The most well-known hill station in India and the largest town in the state of Himachal Pradesh, this Shimla is home to charming colonial-style buildings set along a 12km ridge amongst lush pine forests. Sitting at an altitude of 2,205m, the British government sought refuge here from the blistering Indian heat throughout the 19th century due to its pleasant, cool climate. Nowadays, you’ll find it is a popular destination for Indian holidaymakers and tourists alike in the summer. It can snow in Shimla from December through until February, so the best time to visit is in March, April, October and November.
An interesting and scenic way to reach Shimla is by Toy Train, which was once featured in the Guinness Book of Records and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known as one of the most scenic train journeys in India, it leisurely chugs through 103 tunnels, ascending high into the hillsides from Kalka to Shimla for 5-6 hours.
Traffic is closed off in the town centre, making it pleasant to wander around and enjoy the charming Victorian buildings and winding alleyways. Mall Road is the well-known and vibrant main street where you’ll find many cafes, restaurants and shops. Pay a visit to Christ Church, the second oldest church in India that dates back to 1857, featuring wonderful neo-Gothic architecture. As well, there are several temples in the area, along with the state museum if you’re interested in historical artefacts. Shimla is also a wonderful location for scenic day treks for those looking for more activity.
The Oberoi properties (Oberoi Cecil and Wildflower Hall) are the most luxurious accommodation options in the area, though Wildflower Hall is located about 45 minutes out of the town. Sunnymeade is a humble ETG favourite; a quirky family cottage with amazing views and lovely gardens.