Area Size : 25 Sq. Km.Population : 0.392 Millions.
Popular Languages : Hindi, English, Himachali, Gharwali and other local Pahari languages
Shimla, originally called Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the British Raj in India. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills" (a term coined by the British). Located in the north-west Himalayas at an altitude of 2,128 metres (6,982 ft), the city of Shimla, draped in forests of pine, rhododendron, and oak, experiences pleasant summers and cold, snowy winters. The city is famous for its buildings styled in tudorbethan and neo-gothic architecture reminiscent of the colonial era. Shimla is also known for the prestigious Bishop Cotton School, which is one of the oldest boarding schools in Asia. Shimla is connected to the city of Kalka by one of the longest narrow gauge railway routes still operating in India, the Kalka-Shimla Railway. Shimla is approximately 115 km (71.4 miles) from Chandigarh, the nearest major city, and 365 km (226.8 miles) from New Delhi, the national capital. The city is named after the goddess Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Kali.
Shimla was annexed by the British in 1819 after the Gurkha War. At that time it was known for the temple of Hindu Goddess Shyamala Devi. The Scottish civil servant Charles Pratt Kennedy built the first British summer home in the town in 1822.
Lord Amherst, the Governor-General of Bengal from 1823 to 1828, set up a summer camp here in 1827, when there was only one cottage in the town, and only 'half a dozen' when he left that year. There were more than a hundred within ten years.
One of his successors, Sir John Lawrence, Viceroy of India 1864–1869, decided to take the trouble of moving the administration twice a year between Calcutta and a separate centre over 1,000 miles away, despite the fact that it was difficult to reach.Lord Lytton, Viceroy 1876 -1880 made efforts to plan the town from 1876, when he first stayed in a rented house Peterhof, but began plans for a Viceregal Lodge, later built on Observatory Hill. A fire cleared much of the area where the native Indian population lived (the "Upper Bazaar"), and the planning of the eastern end to become the centre of the European town forced these to live in the Middle and Lower Bazaars on the lower terraces descending the steep slopes from the Ridge. The Upper Bazaar was cleared for a Town Hall, with many facilities such as library and theatre, as well as offices - for police and military volunteers as well as municipal administration.
During the 'Hot Weather', Simla was also the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army and many Departments of the Government, as well as being the summer capital of the regional Government of the Punjab. They were joined during the hot weather by many of the British wives and daughters of the men who remained in the plains. Together these formed Simla Society, which, according to Charles Allen,"was as close as British India ever came to having an upper crust." This may have been helped by the fact that it was very expensive, having an ideal climate and thus being desirable, as well as having limited accommodation. British soldiers, merchants, and civil servants moved here each year to escape from the heat during summer in the Indo-Gangetic plain. The presence of many bachelors and unattached men, as well as the many women passing the hot weather there, gave Simla a reputation for adultery, and at least gossip about adultery: as Rudyard Kipling said in a letter cited by Allen, it had a reputation for "frivolity, gossip and intrigue".
The Kalka-Shimla railway line, constructed in 1906, added to Shimla's accessibility and popularity. The railway route from Kalka to Shimla, with more than 806 Bridges and 103 tunnels, was touted as an engineering feat and came to be known as the "British Jewel of the Orient". In 2008, it became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mountain railways of India. Not only that, there was a significant Muslim population in the region before the partition of British India. In addition, Shimla was the capital of the undivided state of Punjab in 1871, and remained so until the construction of the new city of Chandigarh (the present-day capital of Punjab). Upon the formation of the state of Himachal Pradesh in 1971, Shimla was named its capital.
Pre-independence structures still dot Shimla; buildings such as the Viceregal Lodge, Auckland House, Gorton Castle, Peterhoff house, and Gaiety Theatre are reminders of British rule in India.British Simla extended about a mile and a half along the ridge between Jakhoo Hill and Prospect Hill. The central spine was The Mall, which ran along the length of the ridge, with a Mall Extension southwards, closed to all carriages except those of the Viceroy and his wife.
Shimla is located in the north-western ranges of the Himalayas. At an average altitude of 2397.59 meters (7866.10 ft) above mean sea level, the city is spread on a ridge and its seven spurs. The city stretches nearly 9.2 km from east to west.The highest point in Shimla, at 2454 meters (8051 ft), is the Jakhoo hill. Shimla is a Zone IV (High Damage Risk Zone) per the Earthquake hazard zoning of India. Weak construction techniques and increasing population pose a serious threat to the already earthquake prone region. There are no bodies of water near the main city and the closest river, Sutlej, is about 21 km (13 miles) away.Other rivers that flow through the Shimla district, although further from the city, are Giri, and Pabbar (both are tributaries of Yamuna). The green belt in Shimla planning area is spread over 414 hectares (1023 acres).The main forests in and around the city are that of pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron.Environmental degradation due to the increasing number of tourists every year without the infrastructure to support them has resulted in Shimla losing its popular appeal as an ecotourism spot.Another rising concern in the region are the frequent number of landslides that often take place after heavy rains.
Located on the lower ranges of the Himalayas, Shimla is a hill station that experiences extreme climatic conditions. It is situated at a height of around 2213 meters above sea level. This altitude gives Shimla its diverse climatic conditions. There is no such ideal time to visit Simla, as this pleasant hill station is one of the most preferred destinations in India at any given time. One can say that the peak season for Shimla travel is all though the year! Read on further and decide the best time to visit Shimla for yourself.
Though Shimla has pleasant climate throughout the year, it experiences cold winters. The temperatures can drop to sub-zero conditions during the peak winter season. The best time to visit Shimla would be October to November and from March to May. It is advisable not to visit Shimla during monsoons as the place has a history of having landslides every now and then. The roads can get very slippery and it is not a good idea to roam around at this time.
You can also visit Shimla during winter months. The hill station witnesses heavy snowfall and tourists throng Shimla in December during Christmas and New Year. Winters are also an ideal time to visit Shimla if you love adventure sports like skiing and ice-skating. Though moving around is a bit difficult when it snows, just playing in the snow will lift up your spirits and make sure you have a wonderful vacation.
The climate in Shimla is predominantly cold during winters, and moderately warm during summers. The temperatures range from 3.95 °C (39.11 °F) to 32.95 °C (91.31 °F) over the year.The average temperature during summer is between 14 °C and 20 °C, and between -7 °C and 10 °C in winter. Monthly precipitation varies between 24 mm in November to 415 mm in July. It is typically around 45 mm per month during winter and spring and around 115 mm in June as the monsoon approaches. The average total annual precipitation is 1520 mm (62 inches). Snowfall in the region, which usually took place in the month of December has lately (over the last fifteen years) been happening in January or early February every year.
Shimla's airport is at a distance of 23 kilometers at Jubbarhatti. The Airport is well connected to Chandigarh, Kullu Manali andDelhi. Jagsons Airways offer excellent services and connect Shimla to various parts of the country.
How to reach Shimla by Road:
A fine network of roads connects Shimla to all major cities in India.
How to Reach Shimla by Rail:
Kalka, located at a distance of 96 kilometers from Shimla is the nearest railhead. From Delhi you can take a train to reach Kalka. There are no direct trains to Shimla.