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Shimla or Simla is the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. It is a very popular holiday-retreat during the summer months and is well-known for its Victorian architecture, which is reflected in certain areas of the Mall and The Ridge. It is also a famous holiday spot for honeymoon.
There are quite a few theories regarding the origin of the word Shimla. Locals insist that the name originates from Shyamali Devi, a re-incarnation of the fearsome Goddess Kali.
Sitting majestically above the searing plains, the British designated the town as the summer capital of India. The higher levels of the town reflect this British connection, comprising mostly buildings in the Victorian style, while the lower slopes are occupied with Indian bazaars and restaurants. Traffic is banned from the historic central area, (known as the Mall) which means that the atmosphere is calm and the air pristine.
Cart Road runs south of the Mall and is connected to it via the lifts. The Ridge, north of the Mall, is a good place to view the the seven majestic hills of Shimla. Further along the same road is Lakkar Bazaar, which is a good place to buy some handicrafts and other souvenirs.
Shimla’s cool climate is the precise reason why it is such a popular summer retreat. Located at an altitude of approximately 2200m above sea level, the region has a hilly terrain and is covered by dense evergreen forests. A few visitors choose to visit Shimla during spring or autumn, when the place is less crowded and the views are too spectacular for words.
The nearest broad gauge head is at Kalka – a four- to seven-hour journey from Delhi. After that, take the mountain train from Kalka to Shimla. This railway track has recently been granted the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The view is stunning, with the line passing through an amazing 103 tunnels. The fastest way to get to Kalka is to catch the Shatabdi Express, which departs early morning from the New Delhi Railway Station, arriving at Kalka four hours later. A detailed list of trains between Delhi, Kalka and Shimla is available at  and . You can also choose to get off at Chandigarh (en-route to Kalka), and catch a taxi from there.
Note that while the Shivalik Deluxe Express can be reserved 60 days in advance like most Indian trains, most of the other mountain trains can only be reserved 30 days before journey date. Passengers on the Shivalik Deluxe Express are served meals on the train–breakfast on the way to Simla, dinner on the way down.
It takes only 2 hours from kalka to shimla by taxi.
If hiring a private taxi, ensure that the driver has experience driving in hilly regions and is not deprived of sleep.
The Mall: The Mall is the main shopping centre of Shimla. This shopping centre has a good number of banks, restaurants, post offices, clubs, bars and tourists offices. There is a famous theatre of Shimla called Gaiety Theatre. The Mall is also the main meeting place for the people of Shimla.
Jakhu Temple, Jakhu Hill. Open every day. Offers spectacular views of the mountains from its location above the town. According to the epic Ramayana, the monkey god Hanuman rested here during his journey to the Himalayan mountains. The climb up is a physically demanding one-hour walk. However, you can drive up the hill – a 4WD is recommended. The temple and hill side is populated with very aggressive and cunning monkeys. Be extremely careful with your camera, glasses, bag and (especially) food. Entry free, donations welcome (Sticks for warding off the monkeys can be rented at the entrance to the temple for Rs 5).
Statue of Mahatma Gandhi just outside Christ Church
Chadwick Falls, 7 km away from Shimla, the inviting spot of Chadwick Falls is a premier travel destination. A trip to the Chadwick Falls during the monsoons will be an unforgettable experience. Located in an incredible landscape, the place is home to some old shrines that are sites of immense significance for pilgrims.
Jakhoo Hill, Located at an altitude of 2,445m, Jakhoo Hill, Shimla’s highest point, is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Shimla. From the peak of the hill, one can have a panoramic view of the Shimla town and its surroundings. The landscape all around is a feast to one’s eyes. At the top is an old Hanuman temple.
Dorje Drag Monastery, Sarasvati Garden Estate, Kusmuti. A monastery in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Thubten Evam Dorje Drag. Entry free, donations welcome.
The Electronic Message Board at the Ridge
The Ridge, Jakhu Hill (North of The Mall). Built at the top of the town at 2230m, The Ridge is the center of Shimla’s cultural and social life – an excellent place to view the surrounding mountains.
Christ Church, The Ridge (Near Municipal Library). Open every day, services Su 8AM-11AM. Constructed in 1846, this is the second oldest church of the North India. The stain-glass windows,representing charity, faith, patience, hope, fortitude and humility, and 19th century organ are particularly impressive. The fresco that surrounds the chapel window was designed by Lockwood Kipling, Rudyard Kipling’s father. Entry free, donations welcome.
Lower Bazaar, The Mall (Below Central Section). Shops Open Mo-Sa. The Lower Bazaar is home to the city’s less expensive hotels, cheaper restaurants and stores, and a congested wholesale vegetable market. Although less opulent than its upper neighbor, the Lower Bazaar retains an old worldly charm and is an excellent place to try some Shimla specialty dishes, like Uradh Dal with rice or Shepard’s Pie. It also sells clothes and household items.