As the most popular hill station in North India, people come here to get away from the crowds of major cities and savor the harmony of nature. Visitors get to breathe in the fresh air, walk among evergreen trees, and have a relaxing vacation full of soulfulness and introspection. While all that is true, there's plenty more to do in Shimla, as compared to other modest hilly escapes. Offering attractions for all ages, here are ten ways to appreciate the full potential of what Shimla has to offer.
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10 Things to Do in Shimla, North India’s Most Popular Hill Station
Take the Kalka-Shimla Railways
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Surprisingly enough, one of the most recommended excursions related to Shimla involves getting there. The Kalka-Shimla Railway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site they serpents through the beautiful hills, rather merrily, from Kalka to Shimla train station. The scenery changes with the seasons, but no matter the month, visitors are guaranteed mesmerizing views of mountains and valleys. Started in 1903, the popularly known Toy Train takes a few hours to complete the journey along which there are over 800 bridges and 102 tunnels, of which Tunnel No. 33 in Barog is the longest and known to be haunted.
Walk the Mall Road
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A pastime for the locals as well as travelers, walking on the Mall Road is the quintessential Shimla experience. There are shops and eateries lined along the pedestrian-only road, which is chock-a-block full at all times during peak tourist season. Visitors have the option to shop, take horseback rides, or appreciate places of interest such as Scandal Point, Gaiety Theater, which has been operational since 1887, the Town Hall, and The Ridge, a large open space on one side of the road where people congregate.
Skate on the Oldest Ice Rink in the Country
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Shimla's legendary ice-skating rink that opens for business in November up until February is also the oldest and largest in the country. When operational, the open-air rink has two sessions every day where tourists can rent skating shoes and have fun sliding around while listening to music. A great time to be in Shimla is during the winter carnival when there are dance shows, and sports competitions held on the ice rink.
Shop at Lakkar Bazaar
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There's a uniqueness to shopping in the mountainous regions of India. The shop owners tend to be friendlier, there's a variety of local handicrafts available, and the prices are typically low. In Shimla, Lakkar Bazaar is the place to go to buy artifacts made with wood, like walking sticks, toys, and household items. Over time, this crowded street of shops has transformed into a tourist attraction, and travelers can also find a variety of souvenirs and woolen clothes here. Soft bargaining is encouraged, and so is munching on street food while you window shop.
Learn about Shimla's History at IIAS
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The Indian Institute of Advanced Study, a beautiful and pristine example of British-Scottish architecture, is a gentle 45-minute stroll from the Mall Road. Once, the building served as the summer residence of India's Viceroy, whereas now it is a premier institute of the country teaching humanities, social sciences, and life sciences. IIAS offers guided tours to visitors during the day. Take the extended and slightly expensive two-hour tour that ends with tea and sandwiches to learn and appreciate the building's colorful past and present.
Take a Ride on Jakhu Ropeway
Jakhu Hill is the tallest peak in Shimla and home to Jakhu Temple, where a gigantic statue of Hanuman stands above the city. At 108 feet height, this statue is even taller than Rio's Christ the Redeemer. Hiking to the top of Jakhu Hill, from the Ridge, takes roughly an hour. A quicker way to reach Jakhu Temple, though, is via the Jakhu Ropeway. The cable car guarantees unmatched panoramic views of the region, making the short six-minute ride worth the while.
Escape to Chadwick Fall
A refreshing retreat, Chadwick Fall is situated approximately 7 km from the city center. Getting to the fall involves a short drive followed by a walk in the Glen Forest. Chadwick is the anglicized word for "Chidku Jhaar," which translates to "sparrow's waterfall." It is possible to walk to the base of the fall, which sees water come down a gorge from a height of 80 meters. The best time to visit Chadwick Fall is after it has rained. However, there is an omnipresent trickle of water throughout the year.
Play at Naldhera Golf Course
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A delight for golfing enthusiasts, Shimla has one of the most picturesque and challenging golf courses in the country. An hour away from the city, Naldhera's 18-hole golf course accepts day visitors for a nominal fee. Those wanting to spend more time playing this universally loved sport can stay at cottages or hotels in the area for a more immersive mountain experience. The course closes down for the winter season from December to March.
Spend at Day in Kufri
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Kufri is a small town, 20 km away from Shimla, perfect for spending an adventure-filled day with the family. The primary attraction here is the Kufri Fun Campus, a theme park with rides, go-karting, 5D cinema, and a haunted house. During winters, Kufri gets an abundance of snowfall and transforms into a ski destination with gentle slopes that even beginners can enjoy. Nature buffs visiting Kufri will fall in love with the Himalayan National Park that promises an array of flora and fauna spread out in its 90-hectare area.
Go White Water Rafting at Tattapani
Situated 52 km away from Shimla is the quaint village of Tattapani on the banks of river Satluj. Known for its healing hot springs, the region is now a favorite with adventure sports lovers who come here to experience white water rafting in the cold waters of the Satluj. Other enjoyable activities for day visitants or overnight guests include mountain biking and trekking.
The last few years have unfortunately seen Shimla suffer from over-tourism during the summer months. Thus, one of the best ways to enjoy Shimla's allure is to visit in winters when the snow-covered mountains and the quiet streets allow you to relish the town's majestic elegance in a leisurely and memorable manner.