractions in and around Shimla. Some of these places have been featured in Indian movies. So it is likely that you must have seen them before on the celluloid. But it’s time to explore them in real on your trip.
Sightseeing attractions within Shimla like the Mall Road, Jakho Hills, Viceregal Lodge, Shimla British Resort, Clarkes, Woodville Palace, Annadale etc. in all their splendidness will welcome you. The places slightly outside Shimla like Kufri, Naldhera, Mashobra and Fagu will also embrace you.
You can begin your Shimla tour from Mall Road. Take a stroll there, maybe sip some hot coffee and venture out for more adventure. If you’re fit, walk up the steep hill to reach Jakhu Temple. Else, hop on to the newly constructed rope-way and observe the city from the transparent glass as you climb higher and higher.
When you reach Jakhu, pay your respect to the deity in the temple and stand in awe of the deity’s tallest statue erected there. The statue is bright orange in colour and is easily seen from distances even on the outskirts of Shimla.
Moving down the hill slope now, you will reach the Ridge. Hang out here, eat a light snack and walk up to ‘Lakkar Bazaar’ – The wooden market. Shop for some creatively made wooden artefacts. You can even have your loved ones’ names or your own name carved on these artefacts.
The days that remain of your trip should be spent in exploring places like the Viceregal lodge within Shimla and the delights on the outskirts like Kufri and Naldhera.
4. Take a Walk Through the Pine Forests
Your trip will not be deemed as complete if you do not take a walk through the Pine forests. Shimla has numerous forests within as well as outside the main territory. In fact, Shimla itself is one big Pine forest.
Make sure to take a walk amidst the lush greenery and peaceful environment. You can either take the Heritage walk from Clarks to Viceregal Lodge or just stroll in and around the Forest Road (starting from behind the Mall)
Those of you don’t mind getting cramps can even venture towards the Shimla British Resort from the Mall Road. Keep going further and you will reach the bottom of the hill. There you will discover a comforting green ground – Annadale.
Annadale is the official helipad for the armed forces of the region as well as for Government officials. It has been constructed in the middle of the Pine forests and has some residential colonies coming up in recent years. .
Admire the tall trees, greenery around, and climb your way up.
Make a Historic Connect with Places
The various sightseeing places in Shimla are wrought deep in history. They have been places of great historic significance. The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, commonly known as the Viceregal Lodge is one such place.
The Viceregal Lodge was known by this name from 1888 A.D to 1946 A.D. At that time, it was the summer residence of the Indian Viceroy who governed India from here during the summer months. Great beings like Mahatma Gandhi have been here. In fact, he even spent some time in prison here (that jail is still present here). The Viceregal Lodge has also been a venue of significant historic events such as the Shimla Conference.
After India became independent, the honourable Vice President S. Radhakrishnan and the honourable Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal officially registered the Viceregal Lodge as the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS). This was done with the intent of providing an environment suitable for academic research in humanities, social and natural sciences. Thousands of scholars from all the world have been ‘Fellows’ here.
The Indian Institute of Advanced Study will mesmerize you by its regal look and will take you back in time. The lush green lawns around will capture all your moments. Make sure to click some decent pictures here. It will be a while until you find another place like this. Also, take an inside tour here at a mere 40 INR per person.
6. Gaze at the Elizabethan Style Architecture
Shimla is blessed historically with some fine architecture. Since the Britishers had made Shimla their summer capital, their early influence on major buildings is still quite prominent.
For travelers who are lovers of art and architecture, one of the top reasons to visit Shimla should be the unique structure of monuments and other buildings here. Some of these buildings are Government offices now, while others are schools, colleges and even hospitals.
The most prominent building carved in rich Elizabethan style architecture is the Christ Church located on the Ridge above the Mall Road. It’s light pastel yellow in colour and is symbolically seen as a major landmark of the Queen of Hills.
The church has glass windows that are stained in colour. The colours represent hope, charity, faith, fortitude, patience, and humanity. There’s an age-old heritage clock on the outside of the church. It had stopped recently but has now been made functional. You can enter the Christ Church on Sundays and special occasions.
More prominent examples of the Elizabethan structure are the Viceregal Lodge (discussed in detail above), the Gorton Castle (now functioning as the Accountant Generals Office), The Oberoi Cecil, Wild Flower Hall, Kennedy House, Shimla Heritage Museum, General Post Office, the Railway Board Building and the Raj Bhavan (official resident of the honourable Governor of Himachal Pradesh).
7. Go on a Morning Stroll to Observe Some Amazing Wildlife
A very valid reason to visit Shimla should be to observe some unique fauna in its natural habitat. However, the wildlife will not be easily accessible in the core of Shimla town. You will have to venture around slightly outwards, either towards the Summer Hill area or towards the Prospect Hill or even towards the Dalhie region.
Summer Hill lies at a distance of about 2.5 kms from the Mall Road. Camp theirs at Potter’s Hill or elsewhere and make sure to rise early morning. Take a stroll around the region and you are sure to catch a lovely glimpse of more than 9 varieties of birds, Deers, Muntjacs, Wild Hens, Hares, Jackals, Foxes, Langurs, and even Wolves (although the wolves are a rare sighting).
If you stay in and around Prospect Hill or the Dalhie region, you might even come across leopards during early dawn or late night. I need to mention here that hunting wildlife or poaching in any form is illegal. So do not indulge in such activities. It’s time we start respecting our environment and preserve the ecosystem.
In case you’ve not been able to spot any wildlife or are not an early riser, visit the animal parks and sanctuaries nearby. The closest ones are located at Kufri and Chail.
8. Feel the Amalgamation of Both Adventure and Lazy Inactivity
Shimla happens to provide the perfect blend of adventure and inactivity. Hence a lot of travelers find this to be one of the most practical reasons to visit Shimla.
While adventure lovers can explore activities like trekking, camping, hiking, ice skating (during winters) and skiing (during winters), the more easy-going travelers can spend quality time in this hill town amidst nature and by gazing at its beauty.
Most of the adventure activities are provided both in as well as on the outskirts of Shimla. Places like Kufri offer winter sports, Naldhera offers golfing opportunity, while Chail offers trekking opportunity. For hiking and camping fans, Potter’s Hill in Summer Hill will prove to be a good option.
The nature gazers can spend hours and hours strolling along the zig-zag trails, enjoying some authentic Shimla baked goods and immersing themselves in the songs of chirping cuckoos and high flying hawks.
9. Get a Glimpse of Theatre and Witness Some Memorable Performances
Shimla has been endowed with a culture that promotes the visual arts. Gaiety Theatre located on the Ridge enriches the audience with some fine performances and seasonal events. It has been named after the famous Gaiety Theater of London.
Henry Irwin has designed the Gaiety Theatre originally. This same talented man also designed the Viceregal Lodge. A wooden board of the Amateur Dramatics Club (ADC) can be seen hanging on the door to the upper level of the Gaiety Theater.
The Amateur Dramatics Club hosts a number of plays till this date. In fact, some of the finest performances on stage have been given by actors of the ADC.
This isn’t just a place for plays and events (although they comprise the most important aspects here). Gaiety Theatre is also symbolic of the social life of Shimla and its inmates.
It has withstood the tests of time and has recently been renovated with brand new architecture and material.
10. Enjoy the Year Round Pleasant Weather
Shimla is one of the very rare regions of India that is blessed with pleasant weather all year round. Since it lies in a temperate region as opposed to a tropical one (like most other parts of India), the weather is always a balanced one. There are no extreme summers or extreme winters. This makes for one of the top reasons to visit Shimla for most of the travelers.
During summers, there happens to be an influx from travelers from scorching hot regions from around the world. During winters, Shimla witnesses a high footfall from travelers owing to the snowfall. In fact, many visitors plan their trip during the Christmas – New Year season in an expectation of seeing Shimla turn white.
11. Witness the Land Turning White during Winters
What can be more endearing than seeing snowflakes falling from the sky? Witnessing the snowflakes fall from high above will make you stand in awe of mother nature.
The entire terrain of Shimla town turns white during snowfall. The glimmering street lights fading onto freshly fallen snow or the dark green Pine trees transforming into white colour gives a sense of wonder to the beholder.
Traveling to the ‘Queen of Hills’ when it turns white is one of the best travel reasons to visit Shimla for anyone. You can not only capture nature at its finest but also try some winter sports such as ice skating and skiing.
12. Connect with the Super Loving Locals
Shimla as a travel destination doesn’t just comprise of beautiful places to visit but also beautiful souls. The local inmates of this hill town will go up to any length to help you out in case you’re stuck.
The people of Shimla are affectionate, compassionate and kind. They are simple minded and don’t believe in harming others. As a traveler you feel quite safe in Shimla. Also, nobody will judge you in case you’re traveling solo (including women).
The comforting and warm hearted people of the region who will welcome you with open arms in their Dev Bhoomi (Land of Gods) should you provide you with ample reasons to visit Shimla. I mean how many places can you travel in India where people are so good-natured and civil ?
Visit Shimla once and the people here will make you their own forever.
13. Relish Baked Goods and Snacks at the Most Delectable Cafes
No trip can fully be enjoyed without savouring the locally prepared delicacies. If you’re in this hill town, one of the important travel reasons to visit Shimla should be to relish the baked goods, desserts and unique snacks.
While in Shimla, make sure to visit the ‘Wake and Bake Cafe,’ ‘Cafe Sol,’ ‘Shimla Times Cafe,’ ‘Aunties Kitchen,’ ‘Krishna Bakers,’ ‘Trishul Bakers’ and ‘Beekays.’ All these places will offer you a wonderful variety of snacks and other edible goods.
At Krishna Bakers, try this snack known as ‘Kurkeys.’ It’s their unique recipe and is not to be found anywhere else in north India. At Aunties’ Kitchen, try the most authentic Chinese and Tibetan food. It’s a small but super delightful eatery run by a third-generation Chinese woman. At Beekays, try nominal but the best pizzas of Shimla town. Their Barbecued Pizza is a hit among travellers.
Cafe Sol, Wake and Bake Cafe and Cafe Shimla Times will offer you a very punk ambience along with a decent variety of snacks and drinks. At Cafe Shimla Times, there’s a musical show each night performed by local artists.
Best Travel Reasons to Visit Shimla during Summers
One of the important travel reasons to visit Shimla during summers should be the local art and culture festival. It is popularly known as the ‘Shimla Summer Festival’ and has performances by both local as well as national level artists (including some famous Bollywood names).
Also, a beauty pageant for the selection on ‘Miss Shimla’ is conducted at the end of the festival.
The entrance fees to the festival are quite nominal, the security is high and the timing extends past midnight.
Best Travel Reasons to Visit Shimla during Winter
Even though I’ve mentioned Shimla turning white before, I’d like to point it out again. After all, it isn’t every day that you can witness snow falling from the sky on the ground below you. Watching snowflakes fall is not only serene but gorgeous.
When the land sparkles white, there is a strange sense of quietude and peace. A lot of people feel that winters mean extreme temperatures in Shimla. But that is not the case. Once the snow falls, the sun rises the next morning to impart warmth and more light to the land. Also, the snow turns into ice and you should ensure not walking on it. Else, you’ll slip and injure yourself badly.
Best Travel Reasons to Visit Shimla during Spring
When the winters are over in Shimla and nature starts blooming again, you have got to pack your bags and visit. This should be one of your good enough reasons to visit Shimla.
It needs to be said here that while the rest of India faces the heat from the sun at the beginning of spring, Shimla lies at peace with a really pleasant climate.
The first sign of approaching spring is the presence of Rhododendron flowers on trees. Their petals mark the roads red and give them a royal look. Be sure to taste some edible items prepared from these flowers. They are available at HPMC counters throughout Shimla and elsewhere.
Essential Information for Travelers Visiting Shimla
If you’ve made up your mind and have found my best travel reasons to visit Shimla satisfactory, here’s some essential information that should be known by each visitor to the region.
|Location – The north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh|
|Available modes of travel – Buses, trains and flights|
|Accessibility to Travelers – All the year-round|
|Level of safety – Moderate to high|
|Accommodation options – Hotels, guest houses and homestays|
|Internal transport options – Public transport, Ola cabs and state-run taxis|
|Top travel tip – Do not tease or feed monkeys at any cost. They are dangerous.|
I hope all the reasons to visit Shimla that have been mentioned in my blog above convince you to plan a trip to my home town. Make a connect with nature and go exploring the region. Always respect the mountains and the surrounding ecosystem. We will cease to exist if we interfere with nature. So let us all make an endeavour to preserve the sanctity of Shimla so that it stays green and clean for all times to come.