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. 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 reincarnation of the fearsome Goddess Kali.
Shimla has a population of around 172,000 (which may increase by another 100,000 with the seasonal influx of voyagers). Most 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.
Sitting majestically above the searing plains, 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.
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 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.
Shimla's cool climate is the precise reason why it is such a popular summer retreat. Located at an altitude of approximately 2200 m above sea level, the region has a hilly terrain and is covered by dense evergreen forests. 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.
|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.|
The nearest broad gauge station is at Kalka, a four-to-seven hour journey from Delhi. After that, take the mountain train from Kalka to Shimla. This railway track was granted the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. The view is stunning, with the line passing through an amazing 102 tunnels. The fastest way to get to Kalka 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 here.
You can also choose to get off at Chandigarh (en route to Kalka), and catch a taxi from there.
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 Shimla and dinner on the way down.
|Train No.||Train Name||Kalka||Shimla|
|1KS Passenger||Kalka Shimla Passenger||04:00||09:56|
|241 NG Superfast||Shivalik Deluxe Express||05:30||10:15|
|251 Mail||Kalka Shimla Mail||06:00||11:00|
|255 Express||Himalayan Queen Express||12:10||17:20|
|Train No.||Train Name||Shimla||Kalka|
|52456 Express||Himalayan Queen Express||10:30||16:10|
|52458 Passenger||Shimla Kalka Passenger||14:25||20:15|
|52452 NG Superfast||Shivalik Deluxe Express||17:40||22:25|
|524524 Express||Shimla Kalka Express||18:15||23:20|
- 1 Shimla railway station.
Shimla is nicely connected by road to different major cities. Government and private buses are available from Chandigarh to Shimla within a gap of half an hour. Deluxe and semi-deluxe buses are also frequently available from different places. Along the highway there are more than thirty restaurants, dhabas and fast food places.
- 2 Shimla Airport (SLV IATA) (Jubbarhatti, 22 km away). Due to the difficulties of the mountainous terrain, poor condition of road surfaces and the increasing traffic congestion the journey by car can takes hours. The airport has severe limitations imposed by 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 either end, and it can accommodate only turboprop aircraft;
After landing at the airport, take a pre-paid taxi to minimize hassle. Chandigarh is a good four-hour drive away, so stop for a bite on the Kalka-Shimla highway.
Jets can all land at the larger Chandigarh (IXC IATA) airport. The Chandigarh Airport, 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 including Air India and Air Deccan operate flights to Delhi, Jammu, and Mumbai. Most of the flights to Mumbai require a stopover in Delhi. Confirm the flights as bad weather often delays flights during the winter fog.
Getting around in Shimla is easy as compared to other cities in Himachal Pradesh. You can get a local bus from 7 AM to 9 PM and that too for any destination in the city. In case you choose to travel by taxi, it is affordable and convenient for sightseeing.
You can also choose from other transportation options like Motorcycle Rentals, Scooter/moped Rentals, and Bike Rentals that has contributed to the easy and convenient travel options in and around the city.
Apart from this, there are some tourist buses run by HPTDC every day for getting around in Shimla. As Shimla is known for its picturesque location and serene environment, you can also consider traveling some distance on foot.
- 1 Chadwick Falls, Shimla (7 km away from Shimla). The waterfall is at its most beautiful just after the monsoon. But for much of the year it can be quite dry, and not as impressive.
- 2 Christ Church, The Ridge (Near Municipal Library). Open every day, services Su 08:00-11:00. Constructed in 1846, this is the second oldest church in 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.
- 3 Hip Hip Hurray Amusement Park, Kufri-Fagu Road, Kufri (NH-22, 16 km. from Shimla), ☏ , email@example.com. 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.
- 4 Lower Bazaar, Shimla. Shops open M-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 Shepherd's Pie.
- 5 The Mall, Shimla. 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.
- 6 The Ridge. The Ridge is the center of Shimla's cultural and social life - an excellent place to view the surrounding mountains.
- 7 Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary, Shimla. 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.
- 8 Viceregal Lodge, Shimla, ☏ . 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.
- 9 Statue of Lala Lajpat Rai, Ridge, Mall Rd, Scandal Point, ☏ . The statue depicts Lala Lajpat Rai, one of India's freedom fighters, addressing an audience and standing on a marble podium. It was originally erected in Lahore in 1929 but was moved to its current location in Shimla in 1948 after the partition of India.
Jakhoo Hill is Shimla's highest point and the site of Jakhu Temple. The summit offers spectacular views of the town and its surroundings; on a clear day it is possible to see the snow-capped Western Himalaya about 75 km to the north. However, trees and vegetation somewhat obscure the views, preventing them from being truly panoramic.
The climb up from the Christ Church is a physically demanding 2 km (1.2 mi) walk that takes between 30 and 60 minutes depending on your level of fitness. Taxis are available to take you up the hill or you can drive yourself - 4WD is recommended - however, parking is limited at the top. Another option is the Jakhu Ropeway, an aerial tram located slightly downhill and east of the church.
The hillside and Jakhu Temple are populated with very aggressive and cunning monkeys. Be extremely careful with your camera, glasses, bag and (especially) food. (Sticks for warding off the monkeys can be rented at the entrance to the temple for ₹5).
- 10 Jakhoo Temple (Jakhu Temple). Open every day. A temple and the world's largest Hanuman statue. According to the epic Ramayana, the monkey god Hanuman rested here during his journey to the Himalayan mountains. Free (donations welcome).
- 11 Jakhu Ropeway. An aerial tramway to the summit of Jakhu Hill. ₹250.
- 12 Tara Devi Temple, NH.22, Kachi Ghati, Bagh (approximately 11 km from the bus stand of Shimla). Daily 7AM-6:30PM. Tara Devi is famous for its 250-year-old temple. Literally meaning "Star Goddess", Tara Devi is one of the many forms of Goddess Kali. This temple is located on the top of the hill. Ir is a perfect location for people who are looking for some rest and peace at a high altitude of around 1850 m. The temple is very clean with very beautiful flowers maintained all around it.
Museums and galleries
Shimla houses a few excellent museums. The State Museum is perhaps the most well known.
- 13 Photo Art Gallery (Image Art Gallery), Potter's Hill (near HP University), ☏ . 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 ₹5 (cameras free, flash prohibited).
- 14 Sankat Mochan Temple, Shimla-Kalka Road, Bagh, Taradevi, ☏ . A popular Hanuman temple which can be reached by car or on foot. There is an excellent view of Shimla from the temple.
- 15 Himachal State Museum, Doordarshan Kendra, Museum Road Near, Chaura Maidan (atop the Inverarm Hill, in the general vicinity of the Oberoi Cecil hotel), ☏ . Open Tu-Su, 10:00-17:00. 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 ₹10 (Cameras free, flash prohibited).
- Take a leisurely walk at the Mall — this 7 km 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. ₹ 10 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.
- 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 km 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.
- Tee off at the Naldehra Golf Course, on the northern outskirts of the town, at a distance of about 25 km 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.
- 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.
Further down the Mall Road is the Lakkar Bazaar, which has quite a few shops selling wooden handicrafts. The Mall is full of shops selling woolens (most of which find their way to Shimla from Ludhiana, Punjab) and Kullu shawls. Other favorites have included wooden toys, walking sticks and Tibetan carpets made in nearby Kinnaur. As the centre of the food-processing industry in Himachal, jams and squashes made from local produce are indeed worth purchasing. The stretch between Combermere Bridge and the Telegraph Office is full of small stores which stock handcrafted Chinese shoes. The more well-known ones include Hopsons, Tatung and Hugh & Co.
- Himachal Emporium, ☏ , fax: . 3 The Mall. Open M-Fr, 10:00-17:00. An excellent place to purchase locally made handicrafts at fixed prices. Run by the Himachal Pradesh Government.
- Maria Bros., 78-A The Mall. Antique and rare book dealers. Absurdly overpriced. Try the couple of other options further down The Mall.
- Minchys, ☏ . Daily 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.
- Minerva Book House, Hotel Minerva, +91 177 225-2043. A good selection of novels.
Most of the restaurants in Shimla are cheap, comfortable, atmospheric and offer good multi-cuisine food. However, if you are looking for local cuisine, the options are surprisingly limited.
- 1 Ashiana & Goofa, The Band Stand, The Ridge, Lower Bazaar, ☏ . Daily 10AM-10PM. 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. ₹ 50-150.
- 2 Baljees, 26 The Mall, ☏ . 09:00-23:00. 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. Mains ₹ 100-150, Desserts ₹ 50.
- 3 The Devicos, 5 The Mall (one storey beneath street level, directly below the Café Coffee Day outlet in the vicinity of the BSNL Building), ☏ . 10:00~22:00. 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. ₹ 50~150.
- Hotel Pinewood restaurant, Barog, ☏ . Serves cheap Punjabi fare.
- 4 Indian Coffee House, The Mall (On Mall Rd, just down from the post office on the left). 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. ₹ 20 - 80.
- Loveena Restaurant, The Ridge. Below rain shelter, restaurant with view. Indian, Chinese & Continental food.
- The Lutyens Room, Springfields, Chhota Shimla (opposite Tibetan School), ☏ , . 11:00-22:30. Continental and Indian food. ₹ 150 and above.
- New Plaza Restaurant (Plaza), 60/61, Middle Bazar, ☏ .
- 5 The Oberoi Cecil Restaurant, Chaura Maidan (in The Oberoi Cecil Hotel), ☏ . Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, although closes for breaks in between.. 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. ₹ 500~1,500.
- 6 Sher E Punjab (Sher E Punjab), Ridge Sanjauli Rd (take road to Lakkar Bazar, 100 m from Ridge point.). 10:00 to 22:00. Home-style food at reasonable prices. The mixed vegetable dish with butter chappathi is recommended. ₹30-₹150.
- Silver Oak, Circular Rd, ☏ . 07:00-23:00. Serves Mughlai and Chinese. The food is not great, but passable. Nice decor and a comfortable atmosphere. ₹150.
- Qilaa, The Mall Rd; below Syndicate Bank, near Scandal Point (On the way from Scandal Point to DC Office), ☏ . 11:00-22:00. 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.
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.
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. Drinks ₹ 200-250.
- "Rendezvous" located less than a minute walk from Christ Church on The Mall, across from "Alfa Restaurant". Somewhat hidden, this restaurant/bar plays Bollywood tunes, a nice cozy interior and strong drinks.
- Cafe Coffee Day, 5 The Mall (in The Devicos). 09:00-23:00. Similar to Barista, although not quite as good. Another branch at Mama's Kitchen NH22, Dharampur, Solan District. Cappuccino ₹ 120.
- Indian Coffee House, The Mall. 09:00-23:00. Not as trendy as others it retains the charm of bygone era. Cheap coffee and town gossip 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. 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.
There are lots of options from dormitories to luxury resort hotels. Online booking is the most convenient way to reserve a room. Alternatively, the tourist office can supply a list of hotels, and you can phone or trek over an reserve a room in person. Rooms in Shimla range from US$ 5 to US$ 600.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||Under ₹ 1500|
Avoid touts at all cost, whether locals or outsiders (many are in fact Kashmiri chisellers disguised as locals, and calling themselves euphemistically "guides", who have been working the Shimla beat for years and decades); they scour the railway and bus stations for incautious or vulnerable looking victims among the new arrivals, and foreigners carrying luggage are their prime targets in the streets as well. The experience of being "led" by an unscrupulous but ingratiating manipulator with his own interest in mind rather than yours can be the ruin of one's visit to Shimla. The touts can be extremely importunate and persevering in pursuit of their illegal trade while at the same time feigning "friendship" intended to ensnare the gullible. If you allow them to lead you to your hotel you will be manipulated in manifold ways:
- Your daily room rate will surreptitiously be inflated to cover the commission they will receive from the hotel for their unnecessary services (resulting in an increase in hotel price of as much as 200%).
- The touts will, unbeknownst to you, steer you away from hotels which do not give commission but which may be better for you.
- You will subsequently be pestered by your tout, who will now "own" you during your stay, to buy additional "services" from him.
- Give being additional misinformation.
A visitor to Shimla requiring budget but safe accommodation at any time of the year, high season in May and June, could expect to be able to find a double hotel room for ₹ 200 a night or thereabout. In this category are Hotel Gulmarg (below The Mall), Hotel Dreamland (rather institutional), Hotel Woodland (peaceful and with balcony but food and room service is not too good), Hotel City View (great terrace, but beware of resident touts), Hill Bloom Hotel (some rooms with great panoramic views), all basic but adequate and excellently located above Christ Church on The Ridge (some with spectacular views). Use Christ Church on The Ridge, which is easily identifiable during the day and prominently illuminated at night, as your first orientation point upon arrival.
All accommodation arrangements as well as any additional side trips, sightseeing, onward transportation, etc., can easily 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), for any impartial information or guidance you may require: the staff there are well informed and reasonably professional. There are no alternatives to this office as the source of impartial, reliable information on all aspects of Shimla and on travel.
₹ 200 per night is as a benchmark when negotiating the price of accommodation at most ordinary hotels in Shimla, outside May and June. From 1 May 2011 an extra tax at the rate of 5.15% is charged on all hotel rooms with the approved maximum charge per night exceeding the amount of ₹ 1,000: hotel rooms with the maximum approved nightly rate below ₹1,000 are exempt. The tax, when applicable, is calculated on the maximum rate for the particular room that has been approved by the State tourism authorities and not on the actual rate negotiated between the guest and the hotel. Thus, if a particular hotel room has the approved maximum nightly rate of ₹1,200, for example, but the guest has managed to negotiate with the hotel a rate of ₹300 for that room in the off season, the final bill may attract an additional amount of ₹62 per night, or over 20% of the total. To avoid the tax in question, try to choose budget hotels with government-approved maximum rates below ₹1,000 per night (regardless of your actual negotiated amount), or those where the hotelier is willing to cover the extra charge.
- Amar Palace (Take the road directly up the hill to the left of/behind christ church and it's about 300 m up the road from there. Call if you get lost and they'll come to find you.), ☏ , . 24 Hour hot water, and some rooms with a good view back out along the ridge. ₹800.
- Dalziel (2,135 metres above sea level), The Mall (10 minutes walk westwards from Scandal Point), ☏ . Check-in: 27/5/12, check-out: 29/5/12. Situated in a wooden heritage building. Laundry service and meals available. Food & water are unhygenic From ₹ 2000 upwards.
- Hotel Mayur (2,211 metres above sea level), The Ridge (just behind Christ Church, and overlooking its roof), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 12:00. A centrally located hotel on The Ridge. Rooms have clean attached bathrooms, colour television; somewhat run down. The room service is fairly decent. ₹ 1000-1700.
- Hotel White, Lakkar Bazaar (500m NE of The Ridge), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. 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. ₹1800.
- Shimla Youth Hostel, ☏ . Located in Lakkar Bazar, the hostel offers budget accommodation, and a discount to Youth hostel members.
- YMCA (2,225 metres above sea level), Behind Ritz Cinema, The Ridge (1 mile walk from Shimla train and bus station), ☏ . Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. 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. ₹ 370 and above.
Other cheaper areas of the city are through Victory tunnel and on Circular Rd and Kaithu to Kali Bari Rd. In high season, rooms can be ₹1000 - ₹1500 a night.
- 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), ☏ , , , , , , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Centrally located 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. The food does not begin to match the quality of the accommodation so if you stay, eat and drink out. From ₹6,500 to ₹9,000.
- Honeymoon Inn (Shimla Hotel), The Mall. This 20 room boutique hotel offers some attractive views.
- 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), ☏ , , , fax: , . Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. A decent place 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. ₹ 2,500 to 7,700.
- 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), ☏ , fax: , , email@example.com. Check-in: noon, check-out: Late checkouts on request. 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). From ₹ 4,500 to ₹ 9,900; 2 Nights Package with meals ₹7699.
- 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), ☏ , , , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: noon; early check-in available at extra charge, check-out: noon; late check-out available at extra charge. 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. From ₹3,950 to ₹5,400.
- Hotel Peterhoff (2,117 metres above sea level), Chaura Maidan (45 minutes' walk westwards from Scandal Point), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. 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 down: 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. ₹ 2000-7000.
- 1 Woodville Palace (2,190 metres above sea level), Raj Bhavan Rd (20 to 25 minutes' walk eastwards from Scandal Point), ☏ , , fax: , email@example.com. Check-in: noon, check-out: 17:00. 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. ₹4,000.
For travellers requiring luxury accommodation during their stay in Shimla, the advantages offered by The Oberoi Cecil, a luxury hotel of the Oberoi chain, as regards both the location and the in-house amenities, are unbeatable by any establishment in town. Their lesser-grade affiliate, The Oberoi Clarke's, another hotel of the Oberoi chain with a great ambiance and rich history, has the advantage of a more central location on The Mall, but its facilities in general and its cuisine in particular are not a match for The Cecil. A close runner-up to The Cecil in the luxury lineup is The Radisson Hotel Shimla, but its location in a low-lying locality known as Goodwood Estate, on Lower Bharari Road (which is in a state of shocking disrepair and dangerous to walk on), which is difficult of access and too out of the way for virtually all sightseeing to be done in Shimla, makes this otherwise swanky new hotel impossible to recommend except for those wishing to spend all their time within the confines of their hotel proper or who do not mind relying on the hotel's fleet of private cars to get to town and back (a relatively expensive proposition on a daily basis). Those preferring genteel seclusion would be much better served by 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, or the 14 km distant Wildflower Hall (see "Accommodation options outside of Shimla", below), 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).
- 2 Chapslee Hotel, Elysium Hill, Longwood Rd, Near, Lakkar Bazar (between Lakkar Bazaar and Auckland House high school, just above much-trafficked Circular Road), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 1200, check-out: 12:00. 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 disturbing. ₹ 9,500-12,500, Winter Surcharge up to ₹ 1,000.
- 3 The Oberoi Cecil (2,098 metres above sea level), Chaura Maidan (takes a pleasant and easy 20-minute walk from town centre to get there), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. An elegant hotel in the grand heritage style, immaculately maintained, with log fires and a heated swimming-pool. Best food in town. ₹ 10,000-23,000, Breakfast ₹ 1500.
- 4 Radisson Hotel Shimla (2,100 metres above sea level), Goodwood Estate (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), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. 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. from ₹7,000.
Accommodation outside of Shimla
- East Bourne Resort, Near Bishop Cotton School, Khallini, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Check-out: noon. A pine forest resort, Multi cuisine restaurant, 2 open air garden restaurants, lounge, coffee shop, library over looking a rose garden, steam, sauna, jacuzzi, discotheque & car parking. ₹ 6000.
- Flaghouse Resort, Junga, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12.00 noon. A luxury resort in the Shimla Hills. Away from the hustle and bustle of the civilized world, the resort offers peace and tranquility. All rooms and cottages in the resort have private balconies having a panoramic view of the valley and the mountains. Tastefully decorated rooms with satellite LCD TVs, Wi-Fi, telephones and mini bar. The resort is disabled friendly and provides accommodation for drivers and aayas. The resort is pet friendly and has separate accommodation for pets. 3 days/2 nights package inclusive of breakfast and one major meal starts at ₹ 3800 per person for standard double rooms..
- Hotel Golf Links, Naldehra. A delightful hotel in Naldehra, the site of the historical golf course. Overlooking the valley, it offers scenic vistas. ₹ 1500+.
- Koti Resort (Shimla Hotel), Mashobra (Just off the Shimla-Naldehra Road), ☏ , email@example.com. Please contact for latest deals.
- Park Woods Hill Resort Shoghi, Village Paughat (near Shoghi), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Forested hill resort with quaint bamboo nad pinewood cottages, valley and mountain views, adventure activities, barbeques, bonfires, open areas. ₹ 3700-5350.
- Wildflower Hall (2,560 metres above sea level), near the village of Charabra (14 km west of Shimla on National Highway 22, NH22), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. A stately brand new stone building built among cedar and pine forests. ₹ 15,000-39,500.
Homestays near Shimla
- Sunrise Villa Homestay, Shoghi (12 km before Shimla), ☏ . Check-in: 12:00 noon, check-out: 12:00 noon. A Department of Tourism, HP Government approved home stay unit. Located in very picturesque 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. ₹ 900.
Beware of greedy monkeys which may attack anytime to grab food from your hands. Don’t make any eye contact with them. Try to ignore them while passing by. Any abrupt move from your side may pass the wrong message on these creatures.
Sometimes, temperature goes below freezing level, especially during winter season. So travelers are advised to carry appropriate clothing.
Do not exchange the currency/money in black market. Ask for receipt when exchanging money at any authorized establishment.
The area dialling code for Shimla is 0177. From overseas, dial +91 177 XXX-XXXX. There are plenty of STD/ISD booths. The amount is calculated on a digital meter, and is paid after the call. A short STD call costs around ₹ 10.
There are two main official tourist information centres in Shimla, as well as a small office at the train station that isn't always open. The victory point office is less busy and helpful. It's also near where some government busses leave from.
- Tourist Information (Near Victory Tunnel), ☏ .
- Tourist Information, Bye pass road, ☏ .
It is very easy to get a Prepaid mobile, which is very cheap to get, and calls are cheap too. One needs to give a Photo ID proof and a photograph for prepaid as well as postpaid connection as per the Govt. regulations.
- Airtel - GSM 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz.(Tri-Band); 4G 2300 MHz.
- CellOne - GSM 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz.(Tri-Band)
- Idea-GSM 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz.(Tri-Band)
- Reliance Telecom - GSM 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz.(Tri-Band)
- Reliance India Mobile - CDMA
- Tata Indicom - CDMA
- Vodafone - GSM
As long as you are in Shimla, the signal strength is pretty good. But as you move towards Kufri and Narkanda, the signal strength deteriorates significantly. In last 3-4 years, these services overall have become much better.
Internet cafes are plentiful in The Mall, most of them are concentrated near the lifts. However, it is best to avoid these (Windows 98, dial-up connection, poor security) and check your mail at the hotels instead. Nearly all hotels have internet access, and it is not terribly expensive either. Expect to pay ₹ 50 per hour in a hotel, and ₹ 10 outside. The Oberoi Cecil has WiFi in the lounge area with vouchers available at reception.
Buses, for example to Manali and Dharamsala, can be booked in advance or on the day of travel up to a few hours before departure from the government office next to the official tourist information centre at Scandal Point. Many of the buses will actually depart from the new bus stop which is a 30 minute and ₹ 10 ride from the old bus station in town near the train station, so just be sure to double check when booking.
- Chail (43 km). Originally a private reserve created by the Maharaja of Patiala, who was banned from Shimla. Now a 75 acre resort that meanders over undulating hills.
- Dharamsala. Home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan-Government-in-exile. Many Buddhist monasteries in the area.
- Kasauli. Kasauli is a small town in the state of Himachal Pradesh located at an altitude of 1,927 m. The town is 77 km from Shimla and 70 km from Chandigarh.
- Kinnaur. An area on the Tibetan border. Home to ethnic Tibetans. Several traditional Buddhist monasteries.
- Manali, Kullu Valley (260 km). An area of hot springs, traditional buildings, and Buddhist monasteries.