Shimla derives its name from "Shyamala";- the goddess Kali, whose temple existed in the dense forest that covered Jakhu Hill in the early 19th century. The English named it Simla. Shimla is well connected by air, road and rail with all parts of Himachal Pradesh, and the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashimir and the Union territory of Chandigarh.
Shimla covers an area of 18 sq. km. at a height of 7,238 ft. Shimla is surrounded by pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron forests. Its well developed facilities, easy accessibility and numerous attractions make it one of Indian's most popular and biggest hill-stations.
A narrow-railway links Kalka with Shimla. This important rail-link was built in 1924 and its "toy trains" still ply between the two stations, passing through 105 tunnels and beautiful rail-road stations. Half-way through the journey, after Solan, the lights of Shimla flow in the distance, looking like glimmering jewels studding the dark green of the mountains. The train takes six hours, and at every stop on the journey are smiling faces giving a warm welcome.
Situated in the North-West Himalayas, the climate of Shimla varies from a maximum of 10-11 degrees in winter to a maximum of 25-26 degrees in summers. The temperature never raised above the limit here. Moods of Shimla changed along with the seasons. In spring, flowers of all kinds, both wild and cultivated, smiling in each garden. During the monsoon, some of the best sunsets in the world can be seen. Winter is the season of "Long moon-night" in Shimla. It becomes a frost glistening silent city. A gathering of dark clouds tells the approach of snow generally a slight fall first, followed by a heavier one when the snowflakes sweep down through the fine-needles bending long branches to the ground. The following morning sees the town as a fantastic fairyland of white beauty.
The Mall is the main shopping centre of Shimla. It also has many restaurants, clubs, banks, bars, Post Offices and tourist offices. The Gaiety Theatre is also situated there. People walk up and down the Mall slowly, stopping to gossip, as it is the main meeting place for everyone. The Ridge and Scandal point are the two main meeting points at the Mall.
Christ Church situated on the Ridge, the second oldest church in Northern India. It has a very majestic appearance and inside there are stained glass windows which represent faith, hope, charity, fortitude, patience and humility. Christ Church is a place all visitors should spend some time in.
Jakhu Hill is the highest peak situated at a distance of 2 km from Shimla, at a height of 8000 ft. It offers a beautiful view of the town and of the snow-covered Himalayas. At the top of the Hill, there is an old temple of Hanuman, which is also the home of countless playful monkeys waiting to be fed by all visitors.
Shimla State Museum
The Museum, which was opened in 1974, has tried to project hill-out and the cultural wealth of the state. There is a collection of miniature Pahari paintings, sculptures, bronzes wood-carvings and also costumes, textiles and jewellery of the region.
Indian Institute of Advanced Studies
This institute is housed in the Viceregal Lodge, which was built in 1884-88 during the British times. It has spacious gardens and is ringed by beautiful pine trees. All is calm and serene just the right atmosphere for a student of literature or politics.
Situated at a distance of 5 kms. From the Ridge is the lovely township of Summer Hill at a height of 6,500 ft. on the Shimla-Kalka railway line. Mahatma Gandhi lived in these quiet surroundings during his visits to Shimla. Himachal Pradesh University is situated here.
Developed as the playground of Shimla, Annandale is 2-4 kms. It is a favourite spot for cricket, picnics and the princely game of polo.
Tara Devi Temple
Tara Devi Temple has a temple dedicated to the goddess of stars on top of the hill. It stands 11 km from the bus stop. There is a military Dairy Town here as well as the headquarters of Bharat Scouts and Guides. At a height of 6,070 ft. Tara Devi Temple is an ideal place for a person wanting peace and some rest.
A popular Hanuman temple is located here. An excellent view of Shimla can get from the temple. It can be reached by car or on foot.
13 kms. away from Shimla, Mashobra has several excellent picnic spots. Mashobra is the site of the annual Sipi fair in June. The nearest rest house is at Craignano which is 3 kms. from Mashobra, and is a beautiful holiday resort.
Kufri is the winter sports capital of Shimla which is at a 16 kms distance from Shimla at a height of 8,600 ft. During winter, visitors have the facility for skiing. The skiing season is at its best during January and February. Equipment for skiing is available from HPTDC winter sports club at Kufri. Apart from skiing, Kufri is a lovely picnic spot with a beautiful view of the hills around and the snowy peaks. There is also a zoo that delights children.
It's located at a distance of 22 kms. From Shimla which is surrounded by beautiful deodar trees. Naldehra has a well kept nine-hole golf-course. It is a lovely, popular picnic spot. The annual Sipi fair in June is held in Naldehra.