Shimla (also spelt as 'Simla') derives its name from goddess 'Shayamla Devi', which is another manifestation of Goddess Kali. The capital of Himachal Pradesh came into light when the British discovered it in 1819. Till then, it was a part of the Nepalese kingdom. In 1864 Shimla was declared as the summer capital of India. After Independence, Shimla became the capital of Punjab and was later named the capital of Himachal Pradesh. In 1903 a rail line was constructed between Kalka and Shimla. City of Shimla has been blessed with all the natural bounties, one can think of. Dwelling on a panoramic location, the hilly town is surrounded by green pastures and snow-capped peaks. The spectacular cool hills accompanied by the structures made during the colonial era create an aura, which is very different from other hill stations. Bulging at its seams with unprecedented expansion, Shimla retains its colonial heritage, with grand old buildings; among them are the stately Viceregal Lodge, charming iron lampposts and Anglo-Saxon names. The Mall, packed with shops and eateries, is the centre of attraction of the town, and Scandal Point, associated with the former Maharaja of Patiala's escapades, offers a view of distant snowballed peaks.
Christ Church & St. Michael's Cathedral:
Built in 1846-1857, Christ Church is the second oldest church of Northern India. The Church overlooks the ridge and is one of the landmarks of Shimla. The clocks on Christ Church were added later but none of them are functional now. The Church's exquisite beauty comes with the stained glasses that are fitted on its windows. The towns other important churches are St. Michael's Cathedral and Roman Catholic Cathedral, which is just off the Mall. The most prominent building on the Mall is the yellow Christ Church, reputed to be the second oldest church in northern India. The silhouette of this can be seen on the skyline for miles around. It was designed by Colonel JT Boileau in 1844, but consecrated only after 1857. Colonel Dumbleton donated the clock in 1860, and the porch added in 1873. In Shimla 75 years of reigning as summer capital, a long line of officials and other notables of the Raj came to the church for their Sunday prayers. The seasonal influx would be so great at times that space would pose a big problem. Now, of course, the congregations have dwindled and there is no lack of space. It still has those lovely stained glass windows for which it is so famed. Check out the one that represents the virtues of Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Patience and Humility. But around the chancel window used to be a beautiful fresco designed by Rudyard Kipling's father, Lockwood Kipling, who was the principal of Mayo School of Art in Lahore. But nothing of it remains today. Note the interesting brasses and plaques too that are present over here. One can discreetly have a look inside the church, or attend English-language services every Sunday during the tourist season. The other main church in Shimla is St Michael's Cathedral just below the Central Telegraph Office
Himachal State Museum & Library:
The museum is located 2.5-km west of the scandal point and opens daily except on Mondays and public holidays. It has got a good collection of ancient historical sculptures, paintings, coins, photos and other items from all over the state as well as outside it. It has also got a library, which houses many historical books and manuscripts. Housed in a charming colonial building, Inverarm, the State museum is located atop a hill that rises above the Chaura Maiden. A selection of Himachal's rich heritage is displayed over here. It is a stiff 1500m hike to the museum, but well worth the effort; its diverse collection includes contemporary and antique works of art, well displayed in a colonial mansion. The gallery houses the magnificent Pahari miniature paintings, which are the examples of the last great Hindi art form to flourish in northern India before the deadening impact of the Western culture in the early 19th century. Stone sculpture of considerable antiquity and artistic merit assorted bronzes, arms and armour, dolls, anthropological items and numismatic finds are also on display. Among the museums paintings are dozens of Moghul and Rajasthan miniatures and a couple of fine 'Company' watercolors. Also worth checking out are the striking contemporary oils of the Himalayas, a small collection of the 19th and 20th century deity masks from Kullu and Saharan and a remarkable collection of temple bronzes. One room is devoted to Mahatma Gandhi, packed with fascinating photos of his time in Shimla, and amusing cartoons of his political relationship with the British
Viceregal Lodge & Botanical Gardens:
On the Observatory Hills is located Viceregal Lodge, which is also known as "Rashtrapati Niwas". This magnificent building was the residence of the British Viceroy Lord Dufferin. This lodge was completed in 1888 and it is said that mules carried every brick for the building. This is a six-storey building and is surrounded by well-maintained gardens and lawns. The lodge has now been converted into Institute of Advanced Study and is further 2-km from State Museum. SHOPPING CENTRE: The Mall: This is the main shopping centre of Shimla with restaurants. The Gaiety Theatre, which is a reproduction of an old British theatre, is a center of cultural activities. A passenger lift of HPTDC can be taken from the Cart Road and the Mall. Lakkar Bazaar adjacent to the Ridge is popular for its woodcrafts and souvenirs.
Crowned by a temple dedicated to Kamna Devi 15-minutes walk from Boileauganj on Shimla-Bilaspur road. The hill at an altitude of 2,155m offers a spectacular view of the area.
The large open space in the heart of town presents excellent view of the mountain ranges. Shimla's landmarks - the Neo-Gothic structure of Christ Church and the new - Tudor Library building is worth seeing.
Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, this temple is at an altitude of 2,455m near the highest point of Shimla ridge. It offers a fine view over the surrounding valleys, out to the snowcapped peaks, and over the town itself. The temple is a 45-minute walk from the Mall. Jakhu is a vantagepoint for witnessing the changing skyline as the sunrises or sets. No visit to the state capital Shimla is complete without visiting Jakhu Hill. This hill looms over Shimla town and is the geographical nucleus. The Hanuman temple at the top of Jakhu hill is the highest point in town. The steep climb is rewarding for the fine views it offers over the surrounding valleys, out to the snowcapped peaks and over Shimla itself. The temple is only 2-km from the ridge at a height of 2,438m, but it could be an hour's walk for a person not used to mountain climbing. The temple is one of the most favored spots for the tourists apart from the pilgrims.
Hanuman, the faithful ally of Lord Rama of the Ramayana an epic, was the monkey God with whose help Lord Rama was able to defeat the arch-demon Ravana, the king of Lanka. The faithful nature of Hanuman is often illustrated by his representations being found guarding forts and palace entrances. The British never placed Hanuman on top of Jakhu hill to guard the township. The temple site predates the British Raj. An episode in the Ramayana had Lakshman, Rama's brother mortally wounded in a battle with Ravana's forces. Hanuman was sent to fetch the mythical medicinal 'Sanjivini' herb from the Himalayas in order to cure the wounded. The legend about the temple is that Hanuman rested at Jakhu Hill after collecting the herb. After resting, he journeyed back to the battlefield of Lanka. There are many monkeys around the temple, but surprisingly they don't attack people unless fiddled with. Pilgrims offer them eatables, which they readily accept. The approach to the temple is through a dense forest of Deodars, though many find the climb tiresome. Ponies are available for a to and fro ride to the temple. The path towards the temple starts just left of Christ Church. After the hard hack up, the temple itself, a red and yellow brick affair crammed with fairy lights and tinsel comes as something of an anti climax. The shrine inside houses what are believed to be the footprints of Hanuman?
On Shimla-Kalka road is the famous "Lord Hanuman" temple. Situated at an altitude of 1,975m, it commands an excellent view of Shimla town.
On Shimla-Kalka road this holy place is accessible by rail, bus and car (11-km). From the station / road - one can visit the temple either on foot or by taxi / jeep.
Surrounded by thick forests, one can reach these falls by taking about 45-minutes (7-km) walk from Summer Hill Chowk.
02-km beyond the Summer Hill and 7-km west of the ridge from Shimla are the Chadwick Falls, which was once the site of a 67-m aquatic spectacle. Today there is a silent gorge, which is flocked by many picnickers. Chadwick Falls is really worth visiting during or just after the monsoons - from July to October.
Fagu (22-Km) 2,450m:
Situated on Hindustan-Tibet Road (22-km), at a height of 2,450m Fagu is gifted with some enchanting views.
It is a less explored area within the town. From here, one can take a long haul by foot through the thick cedar forest to the Hot Springs of Tattapani, or to the ruins of Kiar Koti.
Institute Of Advanced Studies:
Housed in the former Viceregal Lodge, it was built in 1888. A spectacular English Renaissance Grey stone structure. The entry in the institute is by ticket and only on Sundays the grounds are open for the public.
Surrounded by deodar trees, this glade has an ancient temple on the edge.
At an altitude of 1,283m, Summer Hill is a picturesque spot on Shimla-Kalka Railway line offering shady walks in quiet surroundings. The Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to Shimla lived in the elegant Georgian House of Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur located here. HP University is also situated over here.
Close to the vicarage lodge is the Himalayan Aviary or the Himalayan Bird Park. This park is a natural habitat of numerous species of birds found in Himachal such as Himalayan Monal, Pheasants, Peafowl’s and National Bird of India, the Peacock.