Shimla district General information
Shimla, was the Summer capital of India under British rule. Presently, it is the state capital of Himachal Pradesh, with its population around 1.6 lacs (Shimla town only). Shimla has seen many important historical events such as the famous Shimla Pact between India & Pakistan which was signed here. The place is also famous for its natural beauty, architectural buildings, wooden crafts and apples.
The former summer capital of the British in India, and the present capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla have been blessed with all the natural bounties which one can think of. It has got a scenic locations, it is surrounded by green hills with snow capped peaks. The spectacular cool hill accompanied by the structures made during the colonial era creates an aura which is very different from other hill.
Bulging at its seams with unprecedented expansion, Shimla retains its colonial heritage with many grand old building among them are the stately Viceregal Lodge, charming iron lamp posts and Anglo-Saxon names. The Mall, packed with shops and eateries, is the centre of attraction of the town, and Scandal Point, associated with the former Maharaja of Patiala’s escapades, offers a view of distant snow clad peaks.
Shimla is ideally located, and though there is an air service to the town, it is best reached by road that takes in the charms of the HIMALAYAN countryside at its best. There is a sense of nostalgia about SHIMLA, with its old bungalows and their gabled roofs and beautiful gardens.
Also Known As: The Summer Refuge
Shimla District lies between the longitude 77o-0″ and 78o-19″ east and latitude 30o-45″ and 31o-44″ north. It is bounded by Mandi and Kullu in the north, Kinnaur in the east, the state of Uttaranchal in the south, Sirmaur, district in the west. The elevation of the district ranges from 300 to 6000 metres. The topology of the district is rugged and tough. Shimla district derives its name from Shimla town which was once a small village. Shimla district in its present form came into existence from 1st September, 1972 on the reorganisation of the districts of the state.
History of Shimla goes back to the period of Anglo-Gurkha war in the beginning of 19th century. In 1804 the Gurkhas , who had suffered a severe defeat at the hands of the Sikhs at the battle of Kangra, a hill fortress about sixty miles from Shimla, where according to some accounts they lost thousand of men in the fight and many others from disease, commenced to ravage the states and hills surrounding Shimla. Gurkhas built many forts around Shimla. One of these strongholds, the Jagatgarh fortress, was the origin of the modern Jutogh, the well known military cantonment adjoining Shimla. By 1808 the invaders had conquered all the fortified posts between the Jamuna and Satluj, and from their capital Arki began their ruthless rule over the neighbouring hill states, untill at length the people in their wretchedness appealed to the British for help. A small British force under Major General ‘Sir David Ochterlony’ was despatched to liberate the hill men from Gurkhas. Majority of hill chiefs responded to the call and joined the British forces. The rivals were engaged in the toughest battle at 3750 ft high Ramgarh fort at Nalagarh. A decisive battle took place near the fort at Malaon in which superior guns of the British overpowered the enemy. The battle of Malaon on 15th May 1815 ended the dream of the Gurkhas, to rule over this part of the land for any longer. After few days, an official declaration was made according to which all Chieftains who had joined British in expelling the Gurkhas were restored with their land under the British protection. The maharaja of Patiala who has also rendered invaluable services to the British was rewarded with land in the neighbourhood of the area now comprising Shimla. After the defeat of Gurkhas they were forced to sign the ‘Treaty of Sanjauli’. The company retained the strategic forts of Sabathu, Kotgarh, Ramgarh and Sandoch.
Present day Shimla District comprises of 19 erstwhile hill states mainly Balson, Bushahr, Bhaji and Koti, Darkoti, Tharoch & Dhadi, Kumarsain, Khaneti & Delath, Dhami, Jubbal, Keothal, Rawingarh, Ratesh, Sangri.
Bushahr was one of the oldest of the hill states after Kashmir in the Western Himalayas. According to one legend .the Bushahr dynasty was founded by ‘Pradhuman’, the son of Lord Krishna. In order to marry the daughter of Banasur, the local chief of shonitpur (Sarahan), Pradhuman is said to have come to that place and after the death of Banasur in an encounter with him, he became the chief of Bushar and Kinnaur regions, since Banasur has no son. According to C.F.Kennedy, Bushar was founded by Danbar Singh an immigrant Rajput from Deccan in 1412 A.D. In 1914 Britishers recognised Padam Singh as legitimate heir and was crowned Raja of Rampur Bushahr. Ultimately in March, 1948 Rampur Bushahr became part and parcel of province of Himachal Pradesh.
Jubbal one of the Shimla Hill States with an area of 288 Sq miles was originally tributary to Sirmaur, but after Gurkha war, it became independent. Raja Karam Chand was the founder of the Jubbal State. Jubbal merged with the Indian Union after independence and became a part of Himachal Pradesh on 15th April, 1948. at the time of merger ‘Dig Vijay Singh ‘ was the ruler of the state.
Shimla District in its present form came into existence from 1st September 1972 on the reorganisation of the districts of the state. After the reorganisation , the erstwhile Mahasu district lost its entity and its major portion was merged with Shimla. Shimla district derives its name from Shimla town, the district headquarters and now state capital of Himachal Pradesh
Climate in Shimla
Weather During the Year : Winter are cold and chilly winds from the upper Himalayas makes the place really cold. Around Christmas or last week of December Shimla gets snowfall. Temperature varies from 15 ~27o C in Summer and in Winters its in the range 0~17 o C.
Best Season: Shimla can be visited throughout the year, as each season has its charm. The Snowfall during the winters attracts many tourists and accommodation can prove to be difficult. In the summers one can escape from the scorching heats of the plains and can enjoy the cool breeze at Shimla and in its vicinity. In summer, Shimla has the attraction of excellent walks and treks against the backdrop of the scenic beauty of wooded ravines, flowers and pines. Mall of Shimla becomes alive once again with tourists strolling and shops tastefully decorated and various exhibitions, craft fair etc. organised at locations on the mall.
In winters, it is home to winter-sports and an ice-skating carnival. Today, Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh and a favorite for filmmakers who wish to incorporate its scenic romanticism in their movies. Shimla is a stark example of the diversity that India offers to tourists.
What to Wear: Being Hill station the weather is almost cool at Shimla. Warm clothes are required throughout the year. The summers are marked by rainfalls. The nights of summers are cool and light warm clothes are required during this time. In the Winters Pullovers along with Warm Jacket is necessity. One has to take good care of shoes as most of the places are visited on foot, and slopes of Shimla are very steep. In the winters and mainly during snowfall shoes of firm grip are required , so that walking on snow becomes easy.
Best Time To Visit: April To August & December To January
PLaces of interest
Christ Church & St. Michael’s Cathedral : Built in 1846-1857, Christ Church is the second oldest church of Northern India. The Church overlooks the ridge and is one of the landmarks of Shimla. The clocks on Christ Church were added later but none of them are functional now. The Church’s exquisite beauty comes with the stained glasses that are fitted on its windows You can discreetly have a look inside the church, or attend English-language services every Sunday during the tourist season. The town’s other important churches are St. Michael’s Cathedral and Roman Catholic Cathedral, which is just off the Mall.
Jakhu Temple : Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, this temple is at an altitude of 8048 feet above sea level near the highest point of Shimla ridge. It offers a panoramic view over the surrounding valleys, out to the snowcapped peaks, and over the town itself. The temple is a 45-minute walk from the Ridge, one can also hire pony or taxi to visit temple. Jakhu is a vantage point for witnessing the changing skyline as the sun rises or sets.
Sankat Mochan Temple : On Shimla-Kalka road at a distance of around 5 KMs is the famous “Lord Hanuman” temple. Situated at an altitude of 1,975m, it commands an excellent view of Shimla town. Temple has beautiful campus and Langar is held every Sunday.
Tara Devi : On Shimla-Kalka road this holy place is accessible by rail, bus and car (11-km). From the station / road – one can visit the temple on foot around 5 km walk among dense forests. Temple is accessible through motorable road also and its around 20 KMs journey from the town. Situated on top of a hill that faces Shimla, the temple offers panoramic views of Shimla town and surrounding hills. A thick forest of oak and rhododendron surrounds it. It is famous picnic spot.
Kali Bari :
The temple is situated near to The Mall and its 5 minutes walk from The Mall.The temple is dedicated to Shyamala Devi (Shimla is named after this goddess), an incarnation of Goddess Kali. Temple faces heavy rush during Diwali and Durga Puja as many Bengalis visit this temple.
Himachal State Museum & Library: The museum is located 2.5-km west of the scandal point and opens daily except on Mondays and public holidays. It has got a good collection of ancient historical sculptures, paintings, coins, photos and other items from all over the state as well as outside it. It has also got a library, which houses many historical books and manuscripts. Visiting hours are from 10 AM to 5 PM and it is closed on Monday and gazetted holidays.
Viceregal Lodge & Botanical Gardens: On the Observatory Hills is located Viceregal Lodge, which is also known as “Rashtrapati Niwas”. This magnificent building was the residence of the British Viceroy Lord Dufferin. This lodge was completed in 1888 and it is said that every brick for the building was carried by mules. This is a six-story building and is surrounded by well-maintained gardens and lawns. The lodge has now been converted into Institute of Advanced Study and is further 2-km from State Museum.
Indian Institute of Advanced Studies: Housed in the former Viceregal Lodge, it was built in 1888. The style of architecture is English Renaissance, the masonry of the walling is light blue limestone and the wrought stonework is done in sandstone in a beautiful light gray tint. It has magnificent lawns. The entry in the institute is by ticket and only on Sundays the grounds are open for the public.
The Ridge: The large open space in the heart of town presents excellent view of the mountain ranges. Shimla’s landmarks – the Neo-Gothic structure of Christ Church and the new – Tudor Library building is worth seeing.
The Mall : Most of Shimla’s landmarks are located here. The Mall further joins the Ridge at the ‘Scandal Point’ of Kipling’s Shimla, where a statue of the nationalist leader Lala Lajpat Rai has been erected.This is the main shopping centre of Shimla with restaurants. This is especially pleasant in the evenings when the views and lights are wonderful. The Gaiety Theatre, which is a reproduction of an old British Theatre is a center of cultural activities. A passenger lift of HPTDC can be taken from the Cart Road and the Mall. Lakkar Bazaar adjacent to the Ridge is popular for its wood-crafts and souvenirs.
Prospect Hill: Crowned by a temple dedicated to Kamna Devi 15-minutes walk from Boileauganj on Shimla-Bilaspur road. The hill at an altitude of 2,155m offers a spectacular view of the area.
Summer Hill : At an altitude of 1,283m, 1 KM from boilaeuganj.Summer Hill is a picturesque spot on Shimla-Kalka Railway line offering shady walks in quiet surroundings. The Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to Shimla lived in the elegant Georgian House of Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur located here. HP University is also situated over here.
Potter Hill : Situated at a distance of 1 Km from Summer Hill is very beautiful Picnic spot with all the natural beauty. Ecological Park is situated here.
Its about 4 km walk from the Ridge through dense Forests, a sprightly stream flows through the Glen forests at an altitude of 1830 meters.It is a secluded picnic spot.
Annandale : Beyond the Glen is Annandale, another picnic spot. It is covered with deodar forests and was once the playgrounds of Shimla, where racing, polo and cricket entertained the Britishers.Surrounded by deodar trees, this glade has an ancient temple on the edge.
Elysium Hill : On the road leading through Lakkar Bazaar, houses the famous Auckland House, the former residence of Viceroy Lord Auckland. It is a well-known girls’ school now. Nearby is the Stirling Castle, now an orphanage for the Tibetan children and a center for the Tibetan exiles who have settled locally.
Recreation : Shimla has three cinema halls, near to Mall and Hindi movies are played mostly. One can visit the Roller Skating hall on the left side of the Lakkar Bazaar (open for all) and can do roller skating on melodious music. Mall has few Billiard Rooms. There are shops offering variety of Video Games. In the Tourist Season various entertainment programs are organised such as Summer Festival in June, Ice skating in Dec-Jan and Winter Carnival. Most of the time one or the other exhibition or craft fare is held around mall area.