Shimla

Shimla (Hindi:शिमला) 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.

50 things to do

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Hotel Peterhoff

Nice, clean rooms with air-con, heaters, mini-bars and the usual mid-range amenities. Indifferent, uncaring staff, a common feature with government establishments. Owned and operated by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, a state government entity. Not to be confused with the historic wooden property of the same name (Peterhoff) which was once the residence of the British Viceroy of India and which stood in the same spot until 1981, when it burned to the ground: the present structure is not its recreation and, despite the retention of the name, is devoid of all period accents or character. Its large, soulless expanses cast in poured concrete are nowadays a frequent venue for conventions and group meetings. The food is terrible. Convenient location for those wishing to visit the Viceregal Lodge and the Himachal Pradesh Museum, but otherwise considerably out-of-the-way with regard to town centre. Unforgettable views from the front lawn, ending abruptly in a precipice.

SLEEP   —  +91 177 221-3335 —  Chaura Maidan

Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary

A unique, well preserved mixed himalayan forest with predominantly Himalayan Cedar trees. Permits are required for entry ₹ 50 per person and ₹ 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 centre 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.

SEE   —  Shimla


Clarke's Hotel

Although billing itself as a 'heritage hotel since 1898', this property had been a hotel before that date ('Carlton Hotel' having been one of its previous, historic names), and it most famously used to be — since 1934 — the premiere property of the Oberoi chain; its current standing with the group is somewhat unclear (Chairman Oberoi said publicly in April 2011 that it is still part of the group). Extremely convenient, central location on The Mall; immaculately maintained heritage building, with guestrooms full of period charm and 'atmosphere' with views from windows over the southern valley of Shimla. Food on offer on the premises does not begin to match the quality of the accommodation. If you stay here, eat and drink out.


Viceregal Lodge

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 ₹ 20 per adult. Both still and video cameras are allowed for a fee of ₹ 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. Open every day although only the entrance hall and gardens are open to the public.

SEE   —  +91 177 283-1375 —  Shimla


Ashiana & Goofa

Whatever little can be had of Himachali cuisine can be found at these twin-restaurants run by Himachal Tourism, the one located above the other. The food is neither cheap nor the best in town, but it is safe and they otherwise do ''their'' best. A good spot for people-watching, the location within a circular elevated glass building has attracted comment in guidebooks: it lies in fact on the site of a historical structure, known as the Band Stand, which was a gift to the city made in 1907 by the ruler of one of the innumerable princely states of the pre-independence India (Jabalpur in what is today the state of Madhya Pradesh). Sit-in or takeaway.


Jakhu Temple

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 ₹ 5'').

SEE   —  Jakhu Hill


The Devicos

Serves good Indian food of every description complemented by some Chinese and Continental dishes; one of the very few restaurants in town with food appealing both to Indian and to Western palates. Good decor with what appears to be original art rather than reproductions. This is one of the most expensive places to eat in town apart from 5-star hotels, but seems worth it as far as Indian dishes are concerned owing to the lack of real competition. Its twin Bar, located upstairs is popular with locals. Adverse comment regarding food poisoning on the ''Lonely Planet'' website.

EAT   —  +91 177 280-6335 —  5 The Mall

Chapslee Hotel

Formerly the residence of the ruler of Kapurthala, still owns by the family. An attractive place even if the location isn't the greatest for access to town: to get to The Ridge requires making a steep ascent along dusty Lakkar Bazaar. Reminiscent of the days of the British Raj, with croquet lawns and mature gardens. Rooms have no keys and doors are left unlocked at all times. As part of this historic property has now been converted into a primary school the ruckus raised by children on their way to classes early in the morning can be unnerving.

SLEEP   —  +91 177 280-2542 —  Chapslee Estate


Hotel Landmark

A good choice for those wishing to stay west of Scandal Point; decent views from some rooms over the northern valley of Shimla, including the helipad at Annadale, at an elevation of 1,865 metres, directly across. New property with clean, modern facilities, marble bathrooms. Both the upper level of The Mall and the lower level of Circular Road (Cart Road) accessible by private in-house lift. Rooftop terrace, accessible directly from The Mall and open to the general public, hence not suitable for lounging. Food nondescript but passable.


YMCA

A centrally located, charming Victorian style building. Offers both en-suite rooms and rooms with common bathrooms. A limited choice complementary 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. En suite room costs ₹ 700 for a single person and ₹ 1000 for two persons. A room with common bathroom costs ₹ 370 for a single person and ₹ 500 for two persons. Problems with noise and vermin infestation reported.


Hotel Combermere

Although some of the suites are rather unreasonably priced, this remains a good option, mainly because of its convenient location. Facilities include a bar, good wi-fi in guestrooms (chargeable), a terrace garden, a gym and a spa. 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), the other facility so equipped being the Landmark Hotel. Good food, professionally prepared, especially Italian (recommended).

SLEEP   —  +91 177 225-1246-47-48 —  The Mall

Hotel Ashiana Regency

A very decent place to stay in if you don't mind 45 minutes' walk along the wooded (and mostly pedestrian) Mall to town centre. Facilities include a public terrace with good views over the southern valley of Shimla, a bar, and a spa with a sauna and jacuzzi. The hotel restaurant is a moderate favourite with the locals. The immediate vicinity, in a densely built-up area called 'Chōṭā Shimla', lacks interest and recreational potential.


Fire Station Cafe

IIAS is the erstwhile Viceroy Lodge which is a Victorian era building. 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 you can relax over a cup of coffee or tea and soak in the environment.


Woodville Palace

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 haute cuisine.


Christ Church

Open every day, services Su 08:00-11:00. 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

Shops Open Mo-Sa. The Lower Bazaar is home to the city's less expensive hotels, cheaper restaurants and shops, 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''.

SEE   —  Shimla

Radisson Hotel Shimla

One of the best hotels in Shimla, with most of the five-star facilities, located on the outskirts of town, though with great views of The Ridge and the surroundings 800 metres across the Shimla valley. You can see the places you want to be in from your window even if you cannot easily get to them. Pleasant public spaces; good-value buffet dinners.


Sunrise Villa Homestay

A Department of Tourism, HP Government approved home stay unit. Located at a very picturesque location at Shoghi a suburb of Shimla [http://www.sunrisevilla.in/shimla.htm], in a peaceful, calm environment, naturally blessed with breathtaking views of the distant Chail and the snow-clad Himalayan ranges.

SLEEP   —  +91 177 2860075 —  Shoghi

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.

SEE   —  Shimla

Chadwick Falls

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.

SEE   —  Shimla

The Oberoi Cecil Restaurant

A good selection of European and Asian dishes. Chandeliers and wood-paneling add to the old-world elegance, a perfect setting for a quiet dinner, unless you have the misfortune to be seated next to an extended Punjabi family with unruly children. Disappointing breakfasts.

EAT   —  +91 177 2804848 —  Chaura Maidan

Qilaa

A favourite among frequent visitors and the locals. The interiors have been built keeping in mind the cold weather outside. There’s an instant feel of warmth and coziness. The food has a homely flavour. Good mezze platter and banoffee pie.


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. At the top is an old Hanuman temple.

SEE   —  Shimla

Baljees

Among the town's oldest restaurants, Baljees offers delicious Western and Indian fare. Their desserts, appearances and reputation to the contrary notwithstanding, are atrocious, laced with chemicals and best avoided.

EAT   —  +91 177 265-2313 —  26 The Mall

Minchys

Open Mon-Sun, 10:00-18:00. Himachal Fruit Product products such as jams, squashes and wines. The main shop is on the Delhi-Shimla Highway, you can find stalls everywhere on the highway and in the city.

BUY   —  +91 177 286-0203 —  Map

Hip Hip Hurray Amusement Park

Is an amusement offering adventure activities like Burma bridge crossing, Flying Fox, rock climbing, boating, various rides, indoor golf & video games. Also has a restaurant, coffee shop & shopping.

SEE   —  +91 1776450993 —  Kufri

Lobby Lounge

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.

DRINK   —  Chaura Maidan

East Bourne Resort

A pine forest resort, Multi cuisine restaurant, 2open air garden restaurants, lounge, coffee shop, library over looking a rose garden, steam, sauna, jacuzzi, discotheque & car parking.


Indian Coffee House

Possibly the cheapest food in Shimla, especially during peak season. They serve good south Indian food as well as surprisingly good western breakfasts, including a ₹40 French toast.

EAT   —  The Mall

Dockers San Francisco

DCAR, The Mall. Open every day, 11:00-19:00. Virtually the only international brand-store in Shimla, Dockers is a trendy and upmarket place. A favourite haunt of college students.

BUY   —  Map

Hotel White

This hotel surprisingly offers clean and spacious rooms at budget-friendly rates. Opt for their suite which also offers a balcony and great views of the valley.

SLEEP   —  +91 177 265-5276 —  Lakkar Bazaar

Hotel Mayur

A centrally located hotel on The Ridge. Rooms have clean attached bathrooms, colour television; somewhat run-down. The room service is fairly decent.

SLEEP   —  +91 177 265-2393 —  The Ridge

Himachal Emporium

3 The Mall. Open Mo-Fr, 10:00-17:00. An excellent place to purchase locally-made handicrafts at fixed prices. Run by the Himachal Pradesh Government.

BUY   —  +91 177 280-1234 —  Map

Park Woods Hill Resort Shoghi

Forested hill resort with quaint bamboo nad pinewood cottages, valley and mountain views, adventure activities, barbeques, bonfires, open areas.

SLEEP   —  +91 9953818074 —  Village Paughat

The Oberoi Cecil

An elegant hotel in the grand heritage style, immaculately maintained, with log fires and a heated swimming-pool. Best food in town.

SLEEP   —  +91 177 280-4848 —  Chaura Maidan

Hotel Golf Links

This delightful hotel is in Naldehra, the site of the historical golf course. Overlooking the valley, it offers scenic vistas.

SLEEP   —  Naldehra

Indian Coffee House

Not as trendy as others it retains the charm of bygone era. Cheap coffee and town gossip make it a favourite with locals.

DRINK   —  The Mall

The Ridge

The Ridge is the center of Shimla's cultural and social life - an excellent place to view the surrounding mountains.

SEE   —  Shimla

Cafe Coffee Day

Similar to Barista, although not quite as good. Another branch at Mama's Kitchen NH22, Dharampur, Solan District.

DRINK   —  5 The Mall

Dalziel

Situated in a wooden heritage building. Laundry service and meals available.Food & water served unhygenic

SLEEP   —  +91 9211709437 —  The Mall

Silver Oak

Serves Mughlai and Chinese. The food is not great, but passable. Nice decor and a comfortable atmosphere.

EAT   —  +91 177 225-7588 —  Circular Rd

Sher E Punjab

Home-style food at reasonable prices. The mixed vegetable dish with butter chappathi is recommended.

EAT   —  Ridge Sanjauli Rd

Loveena Restaurant

below rain shelter, restaurant with view. Indian, Chinese & Continental food.

EAT   —  The Ridge

Amar Palace

24 Hour hot water, and some rooms with a good view back out along the ridge.

SLEEP   —  +91 1772804055, 9418696458 —  Map

Wildflower Hall

A stately brand-new stone building built among cedar and pine forests.


Honeymoon Inn

This 20 room boutique hotel offers some attractive views.

SLEEP   —  The Mall

The Lutyens Room

Continental and Indian food.


Koti Resort

SLEEP   —  +919218501601 —  Mashobra

About Shimla

Shimla has a population of around 145,000. 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 English which serves as a lingua-franca.


Source: wikivoyage