Shimla, “a middling sized village” in 1817 became Summer Capital of British Empire in India in 1864 and remained so right up to the time of independence. It was the summer seat of the Punjab Government form 1871 and then the headquarters of portioned Punjab till 1966. The exiled government of Burma was also temporarily stationed here during the last part of the Second World War. No wonder the historical town has witnessed the signing of many agreements and accords. The buildings, architectural marvels in the town, bear mute testimony to the past that has merged smoothly into the present. Shimla, today, is a lively city with a spick and span railway station, the Mall as prominent promenading centre, the Ridge as the flat ground opening us vistas of splendid snow clad Himalayan ranges, a museum showing the heritage of Himachal, long walks through oaks, cedars and rhododendrons, and of course, historical buildings a mix of the ancient and the modern. Its salubrious climate, easy accessibility by road, rail and air, comfortable hotels and guest houses make it one of the most sought after hill resorts in North India. Shimla , at a height of 2130 m from sea level, is the capital of Himachal Pradesh and lures tourists to its serene, calm and yet vibrant life.
One cannot miss The Mall in Shimla. It is not only a shopping centre but also a well maintained level strip of about 500 meter where people spend their leisure hours walking to and fro, which is a meeting ground and also a catwalk displaying the latest in fashion. The coffee house, the restaurants and Ashiana on the Ridge are the popular joints where people meet, sit and discuss. It also houses the Gaiety Theatre that has its first dramatic performance on 30th may 1887 and still in the main platform for all performing arts. The Ridge is the happy ground here which stands witness to “Karva Chauth” and “New year Eve” the spontaneous celebrations the former for grace and beauty, the latter for mirth and merriment.
Indian Institute of Advanced Studies:
This magnificent building built in Elizabethan style of English Renaissance and completed in 1888. It used to be the adobe of Viceroys and Presidents of India till Dr. S. Radhakrishnan in 1965 handed it over to establish the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies for conducting higher research. The open lawn in the south and north of the building with blooming seasonal flowers add to the regality of the building. The place is open to public on a small entry fee.
Himachal Pradesh State Museum:
The heritage of Himachal Pradesh is stored in a beautiful building called “Inverarm” built in hill architectural style on top of the hillock next to one which has the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. Originals of pahari miniature paintings, the style that developed in the 17th century in these hills, are on display here. The stone and metal sculptures of the State, Chamba rumal with an embroidery work, know as painting with needle, exquisite wood work and masks, the doll corner, jewellery, weapons and contemporary art are other attractions of the Museum.
Jakhoo Hill ( 2438m):
The top of the hill is 2 km away from the Ridge. Pranks of monkeys and panorama of Shimla town are added attractions besides the old temple of Lord hanuman recently renovated. Known for Dusshera day celebrations.
Annandale ( 1864m):
A large open ground , 2.5 km away , that contributed to the start of popular Durand Football matches in 1888. A site for helipad and golf course.
The Glen ( 1830m) :
A thicky wooded ravine, 4 km away, through which a stream flows. A pleasant place in summers that provides shelter from the sun, a popular picnic spot.
Summer Hill ( 1982m):
A charming suburb of Shimla, 5 km away, where is Himachal Pradesh University and two buildings associated with two great Indian Ladies – Manorville, where lived Rajkumari Amrita Kaur and The Studio, abode of Amrita Shergill.
Chadwick Falls ( 1586m):
It is a rain fed 67m fall, 7km away from Shimla.
Kamna Devi Temple (2175m):
Above Boileauganj (also called Tilak Nagar). A rewarding visit to Goddess Durga’s Temple and for views of the town, airfield, narrow gauge train chugging its way.
A sylvan retreat, 12km away, is Mashobra. The beauty of froests and landscape here has attracted many and so this little suburban village is steadily growing. It is gateway to:
- Highest peak in the are Shali at 3200m.
- Craignano that has a guest house and natural beauty and
- Fruit Research station that once belonged to Mr. Coutts, an eminent horticulturist, floriculturists and purchase potted or saplings of flowers here at reasonable rates.
Nestled between the beautiful lofty ranges of the Himalayas, lies the Naldehra hill station. The Naldehra hill resort near Shimla is no less than a picture perfect destination. The blue skies, lush green forests and an occasional rainbow thrown in makes the place look like it has been painted on a canvas. The most famous attraction of Naldehra hill station is the 18 – hole golf course that is considered to be the most challenging golf course. This is because it is situated at an altitude of 2044 meters! The golf course is one of the most gorgeous stretches of land in Naldehra.
Naldehra remained unnoticed till the beginning of this century when the then British viceroy, Lord Curzon, discovered it. He was totally mesmerized by the natural beauty of the place. While exploring the beautiful hill station, he came up with the idea of making a golf course here. The landscape of the place was just perfect to make a golf course. An entire hilltop was leveled to make way for the golf course to come up!
The Naldehra hill resort is the perfect place to unwind and relax amidst beautiful surroundings. The resorts have complete privacy and literally every window has a different view! There could be nothing better than waking up every morning and watch the sunrise from behind the hills. You could have a wonderful time just walking down the meandering roads amidst thick deodar trees and the light mist that covers the trees. Come to Naldehra to feel true magic and you shall never forget the experience for the rest of your lives.
Known for its ski runs, Kufri 16k m away , attracts the largest number of tourists who come to Shimla. It has a backdrop of peaks covered with snow, Himalayan National Park and a small zoo. Yak-ride also add attraction to the point. Along the ridge shaded by tall trees runs a road to Chail, yet another tourist spot in Solan District.
Fagu (2509m) :
Quite and peaceful, 22km away , it is a fine resort far from the madding crowd. It has a rest house and tourist bungalow overlooking the Giri valley.
Hot water springs by the side of river Satlej, 51km away, are invigorating. These sulfur springs have curative powers too, so attracts many.
Surrounded by Deodar and spruce forests, 64 km. away, it has a choice of ski runs- beginners, advanced and slalom. It is leisure destination but a hike to Hattu peak (3300m) can be challenging and exciting.
Kotgarh and Thanedar:
Samuel Evans Stokes ( later satyanand stokes) brought “Red Delicious” and “Golden Delicious” variety of apple saplings here in the early twentieth century from Pennsylvania and with those saplings brought prosperity for the area. Beautiful houses, bountiful apple orchards, educated people and highest per capita income in South East Asia through horticulture and matters of delight.
The name of the state was Bushahr or Bashahr, and it’s capital was Rampur, which often substitutes for the name of the entire state in some documents. Tradition states that Pradyumna, the son of Krishna, traveled to the hills where he slew the Asura king Banasur and married his daughter. The ruling family traces it’s ancestry to more than a 100 generations.
Once the capital of Bushar princely state 140 km away, it is a living town on the banks of river Sutlej. It used to be a major centre of trade on the old Hindustan Tibet Road. The trade fair called “ Lavi” is held here every year from 11th to 14th of November. Chilgoza and Neoza, dry fruit coming from Kinnaur and pasham soft sheep wool, along with other traditional trade items like musk, popular Spiti horses etc are sold here during the Mela. Pahari architectural style of the Palace here attracts.
The place, 180km away, is known for majestic temple of Goddess Bhimakali built in typical Sutlej Valley architecture. Bhimakali gives darshan to the devotee here in her two forms – maiden and matured. Narsingh, Raghunath and lankra Bir have temples here made in shikhar style.
Hatkoti, 120 km away, and Rohru 131 km away , are the two main picturesque palaces on the bank of river Pabbar, known for trout fishing. Hatloti has as splendidly built temple of Goddess Durga with green fields all around and Rohru has a typical hill town market.