Posted by: getaway2india | January 17, 2013

Shimla – The Switzerland of India

Himachal Pradesh is a state in north-western part of India, and offers much for those looking to experience the Himalayas. While it does not claim the highest peaks in the range, there is plenty to do aside from mountaineering. Its name literally means “Adobe of snow”.

Shimla in the Snow

Shimla in the Snow

Shimla 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.

Location of Himachal Pradesh in India

Location (in red) of Himachal Pradesh in India

Shimla is about 8000ft up on ridge between two hills. 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

Map of Himachal Pradesh

Map of Himachal Pradesh

 Sitting majestically above the searing plains, this spur has a pretty much flat top and it was on this that the Brits decided to build their town and they put up about 180 buildings to house the 7000 or so administrators. Every spring this great phalanx of personnel would take to the hills and the whole of India would then be run from Shimla, only to descend again at the end of the summer.  Today it takes only a few hours to travel up from Kalka, before the railway it took 17 days so it was a major effort.

Shimla in the Snow

Shimla in the Snow

Main attraction of Shimla is its cool climate and snow (during the winter) so to visit during the winter is good option to take advantage not only of off-season prices but also skiing, to experience snowfall, etc. Do note that chilly weather could pose problems to small children and they would be reluctant to walk long distances. Shimla at its wintery best is good for grownups and excellent for couples on honeymoon.

Shimla Map

Most of the residents are from the Pahadi community (the natives of Himachal Pradesh), but there is also a sizable minority from Punjab and Sindh, who moved to Shimla during the partition. As a result, the languages spoken in Shimla include Hindi, Punjabi, Pahadi and also English.

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.

Snow Fall in Shimla

Snow Fall in Shimla


Located at an altitude of approximately 2,200m above sea level, Shimla’s cool climate is the precise reason why it is such a popular summer retreat. Temperature varies between – 7 degrees C in the winter to 30 degrees C in the summer. Quite 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. Then there is also the Shimla Winter when it snows. Shimla snowfall is wondrous event. It is an experience in itself. It will transport you to a fairytale place where anything can happen.

In fact Shimla has to be visited 4 times –  once in Spring, once in Summer, once in Autumn and then in the Winter and have four completely different experiences.

Shimla Season Summary 

Season Months Temperature & Conditions
Spring March-April 10°C to 20°C  Clear skies. Occasional rain and thunderstorms.
Summer May- June 16°C to 28°C  Generally clear skies. Air might become         smoky due to forest fires.
Monsoon July-September 13°C to 20°C  Cool and humid. Continuous rain.
Autumn October-November 10°C to 23°C  Skies are clear, chilly evenings.
Winter December-February -7°C to 10°C    Generally dull weather. Frequent snowfall.

Getting In:

By Train (the most economical, most picturesque and the most grandest mode)

Delhi to Kalka = 4Hrs (Shatabdi Express) to 7 Hrs

and from Kalka to Shimla via the mountain train = 4Hrs to 6 Hrs

Total (7+4 = 11) about 11 Hours minimum.

Heritage Bridge No 541

This Mountain 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 by Train 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 . Chandigarh is closer to Shimla than Delhi.  So if you are flying in –  its better to get down at Chandigarh than Delhi. You can also choose to get off at Chandigarh (en-route to Kalka), and catch a taxi from there.

Special trains are also run during the holiday season. Visit the Indian railways website for the latest update on timings and services.

From Kalka there 6 different types of Train services:

  1. Kalka Shimla Mail,  – (Economical & Old, avoid) – 6 Hrs
  2. Himalayan Queen,   – (Economical, New, Popular) – 6 Hrs
  3. Deluxe Rail Motor Car    – (Deluxe) – 4.25 Hrs
  4. Shivalik Deluxe Express  – (Deluxe) – 4.45 hrs
  5. Shivalik Palace Tourist Coach – (Premium)
  6. Shivalik Queen Tourist Coach – (Premium)

1> On reaching Kalka, walk towards the engine of the Kalka mail and then turn right. All toy trains stand there. 101 stands in wait for passengers at the rightmost track.
2> A ticket checker will be at the door of 101. Therefore, keep your tickets handy.
3> This train does look like a bus with a seating capacity of just 14 people. You will be very lucky if you get seat number 13 and 14 because these seats offer maximum leg room.
4> The train’s fibre glass roof is covered by curtains that are pulled back if it rains or snows outside.
5> This train is really fast.
6> However, the train is a bit noisy, possibly because of its speed.
7> There is no toilet on board. However, don’t worry. This train will stop after every half an hour or so at stations where you will get toilets.
8> There is no pantry on board. However, the train stops midway at Barog for 10 mins where you can buy breakfast from the station. Barog is a picturesque station. So, keep your camera handy.

Economical Trains 

Kalka Shimla Mail

Kalka Shimla Mail

This is the oldest train service available on this track. This train takes less than six hours to reach either side. There are wooden coaches attached in this train with small windows and also there are plain wooden seats with no cushions. This train stops at Shoghi also.

The Himalayan queen

The Himalayan queen 

This is an improved version with new coaches and this is the most popular train today. It has cushioned standard chair car seats with large windows for greater views and good ambience. It takes a little less time than the mail train.

Deluxe Trains 

Deluxe Rail Motor Car with Transparent Roof

Deluxe Rail Motor Car with Transparent Roof

The deluxe Rail Motor Car (fastest)

The Deluxe Rail Motor Car is a visual delight as it resembles a bus of the Second World War vintage. Carrying 14 passengers at a time, it reaches its destination in 4.25 hrs (fastest). The car is fitted with a transparent fiber-glass roof, for a clear view of the sky. Time-cum-temperature display unit, altimeter and route indication board gives valuable information while traveling.

Shivalik Deluxe Express

Shivalik Deluxe Express

The Shivalik Deluxe Express

The Shivalik Deluxe Express is a connecting service to Howrah-Kalka Mail for Shimla. It accommodates 120 passengers and reaches its destination in 4.45 hrs.

The coaches are equipped with wall-to-wall carpeting, wide glass windows and reversible cushioned chairs. Improved lighting and a music system creates a pleasant atmosphere. The fare for both Deluxe Rail Motor Car and Shivalik Deluxe Express is the same with a complimentary meal at the picturesque Railway Station of Barog.

Note that while the Shivalik Deluxe Express can be reserved 120 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.

Premium Services Train 

 The Shivalik Palace Tourist Coach (luxury coach)

The Shivalik Palace Tourist Coach provides a luxurious ambience for a dream holiday. It can accommodate a part of six persons and is equipped with folding cushioned bed, refrigerator, on-board-kitchen and dining table with cushioned chairs.  The fare includes complimentary accommodation of two luxurious retiring rooms at Shimla for the day and free meals en-route.

The Shivalik Queen Tourist Coach (luxury coach)

A comparatively late entrant on the Kalka-Shimla section is the Shivalik Queen, which is a luxury coach. It is divided into two portions consisting of two coupes each. The coach is equipped with ultramodern facilities and fittings like wall-to-wall carpets, altimeter, fancy lights, chrome plated luggage rack.

These coaches are attached to other trains as per requirements.

For Train Timings between Kalka to Shimla look here:

(Note: the timings may change due to bad weather)

By Road (The Quickest Mode)

It takes only 2.50 hrs from Kalka to Shimla on road by taxi.

If hiring a private taxi, ensure that the driver has experience driving in hilly regions and is not deprived of sleep.

Chandigarh/Delhi-Shimla Cab Services, Ph 00 91 9041 311 411 (, 24 hours. One way Pick/Drop facilities to Chandigarh/Delhi from Shimla. Online booking. Prices starting Rs 2200.

By plane

To check the Schedule of flights to Shimla (Jubbarhatti) and Chandigarh  you may want to go to the airlines official website to get the latest services, time table and fares. The major Indian airlines and their websites:

Indian Airways (now Air India):

Jet Airways:


Air Deccan:

Make My Trip Ticket booking website

Jubbarhatti  (IATA code:SLV) Shimla’s Airport although only 22 km away, a distance which — owing to the difficulties of the mountainous terrain, poor condition of road surfaces, and the increasing traffic congestion —often takes hours to traverse by car from Shimla.

The airport has severe limitations due to its elevation at 1,546 metres above sea level and by the shortness of its single runway (1,230 m) which ends in precipice  at both ends, and it can accommodate only turboprop Dornier aircraft; Jets (such as Airbus A310, 320s and Boeing 737s) can all land at the larger Chandigarh (IATA code:IXC) airport. Commercial service at the Jubbarhatti Airport is operated daily to and from Delhi, by Kingfisher.

The Chandigarh Airport, located at a distance of 120 km from Shimla along far better roads and at an elevation of only 308 metres above sea level, offers far better flight options. Major airlines operate flights to Delhi, Jammu, and Mumbai. Most of the flights to Mumbai require a stop-over in Delhi.

[Please do confirm the flights till the very last moment, bad weather often delays flights during the winter fog].

After landing at the airport, take a pre-paid taxi to minimize hassle. You may stop for a bite on the Kalka-Shimla highway.

To See

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. The Electronic Message Board at the RidgeThe Ridge, Jakhu Hill (North of The Mall).

Christ Church, The Ridge

Christ Church, The Ridge

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.

Christ Church, The Ridge during Winter

Christ Church, The Ridge during Winter


Mall Road is the main street in Shimla

Mall Road is the main street in Shimla

The Mall: The Mall is the main shopping centre of Shimla. The Mall road is located a level below the ridge. The offices of municipal corporation, fire service, and police headquarters are located here. Automobiles, except emergency vehicles are not allowed on this road. For this reason, the locals — and tourists — are often found strolling on this road in the evenings.

Mall road has a number of showrooms, department stores, shops, restaurants and cafes. A Himachal emporium that offers handicraft products of Himachal Pradesh like locally designed woollen cloths, branded cloths, pottery items, and jewellery is also located here.  There are at least three books shops including one that sells old books. 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, Shimla

Jakhu Temple, 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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

Shimla Scandal Point

Shimla Scandal Point

Scandal point: Nobody knows why the Scandal Point is named so. There are many tales. The most romantic version has the Maharajah eloping with the British Commander in Chief’s daughter.

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.

Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

Viceregal Lodge, The Mall (Atop Observatory Hill), +91 177 283-1375. Open every day (Only the entrance hall and gardens are open to the public). An imposing British-raj mansion built under the guidance of Lord Dufferin in 1888. Manicured British style gardens surround the mansion on three sides, while the fourth side is a place to relax and watch the sun dip below the Himalayan foothills. The teak-paneled interior is impressive, and well worth a viewing. Entry Rs 20 per adult. Both still and video cameras are allowed for a fee of Rs. 10. A guided tour is conducted in a very professional manner and explains the historical importance of the building – worth capturing if you have a video camera. There is a small book shop and a cafe in the premises.

Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary, A unique, well preserved mixed Himalayan forest with predominantly Himalayan Cedar trees. Permits are required for entry Rs 50 per person and Rs 200 per car. Monday closed. Though not mandatory its best to hire naturalists to take you into the sanctuary. Trained naturalists are available at Mountain Guides India ph. +91 9736438061. The forest is home to the barking deer, goral, flying squirrel, pine marten, porcupine and leopard. There are also a great number of birds; in fact there is the highest density of koklass pheasant in this forest. There is a man-made reservoir in the center of the forest that provides drinking water to Shimla town. The reservoir was completed in 1901 and to the water supply scheme from the sanctuary is Shimla’s only gravity feed water supply scheme. The sanctuary is under the charge of the Forest Department (Wildlife).

Hip Hip Hurray Amusement Park (9000 ft), Kufri (NH-22, 16 Kms. from Shimla), ☎ 01776450993. Nagsons Amusement Park,HIP HIP HURRAY, Kufri, is the only amusement park located at 8500 ft. above sea level offering adventure activities like Burma Bridge Crossing, Flying Fox, Commando Net, Rock Climbing etc and also activities like Boating, Bump’em Cars, Rides, Indoor Golf and a number of virtual reality, redemption & video games. Other attractions include Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Shopping, Telescopic View etc

Tara devi is famous for the temple, Tara Devi is one of the many forms of Goddess Kali. This temple is located on the top of the hill. Tara devi is located at the distance of around 11 kms from the bus stand of Shimla. This is a perfect location for the people who are looking for some rest and peace at a high altitude of around 6070 ft. The temple is very clean with very beautiful flowers maintained all around it.


Shimla houses a few excellent museums. The State Museum is perhaps the most well-known.

State Museum, Chaura Maidan (Atop the Inverarm Hill, in the general vicinity of The Oberoi Cecil hotel), +91 177 280-5044. Open Tu-Su, 10AM-5PM. Housed in a reconstructed Raj-style building, the State Museum displays a collection of around 10,000 artifacts gathered from all over Himachal Pradesh. The Pahari miniatures and 6th-11th century Gupta sculptures are especially impressive. Entry Rs 10 (Cameras free, flash prohibited).

Photo Art Gallery, Potter’s Hill (Near HP Univ.), +91 94180-11172. The gallery displays more than 20,000 photographs of Himachal taken by the celebrated photographer Inder Pal. It’s a wonderful place to explore and learn more about the beauty, culture and flora and fauna of this Himalayan state. In addition, Potter’s Hill is scenic area, so as well as visiting the gallery, visitors can also enjoy hiking, climbing, observing wild life and enjoy the fresh Himalayan air. Entry Rs 5 (Cameras free, flash prohibited).

Sankat Mochan: A popular Hanuman temple is located here. We get an excellent view of Shimla from the temple. It can be reached by car or on foot.

Zoo at Kufri (tel:+91 177 265-2911) — home to native species such as the great Himalayan Snow Leopard, and varieties of Musk Deer. Open daily, Rs 15 per person. Special free passes are available during weekends.

Road links for other scenic spots in these hills also take off from the Kalka – Shimla Railway. First, there is Kasauli, a British day cantonment town, small, quiet but picturesque. Home to a Louis Pasteur Institute that manufactures the anti-rabies vaccine and a Central Research Institute that makes vaccines against typhoid and cholera and antidotes against snake bite, Kasauli can be approached by road from Dharampur Station.

Another famous hill station in the area is Chail. Piqued by British snobbery, the Maharajah of Patiala built his summer capital here as a rival to Shimla. Accessible from Kandhaghat or Shimla, Chail is at a height of 2150 meters. The Maharaja’s Palace, built in the 19th Century, together with the Cottages of his staff are today a beautiful holiday resort. Chail boasts of the highest cricket ground of the world, over looking the Sutlej Valley, with a spectacular view of snow capped Himalayan ranges.

To Do

Walks: Take a leisurely walk at the Mall — this 7km thoroughfare is famous for its Victorian Architecture, and retains much of its Raj-era charm. To get there, take the lifts from Cart Road, an ingenious system designed to save pedestrians from walking. Rs 7 per trip. The central area of The Mall is composed of half-timbered buildings and is the place to rub shoulders and clash knives and forks with Shimla’s elite. A statue of freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai is located at Scandal Point, the highest point on The Mall. Further along is the very pleasant Clarke’s Hotel, which is an excellent place to take a break and relax over a coffee.

Take in the View. View of Cart Road and surrounding hills from The Mall.

Naldehra Golf Course

Naldehra Golf Course

View the Naldehra Golf Course, on the northern outskirts of the town, at a distance of about 25 kilometres from Shimla. The 9-hole golf-course, set amidst sloping meadows at an elevation of 2,050 metres above sea level, was designed by Lord Curzon in the 19th century. The flora is impressive, ranging from alpine grass to pine and deodar. But the tourists are not permitted to enter the golf course and they can only have a distant view of the golf-course. There are two separate entries, one for walking and the other for horses, which lead to a vast ground surrounded by pine trees and golf-course. It is better go up by own instead of taking horses and enjoy the serenity.

Ice skating is possible in Shimla from November to March, though Kufri and Chail on the outskirts of town offer better options.

Trek in the local mountains. Walk along the meandering roads to the meadows at Annadale, 5 kms out of town. The Glen, further west, is a favorite picnic-spot with locals. Head north and visit Wildflower Hall, the former retreat of Lord Kitchner. Furthur on along the Hindustan-Tibet Road lies the quaint village of Mashobra. A gravel-road indicates the entry to the Seog Wildlife Sanctuary. The annual Sipi Fair is held in a little steep pathway off Mashobra.

Chandra Tal

Chandra Tal

Chandra Taal (meaning the Lake of the Moon), or Chandra Tal, is situated at an altitude of about 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) in the Himalayas. Mountains of scree overlook the lake on one side, and a magnificent cirque presents a view on the other. The name of the lake originates from its crescent shape. Situated in the Spiti part of the Lahul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, Chandra Taal is a popular destination for trekkers and campers.

The lake is accessible on foot from Batal as well as from Kunzum Pass from late May to early October. There is also a motorable road from Batal which is 16 km (9.9 mi) away from Chandra Taal, but before August, its condition can be bad. The road from Kunzum Pass is accessible only on foot, and it is about 8 km (5.0 mi) from Chandra Taal. Suraj Tal is also accessible Chandra Taal, 30 km (19 mi) away. Vast meadows on the banks of the lake are the camping sites. During springtime, these meadows are carpeted with hundreds of kinds of wildflowers.

The most surprising thing about this lake is that there is no visible source of this lake but there is a visible outlet of this lake which means that water to this lake comes from underground.

Kinnaur Kailash Parikrma Trek: Kinnaur is one of the most beautiful places but very less known district of Himachal Pradesh. This place is surrounded by Tibet, Garhwal Himalayan, spitti valley and Kullu. Sutlej River also flows from the Kinnaur valley. Tourists can experience a Buddhism life style, due to its proximity to Tibet.

To Buy

  • Wooden handicrafts
  • Woolens and Kullu shawls
  • Wooden Toys,
  • Walking Sticks and
  • Tibetian carpets made in nearby Kinnaur.
  • Jams and squashes made from local fruits produce.
  • Chinese shoes  – from the stretch between Combermere Bridge and the Telegraph Office

Himachal Emporium, 3 The Mall,

An excellent place to purchase locally-made handicrafts at set prices. Run by the Himachal Pradesh Government. +91 177 280-1234 (fax:+91 177 265-3164), Open Mo-Fr, 10AM-5PM.

Minerva Book House, Hotel Minerva, +91 177 225-2043. A good selection of novels.

To Eat

The Devicos, 5 The Mall (one storey beneath street level, directly below the Café Coffee Day outlet in the vicinity of the BSNL Building), One of the very few restaurants in town with food appealing both to Indian and to Western palates. One of the most expensive places to eat in town (apart from 5-star hotels), but worth it. Its twin Bar, located two storeys directly above (one storey above street level), is a hangout popular with the locals. Ph. +91 177 280-6335. 10:00AM~10:00PM.

Baljees, 26 The Mall, Among the town’s oldest eateries, Baljees offers delicious Western and Indian fare. Their desserts are best avoided. Ph. +91 177 265-2313. 9AM-11PM.

The Oberoi Cecil Restaurant, Chaura Maidan (in The Oberoi Cecil Hotel),

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with closing breaks in between). A good selection of European and Asian dishes, complemented by best European and non-European vintages. Chandeliers and wood-paneling add to the old-world elegance, a perfect setting for a quiet dinner. The best and the most expensive place to eat in town. Ph. +91 177 2804848.

  • Silver Oak, Circular Road, Ph:  +91 177 225-7588. 7-11PM. Serves Mughlai and Chinese. The food is not great, but passable. Nice decor and a comfortable atmosphere.
  • The Lutyens Room, Springfields, Chhota Shimla (opposite Tibetan School), Ph:  +91 177 222-1297, 222-1298. 11AM-10:30PM. Continental and Indian food. Rs
  • Ashiana & Goofa, The Band Stand, The Ridge.
  • The restaurant at Hotel Pinewood, Barog (tel:+91 1792 238-825 & 238-387) serves cheap Punjabi fare. There’s also a Cafe Coffee Day outlet at Solan, which sells pastries, coffee and sandwiches and a Mc Donalds on the way.
  • Loveena Restaurant, The Ridge. below rain shelter, restaurant with view. Indian, Chinese, Continental.
  • New Plaza Restaurant (Plaza), 60/61, Middle Bazar, Ph:  0177-2655438.
  • Qilaa, The Mall Rd; below Syndicate Bank, near Scandal Point (On the way from Scandal Point to DC Office), Ph:  +91 9736691209. 11AM-11PM. A favourite among frequent visitors and the locals.
  • Sher E Punjab, Ridge Sanjauli Road (take road to Lakkar Bazar, Just 100 M from Ridge point.). 10 AM to 10 PM. If you are looking for a local Indian food which people of India have at home, then you should try this place. A good place to eat tava chappati (Indian bread) at reasonable rates. Ask for mixed vegetable dish with butter chappati. INR 30-150.
  • Indian Coffee House, The Mall (On Mall Rd, just down from the post office on the left). Probably the cheapest food in Shimla, especially during peak season. They serve good south Indian food as well as surprisingly good western breakfast fare – try the Rs 40 French toast. Rs 20 – 80.

To Drink

Himachal is known as the fruit-bowl of India. It has a thriving food processing industry that churns out fruit-based drinks, squashes and concentrates. The most famous flavors are plum, litchi, strawberry, mango and guava. You can also try the real aqua mineral spring water available near the source (if you are trekking)!


For alcoholic drinks, try the locally brewed wines such as apricot, plum and apple & ginger cider. In predominantly Tibetan areas, a rice wine known as Chang is popular.

  • Lobby Lounge, Chaura Maidan. 24 hours. The Lobby Lounge is in the soaring 5-story atrium of the Oberoi. A good place to enjoy tea or a quiet drink in an elegant atmosphere. A roaring fire in the winters adds to the colonial charm.
  • Rendevous” located less than a minute walk from Christ Church on The Mall, across from “Alfa Restruant”. Somewhat hidden, this restruant/bar offers good bollywood tunes, a nice cozy interior and strong drinks. try to order the monkey glad, but it’s not garunteed they will have the ingredients.


  • Cafe Coffee Day, 5 The Mall (in The Devicos). 9AM-11PM. Similar to Barista, although not quite as good. Another branch at Mama’s Kitchen NH22, Dharampur, Solan District.
  • Indian Coffee House, The Mall. 9AM-11PM. Indian Coffee House (ICH), Mall Road. Indian coffee house (ICH) is a favourite with the locals, although not as trendy as barista or ccd, ICH retains the charm of bygone era. Cheap coffee and town gossipp make it a favourite with locals.
  • Fire Station Cafe, Indian Institute of Advanced Study. IIAS is the erstwhile Viceroy Lodge which is a Victorian era building. The IIAS has renovated its old fire station complex. The old structure which housed fire station, post office, squash court, and now swimming pool, besides a garage during British era was converted into a ‘Book shop-cum- souvenir shop’. Once you have completed the conducted tour of the IIAS, you can relax over a cup of coffee or tea and soak in the environment.

To Stay

  • In May and June when it is high season the room rates are mostly double the non season rates. Room rates that are marketed above Rs 1,000 have 5.15% extra tax added. So even if you bargain and bring the price down to Rs 900 you still have to pay the 5.15% tax.
  • Also note that the rooms must have 24hrs hot water else it could get uncomfortable due to cooler climate.
  • Use Christ Church on The Ridge, Shimla’s principal landmark familiar to all, easily identifiable during the day and prominently illuminated at night — as your first orientation point upon arrival.
  • Avoid touts at all cost. All accommodation arrangements as well as any additional side-trips, sightseeing, onward transportation, etc., can easily and safely be arranged without the help of the touts. Visit the office of the state-run Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (phone +91 177 265-2561 or 265-8302), located in the central place downtown called “The Scandal Point”, before Christ Church on The Ridge (across from the City Hall), The staff there are well-informed and reasonably professional. There are no alternatives to this office for reliable information on all aspects of Shimla.


Hotel Gulmarg, below The Mall

Hotel Dreamland

Hotel Woodland  – peaceful and with balcony and cheap but food and room service is not up to the mark
Hotel City View – great terrace, but beware of resident touts

Hill Bloom Hotel – some rooms with great panoramic views, basic but adequate and excellently located above Christ Church on The Ridge, some with spectacular views.

YMCA (2,225 metres above sea level), behind Ritz Cinema, The Ridge (1 mile walk from Shimla train and bus station), A centrally located, charming Victorian style building. Offers both en-suite rooms and rooms with common bathrooms. A limited choice complimentary breakfast is provided at no extra cost. En-suite rooms have clean attached bathrooms. To avoid disappointment during peak season, pre-book a room over phone. Ph +91 177 2650021. checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon.

Shimla Youth Hostel located in “must visit” Lakkar Bazar offers budget accommodation, and a discount to Youth hostel members. Ph:+919418025462

Hotel White, Lakkar Bazaar (500m NE of The Ridge), This hotel surprisingly offers clean and spacious rooms all done up in white at budget-friendly rates. Opt for their suite which also offers a balcony and great views of the valley.  Ph +91 177 265-5276 (, fax: +91 177 265-5276).

Hotel Mayur (2,211 metres above sea level), The Ridge (just behind Christ Church, and overlooking its roof), Centrally located hotel on The Ridge. Rooms have clean attached bathrooms, colour television, wall-to-wall carpeting; somewhat run-down by now. The room service is fairly decent.
Ph +91 177 265-2393 (, fax: +91 177 2652398). checkout: 12PM.

Dalziel (2,135 metres above sea level), The Mall (10 minutes walk westwards from Scandal Point),
Ph 9211709437.  Checkin: 27/5/12; checkout: 29/5/12. Situated in a wooden heritage building. Laundry service and meals available.Food & water served unhygenic.

Amar Palace, (Take the road directly up the hill to the left of/behind christ church and it’s about 300m up the road from there. Call if you get lost and they’ll come find you.), Ph 01772804055, 9418696458. 24 Hour hot water, and some rooms with a pretty good view back out along the ridge.).

Other economical areas of the city are through Victory tunnel and on Circular Rd and Kaithu to Kali Bari Rd. In high season, rooms can be found for Rs 1000 – Rs 1500 a night.



Hotel Combermere (2,150 metres above sea level at Circular Road level, 2,185 metres at the top-floor level), The Mall (10 minutes’ walk eastwards from Scandal Point; near The Lift, opposite the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex).  This is one of the only two hotels on The Mall equipped with its own private lift to the lower level of Circular Road (Cart Road). Good food, professionally prepared, especially Italian (recommended).

Ph +91 177 225-1246/47/48, 265-2242/43/46/48 (, fax: +91 177 225-2251, 265-7906). Checkin: 12 noon; checkout: Late checkouts on request.

Woodville Palace (2,190 metres above sea level), Raj Bhavan Road (20 to 25 minutes’ walk eastwards from Scandal Point), Ph +91 177 262-3919 or 262-4038 (, fax: +91 177 262-3098). checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 4PM. This converted palace was built in 1938 by the Maharaja of Jubbal (a descendant of the original owner still lives on the premises, and is addressed by the staff as “maharaja”). It has its own private woodlands, which provide an excellent place for a leisurely evening stroll. Immaculately maintained public spaces, full of ‘atmosphere’; attentive service; food on the homely side rather than any haute cuisine, though.

Clarke’s Hotel (2,150 metres above sea level), The Mall (100 metres as the crow flies across a small valley from the Himachal Pradesh High Court complex; 15 minutes’ walk eastwards from Scandal Point), Ph:  +91 177 265-1010, 265-1011, 265-1012, 265-1013, 265-1014, 265-1015 (, fax: +91 177 281-1321). Checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon.

Hotel Landmark (2,100 metres above sea level at Circular Road level, 2,115 metres at the top-floor level), The Mall (15 minutes’ walk westwards from Scandal Point; near Gorton Castle, a historic property used nowadays for the offices of the Accountant-General of Himachal Pradesh and not open to the general public), Ph:  +91 177 281-4700, 281-4701, or 281-4703 (, fax: +91 177 281-4702). Checkin: 12 noon; early check-in available at extra charge; checkout: 12 noon; late check-out available at extra charge..

Hotel Ashiana Regency (2,110 metres above sea level), Chōṭā Shimla (or ‘Little Shimla’) (near ‘The Secretariat’ — the seat of Himachal Pradesh Government; 45 minutes’ walk westwards from Scandal Point), Ph:  +91 177 262-1572, 262-2472, 262-2658 (fax: +91 177 262-4872, 262-0037). Checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon.

Hotel Peterhoff (2,117 metres above sea level), Chaura Maidan (45 minutes’ walk westwards from Scandal Point), Ph:  +91 177 221-3335 (fax: +91 177 221-3801). Checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon. Nice, clean rooms with air-con, heaters, mini-bars and the usual mid-range amenities.

Honeymoon Inn (Shimla Hotel), The Mall. This 20 room boutique hotel offers some great views.


The Oberoi Cecil, Chaura Maidan

Located at 2,098 metres above sea level it has the best location, cusine and in-house amenities in Shimla (takes a pleasant and easy 20-minute walk from town centre to get there). It has an elegant hotel in the grand heritage style, immaculately maintained, with log fires and a heated swimming-pool.

Ph:  +91 177 280-4848 (, fax: +91 177 281-1024). Checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM.

Woodville Palace Hotel (see “Mid-range”, above), accessible on foot from the centre of the town but located in a pleasant quiet woody cove requiring a 20 minutes’ walk along The Mall to town,

The 14 kilometres’ distant Wildflower Hall (see “Accommodation options outside of Shimla”, below)  is a spectacular resort of the expensive Oberoi chain with its own mountain in a forested area outside of town, near the village of Charabra (accessible from Shimla by car only, available, at cost, at the hotel).

The Radisson Hotel Shimla, (2,100 metres above sea level), Goodwood Estate, Shimla (on the lower slopes of Longwood Hill, the mountain directly across the northern valley of Shimla, opposite the mountain with The Ridge which is the centre of town).  Ph:  +91 177 2659012-21 (fax: +91 177 2806902). Checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM.,

Chapslee Hotel, Chapslee Estate (between Lakkar Bazaar and Auckland House high school, just above much-trafficked Circular Road), Ph:  +91 177 280-2542 (fax: +91 177 265-8663) Checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. Formerly the residence of the ruler of Kapurthala (and still in the hands of “the family”);

Accommodation outside of Shimla

Wildflower Hall (2,560 metres above sea level), near the village of Charabra (14 km west of Shimla on National Highway 22, NH22), Ph:  +91 177 264-8585 (, fax: +91 177 264-8686). Checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. An Oberoi property. A stately brand-new stone building built among cedar and pine forests. Arguably the best hotel complex in the entire state of Himachal Pradesh.

Flaghouse Resort, Junga, Ph:  0177-6539022/23 ( Checkin: 2.00 pm; checkout: 12.00 noon. The Flaghouse resort at Junga, Shimla District is a luxury resort nested in the magnificent Shimla Hills. Away from the hustle and bustle of the civilized world, the resort offers peace and tranquility in the cradle of nature.

East Bourne Resort, Near Bishop Cotton School, Khallini, Ph:  +91 177 2623669-71 (, fax: +91 177 262-3890). checkout: 12 noon. A pine forest resort, Multi cuisine restaurant, 02 open air garden restaurants, lounge, coffee shop, library over looking a rose garden, steam, sauna, jacuzzi, discotheque & ample parking space for 60 cars. Rs 6000.

Koti Resort (Shimla Hotel), Mashobra (Just off the Shimla-Naldehra Road), Ph:  +919218501601,. Please contact for latest deals.

Hotel Golf Links, Naldehra. This delightful hotel is in Naldehra, the site of the historical golf course. Overlooking the valley, it offers some very scenic vistas and a cosy place to lounge away your vacation.

Park Woods Hill Resort Shoghi, Village Paughat (near Shoghi), Ph:  +91 9953818074 ( Forested hill resort with quaint bamboo nad pinewood cottages, valley and mountain views, adventure activities, barbeques, bonfires, open areas.

Homestays near Shimla

Sunrise Villa Homestay, Shoghi (12 kms before Shimla), Ph:  +91 177 2860075. Checkin: 12:00 noon; checkout: 12:00 noon. Sunrise Villa(Department of Tourism, HP Government approved home stay unit) is located at a very picturesque location at Shoghi a suburb of Shimla, in a peaceful, calm environment, naturally blessed with breathtaking views of the distant Chail and the snow-clad Himalayan ranges.

Vardaan Homestay, Shoghi (12 kms before Shimla), Ph:  +91 981 8568977. Checkin: 12:00 noon; checkout: 12:00 noon. Vardaan Home Stay(Department of Tourism, HP Government approved home stay unit) is located at a picturesque location at Shoghi away from crowded Shimla.

Other Nearby areas to visit:

Dalhousie, Kullu, Manali, Dharmasala, Kasauli, Lahul and Spiti, Rohtang Pass



Manali in Snow

Manali in Snow





Beware of the Snow Tiger

Beware of the Snow Tiger



The tiny Nano car braving the Rohtang Pass... amazing

The tiny Nano car braving the Rohtang Pass… amazing

Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass




  1. WOW! This is a stunning blog post!
    Thanks so much for this.

    I have planned a trip to Shimla this winter – December – January.
    Well its a Punjab and Himachal backpacking trip and i’m timing my visit to Shimla on Jan 1st or 2nd.

    Do u think it snows then in Shimla?
    Shimla and snow looks amazing – especially with the raj era buildings etc.

    Well am also going up to McLeod Gunj and Dalhousie. So i can catch snow there i guess. But Snow in Shimla looks so magical and i dont wanna miss it!

    R u the same guy who wrote the blog on the Mahindra e20? 🙂

    • Yes thats the time it snows. Prepare well with the winter clothes and shoes. Yes I am the same guy who did the Mahindra Reva blog… didnt want to mix an auto blog with a travel blog. 🙂 ciao

  2. Good Job.

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