Himachal, with Shimla as it's capital is one of the most beautiful states of India and it's proximity is a boon for us delhites . The hill state situated around Delhi boasts of immense natural beauty, lots of religious places and many spots for the adventure seeking tourists. Snow-covered peaks, sun drenched valleys, flowered meadows and simplicity of Himachali people makes the state every tourists' delight.
The state capital is named after Shaymla Devi, another form of goddess Kali. It was formed by the British in 1819 and became the summer capital of India in 1864. The hill station seems to have lost much of it's grandeur to mindless expansion of concrete but still boasts of grand old buildings, spectacular mountain views, beautiful walks away from the mall and a center point for exploring this part of Himachal.
Altitude : 2200 m
Weather : Cold in winter, snow around December end. Cool in summers.
Clothing : Heavy woolens in winter, light in summer nights, none during noon.
How to reach
Distance : 370 km
Road : The most convenient way is by road either on your car or a hired one. One can also get a direct bus from ISBT which takes about 10-12 hrs. The route to take is NH1 or the GT Road up to Ambala. The way to catch NH1 is to follow Outer Ring Road beyond Rohini to reach the by pass. The road is now double carriage way all the way up to Ambala. The road is dotted with many dhabas which also serve as stoppages for getting fresh and toilet etc. There are also resorts/restaurants of Haryana tourism at Smalkha, Panipat, Karnal, Uchna , Kurukshetra and Ambala. The resort at Karnal has a lake and boating and the one at Uchna has a fast food rest. and a shopping center. The highway also has a Highway patrol managed by Haryana Police which you can call if you need help.
TIP On the way stop at Panipat for buying some delicious achars and very cheap bed sheets and towels. The dhabas at Karnal have made a name for themselves with their veg and non veg meals. One can also stop at various joints at Murthal closer to Delhi for sumptuous paranthas.
Ambala can be reached in about 2 1/2 hrs (200km). From Ambala take a left turn towards Chandigarh, NH1 carries on to Amritsar. TIP You can bypass Chandigarh by taking a diversion after Bassi onto NH22 via Zirakpur and Panchkula. If you have time on your side you can visit the Chatbir Zoo just after Ambala. The big attraction here is a lion safari where you can actually get very close to about 30 lions while traveling in a close jeep.
NH 22 takes you to Shimla via Kalka, Parwanoo, Jabli, Barog, Solan and KandaGhat. You can stop at Pinjore Gardens, a mughal style garden before Kalka, or take
the Timber Trail cable car at Parwanoo.
Do try the fresh juices of HPMC at Jabli. Barog has come up in a big way not only as a stopover but also as a overnite destination with it's beautiful surroundings, it also has the largest tunnel on the Kalka-Shimla rail link.
TIP On reaching Shimla one must strictly observe the traffic rules as only road marked Permissible are accessible while the rest are reseved for VIPs, ambulances etc. Also do not park at the roadside but only in permissible parking spaces, which is available at Cart Road, Lifts, Terrace of main bus stand, near Lakkad bazar and sanjauli.
Rail : One can also take a train up to Kalka and then take the Kalka-Shimla toy train for a memorable journey.
Air : The airport is 23 km from the main city and is connected to Delhi, Kullu and Chandigarh.
What to see
The Mall The mall is where the action is. The road is the heart of tourist activity with rows of shops for things varying from bakery products to clothes, leather goods to old books and various bars and restaurants serving all variety of food Indian, Chinese, Punjabi etc. The place is always bustling with people especially so in the evening. From Cart Road you can take the Lifts to reach the mall by paying Rs. 5/ person. The Mall meets the Ridge, an open area with beautiful views of the mountain ranges and lots of eating joints, horse rides etc. There is also the Christ Church (see the pic above), a symbol of older times with some elegant frescoes and beautiful stained windows on the ridge and a library. There is also the romantic rendezvous, Scandal Point.
Jakhoo Hanuman ki Jai, that's what you say when you climb this hill to reach the Hanuman Mandir at top at a height of 2500m. The hill also gives a good view of the mountain ranges and some chai and pakoras to boot.
Lakkad Bazar Off the ridge one can visit this one for anything in wood from walking sticks, cutlery, beautiful frescoes and some good keepsakes.
What to buy
In Shimla one can look for things made in whole of Himachal like Kullu shawls, Kinnauri scarves, HPMC juices and jams, walking sticks etc. at Lakkad Bazar, old books at Maria Bros,Mall, leather goods on the Mall and imported good at Tibetan market.
Where to stay