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Getting a Sense of Shimla – India’s Coolest State Capital

April 16, 2018 OTA News No Comments Email Email

India recently celebrated seventy years of independence, but one legacy of the British endures – their search for relief from the sweltering Indian summer which led to the creation of Shimla in the foothills of the Himalayas. Shimla was cool then, and still is today, proving popular with visitors for its natural and historical attractions along with all different types of hotel accommodation to suit your style. But before you start packing and searching for hotels in Shimla, we’d like to make it easier for you with a few suggestions to inspire your journey.

The first adventure is actually getting to Shimla. Thanks to its elevation, it’s not on the main Indian broad-gauge rail network, so the traditional way to arrive is via the UNESCO World Heritage narrow-gauge railway which passes through an incredible 103 tunnels on its way up from Kalka, from where you can catch fast trains to Delhi. Meals are served on the train, and the scenery is breathtaking.

Once you’ve finally made it, Shimla has something for everyone. If you’re interested in history, the town’s Victorian architecture already makes for a worthwhile visit, and that’s before you start on the museums. The Himachal State Museum sits at the top of Mount Pleasant and was constructed in the 1970s to preserve the cultures riches of the region. The collection numbers over 10,000 artifacts relating to art, cultural anthropology, and archaeology, while the museum is also renowned for its sculptures, paintings, and coins. Another place you shouldn’t miss is Annadale, set in dense forest on the outskirts of Shimla and offering panoramic views of the town. There is a museum dedicated to the accomplishments of the Indian Army, presenting a fascinating collection of weapons and equipment in a beautiful setting.

If shopping is your thing, you’re also in luck. Mall Road is the place to go – the pedestrianized main street running through the heart of Shimla and lined with a host of shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s a great place for walking, window-shopping, browsing and bargaining, and if you need a break, there are plenty of coffee shops where your drink comes with a view of the Himalayas. For local handicrafts, especially wooden products, and street food you could also try Lakkar Bazaar. The experience is sure to be colorful, but the best deals need serious haggling skills.

Finally, Shimla should also appeal to active outdoor types. Trekking in the nearby mountains is a popular activity, but visitors in the summer months outside the monsoon can also enjoy white-water rafting on the nearby Sutlej river. In winter, Shimla boasts the biggest outdoor ice rink in all of India, so whatever time of year you choose to visit, there will always be something to keep you active and occupied.

So there we have it – Shimla has a great climate, stunning scenery, and a wide range of things to see and do, and so far we’ve barely scratched the surface. Add a few more temples and churches, heritage walks and colonial mansions, forts, hill stations, waterfalls, parks, monasteries, and even a zoo, and you’ll come a little closer to the full picture. What’s more, the town has a comprehensive range of accommodation options from five-star luxury to camping under the stars, so what are you waiting for? Come and see for yourself!

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