Shimla was once part of the Nepalese kingdom called Shyamala and gained fame only after the British discovered it. Shimla then became the summer capital of India. Following independence it became the capital of Punjab and then the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Today, Shimla is a pleasant, sprawling town, set among cool pine-clad hills with plenty of crumbling colonial charm.
Places to See
Viceregal Lodge and Botanical Gardens: The lodge sits on Observatory Hill and was built by Lord Dufferin in 1888. Built in the Elizabethan style it has a crenulated tower and grey limestone and sandstone. The entrance lobby opens onto a grand staircase with upper stories and a gallery. It is six storeys high and now houses the Institute of Advanced Studies. It also boasts of well manicured lawns and garden.Â Open from 9 am to 8 pm.
Himachal State Museum and Library: It is most famous for the collection of Pahari miniatures, an art form that flourished before the impact of the west on India. Inaugurated in 1974, the miniatures depict scenes from Pahari life. The museum also has temple bronzes, textiles, jewellery and masks from Kullu. The Museum has more than 1500 objects on display. It has a well stocked library of historical books and manuscripts. It is open on all days except Mondays. Entry is free.
Himalayan Aviary: Just before reaching the Viceregal Lodge is the Himalayan Bird Park that has a very good collection of the birds found in Himachal. Open 10.00 AM in the morning to 5.00 PM in the evening. The park is closed on every Monday. Nominal entry fee is charged.
St. Michael's Cathedral: Its stained glass windows are the finest created in British India. They represent (from left to right) Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Patience and Humility. Its spire is a famous landmark of Shimla. Consecrated in 1857, it is one of the oldest churches of north India.
Jakhu Temple: It is a 45-minute walk from Scandal Point to reach here. The temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and is believed to have the footprint of the Lord. It is the highest point on the Shimla Ridge from where one can view the majesty of the Himalayas.
Prospect Hill: A very famous picnic spot that gets too crowded at times.