Also popularly called as Queen of Hills, Shimla is unarguably the most popular hill station in India. It attracts people of all age with similar enthusiasm. It is a perfect getaway for people wanting to escape the heat all year. Right from colonial architecture, to winter sports, to hiking camping avenues, to Himalayan Ranges to gaze at, Shimla has it all. Shimla is not only a romantic destinations for couples, it is also a great destination to travel with friends, and a laid back destination for families. Its close proximity to Delhi, makes it easily accessible especially for North Indians. In this blog we have listed top things to do in Shimla.
Riding the Kalka to Shimla Toy Train, which was started by the British, is a must have experience when visiting Shimla. It was started in 1903, and even to this date, it amazes its passengers with the sheer beauty around. The entire track and the journey it covers are listed as UNESCO World Heritage site. The toy train runs for approximately 96 KM, and takes around 5 and a half hours to complete the journey. It passes through 20 stations, 103 tunnels, 800 bridges, and 900 breathtaking curves.
Everything that this toy train passes through makes the journey beautiful. All along the way you will encounter Deodar and Oak forests, springing water falls, beautiful valleys and historic train stations right out from by gone days. The toy train runs on a narrow gauge, and at the each of the stations you can relish their beauty during the stop along with enjoying tea and snacks.
There are three tourist trains that run on this iconic Shimla Kalka route named as Rani Motor Car, Shivalik Deluxe Express, and Himalayan Queen. You can book its ticket directly at the counter or through IRCTC website.
Ridge is the cultural hub of Shimla is a wide open street that connects Scandal Point to Lakkar Bazaar on opposite ends. Ridge of Shimla is also the most photographed wide open street. It is a perfect place to grab a cup of coffee, or hot chocolate, while relishing the views of British and Gothic architectural buildings surrounding it. During winters snow covers the street and it becomes ideal for nature lovers. The ridge also offers uninterrupted views of Shivalik Range, and is a great spot for photographers.
It is also popular for hosting Shimla Summer Festival, which is spread out in five days, and consists of musical performances, folk performances, handicrafts exhibitions, and fashion shows. The best thing about this street is that vehicles are not allowed, making it pollution free, and a place where you can chill.
Historically Ridge used to be commercial, and market place of the old small town, before the British made Shimla their administration headquarters. If you are traveling with children then they will sure like the horse rides.
Lakkar Bazaar is popular for street shopping where you can buy wooden handicrafts, and souvenirs to take back home. It is located in close proximity to the mall Road of Shimla, and the Ridge of Shimla. It is also popular for its woolen products like Pashmina Shawls and Kullu Shawls. The other items that dominate the stores in this market are handmade shoes, Tibetan Mats, and Chinese shoes. The market is not only known for buying clothes and handicrafts but is also home to some culinary spots.
One of the very popular eateries in this market is the Sita Ram restaurant where you can eat lip smacking Chole Bhature and Aloo Tikkis. For people that are seeking some entertainment there is also an old cinema hall in the market that you can choose to visit. Historically this market was started by Sikh carpenters who migrated to Shimla and started selling wooden toys.
Some of the most common items that are sold in the Lakkar Bazaar are key chains, pots, candle stands, wooden figurines that you can use to decorate your home. The walking sticks of this market are also very popular.
Mall Road is located in the heart of the town, and this is the place where you will get to see the local life in action. The best thing about Mall Road is that vehicles except the emergency ones are not allowed here, making it a perfect spot to stroll and walk. Mall Road is the most popular, and the most busiest shopping area of Shimla. The place is studded with all kind of stores, be them branded outlets, or quaint cafes, or bustling bakeries and restaurants.
Here you can buy jewelry, woolen clothes, handicrafts, rugs, pottery, and much more. You can also choose to hop on to one of the many cafes and restaurants located on mall road to have a bite or have a sip while admiring the eauty of this market place. Remember to bargain when sealing a deal on Mall Road.
On Mall Road you will also find the Municipal Corporation, fire service, and police headquarters buildings, and must we tell you that all of them are spectacular. The best thing about this spot is that it has something or the other for every one.
Jakhu Temple of Shimla is situated on Jakhu Hill and it is at an elevation of 2455 meters above sea level. The temple site is surrounded by Deodar Forests, and to perfect its beauty there are snow covered Shivalik mountain Ranges in the backdrop, making it picturesque. To reach Jakhu temple you will have to to take a 2 km trek from Shimla Ridge. You will have to walk carefully escaping the mischievous monkeys who could snatch your belongings, and they will if you are not cautious.
On the summit of the Jakhu Hill there is the Jakhu Temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman with his idol 108 feet tall. It is also one of the tallest idols of Lord Hanuman in the world. It is a devotional site and if you are traveling to Shimla you can make a quick stop over here. The hill summit is also popular for the scenic sun set and sun rise views.
The temple is also adorned with several paintings depicting the tales of Lord Hanuman during Ramayana. As per the mythical legends it is believed that Lord Hanuman rested here on his quest to seek Sanjeevini Booti.
Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS)
Also known as Viceregal Lodge or Rashtrapati Niwas, this place is one of the most celebrated research institutions of the country. In 19th Century it was residence of Lord Dufferin. Vice Regal Lodge was the summer residence of the Indian Viceroy, the authority that ruled the entire Indian Sub Continent during the period of 1888 and 1946. This particular building has witnessed many important meetings of British Officials that have changed the course of Indian history.
Its architecture is of Victorian style and this place also now has a museum that showcases British Colonial times through antiques and Pictures. Worth seeing are also the lawns over here, that are very well maintained since the times it has been the lodge for viceroy. In present times only few of the rooms of this building are accessible by visitors.
Every thing about Vice Regal Lodge is very picturesque, but sadly visitors are not allowed to take pictures from the inside. If you are planning to tour this place then you must visit it couple of hours prior because of the rush and their touring system.
Ice Skating Club
Ice skating is a popular sports in Shimla, and thanks to this club that has fostered this sports. This club is almost 100 years old, and is the largest ice skating rink in India. It is also Asia’s only open air skating rink. The birth of this ice skating rink took place accidentally when an English man Mr. Blessington, noticed that his tennis court was all frozen with the water flowing from tap. Since that winter he started using his avenue as a skating rink. The skating season over here starts in December and lasts up till late February.
The ice skating gears can be rented from the club. It is not only popular amidst locals but also with the tourists. The club also hosts many tournaments, and competitions, during skating season. It is an experience that you should not miss. When visiting this ice skating rink you should not miss to bring your camera along for the pictures of the breath taking scenic views from the rink.
The ice skating rink of Shimla also hosts matches of ice hockey, which is an absolutely delightful experience to indulge in. Couple that are travelling to Shimla must visit here for skating and to make some memories.
Surrounded by Cedar Trees, this Army Heritage Museum is one of the finest in Army Culture. The complex comprises of a Golf Course, playground, Cactus Museum, and the Indian Army Museum. It houses army uniforms, along with artillery used in the colonial times. It also has world war memorials, related to Indian Soldiers that fought on the British side. Some of the collections of this Army museum will take you back to the 2500 BC. The Annandale Museum also pays tribute to the great warriors of India like Maharana Pratap.
In the museum you will also find the collections in the memory of the 1971 war and the Kargil War. The museum also houses the surrender letter of Pakistan from 1971 war. The premises of the museum also consist of a cafe where you can have a sip of coffee or have a quick bite. Locals regard this heritage museum as a perfect picnic spot.
If you are visiting Shimla, and want to feel proud about being an Indian, while witnessing the battle bravery of Indian Army, then this spot must be on your itinerary. It is very different from all the touristy spots of Shimla.
Skiing on the hills of Kufri is one of the most popular things to do in Shimla. It is also known as the winter sports capital of Shimla. Located at a distance of 13 km from main town, it is visited by most of Shimla travelers. It is located at an altitude of 2622 Meters, and in winters it is all covered in snow making its scenery breath taking. The thick forests of Pine and Deodar that surround Kufri add more beauty to its landscape. Kufri also hosts a winter sports festival in the month of February.
Kufri is also home to the Himalayan National Park which boasts of its flora n fauna, rich wildlife, and plenty of trekking avenues. In close proximity to Kufri is the Kufri Fun world which is one of the highest amusement parks in the world. It also has Go Karting tracks where you can make some fun memories with your friends.
The donkey rides to the summit of the Kufri is widely enjoyed by the travelers, because of the bumpy journey. One of the most popular activities here is the tobogganing which sliding downhill on the snow.
Christ Church of Shimla is built in the Neo Gothic style of architecture by the British. It was constructed to meet the praying needs of British Christians and the Anglo Indian population which resided in Shimla. Christ Church is one of the most popular spots in Shimla, because of its stunning architecture, and strategic location which is at the end of the Mall Road. Historically, it is also the second oldest church in North India. Back in time, Christ Church was regularly visited the viceroy and noble men of the British regime.
Locals and Tourists, alike come to this church to praise the stained glass windows, Sanctuary Wall Fresco, and out of their faith to light a candle after the prayers. The stained glass windows of the Church denotes the virtue of Christianity, like faith, hope, patience, charity, fortitude, and humanity. It also houses a large pipe organ which is over 100 years old.
Interestingly the Sanctuary Wall Fresco of the church was designed by Lockwood Kipling who was the father of the renowned author Rudyard Kipling. The church also houses many paintings that depict the story of Jesus Christ’s life.
All hills have a story to tell!