The Himalayas don’t offer an easy passage up their slopes, but in Shimla you discover that they do offer tutorials in living and loving. Have you ever imagined how life would be to wake up to the smell of cedar and pine, Himalayan Mona chirping around and that English cottage overlooking the Nanda Devi Range? We welcome you to the erstwhile British Summer Capital, Shimla.
Shimla is a small city, so you can mostly make your way around by foot. Keep in mind though that almost everywhere you go, you will be climbing up or down steep slopes. The station and the airport both have taxi services that will take you to the city Centre. Buses also ply along the circular road. Shimla Taxi Service or Savaari are couple of well-known taxi service providers.
Buzzing with shops and restaurants, The Mall is the primary promenade in Shimla. For that quick shopping, The Mall houses emporiums and showrooms selling shawls, woollen, jewellery and books. At one end of it is the city’s colourful local market, called Lakkar Bazaar, where you can bargain for wooden handicrafts. The Mall Road ends at Scandal Point, which has been named after the exploits of the Maharaja of Patiala. With that view of the valley, it is a treat to the mountain lovers.
Close to the Mall is State Museum and Library which displays over 10,000 artefacts ranging from Coins, sculptures, paintings to ancient books, and even writings by Mahatma Gandhi.
Visit the Viceregal Lodge, the former residence of the Viceroy of India, which also served as the Rashtrapati Niwas or summer retreat for the President. Currently home to the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, the lodge’s sprawling grounds have a lovely Botanical Garden.
Shimla has got its own Madame Tussauds and it deserves mention. Displaying life-sized wax figures of Indian and international icons, Johnnie’s Wax Museum is an interesting spot to visit.
Christ Church is the second church to have been built in all of North India and is worth a visit for its intricate stained-glass windows. Shimla has some beautiful temples including Tara Devi temple and Hanuman temple at Sankat Mochan.
With dense forest, lush deodar and surrounding pine tree, Chadwick Falls is another must-visit. Himalayan Bird Park is an ideal attraction for nature and bird lovers. Open only during the summers, one can spot a variety of exotic and native birds here.
Finally, visit Summer Hill located 5km from the ridge of Shimla. Carpeted by lush greens, this place is breathtakingly beautiful.
Shimla’s dining scene may lack in fancy gourmet fare, most of these restaurants make up in character, having squatted for several decades on Mall Road. Indian Coffee House is an icon. Tourists and locals sip hot coffee and south Indian fare and relish the Raj-aura. Sample some desi-khana at Combermere’s Café Sol. A family restaurant by day, The Devicos is city’s most historic eatery. Baljee’s & Fascination is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and snack shop rolled into one and one of the oldest restaurants in Shimla.
This premium hotel boasts of rooms with colonial touch and view of the valley. A coffee shop, boutique, gym, and outdoor infinity whirlpool open to guests.
Where: Charabra, Shimla
Hotel Willow Banks
If you are keen to stay around The Mall, Hotel Willow Banks is best bet. Well-equipped rooms, beauty salon, recreation room, gym and fine dining restaurant keep the stay luxurious.
Where: The Mall Road Tourism Lift, Himachal Pradesh
Call: 98160 76512
Hotel East Bourne
Quite popular with the honeymooners, Hotel East Bourne is welcoming. Apart from aesthetically designed rooms, an indoor pool with a swim-up bar and restaurant overlooking the peaks are added attractions.
Where: Nigam Vihar, Khalini, Shimla
Call: 0177 6613333
While you are attending the mountain call, Shimla is gifted with quick getaways around. Get to know these yet-to-be explored hill stations:-
To Reach: Located about 15 kms from Shimla, one can avail buses from Shimla.
To See: Nestled amidst the Himalayan Range, Kufri is the oldest skiing slope and favourite among trekkers. The Kufri Diary features camping in the Himalayan Nature Park, hiking through the deodar forests to Mahasu peak or even pony rides in the Indira Tourist Park. Do not miss the Winter Trekking Festival.
Kufri Holiday Resort
Kufri Holiday Resort presents Himachali-designed rooms and winning amenities.
Where: Mahasu peak, Kufri Hills, Near Chini Bunglow, Kufri
Galleu Hill Resort
The Swiss-style resort is a budget property. The stay is perfectly equipped for comfort and retains old world charm.
Where: Kufri Fagu Road, National Highway 22, New Kufri
To Reach: Merely 2 hours drive from Shimla, regular government and private buses are available.
To See: Home to the world’s highest cricket ground, Chail used to be the summer capital of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, an avid cricket lover. Maggi meal at Sadhupul Lake Restaurant, visit to the hilltop Kali ka Tibba and meeting vivid birds at Chail Wildlife Sanctuary pack this trip. Visit Chail Gurudwara during Baisakhi or Guruparab.
Well-furnished stay with fine dining options gives you refuge from the routine life. For your outdoor fill, playground with hammocks work great along with the long walks and trekking.
Where: Chail Road, Village DUNU, Solan
Where: The Palace Road, Chail
To Reach: Situated at a distance of 75 km from Shimla and just over an hour’s drive from Chandigarh via the newly opened Himalayan Expressway.
To See: Kasauli is home to gabled colonial-era houses, orchards and green-roofed Christ Church, from the mid-19th century. Monkey Point overlooks forests of horse chestnut and Himalayan oak. Nearby, the Gilbert Nature Trail winds through lush green countryside rich in birdlife. Soak up serenity at the Sunrise and Sunset point. History-lovers, drop by Gurkha Fort which houses 180-year old canons.
Well-furnished cottages (each with fireplace) nestled amidst 5 acres of pine forest sums up your stay. Private balconies embrace the Kasauli hills and the glasshouse bar is gifted with the wondrous view.
Where: Village Chabbal, P.O. Garkhal, Tehsil Kasauli, Solan
Glenview ResortThis place provides a seductive combination of absolute seclusion, spectacular scenery and five-star comfort. Spa, infinity pool and dedicated kids zone keep the getaway refreshing.
Where: Kimughat – Sari Road, Kasauli
To Reach: Located about 25kms from Shimla and the drive is scenic.
To See: Naldehra, the quiet hamlet along with its spruce pines, plum trees and the oldest golf course in India, come with that uncharted beauty. Apart from long walks through pine-lined roads, excursions to picnic spots or the discovery of old English-style cottages, you can visit Mahunag Temple, dedicated to the snake god. Sipi Fair, a festival of matchmaking is must-attend. Shaily peak is idyllic for trekkers. River rafting at Chabba is yet another outdoor activity to look out for.
You cannot help but fall for The Chalets, India’s very own Scandinavian Log Homes. With a view of the valley, this place is apt for recreation, adventure and golf.
Where: Durgapur, Naldehra, Shimla
Where: Shimla- 1 Km short of The Golf Course SH 13 Naldehra
To Reach: 60 kms from Shimla, Narkanda is on the National Highway connecting Shimla to Kinnaur. Regular buses are available from Shimla.
To See: When you are glad to get away from people, Narkanda seems to beckon. The winter skiing destination is home to Shimla’s second highest peak, Hatu Peak. Hatu trek is a walk to remember in the alpine of Himalayas. Say a little prayer at the hill-top Hatu Mata Temple or the Mahamaya Temple. Pick apples at the orchards and also get treated to fruity wine for all the hard work!!!
Rustic cottage with wood-fired pizzas, guided orchard walks and bonfire-this is where you need to be this summer. The mountain air and the view may just be the world.
Where: Kotgarh Narkanda, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
The Wilderness Resort
Surrounded by Cedar woods, Cherry and Apple Orchards, this holiday resort makes for a sleepy stay. It is owned by apple growers who intend to give you taste of nature, undiluted.
Where: Tannijubbar, Narkanda
The whistling woods, the pure wind splashing freshness on to you, the beauty of the terrain….. Just calls for a retreat!