Shimla has a population of around 145,000. Most of the 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 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 2200m 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 head is at Kalka – a four- to seven-hour journey from Delhi. After that, take the mountain train from Kalka to Shimla. This railway track has recently been granted the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The view is stunning, with the line passing through an amazing 103 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. You can also choose to get off at Chandigarh (en-route to Kalka), and catch a taxi from there.
Note that while the Shivalik Deluxe Express can be reserved 60 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 Simla, 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|
It takes only 2 hours from Kalka to Shimla by taxi.
If hiring a private taxi, ensure that the driver has experience driving in hilly regions and is not deprived of sleep.
Chandigarh/Delhi-Shimla Cab Services, ☎ +91 90518-77-000 , 24 hours. One way Pick/Drop facilities to Chandigarh/Delhi from Shimla. Online booking. Prices starting ₹2200.
There is also a bus service operated by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation that leaves at 830pm from Delhi every night. It reaches Shimla around 530am the next morning. An air-conditioned single decker bus, it is quite a comfortable ride.
Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation Bus Reservation,
|JA 221||DEL 7.30AM||SLV 8.30AM||Mo,We,Fr|
|IC 864||DEL 1.20PM||IXC 2PM||Daily|
|IC 864||BOM 10AM||IXC 2PM||Daily|
|OL 103||BOM 2.40PM||IXC 5PM||Daily|
|DN 537||DEL 12.50PM||IXC 1.20PM||Daily|
|9W 733||DEL 1.05PM||IXC 1.50PM||Daily|
|JA 211||DEL 7AM||IXC 7.50PM||Tu,Th,Sa|
|JA 212||DHM 10.10AM||IXC 11.40AM||Th,Sa|
|DN 538||IXJ 3.25 PM||IXC 4.30 PM||Daily|
Shimla has its own airport at a place known as Jubbarhatti (IATA code:SLV), 22 km away, a distance which, owing to the difficulties of the mountainous terrain, poor condition of road surfaces, and the increasing traffic congestion, often takes hours to traverse by car from Shimla. The airport has severe limitations imposed both 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 Dornier aircraft; jets such as Airbus A310, 320s and Boeing 737s can all land at the larger Chandigarh(IATA code:IXC) airport. The Chandigarh Airport, located at a distance of 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 Indian, Jet Airways and Air Deccan operate flights to Delhi, Jammu, and Mumbai. Most of the flights to Mumbai require a stop-over in Delhi. Tip, confirm the flights till the very last moment, bad weather often delays flights during the winter fog.
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.
- GOTAXI Car Rentals (Shimla Taxi Services) 24×7 : +91-95 83 83 83 83 near Victory Tunnel, Shimla ” GOTAXI is a 24×7 hrs. Car Rentals Service in Shimla visit www.HimachalTaxiServices.com provides Chauffeur Driven Car Rental services. Our fares start from Rs.1500 for half day local sightseeing.
- taxiGUIDE.in (Shimla Car Rental), ☎ +91 888 023 4455 , Inquiry: 7am to 11pm. Shimla Car Rental services on taxiGUIDE.in – a Chauffeur Driven Car Rental service in 75 Cities in India. Fares start from Rs.1400 for full day local & Rs.9.5/km for Outstation.
- The Mall: 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.
- Jakhu Temple, Jakhu Hill. Open every day. Offers spectacular views of the mountains from its location above the town. According to the epic Ramayana, the monkey god Hanuman rested here during his journey to the Himalayan mountains. The climb up is a physically demanding one-hour walk. However, you can drive up the hill – a 4WD is recommended. The temple and hill side is populated with very aggressive and cunning monkeys. Be extremely careful with your camera, glasses, bag and (especially) food. Entry free, donations welcome (Sticks for warding off the monkeys can be rented at the entrance to the temple for Rs 5).
- Chadwick Falls, 7 km away from Shimla, the inviting spot of Chadwick Falls is a premier travel destination. A trip to the Chadwick Falls during the monsoons will be an unforgettable experience. Located in an incredible landscape, the place is home to some old shrines that are sites of immense significance for pilgrims.
- Jakhoo Hill, Located at an altitude of 2,445m, Jakhoo Hill, Shimla’s highest point, is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Shimla. From the peak of the hill, one can have a panoramic view of the Shimla town and its surroundings. The landscape all around is a feast to one’s eyes. At the top is an old Hanuman temple.
- Dorje Drag Monastery, Sarasvati Garden Estate, Kusmuti. A monastery in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Thubten Evam Dorje Drag. Entry free, donations welcome.
The Ridge, Jakhu Hill (North of The Mall). Built at the top of the town at 2230m, The Ridge is the center of Shimla’s cultural and social life – an excellent place to view the surrounding mountains.
- Christ Church, The Ridge (Near Municipal Library). Open every day, services Su 8AM-11AM. Constructed in 1846, this is the second oldest church of the 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.
- Lower Bazaar, The Mall (Below Central Section). Shops Open Mo-Sa. The Lower Bazaar is home to the city’s less expensive hotels, cheaper restaurants and stores, 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 Shepard’s Pie. It also sells clothes and household items.
- Viceregal Lodge, The Mall (Atop Observatory Hill), +91 177 283-1375. Open every day (Only the entrance hall and gardens are open to the public). This lodge is now part of the Institute of Advanced Studies. 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 Rs 20 per adult. Both still and video cameras are allowed for a fee of Rs. 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. This lodge is a 1 hour walk from the end of the mall, near the Oberoi hotel.
- Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary, A unique, well preserved mixed himalayan forest with predominantly Himalayan Cedar trees. Permits are required for entry Rs 50 per person and Rs 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 center 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 (Wildlife).
- Hip Hip Hurray Amusement Park (9000 ft), Kufri (NH-22, 16 Kms. from Shimla), ☎ 01776450993, Nagsons Amusement Park,HIP HIP HURRAY, Kufri, is the only amusement park located at 8500 ft. above sea level offering adventure activities like Burma Bridge Crossing, Flying Fox, Commando Net, Rock Climbing etc and also activities like Boating, Bump’em Cars, Rides, Indoor Golf and a number of virtual reality,redemption & video games. Other attractions include Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Shopping, Telescopic View etc. The food at the restaurant is excellent.
- Kufri Fun World (9000ft), Mahasu Peak, Kufri, Shimla (Take slip road on right after crossing Kufri). 10 AM – 6PM. Rs.100 Onwards.
Tara Devi Temple is named after one of the many forms of Goddess Kali. This well-maintained temple is located at the top of a steep hill about 11 kms from Shimla bus stand. There are stunning views of Shimla town and the Himalayas. This is a perfect location for people who are looking for some rest and peace at a high altitude, around 6070 ft. The temple is very clean with a beautiful flower garden surrounding it.
Shimla houses a few excellent museums. The State Museum is perhaps the most well-known.
- State Museum, Chaura Maidan (Atop the Inverarm Hill, in the general vicinity of The Oberoi Cecil hotel), +91 177 280-5044. Open Tu-Su, 10AM-5PM. 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 Rs 10 (Cameras free, flash prohibited).
- Photo Art Gallery, Potter’s Hill (Near HP Univ.), +91 94180-11172. 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 Rs 5 (Cameras free, flash prohibited).
Sankat Mochan: A popular Hanuman temple is located here. We get an excellent view of Shimla from the temple. It can be reached by car or on foot.
- Take a leisurely walk at the Mall — this 7km thoroughfare is famous for its Victorian Architecture, and retains much of its Raj-era charm. To get there, take thelifts from Cart Road, an ingenious system designed to save pedestrians from walking. Rs 7 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.
- Visit the zoo at Kufri (tel:+91 177 265-2911) — home to native species such as the great Himalayan Snow Leopard, and varieties of Musk Deer. Open daily, Rs 15 per person. Special free passes are available during weekends.
- 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 kms 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 ofMashobra. 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 kilometres 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 Tibetian carpets made in nearby Kinnaur. As the center 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, 3 The Mall, +91 177 280-1234 (fax:+91 177 265-3164),. Open Mo-Fr, 10AM-5PM. An excellent place to purchase locally-made handicrafts at set prices. Run by the Himachal Pradesh Government.
- Minchys, Anywhere in Shimla!, +91 177 286-0203, Open Mon-Sun, 10AM-6PM. The PLACE for Himachal Fruit Products! Jams and Squashes and Wines: Name it, Michys has it. And the best of the lot. Though the main shop is on the Delhi-Shimla Highway, you can find stalls everywhere on the highway and in the city. Worth a try…
- Dockers San Francisco, DCAR, The Mall. Open every day, 11AM-7PM. Virtually the only international brand-store in Shimla, Dockers is a trendy and upmarket place. A favorite haunt of college students.
- Maria Bros., 78-A The Mall. Antique and rare book dealers. Absurdly overpriced. Try the couple of other options further down The Mall.
- Minerva Book House, Hotel Minerva, +91 177 225-2043. A good selection of novels.
- Honeyhut, (near the Lift). Part of a chain in the North, Honeyhut serves sandwiches, cakes, ice-cream and drinks. It also sells honey-based products such as soap, shampoo, lip balm, tea, and of course, honey. If you are a chai tea fan, try the organic cardamon tea with saffron honey.
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.
- The Devicos, 5 The Mall (one storey beneath street level, directly below the Café Coffee Day outlet in the vicinity of the BSNL Building), ☎ +91 177 280-6335. 10:00AM~10:00PM. Serves good Indian food of every description (one of the most extensive Indian-cuisine menus in town), 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 two storeys directly above (one storey above street level), is a hangout popular with the locals but not a match for the restaurant as far as decor and atmosphere are concerned. Adverse comment regarding food poisoning cases in the restaurant on the Lonely Planet website. Rs 50~150.
- Baljees, 26 The Mall, ☎ +91 177 265-2313. 9AM-11PM. Among the town’s oldest eateries, 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 Rs 100-150, Desserts Rs 50.
- The Oberoi Cecil Restaurant, Chaura Maidan (in The Oberoi Cecil Hotel), ☎ +91 177 2804848. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with closing breaks in between). A good selection of European and Asian dishes, complemented by best European and non-European vintages. 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). Unarguably the best and unarguably the most expensive place to eat in town. Nevertheless, buffet breakfasts somewhat disappointing (no cheese selection, for example, though provided if one specifically asks). Standards have slipped here in the recent years, since the majority of the guests are now Indian rather than foreign as before. Rs 500~1,500.
- Silver Oak, Circular Road, ☎ +91 177 225-7588. 7-11PM. Serves Mughlai and Chinese. The food is not great, but passable. Nice decor and a comfortable atmosphere. Rs 150.
- The Lutyens Room, Springfields, Chhota Shimla (opposite Tibetan School), ☎ +91 177 222-1297, 222-1298. 11AM-10:30PM. Continental and Indian food. Rs 150 and above.
- Ashiana & Goofa, The Band Stand, The Ridge. Open for lunch and dinner. 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. Rs 50-150.
- The restaurant at Hotel Pinewood, Barog (tel:+91 1792 238-825 & 238-387) serves cheap Punjabi fare. There’s also a Cafe Coffee Day outlet at Solan, which sells pastries, coffee and sandwiches and a Mc Donalds on the way.
- Loveena Restaurant, The Ridge. below rain shelter, restaurant with view.indian,chinese,continental.thali @Rs.110/-
- New Plaza Restaurant (Plaza), 60/61, Middle Bazar, ☎ 0177-2655438.
- Qilaa, The Mall Rd; below Syndicate Bank, near Scandal Point (On the way from Scandal Point to DC Office), ☎ +91 9736691209. 11AM-11PM. 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 as you enter the place. The food has a homely flavor to it as it’s cooked under the constant supervision of the friendly young couple who owns it. Their best items are the mezze platter and banoffee pie. You can sit here all day without being irked by anybody to leave. up to $10.
- Sher E Punjab (Sher E Punjab), Ridge Sanjauli Road (take road to Lakkar Bazar, Just 100 M from Ridge point.). 10 AM to 10 PM. If you are looking for a local Indian food which people of India have at home, then you should try this place. A good place to eat tava chappati (Indian bread)at reasonable rates. Ask for mixed vegetable dish with butter chappati. INR 30-150.
- Indian Coffee House, The Mall (On Mall Rd, just down from the post office on the left). Probably the cheapest food in Shimla, especially during peak season. They serve good south Indian food as well as surprisingly good western breakfast fare – try the Rs 40 French toast. Rs 20 – 80.
- The restaurant at Holiday Hotel Home. Famed for its Himalchali cuisine including Sepu Vadi, which is steamed buns in curry, this restaurant offers authentic fare at affordable prices. The service is good. It also serves other types of Indian cuisine. Rs 500 – 2000.
- Embassy restaurant and cafe. Inside the cafe is a beautiful view as well as interesting quotations from all sorts of literature, decorated by the owner. A good place to chill out with a cup of tea and homecooked cakes. The cafe sells ice-cream to go which is popular among passer-bys.
- Wake & Bake Cafe (Wake & Bake), 34/2, The mall (Look for the yellow windows near the fire station). Inviting place on the 1st and 2nd floor with international cuisine, which is freshly cooked. Good ambience, great food and great coffee make this place a must visit.
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.
You can also try the real aqua minerale spring water available near the source (if you are trekking)!
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 Rs 200-300.
“Rendezvous”, located less than a minute walk from Christ Church on The Mall, across from “Alfa Restruant”. Somewhat hidden, this restaurant/bar offers good Bollywood tunes, a nice cozy interior and strong drinks. Try to order the monkey glad (but it’s not guaranteed they will have the ingredients).
- Cafe Coffee Day, 5 The Mall (in The Devicos). 9AM-11PM. Similar to Barista, although not quite as good. Another branch at Mama’s Kitchen NH22, Dharampur, Solan District. Cappuccino Rs 120.
- Indian Coffee House, The Mall. 9AM-11PM. Indian Coffee House (ICH), Mall Road. Indian coffee house (ICH) is a favourite with the locals, although not as trendy as barista or ccd, ICH retains the charm of bygone era. Cheap coffee and town gossipp 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. The IIAS 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 of the IIAS, 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 as low as US$ 5 to a whopping US$ 600.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||Under Rs 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 foreign travellers carrying luggage are their prime targets in the streets as well: if you allow them to lead you to your hotel you will be manipulated in manifold ways: (1) your daily room rate will automatically (but surreptitiously) be bumped up 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%); (2) the touts will (unbeknownst to you) steer you away from hotels which deny them such commission but which may be better choices from your point of view; and moreover (3) you will subsequently be pestered by your tout, who will now “own” you during your stay, to buy additional “services” from him, while (4) being force-fed additional doses of misinformation. 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.
A visitor to Shimla requiring truly budget (but safe) accommodation at any time of the year other than the months of May (latter part) and June — when high season causes a spike in room rates even at the most modest of establishments — can confidently expect to be able to find a double hotel room for Rs. 200 (USD 4.38) a night or thereabout. In this category, the well-known standbys among the frequent visitors to Shimla are Hotel Gulmarg (below The Mall; a room for as low as Rs 150 per night), Hotel Dreamland (rather institutional though), Hotel Woodland (peaceful and with balcony and cheap but food and room service is not up to the mark), 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 — Shimla’s principal landmark familiar to all, 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 and safely be arranged without the help of the touts. (Visit the office of the state-runHimachal 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 thereto and therefrom.)
The rate of Rs 200 per night should be taken as a benchmark when negotiating the price of accommodation at most ordinary hotels in Shimla (outside of the aforementioned period of late May and June, when, as already mentioned, the spike in demand causes a spike in the price of the supply). Budget travellers should bear in mind that 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 Rs 1,000 (one thousand rupees): hotel rooms with the maximum approved nightly rate below Rs 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 between the guest and the hotel. Thus, if a particular hotel room has the approved maximum nightly rate of Rs 1,200, for example, but the guest has managed to negotiate with the hotel a rate of Rs 300 for that room in off-season, the final bill may attract an additional amount of Rs 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 Rs 1,000 per night (regardless of your actual negotiated amount), or those where the hotelier is willing to cover the extra charge himself in any case.
- YMCA (2,225 metres above sea level), Behind Ritz Cinema, The Ridge (1 mile walk from Shimla train and bus station), ☎ +91 177 2650021. checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 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 Rs 700 for a single person and Rs 1000 for two persons. A room with common bathroom costs Rs 370 for a single person and Rs 500 for two persons. Rs 370 and above.
Shimla Youth Hostel located in “must visit” Lakkar Bazar offers budget accommodation, ranging from Rs.500 to 1000. and a discount to Youth hostel members. Ph:+919418025462.
Hotel White, Lakkar Bazaar (500m NE of The Ridge), ☎ +91 177 265-5276, This hotel surprisingly offers clean and spacious rooms all done up in white at budget-friendly rates. Opt for their suite which also offers a balcony and great views of the vally. Rs1500.
- Hotel Mayur (2,211 metres above sea level), The Ridge (just behind Christ Church, and overlooking its roof), ☎ +91 177 265-2393 . checkout: 12PM. A centrally located hotel on The Ridge. Rooms have clean attached bathrooms, color television, wall-to-wall carpeting; somewhat run-down by now. The room service is fairly decent. Rs 1000-1700.
- Dalziel (2,135 metres above sea level), The Mall (10 minutes walk westwards from Scandal Point), ☎ 9211709437, checkin: 27/5/12; checkout: 29/5/12. Situated in a wooden heritage building. Laundry service and meals available.Food & water served unhygenic From Rs 400 upwards.
- Amar Palace, (Take the road directly up the hill to the left of/behind christ church and it’s about 300m up the road from there. Call if you get lost and they’ll come find you.), ☎ 01772804055, 9418696458. 24 Hour hot water, and some rooms with a pretty good view back out along the ridge. Don’t go with touts! Last room closed about 12 months ago, so be careful of the jackal Even in peak season they were the cheapest (rs 800 offered without bargaining)..
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 found for Rs 1000 – Rs 1500 a night.
- 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), ☎ +91 177 225-1246/47/48, 265-2242/43/46/48 , checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 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 (a rarity among the mid-range hotels in Shimla) 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): one can tell that the F&B department are kept on their toes here. From Rs 4,500 to Rs 9,900; 2 Nights Package with meals Rs 7699.
- Woodville Palace (2,190 metres above sea level), Raj Bhavan Road (20 to 25 minutes’ walk eastwards from Scandal Point), ☎ +91 177 262-3919 or 262-4038 . checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 4PM. 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 any haute cuisine, though. Rs 4,000.
- 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),☎ +91 177 265-1010, 265-1011, 265-1012, 265-1013, 265-1014, 265-1015 , checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon. Although billing itself as a ‘heritage hotel since 1898’, this property had been a hotel before that date (‘Carlton Hotel’ having been one of its previous, historic names), and it most famously used to be — since 1934 — the premiere property of the Oberoi chain; its current standing with the group is somewhat unclear (Chairman Oberoi said publicly in April 2011 that it is still part of the group). Extremely convenient, central location on The Mall; immaculately maintained heritage building, with guestrooms full of period charm and ‘atmosphere’ (good views from windows over the southern valley of Shimla). Food on offer on the premises does not begin to match the quality of the accommodation; instant-powder concoction passes here for ‘coffee’. If you stay here, eat and drink out. From Rs 6,500 to 9,000.
- 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), ☎ +91 177 281-4700, 281-4701, or 281-4703 fax: +91 177 281-4702). checkin: 12 noon; early check-in available at extra charge; checkout: 12 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 (owing to their positioning, guestrooms receive little direct sunlight though). 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 in a pinch. From Rs 3,950 to Rs 5,400.
- 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), ☎ +91 177 262-1572, 262-2472, 262-2658 (fax: +91 177 262-4872, 262-0037). checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon. A very decent place to stay in 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 of the Hotel, in a densely built-up area called ‘Chōṭā Shimla’, lacks interest and recreational potential, however. Rs 2,500 to 7,700.
- Hotel Peterhoff (2,117 metres above sea level), Chaura Maidan (45 minutes’ walk westwards from Scandal Point), ☎ +91 177 221-3335 (fax: +91 177 221-3801). checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon. Nice, clean rooms with air-con, heaters, mini-bars and the usual mid-range amenities. Owned and operated by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, a state government entity. Peterhoff was once the residence of the British Viceroy of India and the old victorian building stood in precisely the same spot until 1981, when it burned to the ground. Hotel Peter Hoff housed at least seven viceroys and Governor Generals during the colonial rule. The first Viceroy to move into Peter Hoff was the Earl of Elgin who arrived in Shimla on the 4th April 1863. The present structure is not its recreation and, despite the retention of the name, is devoid of all period accents or character. It has been redesigned to match the hill architecture of the region. Convenient location for those wishing to visit the Viceregal Lodge (atop the Observatory Hill) and the Himachal Pradesh Museum (atop the Inverarm Hill), but otherwise slightly out-of-the-way with regard to town centre. You get unforgettable views from the front lawn, ending abruptly in a precipice. Rs 2000-7000.
- Honeymoon Inn (Shimla Hotel), The Mall. This 20 room boutique hotel offers some great views.
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 (currently 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). Travellers who might prefer 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 kilometres’ 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).
- 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), ☎ +91 177 280-4848 . checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. An elegant hotel in the grand heritage style, immaculately maintained, with log fires and a heated swimming-pool. Best food in town. Rs 10,000-23,000, Beakfast Rs 1500.
- Chapslee Hotel, Chapslee Estate (between Lakkar Bazaar and Auckland House high school, just above much-trafficked Circular Road), ☎ +91 177 280-2542 (fax: +91 177 265-8663),. checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. Formerly the residence of the ruler of Kapurthala (and still in the hands of “the family”); pretentious ownership a drawback, but otherwise an attractive place to put up in (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 (doors are left unlocked at all times). As part of this historic property has now been converted into a primary school (called ‘Chapslee School’), the ruckus raised by children on their way to classes early in the morning can be unnerving. Rs 9,500-12,500, Winter Surcharge up to Rs 1,000.
- Radisson Hotel Shimla (2,100 metres above sea level), Goodwood Estate, Shimla (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), ☎ +91 177 2659012-21 (fax: +91 177 2806902). checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. One of the best hotels in Shimla, with most of the five-star facilities, inconveniently located on the outskirts of town, though with great views of The Ridge and the surroundings (800 metres across the Shimla valley, as the crow flies): you can easily 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 Rs 7,000 and up.
Accommodation outside of Shimla
- Wildflower Hall (2,560 metres above sea level), near the village of Charabra (14 km west of Shimla on National Highway 22, NH22), ☎ +91 177 264-8585 . checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. An Oberoi property. A stately brand-new stone building built among cedar and pine forests. Arguably the best hotel complex in the entire state of Himachal Pradesh, though definitely outside of town as far as Shimla is concerned: if you can afford to stay there, the private transportation to town will not be an issue for you either. Food fare exceeds here that offered by The Oberoi Cecil in town in terms of the quality and variety of the ingredients, but not necessarily in the quality of preparation (the kitchen staff are often shuffled between the two properties, in fact, so that if you had previously stayed at The Cecil you may run into familiar faces in the dining-room here). Rs 15,000-39,500.
- Flaghouse Resort, Junga, ☎ 0177-6539022/23 . checkin: 2.00 pm; checkout: 12.00 noon. The Flaghouse resort at Junga, Shimla District is a luxury resort nested in the magnificent Shimla Hills. Away from the hustle and bustle of the civilized world, the resort offers peace and tranquility in the cradle of nature. All rooms and cottages in the resort have private balconies having a panoramic view of the valley and the mountains. Each of the rooms measuring around 350 sq. ft. or more are tastefully decorated with elegant furnitures and all modern amenities such as satellite LCD TVs, Wi-Fi, telephones, well stocked mini bar, and much more. 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 Rs 3800 per person for standard double rooms..
- East Bourne Resort, Near Bishop Cotton School, Khallini, ☎ +91 177 2623669-71 . checkout: 12 noon. A pine forest resort, Multi cuisine restaurant, 02 open air garden restaurants, lounge, coffee shop, library over looking a rose garden, steam, sauna, jacuzzi, discotheque & ample parking space for 60 cars. Rs 6000.
- Koti Resort (Shimla Hotel), Mashobra (Just off the Shimla-Naldehra Road), ☎ +919218501601. Please contact for latest deals.
- Hotel Golf Links, Naldehra. This delightful hotel is in Naldehra, the site of the historical golf course. Overlooking the valley, it offers some very scenic vistas and a cosy place to lounge away your vacation.Rs 1500+.
- Park Woods Hill Resort Shoghi, Village Paughat (near Shoghi), ☎ +91 9953818074 . Forested hill resort with quaint bamboo nad pinewood cottages, valley and mountain views, adventure activities, barbeques, bonfires, open areas. Rs 3700-5350.
Homestays near Shimla
- Aditya Home Stay, Shoghi (12 kms before Shimla), ☎ +91 177 2860079, +19-9418963653, +91-9418026079. checkin: 1:00 PM; checkout: 12:00 noon. Aditya Home Stay (Department of Tourism, HP Government approved home stay unit) is located at a very picturesque location at 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.
- Sunrise Villa Homestay, Shoghi (12 kms before Shimla), ☎ +91 177 2860075. checkin: 12:00 noon; checkout: 12:00 noon. Sunrise Villa(Department of Tourism, HP Government approved home stay unit) is located at a very picturesque location at 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. Rs 900.
- Vardaan Homestay, Shoghi (12 kms before Shimla), ☎ +91 981 8568977. checkin: 12:00 noon; checkout: 12:00 noon. Vardaan Home Stay(Department of Tourism, HP Government approved home stay unit) is located at a picturesque location at Shoghi away from crowded Shimla. Rs 1500.
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.
- Near Victory Tunnel, Shimla- Phone: +91-177-2654589
- Bye pass road, Shimla, Phone: +91-177-2832498.
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.
- CellOne – GSM 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz.(Tri-Band)
- Airtel – 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
- Idea-GSM 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz.(Tri-Band)
- 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 Rs 50 per hour in a hotel, and Rs 10 outside. The Oberoi Cecil has WiFi in the lounge area with vouchers available at reception. Budget travellers sometimes get a frosty reception here and will be told that internet access is for guests only.
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 Rs 10 ride from the old bus station in town near the train station, so just be sure to double check when booking.
- Kinnaur. An area located on the international border. Nature at it’s best. You’ll find a mix of densely forested valleys and deep river ravines here. It’s also home to several traditional Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples. According to legend, Pandavas spent part of their exile here.
- Manali, Kullu Valley (260 km). An area of hot springs, traditional buildings, and Buddhist monasteries. Jagson Airlines flies to Kullu.
- Dharamsala. Home of H.H. 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. It is one of those places that, despite its beauty still has yet to find itself prominently on the tourist’s map. In fact, it is very good for all those who yearn to spend some time alone with their family or, for that matter, even themselves.
- Chail (43 km). Originally a private reserve created by the Maharaja of Patiala who was banned from Shimla. Now a A 75 acre resort that meanders over undulating hills. Home to the world’s highest cricket pitch.
- Spiti: A cold mountain desert located in the Trans-Himalayan region is accessible from Shimla, via Kinnaur. It is characterized by surreal landscapes, remote villages, ancient monasteries, and an extremely hospitable culture. India Untravelled organizes environmentally responsible trips to the region, together with the local community, including traditional Spitian homestays, local cuisine, guided treks and yak safaris.