The 19th-century British colonial government couldn’t cope with the heat of the Indian summers and searched the foothills of the Himalayas for a cool retreat. Some 2,100 m (6,889 ft) above sea level, they found the ideal climate in the tiny hamlet of Shimla, which was conveniently surrounded by a pine forest for building materials. The village blossomed into a thriving British hill station, where croquet on the lawn, rounds of golf, and afternoon tea on the terrace whiled away the days.
Things to see and do in Shimla
Annandale is a historical playground located at a height of 6000 feet above sea level. Annandale is one of the prime tourist attractions in Shimla. Annandale is a favorite spot for cricket and polo. Annandale is located in a deep wide valley in the suburban village of Kaithu, Shimla west.
This place was named after Captain Charles Pratt Kennedy, one of the first Colonist to this place. It is quite a scenic spot as it gives a scenic view of the Shimla city and its environs are occupied by Deodar,Oak trees. Since the 1830’s, Annandale has been an important center of Anglo-Indian playful activities, amusement and entertainment. The round playground, at present host’s army exercise, parades, sports and Dussehra celebrations. Tourists visit the place for picnic parties, birthday-balls, fetes, races and polo matches. The Army Heritage Museum has some excellent collections that give an insight into the Indian Army history. It is dedicated to the our soldiers.
2.Indian Institute of Advanced Study:
The Indian Institute of Advanced Study or vice Regal Lodge was designed by British architect Henry Irwin and built in the Jacob Ethan style during the regime of Lord Duffer in. Its construction was started in 1880 and completed in 1888. Only the local woods like pine and cedar were used to construct this prodigy. Vice Regal Lodge is the only building of Shimla that occupies an entire hill by itself. The building now serves as the centre for the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS).
The entrance opening to South leads one to the reception hall which stands garlanded by a splendid fireplace and a grand spiralling staircase. The building has six stories and it is said that all the bricks used for construction of the building were brought here on mules. A library has been developed inside the lodge. It houses some of the most ancient articles and photographs going back to the times of the British rule in India. The majestic Vice Regal Lodge is encircled with extensive pine trees and sprawling gardens on all sides.
This was the venue of the Shimla Conference in 1945. In 1947, the decision to partition India and carve out the states of Pakistan and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was also taken here. After independence, the Lodge remained the summer retreat of the President of India. In the early 60s the President of India, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru decided to make it a scholars’ den where the best minds would find an ideal retreat. That’s when the Indian Institute of Advanced Study moved into the Lodge in 1965.Tourists are welcome to visit daily yet only the grounds and entrance hall are open to the public.
Timings: 10 am to 5 pm on all days except Monday.
Entry fee: As Applicable.
Mall Road is located at the heart of the town, the Mall Road is one of the busiest commercial areas of Shimla. The Mall extends from Secretariat in the eastern side to Vice Regal Lodge in the western side. Built by the British People during the colonial rule in India.The Mall road is located a level below the ridge. The offices of Municipal Corporation, fire service and police headquarters are located here. The Mall Road also has all major hotels, restaurants and refreshment centers of Shimla.
The Mall road is full of shops that sell woolen clothes, branded clothes, handicraft items, pottery items, jewellery, books, etc. The Mall Road is also famous for its wooden furniture shops that sell gorgeous wooden articles which look like antiques. Lakkar Bazaar adjacent to the Ridge is popular for its wooden dexterity and souvenirs.The Mall has a number of restaurants that offers a wide range of cuisines from Himachali Dham,Punjabi and South Indian to Chinese and Continental dishes. This is especially pleasant in the evenings.A passenger lift of HPTDC also available to the Mall.
4. JAKHU TEMPLE:
Jakhu Temple is an ancient temple dedicated to Hindu deity “Hanuman”. It is situated on Jakhu Hill and situated at an altitude of approx. 8050 feet. It is also the highest peak in Shimla. According to history, to save injured Lord Rama’s brother Lakshmana while fighting the battle with Ravana, lord Hanuman was moving towards Himalayas to get Sanjeevani herb. Upon reaching the Himalayas, Hanuman couldn’t make out as to which herb was the Sanjeevani. So he excavated up the Entire Mountain and return back to the place where Lakshmana was lying unconscious. Lakshmana was cured, Hanuman went back to mountain in its original site. He rested on top of the Jakhu hill for some time. It is said that the top of the hill got trodden due to Hanuman’s weight! The temple has been built around the place that is supposed to have the footprints of Hanuman.
In 2010, a huge statue of Hanuman is built near Jakhu Temple in Shimla. It is considered as world’s tallest statue with 108 feet height lies at the highest altitude of 8050 ft. The temple also has a pair of feet engraved in white marble which devotees believe are of Lord Hanuman. There are many monkeys around the temple but surprisingly they don’t attack people. The route to the temple follows a 2.5 km footpath with sections of steps. Ropeway facility also available for ride to the temple. A nice park for children also here near to the main Temple of Jakhu.
5. CHADWICK FALLS:
At a distance of 4-5 km from Shimla Railway Station, Chadwick Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Shimla region and also one of the top tourist places to visit in Shimla. The water cascades down a deep gorge at a height of 85 meter. This fall can be approached through Summer Hill. Vehicles can get close to the entry point of waterfall from where about 10 minutes’ walk through thick vegetation will lead to the waterfalls. Trekking to the falls from Summer Hill is also an exciting experience.
The water in Chadwick falls is very cold, chilly and refreshing as it flows down with forceful rapidness from the Himalayas. The best time to visit the Chadwick Falls is after monsoons during the months of April to October, when the water level is increased. This is the time when the Chadwick Falls looks fabulous like sprinkled gemstones. The sight of this glistening waterfall is a treat to the eyes. The fall is delimited with thick green wood and looks enchanting in the midst of steep hills of pine and deodar trees. This makes the fall more exotic and ravishing. The fall is also a source of water for the foresters and tribes. A walk to Chadwick falls is exciting because of the glorious view of the snow-capped mountains.
6. HIMACHAL STATE MUSEUM:
State Museum is situated on way to Chauda Maidan. Also known as Himachal State Museum and Library, it was built in the year 1974. The Himachal State Museum is a majestic building that was built with the aim of conserving the state’s rich cultural and archaeological artefacts. The colonial style building amidst marvellous lawns in itself is an inspiring sight. It is one of popular Shimla tourist places. It gives you an in depth view of the city’s glorious past.
Himachal State Museum has a rich display of the cultural, artistic and archaeological heritage of Himachal Pradesh. The various galleries in the museum are Pre-Historic Gallery, Wood-Carving Gallery Archaeology Gallery, Wall Painting Gallery, Coin Gallery, Pahari Painting Gallery, etc. The lifestyle and culture of the people of the Himalayas are reflected in the paintings. Rajasthani and Mughal paintings are awe-inspiring. Stone works of Bajaura and Masrur belonging to 8th century are seen here. The museum also features a doll gallery that showcases a collection of Himachali bride and tribal dolls while the collection which is worth a look. There is also a separate room dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, displaying his photos when he visited Shimla and his political cartoons that comment on his relations with the British. The museum houses a library, which has a wide range of collections of historical books. Various manuscripts are also found in the library. It is a perfect place for art lovers and people who want to know about the history and culture of Himachal Pradesh.
Timing: 10 am to 5 pm on all days except Mondays and Public Holidays.
7. GAIETY HERITAGE CULTURAL COMPLEX:
Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex is situated on centre of Mall road, Shimla. The Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex is a heritage building and was a centre for all the theatrical, cultural and literary events. Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex is a significant tourist hot spot opened in 1887. The Complex is a Gothic Victorian style theatre designed by renowned architect Henry Irwin which also happens to be the oldest cultural complexes in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Initially, it was a five-story building with a theatre, ballroom, armoury, police office, bar and galleries. After nearly two decades from its date of establishment, it was found that the building was structurally unsafe. It was partially demolished but the Gaiety theatre remained untouched. The most popular attraction in this complex is the Victorian theatre where legends like Rudyard Kipling, Prithvi Raj Kapoor, Baten Powel, K. L. Sehgal and others have performed. The attractions inside the complex are Art gallery exhibiting contemporary and traditional arts and the City Museum displaying historical arts and crafts of the Himalayan province. There is an Amphitheatre for hosting cultural performances. The multi-purpose theatre also features a conference hall along with the old theatre for theatrical and classical events.
Timings: 9 am – 5 pm from Monday to Friday.
Entry Fee: Applicable
8. TARA DEVI TEMPLE:
Tara Devi Temple is situated near Shogi on Shimla – Kalka National Highway. The temple is famous for its breath-taking whereabouts and beautiful valleys around the hill. The temple is one of the top pilgrimage sites and also a popular place for sightseeing in Shimla. The Temple is dedicated to Goddess Tara (goddess of stars) and stands on Tara Devi hilltop lies at an altitude of 1850 meter above sea level between Shimla and Shoghi and is a very popular visiting spot for tourists and devotees. The lush green environs surrounding it give the temple a very peaceful and tranquil atmosphere.
According to the legend, Deity Tara Devi idol was brought to Himachal Pradesh from West Bengal. The history of this temple dates back to about 250 years when this temple was built here. Hundreds of years ago a king from the Sen Dynasty visited this area. He was in the habit of carrying his personal family idol around the upper torso of his arm. While hunting in the dark and dense forests, he forgot his path. Due of tiredness he fell asleep and dreamt that his family deity Maa Tara and her consorts Dwarpal Bhairav and Lord Hanuman requested him to unveil them before the people. The king donated 50 bighas of land and sponsored the construction of the Tara Devi temple. Inside the Temple a wooden idol of the Goddess was installed in accordance with Vaishnav traditions. The location of the temple on the Hill top makes it appear that the goddess seems to keep everyone under the protective gaze, showering innumerable blessings on her worshippers From here one can get a panoramic view of Shimla and snow-clad Himalayan range on one side with the other side revealing the plains at a far distance. There are big precession and celebration held at the temple during the Navaratras and Ashtami.