Explore Shimla: Your complete Travel Guide
” Shimla is everything a tourist eternally craves for. From breathtaking Tudorbethan and neo-Gothic architecture to the lushness of dense green forests, with enchanting snow-capped Himalayas in the background, the city has it all. The city had summoned everything marvelous and vivid ranging from historical temples, churches, and waterfalls to buildings of the British India Era.
Shimla, the largest city in Himachal Pradesh, was once the summer capital of British India.. As a summer capital, Shimla also saw a spate of remarkable building activity and some of the finest structures of the British-colonial genre still stand over its seven hills. Most of the heritage buildings in the city are preserved in their original architecture.
The Britain-like climate of the place had started to attract the colonial officers long before then. Today, its charm allures visitors from around the world. Its ethereal environmental beauty makes it one of the most visited and re-visited vacation destinations in India. “
” Are you planning to visit Shimla? Check out everything you need to know to make your trip exciting and memorable below. “
Popular Sightseeing and Tourist Attractions in Shimla
Shimla is one of the most popular tourist destinations, and below are a few tourist attractions that provide a perfect ambience for sightseeing.
1. Mall Road
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 7 mins walk)
Mall Road has a lot of shops, departmental shops, showrooms, and restaurants. It’s a shopping paradise and an ideal place to hang out with family and friends. You’d come across some exciting and indigenous handicrafts of Himachal Pradesh out here. It includes jewelry, pottery items, locally designed woolen clothing, and wooden articles. The Mall road is connected to the Ridge at the Scandal point, where a statue of the nationalist leader Lala Lajpat Rai has been erected.
Short description : Mall road is a shopping hub where one can stroll across and enjoy the scenic beauty.
2. The Ridge
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 7 mins walk)
The Ridge road is an open space located at the centre of Shimla city and commands a glorious panoramic view of the town and the snow covered peaks of the Greater Himalayas. It’s a venue for various governmental functions, fairs, and all cultural activities in the city.Visitors can enjoy sightseeing in this area. The Ridge connects significant tourist spots like Scandal Point, Christ Church, Jakhoo Hill, Kali Bari Temple, Lakkar Bazar and the Town Hall.
Short description :The Ridge is a vast open space where various fairs and festivals are held.
3. Christ Church
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 1.5 kms; 15 mins walk)
Built in the neo-Gothic style in 1857, to serve the then mostly existing Anglican British community in Shimla during colonial rule, the Christ Church is situated on the Ridge. It is the second oldest Church in North India and has become a popular landmark of Shimla.
Short description : Standing out as one of the most prominent landmarks of Shimla, the Church is one of the enduring legacies of the British Raj.
4. Lajpat Rai Chowk : The Scandal Point
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 1 km; 17 minutes walk)
Lajpat Rai Chowk is located on the confluence of Mall Road and the road heading to Ridge. Scandal Point remains the hub of Shimla’s social life and is said to be named after a British Commander-in-Chief ‘s daughter who eloped from the spot with the Maharaja of Patiala. Most of the banks are located around this chowk.
Short description :Lala Lajpat Rai statue stands tall at the Scandal Point in Shimla. Planted on a marble podium, the sculpture depicts Lalaji addressing an audience.
5. Town Hall
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 1.3 kms; 20 minutes walk)
Town Hall is a sober but architecturally magnificent building. It is the best example of imperial planning of Central city. The building is in stone and timber with slanting slate roofing. Glass windows were fitted on various sides, so as to get maximum sunlight. Façade of Town Hall towards Scandal Point, represents European character of the building.
Short Description : Constructed in 1910, the Town Hall is situated on the Mall Road which houses offices of Shimla Municipal Corporation and a library.
6. Gaiety Theatre
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 1.5 kms, 15 minutes walk)
By the late 1830s, the city was a hub for theatre goers and art lovers. It was in 1863 that the Viceroy of India, John Lawrence, decided to shift the summer capital of the British Raj from Calcutta to Shimla. The Gaiety Theatre, a five storey tallest building in Shimla was added along with Town Hall in 1888. Its top portion was later dismantled as it was found to be unsafe. Several drama societies actively use the space today, which has also hosted renowned Indian actors and singers. This complex has come up as a vibrant center of all types of creative and performing arts; for example – painting, photography, dance, drama, theatrics, elocution, sculpture, and classical and folk music.
Short description : Located on the Mall Road, Gaeity Theatre is a hub of cultural events of the state.
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 2.1 kms. By walking : 20 mins)
Annadale, located 2 km away from Shimla Railway station, is an army area and houses the Army Heritage Museum. The suburb surrounded by deodar trees has an iconic football ground. British Army used it for training and parades.
During British Raj, Annadale was one of the cool spots for entertainment and enjoyment. Various fancy dress shows, birthday parties, picnics flower and dog shows were conducted here by the British officials. The place also hosted various cultural and sporting events in the past. Captain Charles Pratt Kennedy was so struck by the beauty of the valley, that he named it after his boyhood beloved Anna. He combined it with the word ‘dale’ meaning a valley, and thus the valley was called Annadale. Sir Mortimer Durand inaugurated the first football tournament here in 1888. Today Annadale ground is used as a golf course, helipad and also houses the Army Heritage Museum.
The nature and scenic charm of the destination keep visitors flowing to Annadale throughout the year.
Short Description : Annadale is a army area consisting of a helipad, a golf course and an Army Heritage Museum. Army Museum Timings : 10am to 2pm & 3pm to 5pm; Monday Closed.
8. Johnnie's Wax Museum
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat: 1.9 kms.; 29 mins. walk)
Get ready to be fascinated by life-size statues of the world-famous personalities waiting for you at Himachal Pradesh’s first-of-its-kind wax museum. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Barack Obama, Johnny Depp, and Lionel Messi are some of them. Since its launch in 2011, the destination has quickly claimed to be one of the unique attractions for Shimla tourists.
Short Description : Located on the Mall Road Johnie’s Wax Museum boasts of life-sized statues of the famous personalities of the world.
Timings: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
9. Viceregal Lodge
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat :10 min via Chaura Maidan : 2.6 km)
From 1880 to 1888, it took eight years to complete the Viceregal Lodge, located on the Observatory Hills of Shimla. The building was constructed under the Viceroyalty of Lord Dufferin during 1884-1888. Built in neo-gothic style of architecture, the building also has elements of Scottish Architecture. It was the first building with electric lighting in Shimla. This building was the venue of the Shimla Conference in 1945. In 1947, the decision of partition of India was also taken here. After independence in 1947, the building was renamed as Rashtrapati Niwas. Now it houses the India Institute of Advanced Studies.The visitors are awed by its unique and elaborate woodworks.
Short Description : Once the residence of the British Viceroy of India, Viceregal Lodge houses some of the most ancient articles and photographs of the British rule in India.
Timings: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. : Monday closed.
10. Jakhoo Hill
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 3 kms.; 58 mins. walk)
Jakhoo Hill stands at 2500 meters above the sea-level and is the highest point in Shimla. The spot is known for the 108-feet Hanuman statue standing high above the deodar trees covering the hill. The place is only 2.5 km away from the Ridge, and cab services are always available.
Short Description : Jakhoo hill has a hindu temple with the world’s largest statue of the deity of Hanuman. A short distance from the Jakhu Temple is the Jakhoo Hill which is nice for a short hike.
Timings : 7a.m. to 8p.m.
11. Kali Bari Temple
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 550 m.; 10 mins)
The two-hundred-year-old temple attracts massive devotees every year during the Dussehra festival. The deity is Goddess Kali, also known as Syamala. The city Shimla got its name from the Goddess Syamala. The temple, built around 1845 in Hindu-style architecture, was located in Jakhoo Hill initially. The Britishers relocated the temple to its present location in Bantony Hills.
Short Description : Built in Bengali architecture style, the Kali Bari Temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali.
Timings : 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
12. The Himachal State Museum
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 1.6 kms.; 21 mins walk)
The Himachal State Museum’s age dates back to the colonial era when it was initially Lord William Beresford’s residence. Today, art and history lovers adore the museum for its colossal collection of historical sculptures, paintings, coins, and photographs. There are numerous religious paintings, contemporary paintings, and Mughal paintings out there. Also, the museum boasts a unique collection of Himachali dolls. The museum is open on all days except on Mondays and public holidays.
Short Description : Located on Inveram Hill, the Himachal State Museum displays historical, archaeological and artistic samples from the past.
Timings : 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
13. Chadwick Falls
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 4.9 kms.)
Located just a few minutes away from Summer Hill, Chadwick Falls is an ideal picnic destination for families, far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Chadwick falls is positioned at an altitude of 1586 meters above sea level. The spot is open all year round, yet the ideal time to visit is during the rainy season from June to September.
Short Description : Chadwick falls is a famous picnic spot with an amazing waterfall for the nature lovers. It offers a great hiking trail that lets you explore the valley.
14. The Glen
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 2.8 kms.; 37 mins. walk)
The Glen is a U-shaped hiking trail at an altitude of 1,830 metres in Shimla. Located only 4 km from Mall Road, this valley is a famous site for camping and picnicking.
The Glen is a perfect spot to witness the majestic view of snow-capped Himalayan ranges amidst the lush greenery of pine and deodar trees. One can either drive or hike through the forests of Pine and Deodar trees.
Short Description : The Glen is a famous picnic spot offering majestic views.
15. Kennedy Cottage
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : By car 11.5 kms.)
The first house, built by a European in 1822, is regarded to be ‘Kennedy House’ which was the residence of Charles Pratt Kennedy, the newly appointed Political Officer to the hill states. Lord Amherst, the Governor-General of Bengal was the first Governor General who visited Shimla in 1827. He came with 1,700 potters and stayed for two months with Major Kennedy at the Kennedy House.
Lord Combermere, the first Commander-in-Chief to arrive in Simla, also made his headquarters at the Kennedy House. Kennedy House possesses the honour of housing both the first Governor General and the first Commander-in-Chief who visited Shimla and made their temporary headquarter.
Short Description : Kennedy Cottage was the first pucca house constructed by Lt. Charles Patt Kennedy in 1822.
16. Barne’s Court
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 3.5 kms; 40 minutes walk)
Barnes’ Court is a historical and architectural masterpiece over-looking the hills and forested area on the south side and is adjacent to the Civil Secretariat Complex on the West. It was here, the historic Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan was signed in 1972. Built in 1832, in Tudor style, Barne’s Court now serves as the office and residence of the governor of Himachal Pradesh. Its first occupant was the then British commander-in-chief of the Indian Army, Sir Edward Barnes (hence the name, Barnes’ Court). The two-storey building, with teak wood doors and large bay windows had also served as the residence of General Napier, General Campbell and General Rose.
Short Description : Barne’s Court was the official residence of the Commander-in-Chief in India from 1849 to 1865 and was named after General Sir Edward Barnes. It is now the Raj Bhavan or residence of the governor of Himachal Pradesh.
17. Gorton’s Castle
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 300 metres; 6 minutes walk)
Gorton’s Castle, a massive and austere grey-stone edifice with neo-Gothic touches, was designed by Col. Sir S. Swinton Jacob , and modified by Major H. F. Chesney in 1904. Formerly the colonial government secretariat, the Gorton’s Castle is now the Accountant Generals office.
Short Description : Gorton’s Castle is another Heritage Building located on a hilltop and built of stone set in lime, with red galvanized iron roofing.
18. Bentinck Castle
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 5 mins. by walking)
In 1832 Lord William Bentinck, the next Governor General of Bengal visited Shimla. It was during his time that Shimla was really acquired by the Government of India. The old dak bungalow of Shimla was demolished to provide a site for Bentinck Castle, which is today the famous Grand Hotel. In 1832, Shimla saw its first political meeting: between the Governor-General William Bentinck and the emissaries of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Short Description : A heritage site built during the British era, Bentinck or Bantony Castle is today the famous Grand Hotel. The beautiful wooden architecture of the building amidst the sprawling lawns is a site worth exploring.
19. Auckland House
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 2.1 kms; By Walking : 30 minutes)
Lord Auckland chose a residence on the north-eastern spur of the Simla range, near the Longwood hill, which was known as `Auckland House’ and for several subsequent years as the Government House. The `Auckland House’ was the scene of balls and amusing theatricals and was one of the oldest houses in the station. The hill on which `Auckland House’ stood received its present name of `Elysium’ in 1838 as a delicate compliment to the Hon’ble Misses den, Lord Auckland’s sisters.
Short Description : Located on the Elysium Hill in Shimla, Auckland House was the home of Viceroy of India Lord Auckland, in the first half of the 19th century. It has been converted to Auckland School.
20. Shimla Railway Board Building
(Distance from Hotel Royale Retreat : 300 metres; 6 minutes walk)
The Shimla Railway Board building, constructed in 1896, was the first of its kind in India. Made of cast iron and steel, it was designed to be resistant to fire. The materials were imported from Glasgow in Scotland and assembled by Richardson and Cruddas in Bombay (Mumbai). The building currently house many government offices, including the police department.
Short Description : Shimla Railway Board Building is made of cast iron and is resistant to fire. Presently it houses various Government offices.