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Shimla travel guide

Published: 03/05/2012

Shimla is a beautiful hill town, the capital of Himachal Pradesh in Northern India. It is also known as the ‘the queen of hills’ and is a popular tourist destination. Situated in the north-west Himalayas, it was declared as the summer capital of the British Raj in 1864. The climate in Shimla is pleasant in summers, unlike the heat in the plains. So it was a perfect getaway for the British during the summers. The history of Shimla, as it is today is not very old. It all started when the British East India Company gained it from the king of Nepal in 1814 and started developing the area. Within a short span of 50 years Shimla was transformed with many buildings, styled in the Tudor-Bethan and neo-gothic architecture. The vice regal Lodge ,magnificently designed lampposts of rot iron , Auckland House ,the Gaiety Theatre, Christ Church and St. Michael’s Cathedrals are some important structures of the British Raj, worth admiring, for the tourists. These remnants of the past still stand tall in the city. They give that exclusive look to Shimla and are now a heritage legacy.

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The forests with tall pine, oak and deodars, the climate and the mighty Himalayas along with the architectural marvels of the colonial era gives the place a special aura that draw tourists in herds. Many are attracted for the sporting activities like trekking, gulf and skating.

The Mall

The Mall is the pride of Shimla. Designed on the lines of a small town English market place the Mall has rows of shops, stretching up to 1.5 kms in length. A unique feature of this place is that no motor vehicles are allowed on the entire stretch. Even during the Colonial times only three carriages were allowed- That of the Viceroy, the Commander-in-Chief and the Governor of Punjab. Interestingly, this practice has been continuing with only a select few motor vehicles, like ambulances, fire vehicles and high officials of the government being allowed now. From Maharajas and billionaires to a commoner everyone walks down the street literally rubbing shoulders because of the crowd. For the local people an evening stroll in the Mall is a almost a hobby. There is scandal point, the municipality offices in stone building the general post office and spire of Christ church which give an ambience of the bygone era. This area has been declared as a heritage zone by the government.

Gaiety Theatre

In the Mall, there is the famous Gaiety Theatre an architectural marvel in the neo-gothic style, remarkable for the quality of its acoustics.

The Vice regal Lodge

The Vice regal lodge, also known as the Rastrapati Niwas , is located on the Observatory Hills, served as the residence of the Viceroy ,Lord Dufferin . This spectacular work of architecture with gardens and lawns now houses the Institute of advanced studies.

The Kalka-Simla Railway

The Kalka Shimla railway route from Kalka to Shimla has been declared as the UNESCO world heritage site, mountain railways of India. This railway route, in narrow gauge, has more than 806 radius and 103 tunnels and is considered an Engineering feat even to this day.
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