of Shimla started from Stately Windsor Castle where the "Widow
of Windsor" reigned in lonely, isolated splendour after the death of
her beloved consort, Prince Albert, to the small, but ancient temple
surrounded by thick woods where the himalayan Goddess, Shamla, a synonym
of Kali, reigned her celestial realm on earth is indeed, distant cry, but
for well over a century, the two places, almost inter-linked, ruled the
destiny of this sub-continent. In the year 1818, when Queen Victoria's
uncle, William IV, was King of England, Lord William Bentick,the Governer
General, had transformed the Company's dominion in India to the Dominion
of India, and it was accurate to speak of Britain's Indian Empire. The
frontier ran from bengal to Kathiawar, to the north it ran through the
Thar desert and along the Sutlej nearly to the Himalayan range. The great
hills were the northern boundary except for the Gurkha state of Nepal.
Beyond this line lay the Punjab, Kashmir and the kingdom of Afghanistan.
In 1814, the Nepalese king brought about the first war with Nepal over
Sikkim, the Gurkhas had marched into Sikkim, whose ruler appealed, to the
East India Company for help. The Sikkim ruler was installed and his
territorial status was guaranteed but during the conflict the British
discovered the beauties of Darjeeling and accidentally also the thickly
wooded spot, abode of the goddess Shamla, and a part of the Kingdom of
Nepal. When war broke afresh in 1819, the British took the place with its
cool and healthy climate. Shimla is capital of Himachal Pradesh.
The city's main shopping centre and promenade packed with clubs, theaters,
restaurants and bars, it houses shops filled with the latest in fashion,
from Bond Street, benares, or bambay. As the town grew, so cam elarge
stores like Whiteway and Laidelaw, the Army and Navy Stores, Ranken
Brothers and others. this was the seat of imperial power and mi'lady
demanded nothing but the best so laden ships came from over the seven seas
to cater ti Imperial tastes. It was impossible to import the London
theatre so the reproduction of teh Old Garrick. The Gaiety theatre, was
built staging Shakespeare, Marlowe, Agatha Christie, Noel Coward even T.S
Eliot; the players, amateurs could give even the most versatile seasoned
stage star of the era, a run for his money. Young army officers and their
wives, they took to greasepaint and the boards like a duck takes to water.
The Green Room, inevtiably, turned into a social club. Soon elegant hotels
like Davico's, Wengers, Cecil and Clarke's came up providing drinks,
dinner and dance. The tea dance invariably led to the dinner dance at the
Davico's Ball room or at the Cecil Hotel, a short distance away. After a
rousing game of golf, or billiards on the Mall itself, it wa the thing
socially de regeur (proper) to sip a glass of cool bear in the filtering
sunlight at one of the hotels overlooking the avenue. This was SHimla's
past and this is Shimla's present. Life still follow the same pattern.
Everybody seems to on a holiday in Shimla. There is not mcuh to do in and
around town. After independence some of the ultra British stores moved
away, but the quality remains the same, indeed, even with a larger variety
of goods to delight the eye and taste. After shopping on the mall, the
road usually leady down the crooked alleys of the Middle and Lower bazar
below the Mall where hill-men display thier quaint creafts and other shops
offer merchandise to suit every pocket, every taste. Some find it fun to
haggle with the Tibetans, others look for unusual bargains and curios from
the old Viceregal Estate or the homes of departed British Officials,
Indian Estates and rare manuscripts, books, hand paintings, clocks and
many more at Maria Bros., or Book Emporium both at the Mall.
The Institute of Advanced Studies
Some come, however, for a seminar at the Institute of Advanced Studies,
housed appropriately in the magnificaent Rashtrapati Niwas, or the old
Viceregal Lodge, near Summer Hill, the scene of many a fun, frolic or
escapade, where, too, the fate of nationas was decided. Here in the vast
room, spacious gardens and ringed by formidable pines the discussions now
are on entirely different topics. All is calm, all is serene-just the
atmosphere carved by a student of world affair, be it, litereature, be it
For lovers of solitude, a short climb, early in the morning to
the summit of Jakhoo at a height of 2,438.4 metres and two kilometers east
of the town, towering over Shimla, rewards the climber with the glorious
spectacle of the sun rising over the eternal snows and a panoramic view of
Shimla spreadeagled below. Here, too is an old temple dedicated to the god
Hanuman, now also the home of countless playful monkeys waiting hopefully
to be fed by all the visitors.
Calm and tranquil,
11 km from the Shimla bus stand, Tara Devi has a temple dedicated to the
Goddess of the Stars on top of a hill. Developed by the British, it holds
the Military Dairy Farm, and the boy - scout head-quarters. At a height of
1,851 metres Tara Devi is an ideal place for the person seeking a rest
from the hectic life of Shimla.
Shimla State Museum
Overlooking the Institute of Advanced Studies and housed in a beautiful on
high ground, the Shimla State Museum was opened in 1974 and has growing
collection of 2,000 object d'art. It contains a rich collection of
paintings left with the family of Wazir Kartar Singh of Nurpur, Kangra. Of
the 144 paintings, two-thirds will be kept with the National Museum, New
Delhi and the remainder in the State Museum.
Annadale (Shimla's Playground)
Developed as teh playground of the capital, Annadale is as far down as
Jakhoo is up. At an altitude of 1,864 metres is 2.4 Km from the Ridge, in
the old days it was used for picnics, circket and the Gymknana races,
besides riding to the hounds. It is still a favourite spot for cricket,
picnics and the princely game of Polo.
For lovers of solitude, a short climb, early in the morning to the summit
of Jakhoo at a height of 2,438.4 metres and two kilometers (1 1/4) east of
the town, towering over Shimla, ewards the climber with the glorious
spectacle of the sun rising over the eternal snows and a panoramic view of
Shimla spreadeagled below. Here, too, is an old temple dedicated to the
god Hanuman, now also the home of countless playful monkeys waiting
hopefully to be fed by all the visitors.
The Glen Forests
Four kilometers from the Ridge and beyond Annandale a stream flows through
the densely forested Glen at an altitude of 1,830 metres. Here besides the
Bubbling stream of icy cold water, fresh from the melting snows, is a
delightful, seculded picnic sport. North-west of Shimla, it is approached
by two different routes, one near he Cecil Hotel and the other from the
Kennedy House, the first house to be erected in Shimla and now housing the
executive offices of the Himachal Government.
Situated at a distance of 5 km from the Ridge is the lovely suburb of
SUmmer Hill, at an altitude of 1,982 M and on the Shimla - Kalka railway
line. In these quiet surroundings with secluded shady walks, lived Mahatma
Gandhi during his visits to Shimla. The Mahatma lived in the elegant
Georgian house of Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur, daughter of the last ruler of the
Punjab, Maharaja Dalip Singh, and free India's first woman minister. She
held the Health Portfolio.
Seven kilometers (4.5 miles) west of the Ridge and beyond Summer Hill are
the silent Chadwick Falls. At an altitude of 1,586 metres, the 67 metres
falls were best in the Monsoon. A deep gorge was finely carved out by the
once falling waters, now dead.
A place of unique beauty is the oak and pine retreat of Mashobra, 9.6km
from Ridge at an altitude of 2,149metres (7,700 ft.), it is unbeatable for
an ideal interlude beneath oak and pine. To dream the night away and enjoy
the sylvan surroundings, is the equally beautiful rest house of Craignano
and the Circuit House of FairlLawns. On the top of the hill, for the
naturalists, it is considered to be among the most beautiful rest houses
in Shimla Hills.Just 3km from Mashobra, Craignano is at an height of
2,279metres (7,800 ft.). A winding path leads through the forest of pines
up a gentle incline to the breath taking beautiful gardens filled with an
abundance of flowers, amidst clumps of trees, in the spacious lawns, are
stone benches and lovely secluded picnic spots.
Kufri (Winter Sports Capital)
If Shimla is the summer capital per excellence, Kufri, 13 Km from the
Ridge, 16 Km fromthe bus stand, makes it the winter sports capital at an
altitude of 2,622 metres, it is ideal for skiing. the air is crisp,
invigorating and the snow, warm - Kufri is agog with activity, tourists,
in their thousands, have come from far and near to partake in the poetry
of motion, skiing. Fun form the very begining, the real sense of
exhilaration in the joyous sport comes along with the sense of
accomplishment that follows the first time one skis down a slope under
total control. Then come the ethereal joys of the downhill, the
exhilaration of speed and the intoxication of the control of onew nerves.
No dictionary has been able to define the joys and thrills of the game.
Surrounded by dense forest of pine and deodar and orchads of apple a
beautiful town is located at the height of 2708 meters,is about 64 km from
Shimla via Theog. Narkanda is also famous for skiing both for professional
as well as amateur. Himachal Tourism conducts short ski courses every year
from the month of January to March.
The panaromic nine hole golf course with its springy turf and surrounded
by deodar trees was laid out at the instace of the viceroy, ord Curzon.
Originaly called Nal Deo 23 km from Shimla .In every june Sipi Fair
celebrated here attended by gay and costumed villagers from all over the
Picturesquily located amid forests and apple orchads is a vantage point
with panoramic views of the higher ranges and valleys. Just 6 km from
Kufri and 22 km from Shimla Fagu is located at the height of 2509 meters.
Fagu has a rest house and tourist bungalow overlooking the Giri valley.
: Nine hole Golf Course at Naldhera, 23 km from Shimla.
: Trout fishing is available at Rohru 110 km from Shimla and at Seema 1 km
from Rohru. Mahaseer fishing is available at Tattapani 43 km from Shimla.
: The skiing season generally commences in the first fortnight of January
and continues till Mid-March depending upon snow conditions
: The Shimla-Kinnaur region offers some exciting trekking opportunities
a) Shimla to Kulu via Jaloni Pass (66 kms).
b) Shimla to Kulu via Bashleo Pass (56 kms).
c) Sarahen to Sangla (106 kms).
How to reach
has an airport, 22 km away, from the main city with regular flights to
Delhi. Chandigarh airport, 120 km away on the plains, has flights at more
regular intervals. The flights to Shimla may be called off, during the
winter months of December, January and February, so you will need to check
them up in advance.
Train: Broad-gauge trains run till Kalka, from all the parts of the
country. From Kalka onwards, a rail car on narrow gauge takes you to
Shimla which offers some fantastic sights. You can also take a bus from
Kalka to Shimla.
Bus: Shimla is connected by road to Chandigarh, Delhi, Dehradun,
Kalka, and to many other places as well.