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Top Travel Reasons to Visit Shimla – The Queen of Hills

Reasons to visit Shimla are far too many. This beautiful hill station has been witnessing a spurge in the number of Indian and foreign visitors flocking the land on an annual basis. Shimla is popularly known as the ,”Queen of Hills” and the title is well earned and deserved.

Reasons to visit Shimla are so many that even a full length blog will not suffice to elaborate the travel experience in this part of North India. However by means of the current write up, I will endeavour to enlist the best travel reasons to visit the ‘Queen of Hills.’

As you take a walk amidst nature in Shimla town, you will feel a freshness in the air around. You will be enchanted by the chirping birds and the natural melody around. You will feel inspired by the native hill culture and the love with which the residents of this town will greet you.

Shimla has been a significant place throughout modern Indian history. The British impact on the culture, architecture and general lifestyle of people here is all quite prominent. Also, the stroll culture that begins at the Mall Road and ends at some delectable eatery.

You should plan traveling to Shimla soon to experience all the good things. Visit Shimla once and you will be sure to visit here again.

Best Reasons to Visit Shimla – The Queen of Hills

Shimla is a magnificent hill town. It won’t be incorrect to call it the mountain Queen in all magnificence. There are numerous numbers of reasons to visit Shimla. However, at this point in time, the ones that instantly come to my mind are the following thirteen reasons.

1. Ride your way through the rock cut trails of the Shimla Toy Train
2. Discover nature at its finest
3. Find wonderful attractions to explore
4. Take a walk through the pine forests
5. Make a historic connect with places
6. Gaze at the Elizabethan style architecture 
7. Go on a morning stroll to observe some amazing wildlife
8. Feel the amalgamation of both adventure and lazy inactivity
9. Get a glimpse of Theatre and some memorable performances
10. Enjoy the year round pleasant weather
11. Witness the land turning white during winters
12. Connect with the super loving locals
13.  Relish baked goods, snacks and coffee at the most delectable cafes



1. Ride your way Through the Rock Cut Trails of the Shimla Toy Train

One of the first reasons to visit Shimla is the opportunity to travel through the slow paced yet extremely cute and comfortable Toy Train. The majestic Toy Train will embrace you to a royal welcome and invite you to be a part of the lovely journey from Kalka to Shimla.

You can also choose to travel via the Rail Car. This is a one wagon vehicle and is faster than the Toy Train. I can vouch for the fact that you must have never experienced something like the Rail Car.

If you’re one of those people who would love to ride through the trails through rock cut mountains and witness nature, you will most certainly hop on to the Toy Train or the Rail Car without a blink

Your journey will begin with the tunnels that open up into the wonderful landscape. On the route between Kalka and Shimla, there are 108 tunnels which were possible due to the manual tracking of a native man – Mr. Balku. He made it a point to let the Britishers (who ruled India that time) know of the possibility of constructing numerous tunnels. It is due to his efforts that the Kalka Shimla rail line is a possibility today.

You will experience wonderful moments as you cross the tunnels. You will hear your own echo as you ride through them.  You will exclaim more and more joy as tunnels close in and will finally cross by Tunnel number 108. The one that opens up into the glorious, ever shining Shimla. It will thrill you beyond measure.

While planning your trip, each time you had visualized your journey, the natural scene outside the Toy Train would have been your visual construct .Your mental imagery will now turn real and you will be able to view  Shimla in all its splendour. This will brighten you up.

reasons to visit Shimla

Ride through the evergreen Himalayan forests via the Toy Train. Picture by Rashid

reasons to visit shimla

The Rail Car that runs between Shimla and Kalka twice a day. Picture by Martin Shallcross

2. Discover Nature at its Finest

Shimla has been most deserving to have won the title of the ,”Queen of Hills” in the past. Till this day, the title justifies this wondrous hill town. Shimla lies literally in the lap of nature. The colour green is what defines it in every way. If you’re unable to find enough reasons to visit Shimla, make this one a part of your list.

The canopy of shrubs and herbs is visible through out. In the backdrop of this canopy stands tall the age old pine trees. Most of them are hundreds of years old. They have stood the test of time and continue to bless Shimla with grace and beauty.

The landscape of Shimla is made ethereal because of trees like Pine, Deodar and Spruce. The cones present on these trees add to the natural aroma of the breeze blowing across the town. Also, these trees provide Shimla with a natural cover that is enjoyed by travelers throughout the year.

Reasons to visit Shimla

Shimla is defined by vast stretches of greenery that is soothing to any being. Picture by Pancham Lohumi

reasons to visit Shimla

The amazing Green Valley on the way to Kufri. Picture by Rudy James

3. Find Wonderful Attractions to Explore 

As you step in Shimla, you will delve into a world of beauty and magnificence.  The crown of natural opulence on the Queen will enthrall you as you  begin exploring the attractions in and around Shimla. Some of these places have been featured in Indian movies. So it is likely that you must have seen them before on the celluloid. But it’s time to explore them in real on your trip.

Sightseeing attractions within Shimla like the Mall Road, Jakho Hills, Viceregal Lodge, Shimla British Resort, Clarkes, Woodville Palace, Annadale etc. in all their splendidness will welcome you. The places slightly outside Shimla like Kufri, Naldhera, Mashobra and Fagu will also embrace you.

You can begin your Shimla tour from the Mall Road. Take a stroll there, maybe sip some hot coffee and venture out for more adventure. If you’re fit, walk up the steep hill to reach Jakhu Temple. Else, hop on to the newly constructed rope-way and observe the city from the transparent glass as you climb higher and higher.

When you reach Jakhu, pay your respect to the deity in the temple and stand in awe of the deity’s tallest statue erected there. The statue is bright orange in colour and is easily seen from distances even on the outskirts of Shimla.

Moving down the hill slope now, you will reach the Ridge. Hang out here, eat a light snack and walk up to ‘Lakkar Bazaar’ – The wooden market. Shop for some creatively made wooden artifacts. You can even have your loved ones’ names or your own name carved on these artifacts.

The days that remain of your trip should be spent in exploring places like the Viceregal lodge within Shimla and the delights on the outskirts like Kufri and Naldhera.

reasons to visit Shimla

The famous Ridge above Mall Road where people take a stroll and enjoy some light sun. Picture by Anurag Bhatoa

Reasons to visit Shimla

The bright orange Hanuman Statue at Jakhu Hills. It is the tallest Hanuman statue in the world. Picture by Ashika Shetty

4. Take a Walk Through the Pine Forests

Your trip will not be deemed as complete if you do not take a walk through the Pine forests. Shimla has numerous forests within as well as outside the main territory. In fact, Shimla itself is one big Pine forest.

Make sure to take a walk amidst the lush greenery and peaceful environment. You can either take the Heritage walk from Clarks to Viceregal Lodge or just stroll in and around the Forest Road (starting from behind the Mall)

Those of you don’t minding getting cramps can even venture towards the Shimla British Resort from the Mall Road. Keep going further and you will reach the bottom of the hill. There you will discover a comforting green ground – Annadale.

Annadale is the official helipad for the armed forces of the region as well as for Government officials. It has been constructed in the middle of the Pine forests and has some residential colonies coming up in recent years. .

Admire the tall trees, greenery around, and climb your way up.

reasons to visit shimla

Spend quality time walking amidst the Pine trees and enjoying their shade. Picture by Amruta Dash

reasons to visit shimla

A forest in Kufri. A part of it is now a part of the National Park here. Picture by Vinay Tiwana

Make a Historic Connect with Places

The various sightseeing places in Shimla are wrought deep in history. They have been places of great historic significance. The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, commonly known as the Viceregal Lodge is one such place.

The Viceregal Lodge was known by this name from 1888 A.D to 1946 A.D. At that time, it was the summer residence of the Indian Viceroy who governed India from here during the summer months. Great beings like Mahatma Gandhi have been here. In fact, he even spent some time in prison here (that jail is still present here). The Viceregal Lodge has also been a venue of significant historic events such as the Shimla Conference.

After India became independent, the honourable Vice President S. Radhakrishnan and the honorable Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal officially registered the Viceregal Lodge as the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS). This was done with an intent of providing an environment suitable for academic research in humanities, social and natural sciences. Thousands of scholars from all the world have been ‘Fellows’ here.

The Indian Institute of Advanced Study will mesmerize you by its regal look and will take you back in time. The lush green lawns around will capture all your moments. Make sure to click some decent pictures here. It will be a while till you find another place like this. Also, take an inside tour here at a mere 40 INR per person.

reasons to visit shimla

The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies is among the finest historic places in Shimla. Picture by Lois

Reasons to visit Shimla

The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, intially known as the Viceregal Lodge is a beauty to behold. Picture by Puneet Bawa

6. Gaze at the Elizabethan Style Architecture

Shimla is blessed historically with some fine architecture. Since the Britishers had made Shimla their summer capital, their early influence on major buildings is still quite prominent.

For travelers who are lovers of art and architecture, one of the top reasons to visit Shimla should be the unique structure of monuments and other buildings here. Some of these buildings are Government offices now, while others are schools, colleges and even hospitals.

The most prominent building carved in rich Elizabethan style architecture is the Christ Church located on the Ridge above the Mall Road. It’s light pastel yellow in colour and is symbolically seen as a major landmark of the Queen of Hills.

The church has glass windows that are stained in colour. The colours represent hope, charity, faith, fortitude, patience, and humanity. There’s an age old heritage clock on the outside of the church. It had stopped recently but has now been made functional. You can enter the Christ Church on Sundays and special occasions.

More prominent examples of the Elizabethan structure are the Viceregal Lodge (discussed in detail above), the Gorton Castle (now functioning as the Accountant Generals Office), the Oberoi Cecil, Wild Flower Hall, Kennedy House,  Shimla Heritage Museum, General Post Office, the Railway Board Building and the Raj Bhavan (official resident of the honourable Governor of Himachal Pradesh).

reasons to visit Shimla

Christ Church is one of the most popular landmarks of Shimla. Picture by Subhasis Bordoloi

reasons to visit shimla

The Woodville Palace is a perfect blend of Neo Gothic and Elizabethan style architectures. Picture by Kunal

 

7. Go on a Morning Stroll to Observe Some Amazing Wildlife

A very valid reason to visit Shimla should be to observe some unique fauna in its natural habitat. However, the wildlife will not be easily accessible in the core of Shimla town. You will have to venture around slightly outwards, either towards the Summer Hill area or towards the Prospect Hill or even towards the Dalhie region.

Summer Hill lies at a distance of about 2.5 kms from the Mall Road. Camp their at Potter’s Hill or else where and make sure to rise early morning. Take a stroll around the region and you are sure to catch a lovely glimpse of more than 9 varieties of birds, Deers, Muntjacs, Wild Hens, Hares, Jackals, Foxes, Langurs, and even Wolves (although the wolves are a rare sighting).

If you stay in and around Prospect Hill or the Dalhie region, you might even come across leopards during early dawn or late night. I need to mention here that hunting wildlife or poaching in any form is illegal. So do not indulge in such activities. It’s time we start respecting our environment and preserve the ecosystem.

In case you’ve not been able to spot any wildlife or are not an early riser, visit the animal parks and sanctuaries nearby. The closest ones are located at Kufri and Chail.

reasons to visit shimla

The Langurs are a common sighting in the forests of Shimla. Picture by Abhi Kumar

reasons to visit shimla

A fierce leopard habituating at the National Park in Kufri. Picture by Ankit Dogra

8. Feel the Amalgamation of Both Adventure and Lazy Inactivity

Shimla happens to provide the perfect blend of adventure and inactivity. Hence a lot of travelers find this to be one of the most practical reasons to visit Shimla.

While adventure lovers can explore activities like trekking, camping, hiking, ice skating (during winters) and skiing (during winters), the more easy going travelers can spend quality time in this hill town amidst nature and by gazing at its beauty.

Most of the adventure activities are provided both in as well as on the outskirts of Shimla. Places like Kufri offer winter sports, Naldhera offers golfing opportunity, while Chail offers trekking opportunity. For hiking and camping fans, Potter’s Hill in Summer Hill will prove to be a good option.

The nature gazers can spend hours and hours strolling along the zig zag trails, enjoying some authentic Shimla baked goods and immersing themselves in the songs of chirping cuckoos and high flying hawks.

reasons to visit shimla

Lazying around in Shimla witnessing its beauty at both day and night is heart warming. Picture by Anurag Bhatoa

reasons to visit Shimla

Enjoy camping in the woods at Potter’s Hill. Picture by Aditya Sinha

9. Get a Glimpse of Theatre and Witness Some Memorable Performances

Shimla has been endowed with a culture that promotes the visual arts. Gaiety Theatre located on the Ridge enriches the audience with some fine performances and seasonal events. It has been named after the famous Gaiety Theater of London.

Henry Irwin has designed the Gaiety Theatre originally. This same talented man also designed the Viceregal Lodge. A wooden board of the Amateur Dramatics Club (ADC) can be seen hanging on the door to the upper level of the Gaiety Theater.

The Amateur Dramatics Club hosts a number of plays till this date. In fact some of the finest performances on stage have been given by actors of the ADC.

This isn’t just a place for plays and events (although they comprise the most important aspects here). Gaiety Theatre is also symbolic of the social life of Shimla and its inmates.

It has withstood the tests of time and has recently been renovated with a brand new architecture and material.

reasons to visit shimla

Catch a glimpse of some lovely performance being showcased at Gaiety Theatre. Picture by Pawan Thakur

reasons to visit shimla

The sign board of the Amateur Dramatic Club at the Gaiety Theatre. Picture by Lachlan Rutherford

10. Enjoy the Year Round Pleasant Weather

Shimla is one of the very rare regions of India that is blessed with a pleasant weather all year round. Since it lies in a temperate region as opposed to a tropical one (like most other parts of India), the weather is always a balanced one. There are no extreme summers or extreme winters. This makes for one of the top reasons to visit Shimla for most of the travelers.

During summers, there happens to be an influx from travelers from scorching hot regions from around the world. During winters, Shimla witnesses a high foot fall from travelers owing to the snow fall. In fact, many visitors plan their trip during the Christmas – New Year season in an expectation of seeing Shimla turn white.

reasons to visit shimla

Explore the lesser known destinations in Shimla throughout 12 months. They are forever pleasant. Picture by Denis Kullu

reasons to visit shimla

Various varieties of flowers bloom in Shimla throughout the year. Picture by Pankaj Raina

11. Witness the Land Turning White during Winters

What can be more endearing than seeing snow flakes falling from the sky ? Witnessing the snow flakes fall from high above will make you stand in awe of mother nature.

The entire terrain of Shimla town turns white during snow fall. The glimmering street lights fading onto freshly fallen snow or the dark green Pine trees transforming into white colour gives a sense of wonder to the beholder.

Traveling to the ‘Queen of Hills’ when it turns white is one of the best travel reasons to visit Shimla for anyone. You can not only capture nature at its finest but also try some winter sports such as ice skating and skiing.

reasons to visit shimla

Watching the snow flakes fall on the ground and freeze there is a serene feeling. Picture by Piyush Chaudhary

12. Connect with the Super Loving Locals

Shimla as a travel destination doesn’t just comprise of beautiful places to visit but also beautiful souls. The local inmates of this hill town will go up to any length to help you out in case you’re stuck.

The people of Shimla are affectionate, compassionate and kind. They are simple minded and don’t believe in harming others. As a traveler you feel quite safe in Shimla. Also, nobody will judge you in case you’re traveling solo (including women).

The comforting and warm hearted people of the region who will welcome you with open arms in their Dev Bhoomi (Land of Gods) should you provide you with ample reasons to visit Shimla. I mean how many places can you travel in India where people are so good natured and civil ?

Visit Shimla once and the people here will make you their own forever.

Reasons to visit Shimla

The people of Shimla are a compassionate lot. Respect them and make a connect with them. Picture by Vaibhav Reekhan

reasons to visit Shimla

The Lamas are an integral part of Shimla and some of them have been living here for more than 4 decades. Picture by Nyima

13. Relish Baked Goods and Snacks at the Most Delectable Cafes

No trip can fully be enjoyed without savouring the locally prepared delicacies. If you’re in this hill town, one of the important travel reasons to visit Shimla should be to relish the baked goods, desserts and unique snacks.

While in Shimla, make sure to visit the ‘Wake and Bake Cafe,’ ‘Cafe Sol,’ ‘Shimla Times Cafe,’ ‘Aunties Kitchen,’ ‘Krishna Bakers,’ ‘Trishul Bakers’ and ‘Beekays.’ All these places will offer you a wonderful variety of snacks and other edible goods.

At Krishna Bakers, try this snack known as ‘Kurkeys.’ It’s their unique receipe and is not to be found anywhere else in north India. At Aunties’ Kitchen , try the most authentic Chinese and Tibetan food. It’s a small but super delightful eatery run by a third generation Chinese woman. At Beekays, try nominal but the best pizzas of Shimla town. Their Barbecued Pizza is a hit among travelers.

Cafe Sol, Wake and Bake Cafe, Cafe Shimla Times will offer you a very punk ambiance along with a decent variety of snacks and drinks. At Cafe Shimla Times, there’s a musical show each night performed by local artists.

Reasons to visit Shimla

Savour delicacies from across the world at ‘Wake and Bake Cafe.’ Picture by Kriti Thakur

reasons to visit Shimla

Visit Cafe Shimla Times for good food, good ambiance and good music. Picture by Nivedita Ghosh

Best Travel Reasons to Visit Shimla during Summers

One of the important travel reasons to visit Shimla during summers should be the local art and culture festival. It is popularly known as the ‘Shimla Summer Festival’ and has performances by both local as well as national level artists (including some famous Bollywood names).

Also, a beauty pageant for the selection on ‘Miss Shimla’ is conducted at the end of the festival.

The entrance fees to the festival is quite nominal, the security is high and the timing extends past midnight.

Best Travel Reasons to Visit Shimla during Winters

Even though I’ve mentioned about Shimla turning white before, I’d like to point it out again. After all, it isn’t everyday that you can witness snow falling from the sky on the ground below you. Watching snow flakes fall is not only serene but gorgeous.

When the land sparkles white, there is a strange sense of quietude and peace. A lot of people feel that winters mean extreme temperatures in Shimla. But that is not the case. Once the snow falls, the sun rises the next morning to impart warmth and more light to the land. Also, the snow turns into ice and you should ensure not walking on it. Else, you’ll slip and injure yourself badly.

Best Travel Reasons to Visit Shimla during Spring

When the winters are over in Shimla and the nature starts blooming again, you have got to pack your bags and visit. This should be one of your good enough reasons to visit Shimla.

It needs to be said here that while the rest of India faces the heat from the sun at the beginning of spring, Shimla lies at peace with a really pleasant climate.

The first sign of approaching spring are the presence of Rhododendron flowers on trees. Their petals mark the roads red and give them a royal look. Be sure to taste some edible items prepared from these flowers. They are available at HPMC counters throughout Shimla and else where.



Essential Information for Travelers Visiting Shimla

If you’ve made up your mind and have found my best travel reasons to visit Shimla satisfactory, here’s some essential information that should be known by each visitor to the region.

Location – The north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh
Available modes of travel – Buses, trains and flights
Accessibility to Travelers – All the year round
Level of safety – Moderate to high
Accommodation options – Hotels, guest houses and home stays
Internal transport options – Public transport, Ola cabs and state run taxis
Top travel tip – Do not tease or feed monkeys at any cost. They are dangerous.

I hope the all the reasons to visit Shimla that have been mentioned in my blog above convince you to plan a trip to my home town. Make a connect with nature and go exploring the region. Always respect the mountains and the surrounding ecosystem. We will cease to exist if we interfere with nature. So let us all make an endeavour to preserve the sanctity of Shimla so that its stays green and clean for all times to come.

Happy wayfaring.

About the Author

Deep Wilson

Deep Wilson

Mr. Deep Wilson hails from the beautiful hill town of Shimla and has been born and brought up there. He is an experienced Administrator with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Skilled in Leadership, Public Speaking, Curriculum Development, Team Building, Deep is a . talented consulting professional. His love for Shimla is deeply reflected in his writing.

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