Shimla is our first stop in the state of Himachal Pradesh in the India leg of our trip. Being the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, It is a popular destination among foreigner and local tourists. During the British Raj, the British began to visit this Hill station as a refuge from the summer heat. They decided to declare Shimla as the summer capital in India and referred it as the 'Queen of the Hills'.
Shimla is located in the north-west Himalayas wrap in forest of pine and oak tree providing a pleasant cool weather during summers and snow in winters. I was surprised when I first saw this city as I don't feel like I'm in India. The town is dotted with neo-gothic tudorbethan style structures giving an old-fashioned atmosphere, showcasing the colonial texture of the city.
KALKA ' SHIMLA Toy Train
The only way to Shimla by train is the Kalka-Shimla rail route, which has completed 100 years offers the charm of old-world travel amidst lofty pines and lush green, misty mountains. It is a great way to get to Shimla. The rail line begins its climb almost immediately after its departure from the Kalka railway station. The zigzag road through the mountains offers a very spectacular scenery. You can also jump off while it stops on the way and grab some foods and chai (tea). In 2008, the Kalka-Shimla Railway was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the World Heritage Site Mountain Railways of India.
The Mall Road
A great place to shop and do people watching is at The Mal Road. It is a fascinating road full of amazing and interesting structures from the past. This is where you can find shops selling souvenirs, shawls, foods and other stuff. You can also see locals showcasing their wonderful clothes, Gorkha soldiers, Hindu men with ash-daubed foreheads and orange robes, and some Tibetan refugees. It is a great place to relax and enjoy the ambiance.
The statue of monkey God, Hanuman can be seen all around the ridge area and from other places on the way to Shimla. This statue is situated in Jakhoo hill where the Jakhoo Temple of Shimla is located. From the Ridge, it is a 2 kilometers uphill climb. The steep and hilly ascent to the temple is worth the climb because the scenic view on top is absolutely breath taking. Be warned that there are so many wild monkeys roaming free around this area.
The Ridge road is a large open space alongside the Mall Road, It is located in the heart of Shimla. This serves as a venue for various festivals and events.
The Christ Church is located on The Ridge and standing on foot of the hill. It is the second oldest church in Northern India. Inside the church there are lots of images from the days of the raj and surrounded by stained glass windows.
These are just few of the many things to see in Shimla. This popular hill station which was once a summer retreat of the British in India is a must visit if you have plans of going to Northern India.