In the hills of the northwest Himalayas lies Shimla India, a cooler city that has long been used as a summer retreat from the intense Indian heat. The comfortable, dry climate between the months of March and June make Shimla travel a refuge during the summer, and the cold, winter months draw many snow sports enthusiasts from around the world. In 1864, the British Raj declared Shimla the summer capital in India, and its influence can still be seen in the city's Victorian architecture. Modern Shimla is now the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh, and at an altitude of nearly 7,000 feet, it is a great destination for those who want their Shimla travel to include hiking, mountain climbing, and watching for wildlife.
There is a small airport near Shimla India called Jubbarhatti, but larger jets must land at Chandigarh Airport, four hours away at in the city of Chandigarh. For those who don't want to take regional flights, there is a train from Delhi to the city of Kalka, where you can board a direct train to Shimla. This four-hour rail trip is considered to be one of the major attractions in Shimla, since the track with stunning vistas and 103 tunnels has recently been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The backbone of Shimla tourism is found at The Mall. This pedestrian-only historic area offers many attractions, hotels, and restaurants. It has retained a great deal of the Victorian architecture from the era of the Raj, as well as elevators to carry people from Cart Road. At the north end of the Mall is The Ridge, considered by some to be the cultural capital of Shimla. The Ridge boasts the beautiful yellow Christ Church designed by Rudyard Kipling's father, which is a great vantage point from which to see the seven hills of Shimla.
The part of The Mall below Central Station has retains an old-world flavor, including at the excellent Lower Bazaar, where delicious Shimla specialty dishes are served. Finally, during the summer months, the city is home to the only natural ice-skating rink in the whole of India, one of the most unique attractions in Shimla and a must-see during Shimla travel in that season. Another major draw to the area is the Shimla Summer Festival, a music festival celebrated on the Ridge for three to four days during May or June.
A venture outside Shimla's city center has much to offer, as well. Three miles outside Shimla lies Jakhu Hill, with the stunning Jakhu Temple at the very top of its 8,000 foot elevation. Beware, however, of the local monkeys; they can be aggressive and clever. Another of the major attractions in Shimla is Viceregal Lodge, a mansion and garden complex from the Raj period. A jaunt to the zoo at Kufri offers the chance to see native Himalayan wildlife, such as the snow leopard. The surrounding area of Himachal has been called the fruit-bowl of India, as it is known for its prosperous produce industry. Strawberries, plums, mangos, and guavas are mixed into drinks and concentrates, and they're even studied at the Fruit Research Station eleven miles outside Shimla India.
Shimla is known for offering a plethora of options for accommodations, so there are many choices ranging from dormitories and hostels to luxury resort hotels. One of the most popular is Wildflower Hall, the ethereal and striking summer home of Lord Kitchener that has been converted into a hotel. Visitors will also find that the residents of Shimla are a fusion of Pahadi, Punjab, and Sindh, and all three of these languages, as well as English, are spoken regularly in the city.
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