The capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh in India, Shimla is also highly popular destinations and its temples, fairs, festivals and numerous attractions draw a lot of tourists from all parts of India and even abroad. Sightseeing, shopping, trekking, ice skating and roller skating are some of the most important activities in the place. Read on to learn more in details about Shimla tourism and culture.
Shimla, also referred to as Shimla, is the capital of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is an extremely famous holiday destination for the summer months. It is famous for its Victorian architecture, which is reflected in some spots of The Ridge and the Mall. For honeymooners, it is a popular holiday spot. There are various theories associated to the origin of term Shimla. Local people insist that the place gets its name from Shyamali Devi – who is a fierce reincarnation of the mighty Goddess Kali.
Tourist Places in Shimla
Shimla boasts of quite a few tourist spots that are visited by thousands of tourists every year. Take a look at a few of them.
The Ridge of Shimla: This is a huge platform with an open space that allows you to enjoy a panoramic view of the peaks of Shimla. The mountain ranges, capped with snow, are extremely beautiful and offer a terrific view to the crowd and thousands of tourists who come to the place every year.
Christ Church: It is one of the ancient churches located in North India. The British built the church in 1857 in order to provide a place for worship to the huge Anglo-British community residing in the region. The church was constructed in the Neo-Gothic style and is one of the long-lasting remnants of British legacy in India. It is one of the most recognized landmarks of Shimla.
Himachal State Museum & Library: It is situated 2.5 km to the west of the scandal point. The museum opens every day, apart from public holidays and Mondays. The place has got a vast collection of coins, paintings, photographs and ancient historical sculptures and various other things from all over Himachal Pradesh as well as beyond. There is also a great library in the museum where you can come across many old manuscripts and historical books. You can visit the museum from 10-5 every day in the mornings and afternoons.
The Mall: The majority of the landmarks of Shimla are located in this place. There is the statue of the great freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai standing at this spot. The main shopping center of Shimla is located at this spot along with various restaurants. You can find it especially great in the evenings when the lights and views are perfect. There is also the Gaiety Theatre which is a recreation of an ancient British theatre and is the hub of cultural events.
Jakhu Temple: This is an old temple that is dedicated in honor of Lord Hanuman, one of the most important deities in India. It is located 2.5 kms away from the Ridge, on Jakhoo Hill, and the temple offers scenic view of the adjacent town of Sanjauli and the Shivalik Mountains.
Shimla State Museum: It is home to a vast collection of exquisite coins, sculptures, photos and paintings among man other things from all across Himachal Pradesh as well as from other states. The state museum holds a lot of interest in the Mall area of Shimla. It has been erected as a colonial edifice in Shimla with sprawling lawns spread in all directions. In 1974, this museum was inaugurated.
Local Culture of Shimla
The culture of Shimla is a reflection of the life and traditions of the hill residents of the place. Shimla is situated on the lofty Himalayan ranges and has been left untouched by globalization and commercialization. When compared to the other regions of India, it stands in contrast and has still managed to retain its ancient charm. The culture of the place is an example of the perfect balance between modern thoughts and traditional values. Shimla boasts of a unique rural and traditional cultural heritage.
Many of the native residents of Shimla depend on agriculture for their livelihood. You can also find cattle rearing to be one of the main ways to earn a decent income. The residents of Shimla, mainly the poor ones, live in tiny huts with slated roofs. Each unit of the many villages of Shimla comprises of its own shop as well as other necessities and facilities. In these villages, you can find festivals and fairs being organized every now and then.
- Lifestyle: The patter of living of most of the residents of Shimla is still agrarian. Livestock and agriculture are two of the main occupations of the residents of the place.
- Art and Craft: The handicrafts of the people of Shimla are one of the main displays of its culture. You can take a look at Kohana and Thapada, two embroidery styles and items of bamboo that are made by the Dom tribe. Other than this, you can also get unmatched stone, wood and metal crafting in Shimla.
- Fairs and Festivals: Festivals and fairs are two of the most important parts of the life and culture of the people of Shimla. You can visit any of these and soak in the enjoyment and charm of the city at the time of celebrations. Shivaratri, International Folk Festival, Ice Skating Carnival and summer and winter festivals are some of the primary attractions of Shimla.
- Food and Music: Bada/Poldhu and Baadi/Ghaunda are two of the most famous recipes of the city. You will find the tribal music in Shimla to be extremely popular. You can find instruments like Manjara, Ektara, Chimta and Jhanjh to be used by musicians and singers here.
- Dance: Rasa Dance, Kayang Dance and the Dance of the Demon – also referred to as the Rakshasa Dance – are the main forms of dance in this region.
- Language: The official language of the place is Hindi. The people here mostly use a hilly language known as Pahari among other dialects.
- Traditional Clothes: The residents of this place mainly wear Juan Chadiyan, a long knee length gown, and other garments such as Salwar, Kameez and Kurta. These dresses are an integral part of the culture of Shimla.
Best Time to Visit Shimla
Shimla is situated on the lower ranges of the Himalayas and experiences extremes of climatic conditions. It is located at an altitude of 2213 meters above the sea level. Quite naturally, the city experiences different climatic conditions. Shimla experiences pleasant climate all through the year. However it goes through a very cold winter. You can find the temperatures dropping here to sub-zero all through the peak winter days. It is the best time to visit the city from March to May and from October to November. It is recommended that you do not visit the place during the monsoon months as the region suffers a number of landslides at this time. You can find the roads to be very slippery at this time and you should not go out at these times.
You can also check out Shimla during the winter season. At this time, the hill station is witness to a lot of snowfall and tourists come to the place in December to take part in the revelries of Christmas and New Year. Although it can be quite difficult to move around when it snow, you can find it very enjoyable to play with snow with your friends and loved ones and enjoy a great vacation.
The tourist seasons of Shimla are basically divided into two periods, first is the period from April to August and December to January is another period. As Shimla generally has a very favorable climate, thousands of tourists come to the place from various parts of India as well as abroad.
The summer season in Shimla is extremely pleasant. It is a major season for tourists and many people love to come to the grand hill resorts of the place to get relief from the extreme heat of the plain areas. At the time of summer, people may require wearing light woolen clothes in order to remain in the best of health.
In Shimla, the temperature changes from 28 degree C maximum to 15 degree C minimum. It is the weather of Shimla that makes it a perfect tourist destination at the time of summer.
Activities in Shimla
Picnic in the woods and walking tours are some of the main activities to enjoy outdoors in Shimla. If you are a shopaholic, you can spend a lot of time at the Mall. There are various churches, ancient temples, old colonial structures and markets that can occupy your time.
You can visit the Kamna Devi Temple, which is located atop the Prospect Hill. You may also visit the popular Viceregal Lodge on the Observatory Hill which is historically very important. You can reach the place by walking through oak and rhododendron forests at a leisurely pace.
If you wish to experience a lovely sunrise, you can climb atop the Jakhoo Hill which is home to the old Christ Church and the Hanuman Temple. You can make a trek through the mountains that surround Shimla and take pleasures in the scenic views and the fresh mountain air. You may also take part in fun activities like roller skating and ice-skating in the region that draw huge crowds every year.