Shimla, originally called Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the “Queen of Hills” (a term coined by the British). Located in the north-west Himalayas at an average altitude of 2,205 metres (7,234 ft). The city is named after the goddess Shyamala Devi, anincarnation of the Hindu Goddess Kali.
Shimla is one of the most popular hill stations of the country. There are several tourist spots in this district that are worth exploring. Like for instance, the travellers can visit its popular pilgrimage sites – Christ Church and St. Michael`s Cathedral, Sankat Mochan Temple, Tara Devi Temple and more. Other main attractions of the district include Mall, Prospect Hill, Summer Hill, Annandale, Viceregal Lodge, Himachal State Museum and Library. The fairs and festivals are added attractions offered by Shimla District. Shimla is an ideal destination for adventure lovers.
The Ridge Shimla: Located in the heart of Shimla is the famous tourist attraction known as The Ridge. The Ridge is the hub of all cultural activities of Shimla. It is situated along the Mall Road, which is the famous shopping center of Shimla. Most major places of Shimla like Lakkar Bazaar, Mall, Scandal Point, Jakhoo hill, etc. are connected through the Ridge. Read on more about the famous Shimla ridge in the following lines.
The main water supply of Shimla comes from the huge water reservoir that is located in the Ridge. The Ridge is famous for the various government functions and fairs that are held here. It is usually the venue for all such celebrations and events. The most famous festival that is held at the Ridge is the Summer Festival. This famous festival is held during the months of April or May and the whole of Shimla comes alive with colors and a riot of activities.
The most famous landmark of the Ridge is the Christ Church. This beautiful building is constructed in Neo-Gothic style of architecture. It is a famous tourist attraction of Shimla and should be visited when you come to Shimla.
The Mall Road: Mall Road is the main street in Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, India. Constructed during the British colonial rule, the Mall road is located a level below the ridge. The offices of Municipal Corporation, fire service, and police headquarters are located here. Automobiles, except emergency vehicles are not allowed on this road. For this reason, the locals – and tourists – are often found strolling on this road in the evenings. Mall road has a number of showrooms, department stores, shops, restaurants and cafes. A Himachal emporium that offers handicraft products of Himachal Pradesh like locally designed woollen cloths, branded cloths, pottery items, and jewellary is also located here.
Christ church and St. Michael’s Cathedral: The famous Christ church and St. Michael’s Cathedral of Shimla is a beautiful architectural masterpiece. The construction of this church took a span of 11 years (1846 – 1857) and is considered to be the second oldest church in North India. This splendid church is located just near the Ridge in Shimla and can be reached very easily from anywhere. The Christ Church and St. Michael’s Cathedral is a famous landmark of Simla and is flocked by many devout followers from all over India.
The church looks absolutely magical during night when lights placed at strategic corners illuminate this beautiful church. The church glows with all its beauty and grandeur and is an amazing sight to look at. Beautifully painted stained glass form the windows of this magnificent church. It is a grand sight to look at and definitely worth the visit if you are traveling to Shimla. Right next to the Church is a library that was built in the year 1910 by James Ransome. It is designed in the typical Elizabethan style and consists of a great collection of books and ancient scriptures.
Scandal Point: Scandal point is where the Mall road joins the ridge road on the west side. The name, scandal, arose from the commotion caused by the supposed elopement of a British lady with the Maharaja of Patiala during the British Raj.
Gaiety Theater: Gaiety Theater, located on the Mall, was opened on the 30th of May, 1887. Many popular film personalities have performed on its stage. Today, the Gaiety is primarily known for its social club. Schools in Shimla use this theater for performing arts. The theater has been renovated with the original structure untouched to keep its heritage preserved while making it more attractive.
Lakkar Bazaar: Lakkar Bazaar is a marketplace adjoining the Ridge in Shimla, India. Shops offer wooden articles targeted mainly at tourists. There is also a roller skating rink in Lakkar Bazaar. Lakkar Bazaar is known for wooden toys made by a small group of Sikh carpenters who settled there a century ago from Hoshiarpur. Wooden walking sticks are famous. Lakkar Bazar was like a small village in itself. Sita Ram is famous for its alloo tikki and chole Bhature. Regal Building, comprising a Cinema Hall, Roller Skating Hall and Meena Bazar is a famous place. DAV School produced many famous personalities and is also located in Lakkar Bazaar.
Annandale: Developed as the playground of Shimla, Annandale is 2-4 kms. from the Ridge at a height of 6,117 ft. It is a favourite spot for cricket, picnics and the princely game of polo. This large glade has a golf course surrounded by thick deodar woods and has a charming temple by an edge.
Elysium Hill: On the road leading through Lakkar Bazaar, houses the famous Auckland House, the former residence of Viceroy Lord Auckland. It is a well-known girls’ school now. Nearby is the Stirling Castle, now an orphanage for the Tibetan children and a center for the Tibetan exiles who have settled locally.
Himachal State Museum and Library: The museum is located at around 2.5 kms west of the scandal point and opens daily except on Mondays for the visitors. It has got a good collection of ancient historical sculptures, Pahari paintings, coins, photos, bronzes wood-carvings and also costumes, textiles and jewellery of the region and other items from all over the state as well as outside the state. There is also a library, which houses many historical books and manuscripts. The Museum, which was opened in 1974, has tried to project hill-out and the cultural wealth of the state.
Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (Viceregal Lodge): Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. This institute is housed in the Viceregal Lodge, which was built in 1884-88 during the British times. It has spacious gardens and is ringed by beautiful pine trees. All is calm and serene just the right atmosphere for a student of literature or politics. Located on the Observatory Hill at the western end of the Shimla ridge, the Viceregal Lodge is a humongous structure ringed by tall pines. It was built in 1888 as the residence of Viceroy Lord Dufferin. Located 2km further west of the Himachal State Museum, it is now called Rashtrapati Niwas. The Lodge houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Study and is the only building in Shimla that occupies a hill by itself.
The architecture of the lodge is brilliant. A grand staircase which springs from the right and spirals up three full floors marks the hall. A grand fireplace faces the main entrance. Verandas and terraces surround the entire building at different levels which allures tourists and make the lodge totally immaculate.
Jakhoo (Jakhu) Temple: Jakhoo(Jakhu) Temple is an ancient temple in Shimla, dedicated to Hindu deity, Hanuman. It is situated on Jakhoo Hill, 2.5 km /1.3 miles east from the Ridge, Shimla at a height of 2,455 m (8,000 feet) above sea level. Shimla’s highest peak offers a panoramic view of the Shivalik Ranges and the town of Sanjauli. An ancient “Lord Hanuman” temple is there and every year a big festival is held on Dushera.
The Jakhu Temple being situated at a height of around 2 Km from the base of Jakhu hill, a trek of 2 kms through dense pine forests is required to reach it. An alternative can be hiring ponies from the base of hills for a to and fro ride to temple. Walking sticks are also available at the shops on the base of Jakhu hill.
Kalibari Temple: The famous Kalibari Temple of Shimla is a popular tourist attraction and is situated at a very strategic location. The temple was built in the year 1845 and is dedicated to Goddess Kali who is also known as Shyamala. It is from the name of Goddess Shyamala that Shimla derives its name. The Kali Bari temple of Simla is a very well known religious place of India and people who come to Shimla never miss out on visiting this temple. The Kalibari temple was primarily located in Jakhu hill. The British brought it to its new site.
Sankat Mochan Temple: One of the most popular tourist attractions of Shimla, the Sankat Mochan Temple is located among lush green and tranquil locales in this beautiful hill station. Shri Sankat Mochan temple in Simla is located on the Kalka – Shimla highway, on the National Highway – 22. The temple is a place where one can actually meditate and enjoy the calm and peaceful surroundings. Lush green trees surround Sankat Mochan Temple and the backdrop consists of the imposing and lofty Himalayan ranges and a light mist adds the mystical touch to that place. Let us take a look at the temple’s history.
The temple has many facilities for people and also includes a three-storey building that is used for many purposes. Every Sunday, the huge hall in the building is used for distributing Prasad, also known as Langar. One portion of the building is used to conduct marriage ceremonies and is rented out to people who want to conduct marriages. The temple charges a very nominal fee for this. Apart from marriages, there are many other sacred rituals and ceremonies that can be conducted over here. Priests and the maintainance staff, who work here day and night, use the rest of the building as a residential complex. The temple also has an Ayurvedic clinic and thirty well maintained toilets.
Summer Hill: Summer Hill is a suburb of Shimla, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh at a height of 2,123 meters. It is situated on a hill, 5 km west to the Shimla Ridge, and is part of the seven-hill cluster which forms Shimla. Besides being a popular tourist destination, the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (estb. 1965), housed in the former Viceregal Lodge, which was built in 1884-88, is also situated on the nearby Observatory Hill. Today, it also hosts the Himachal Pradesh University, which mainly offers Post Graduate Programmes in the fields of Humanities, Commerce, Science, Management, Law and Languages, and was started in 1975. Most students here walk to the Hill Station of Shimla from the campus, though Summer Hill lies on the Kalka-Shimla Railway line.
Wild Flower Hall: On the Mahasu range, at Charabra, 13 km from Shimla, is the Wild Flower Hall situated at an altitude of 2,498 metres. Nestled among picturesque surroundings, the Wild Flower Hall commands a breathtaking view of the snows.
Sanjauli: A serene location with delightful walks, Sanjauli is ideal for a tranquil weekend. There are fine vistas and the lights of Shimla and Chail can be seen twinkling at night. On the other side, Mashobra and Naldehra are visible. (3 Km)
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