The azure skies and the lush green countryside with the backdrop of snow-clad peaks of Shimla have attracted all kinds of romantics to date. The cool breeze charms the heart in summer, and in winter, the snow-covered mountains look oh-so-elegant!
With its remarkable colonial architecture lending the city a British appeal, Shimla, described as the Queen of Hills, is the Capital Town of Himachal Pradesh and formerly the summer capital during British Rule. Then affectionately known as Chhota Vilayat or Little England, Shimla was, in Rudyard Kipling’s words, a “centre of power as well as pleasure” during the British Raj. This little town served as the hotbed of political, social and romantic intrigue for the colonial kingpins.
This beautiful town is built over several hills such as Jakhu (8050 ft), Observatory Hill (7050 ft), Prospect Hill (7140 ft), Elysium Hill (7400 ft), and Summer Hill (6900 ft) and the connecting ridges.
Shimla is blessed with bountiful natural beauty. As it grows at an unprecedented pace, it retains its colonial heritage with grand old buildings, like the stately Viceregal Lodge, charming iron lamp posts and Anglo-Saxon names. Shimla was also the historical place where in 1946, the leaders of the Indian nationalist movement came together for a crucial conference that paved the way to Independence.
If you are on vacation in Shimla, here are the top ten things you should do here.
1. Take the Kalka–Shimla Toy Train Ride
In 1903 a narrow-gauge railway line was constructed between Kalka and Shimla that gave a fillip to the town’s development. This is the first thing that should be explored while in Shimla. Enjoy the exhilarating Kalka–Shimla toy train ride that lets you experience the old railway line along the mountains and paints a tranquil picture of the place. Its leisurely pace is ideal for taking in the passing panoramas and watching the other end of the train from your window as it turns on the curved tracks. And pray that it starts to drizzle cause it will make it a heart-meltingly romantic ride!
Price: ₹225 onwards. The Rail Motor Car toy train departs at 4:25 pm from Shimla and arrives at Kalka at 9:35 pm.
2. Shop at Lakkar Bazaar
If you are looking for things to do in Shimla at night, go shopping at Lakkar Bazaar. In the evenings, as the sun goes down, Lakkar Bazaar comes alive and is a wonderous place to be. The name Lakkar Bazaar is derived from the Hindi word, ‘Lakri’, meaning wood, which is the famous hub for the wooden crafts market in Shimla. You will discover a long stretch of shops on either side offering some of the finest woodwork artefacts. Apart from artefacts, you can also buy good winter wears at a reasonable price. Pick souvenirs from here that make perfect gifts to take back home.
Price: No entry fee
Timings: 11 am – 9 pm
3. Chill Out at the Mall Road
The Mall Road is centrally located and is the heart of Shimla. This area has plenty of attractions to keep you fascinated – from street shops to sightseeing places and drool-worthy eating options! You can spend a whole day here, exploring, unwinding, enjoying yourself and just taking in the fresh cool breeze and the warmth of the people!
4. Explore Johnnie’s Wax Museum
If you are a fan of Ironman or famous personalities, visit Johnnie’s Wax Museum featuring life-sized wax figures of local & international icons. Johnnie’s Wax Museum is one of Shimla’s most recent tourist attractions, inaugurated in 2016. The Museum houses 16 life-size statues of popular personalities from various fields, from movies to sports and politics. Here you get to take pictures with Harry Potter, Tony Stark, Barack Obama, Amir Khan, and a few others.
Price: ₹250 per person
Timings: 10 am to 10 pm
5. Go Trekking or Hike to Jakhu Hill & Temple
Many interesting short hikes from Shimla take you through the pine forests in and around the city. Some beautiful trails lead you to the Glen, Prospect Hill, Summer Hill, and the Kamna Devi Temple, and are some of the most popular nature walks owing to their beauty and the romantic weather.
Another amazing trek is to the Jakhu Temple, situated on the top of Jakhu Hill, the highest point in Shimla town. Jakhu Temple is a sacred place for the Hindu community offering a majestic view of the surrounding valleys and snow-capped peaks. Jakhu hill is situated at a distance of 2.5 km from the Ridge at an elevation of 2,455 m above sea level, and it is the highest peak of Shimla. Jakhu Temple of Hanumanji is a big attraction for tourists and pilgrims. This temple trek takes you through the dense forest of Deodars, and ponies are available for hire for those who get tired on this trek. You can also use the ropeway to get there.
A few other common routes for trekking are Shimla – Narkanda – Hattu Peak – Chaupal – Kedi – Halau – Kandol – Koti – Chakrata Banjar – Bathad – Sarahan – Arsu – Rampur – Shimla Shimla – Narkanda – Khadrala – Sungri – Devidhar – Rohru – Shimla Shimla – Luhri – Ani – Khanag – Jalori Pass – Jibhi – Banjar.
Price: Approx ₹1,500 onwards for guided treks
6. Explore the splendour of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies
The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies was built by the British and, after India’s independence, became a summer retreat for the Indian President. It was then given in service of the nation by Dr S Radhakrishnan, the then President of India, for an institute to promote advanced studies in arts & humanities. It boasts splendid architectural beauty, and its tranquil surroundings make it one of Shimla’s most-loved tourist attractions. The colonial building is the perfect locale to test your photography skills and take fabulous pictures.
Entry Price: ₹40 Timings: 8 am – 6 pm
7. Enjoy Ice Skating at Shimla Ice Skating Club
When deciding what to do in Shimla, you have an opportunity to show off your skills at the open-air ice skating rink in Shimla during peak winters. The rink attracts hundreds of locals & tourists every year to experience a fantastic ice skating experience. The British taught the special technique & skill of creating the ice surface to the Garhwali highlanders. The thickly forested hillside keeps it in the shade and thus can maintain the low temperatures in winter, thus preventing it from melting.
Entry Price: ₹100 – ₹200
Timings: 8 am – 11 am & 5 pm – 8 pm
Open only from December thru March
8. Take a Trip to Chadwick Falls
If there is a spot in Shimla that will leave you awestruck, it is Chadwick falls. It is one of Shimla’s most well-known touring places. It is a fabulous place to spend time with your friends and even offers a good hiking trail that allows you to explore its surrounding meditative quietude. The towering waterfall in a gorge amid dense pine & deodar forest is a sight to behold and marvel over. For adventure seekers, Chadwick Falls in Shimla is the ultimate location and an ideal summer escape for travellers.
9. Stretch Your Teeing Skills at the Naldhera Golf Course
If the lushness of Shimla and the fresh air of Shimla are inspiring you to play Golf, you should probably head to Naldhera. It has the most attractive 18-hole golf course surrounded by charming natural resplendence offering an amazing golfing experience.
Location: Naldehra, around 22 km from the heart of Shimla.
Timings: 7:00 am – 7:00 pm on all days from April – September and
8:00 am – 5:00 pm from October – March.
Price: ₹400/- (Green fee) for Indians and ₹570/- (Green fee) for Foreigners
10. Watch the Sunset at the Scandal Point
The Scandal Point has a fascinating history. The name came about after a scandal caused among the Britishers when the Maharaja of Patiala eloped with the daughter of the British Viceroy causing it to become the talk of the town then. The place from where he eloped with her is at the intersection of the Ridge and the Mall, which is now a major tourist attraction in Shimla. It has a flat platform on Ridge Road that offers mesmerising views of the snowcapped mountains and the lush valley. Scandal Point offers photographers and nature lovers a paradise, a splendid spectre of sunrise & sunset.
Price: No entry fee
Timings: Open 24/7
How to reach Shimla?
✈️ By Air: The nearest airport, Jubbarhatti, is 23 km from the main city. The other nearby airports are Chandigarh and New Delhi.
🚃 By Train: The world heritage narrow gauge railways connect Shimla to Kalka. This toy train route is quite popular with kids. Further, Kalka is abundantly connected to all the major cities of India.
🚙 By Road: Shimla is approximately 350 km from New Delhi and 118 km from Chandigarh.
🚌 Private and state-run regular buses ply from Delhi en route to Chandigarh.
You can even ask Aertrip to put together a customised plan for you to visit Shimla and even combine it with a few other places around it.
We say, go for it!