Shimla, the beautifully nestled town in Himachal Pradesh is blissfully located in the Himalayan foothills. It was once the summer capital of British India. It remains the focal point of the narrow-gauge Kalka-Shimla Railway, completed in 1903. It lies at an altitude of approximately 2,205 meters (7,234 feet) above sea level. Its name is derived from the goddess Shyamala. She is an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali.
Shimla’s history dates back to the early 19th century when it was discovered by the British. The British belonged to a place with a colder climate. So, in their quest for a suitable retreat from the unbearable heat of the Indian summers, they found Shimla.
Shimla is also well-known for handicraft shops along The Mall, a pedestrian sidewalk, as well as the Lakkar Bazaar, a market specializing in wooden toys and crafts. It is a fun-filled getaway to escape in the scorching summers as well as in the winters.
Shimla- An Overview
The town’s architecture echoes its colonial past. The buildings are mostly the Victorian and Tudor styles. The Ridge is a centrally located open space in the heart of Shimla. Then Mall Road is a bustling place that is lined with shops, cafes, and colonial-era buildings.
Shimla’s climate attracts tourists both in summer as well as winter. The summer months, provide a respite from the heat while the winters change Shimla into a wonderland. It is a major attraction for snow enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
There are several historical landmarks here. The Rashtrapati Niwas, also known as the Viceregal Lodge served as the summer residence of the viceroys during the British Raj. It is surrounded by lush gardens and is an architectural marvel. Perched atop Jakhoo Hill, Jakhoo Temple offers scenic views of the snow-capped mountains.
There are many festivals and events in Shimla. The Summer Festival introduces the tourists to the region’s traditional music, dance, and handicrafts. Another event is the Shimla Ice Skating Carnival, held in January. It attracts ice skating enthusiasts from around India.
Best time to visit Shimla
The best time to visit Shimla is from May to June in the scorching summers. December to January are equally pleasant with misty mornings. Shimla has distinct clear blue skies in summer. In the winter season, the snowy landscape gives a pristine look. The pines, firs, cedars, and oak trees add an element of mysticism to the beauty of the place.
Best time to visit Shimla in Winter
The best season to visit Shimla to enjoy the snow is the winter season. Snowfall season in Shimla begins in late December and continues till February.
Snowfall Season in Shimla
The snowfall season in Shimla is between the months of October and February. During this time tourists can enjoy activities such as skiing and ice skating.
Shimla in the Summer
Shimla is blessed with soothing and serene weather during the summer months. When temperatures are scorching high in the rest of India, several families opt for a Shimla summer vacation.
There is a wonderful array of tourist attractions dotting the hill station. Also, there are several exciting activities suited for the entire family to try out. The perfect Shimla itinerary can be enjoying the Kalka-Shimla Toy Train Ride. You can also try taking the off-beat option of going on short treks to some popular destinations like Kamna Devi Temple, Chadwick Falls, Jakhoo Temple, and Tara Devi Temple
Monthly Weather in Shimla
Shimla experiences a subtropical highland climate. The weather in Shimla can keep changing significantly throughout the year.
During the month of January, Winter is at its peak, and Shimla experiences cold temperatures. Daytime temperatures can range from 2°C to 10°C. In comparison to the day, nights can be very cold, often dropping below freezing.
Similar to January, February remains cold with temperatures ranging between 3°C and 11°C. Snowfall is common during these months.
The winter season starts to give way to a milder climate during the month of March. Daytime temperatures range from 6°C to 16°C. This is also the time when snow begins to melt.
Towards April, Shimla’s weather changes to a more pleasant one. Daytime temperatures range from 8°C to 20°C, and the weather becomes more suitable for outdoor activities.
May witnesses the beginning of the tourist season. During this time, daytime temperatures range from 13°C to 25°C. The weather is generally mild and comfortable, perfect for outings with friends and family.
Summers are in full swing during the month of June and temperatures can reach up to 28°C during the day itself. It’s the favorite time for tourists due to the pleasant weather.
Monsoon arrives in Shimla during the month of July. There is moderate to heavy rainfall here. The temperatures range from 15°C to 23°C. The entire landscape is lush and green.
During the month of August, the monsoon continues, and the weather remains cool with temperatures ranging from 15°C- 22°C. Rainfall can be heavy at times.
Towards September and October, the monsoon starts to recede, and the weather becomes more comfortable. Daytime temperatures hover around 14°C to 23°C.
As Autumn sets in October, Shimla experiences a gradual drop in temperatures. Daytime temperatures are around 21°C, and the weather is generally pleasant.
During the month of November, winter begins to set in again, and temperatures start to drop. The nights become colder. As December approaches, Winter is at its peak, and Shimla experiences cold temperatures. Daytime temperatures can range from 3°C to 12°C, and snowfall is possible.
How to Reach Shimla
Shimla is one of the few hill stations that has its airport, Jubbarhatti Airport which is around 20 kilometers away from the main city. The frequency of flights is irregular and the airport is not functional throughout the year. Please remember that during summer monsoons, flight cancellations are quite common.
The most preferable way to reach Shimla is by flying to Chandigarh or Delhi. From here you can book a cab to Shimla. There are buses available to take you to Shimla from Chandigarh airport.
How To Reach Shimla By Train
Shimla has a small railway station inside the city itself but only narrow-gauge trains from Kalka come here. Traveling to Shimla by train can be quite a memorable experience. The iconic toy train from Kalka to Shimla takes around 7 hours to reach Shimla.
The Kalka Railway Station is a broad-gauge railway station and there are regular trains that connect it to Chandigarh and Delhi. If you are opting to travel to Shimla by train, you will have to come to Kalka first.
How To Reach Shimla by Road
One of the most popular ways to reach Shimla is by bus. Shimla has regular bus service from Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Jaipur, and Chandigarh. Buses to Shimla run either in the morning or late at night.
A road trip to Shimla can prove to be a mesmerizing experience. It is quite a fun experience if you have your car. As the city is well-connected, driving down is a good option to reach Shimla at your own pace. The shortest route is the Ambala route that connects Delhi to Shimla via NH 44, 152. It takes around 7 to 8 hours.
Best time to visit Shimla for Snowfall
If you really want to experience snowfall in Shimla, the best time to visit is during the winter months. Late December to early February is the best. The entire region is transformed into a snow wonderland. The falling snowflakes make you wonder at the beauty of nature.
Best time to visit Shimla for a Honeymoon
New couples can celebrate some special moments together in Shimla. The best time to visit is typically during the spring season from March to June and early autumn, September to November.
During spring, Shimla experiences a pleasant climate. It is a comfortable environment for outdoor activities. There is lush greenery all around. Beautiful flowers are in full bloom, creating an atmosphere for a perfect date.
Early autumn is also favourable with daytime temperatures ranging from 11°C to 23°C. The nights are cooler, but overall, the climate is enjoyable. During the autumn months, there are festivals and celebrations in Shimla providing an opportunity to experience the local culture.
Best time to visit Shimla with Family
The best time to visit Shimla with family depends on the preferences and interests of your family members. However, generally speaking, the most suitable times for a family trip to Shimla are during the following periods:
Summer (March to Jun)
Weather: The weather during these months is generally pleasant, with daytime temperatures ranging from around 15°C to 25°C. Nights can be cool but not extremely cold.
Activities: Summer is an excellent time for various outdoor activities, such as sightseeing, nature walks, and adventure sports. It’s a family-friendly time when you can explore the scenic beauty of Shimla.
Similar to spring, early autumn provides pleasant weather with daytime temperatures around 23°C. The nights are cooler, but it’s generally comfortable. During autumn, the Fall colors are awe-inspiring.
Things to Do in Shimla
Shimla offers a variety of adventurous activities and attractions for visitors.
You can stroll along The Ridge, which offers scenic views of the surrounding mountains. The Ridge is a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists alike.
Explore Mall Road bustling with activity to enjoy the colonial feel of the architecture. You can shop and dine at your heart’s will. There are several shops and restaurants here. So, relish the food here.
Visit the highest point in Shimla, the Jakhoo Temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. You can also enjoy a scenic view of the city from here.
Explore the historic Christ Church, dating back to the colonial era. It’s one of the most prominent landmarks in Shimla.
Visit the State Museum to explore the rich cultural and historical heritage of Himachal Pradesh. The museum has a variety of artifacts, paintings, and sculptures.
You can head to Kufri which is around 16 kilometers from Shimla for adventure activities like horse riding and skiing. The Himalayan Nature Park in Kufri is also not to be missed.
On the way to Kufri, enjoy the panoramic views of the lush Green Valley, known for its picturesque landscapes and natural beauty.
If you like golf, visit Annandale, which once served as a playground for the British.
Around 11 kilometers from Shimla, the Tara Devi Temple is well-known for its religious significance and breathtaking views.
Try to visit the Viceregal Lodge. It is an architectural wonder that served as the summer residence of the viceroys during the British.
Best Places to Stay in Shimla
Let’s discuss the best hotels to stay in Shimla which are Wildflower Hall, The Oberoi Cecil, Clarkes Hotel, Clarkes Hotel, and many more.
1. Wildflower Hall, An Oberoi Resort
Location: Chharabra, Shimla.
Approximate Cost: Starts from INR 25,000 per night.
Description: Amidst the Himalayas, this resort provides a luxurious mountain retreat. It has spacious rooms and a beautiful view.
2. The Oberoi Cecil
Location: Chaura Maidan, Shimla.
Approximate Cost: Starts from INR 15,000 per night.
It is a luxury hotel with colonial vibes, offering a comfortable stay and stunning views. It is located near the Mall Road, making it convenient for exploring the city.
3. Clarkes Hotel
Location: The Mall, Shimla.
Approximate Cost: Starts from INR 8,000 per night.
It is a heritage hotel with a colonial charm, located on Mall Road. If you are looking for old-world elegance and modern comfort, this is the best place for you.
4. Hotel Willow Banks
Location: Mall Road, Shimla.
Approximate Cost: Starts from INR 6,000 per night.
Situated on Mall Road, it provides comfortable accommodation with a host of facilities
5. East Bourne Resort & Spa
Location: Near Bishop Cotton School, Shimla.
Approximate Cost: Starts from INR 7,000 per night.
It is a resort offering a peaceful retreat with well-kept rooms and facilities. As it is located away from the main town, it provides a serene environment.
Shimla resonates with its natural beauty, scenic charm, and rich colonial legacy. With the captivating views of the mighty Himalayas, the majestic architecture, and the vibrant culture, Shimla is your escape to the tranquil world of the majestic mountains.
Frequently Asked Questions
The ideal duration for a trip to Shimla is 3 to 5 days. You can comfortably explore the main attractions, and stroll along the Mall Road. Since Kufri is near, try visiting the place too.
On average, the cost for a 5-day trip to Shimla might range from INR 20,000 to INR 40,000 per person. This does not include to and fro travel.
Snowfall in Shimla normally occurs during the winter months, from late December to February
To travel from Shimla to Manali, you can take a bus or hire a taxi. The distance between Shimla and Manali is around 250 kilometers. The journey takes approximately 7-8 hours by road.
There are several ways to reach Shimla from Delhi:
By Road: You can take a bus or hire a taxi. The journey by road takes around 8-10 hours.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Kalka, and from there, you can take the scenic Kalka-Shimla Toy Train or hire a taxi to Shimla.
By Air: The nearest airport is Jubbarhatti Airport in Shimla, but it has limited connectivity. You can also fly to Chandigarh Airport and then travel to Shimla by road.
Some of the top places to visit in Shimla include:The Ridge, Mall Road, Jakhoo Temple, Christ Church, Kufri, Green Valley, Shimla State Museum, Annandale, Tara Devi Temple, Viceregal Lodge (Rashtrapati Niwas)