Shimla is perhaps the biggest and most popular Hill Station in India. It is the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh and was once the summer capital of India under British rule. It was also the “capital in exile “of British Burma from 1942 to 1945. Not only does Shimla offer a lot to tourists, there are a lot of places to visit near Shimla that tourists can visit when they come here.
Shimla gets its name from an ancient temple called the “Shyamala Devi Temple” that was here before the British arrived. This temple is dedicated to an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali and was one of only a few structures here before British officers discovered this area in the early 1800s. Back then, the area was heavily forested and there were only a few houses here.
Today, Shimla is a large town, which covers an area of 35 square kilometers and has a population of 1,074,494. It is a very popular tourist destination due to the well-developed infrastructure, cool climate and proximity to large cities in north India. Since it is the capital of Himachal Pradesh, it also has a lot of government buildings and offices.
History of Shimla
The British wrested control of Shimla from the Gurkhas after the Anglo-Nepalese war of 1815. In 1863, it was made the summer capital of India by Viceroy of India, John Lawrence and the rest is history. Since then, Shimla has been the site for important international meetings and accords.
Shimla became hugely popular with British officers and soldiers because of its geography. The overall climate and rainfall here is very similar to British weather and offered a respite from the intense heat of the northern plains. This is why Shimla developed quickly from a small hamlet to a large city.
During the British Raj, Shimla was the setting for glamorous balls, lavish parties, colonial ceremonies and top-level negotiations and discussions with foreign guests. The British built many buildings and houses here and the city was one of the main centers of British colonial power.
Today, Shimla is a bustling tourist destination with many attractions and places of interest. The Shimla State Museum, Kuthar Fort, Toy Train, Chadwick Waterfall, Christ Church, Mall Road and Kali Bari Temple are just some of the places that tourists can visit when in Shimla.
While Shimla is crowded, there are a lot of other places close by that visitors like to discover. The hills here offer scenic drives that are periodically interrupted by streams and waterfalls and dotted with interesting eateries and monuments. Since man people drive to Shimla, they are free to explore the surrounding areas by driving around.
Places to visit near Shimla
One good hill station that is located near Shimla that offers a more peaceful and serene escape is Chail. Much smaller than its cousin, Chail is about 50 Kms away from Shimla but in the hills, this short distance can take about 2 hours to complete. Once in Chail, visitors will discover a beautiful and unspoiled haven that has the same climate as Shimla but none of the pollution, congestion or traffic.
In Chail, there is a beautiful monument called the Chail Palace, which has an interesting history and houses antique artifacts from colonial times. Visitors can also visit the Chail Cricket Ground, which offers a great view and is regarded as the highest cricket ground in the world. Besides these landmarks, there is also a great market here where one can find local products and curios.
The biggest reason that people visit Chail is for its natural beauty and many trekking trails. The area is covered with lush green forests, which houses the famous Chail Wildlife Sanctuary. Trekking through these forests, one can expect to spot some beautiful birds and wildlife including leopards and tigers.
Where to stay in Chail
If you are visiting Chail (New Queen of Hills) from Shimla and want to stay overnight, there are some good resorts in Chail. One of the best places to stay here is the Tarika Resort and Spa. This is a wellness-themed resort that has a great spa that offers Ayurveda and other types of massages, treatments and services that will refresh and rejuvenate the weary traveller.
Tarika Resort also has some great options for accommodations including Domed Cottages that have a glass front. The transparent glass wall allows unfettered views of the scenic beauty that surrounds Chail. They also offer standard Deluxe Rooms and stand alone Family Cottages that can accommodate large groups.
Overall, if you are visiting Shimla, spending a day or two in Chail is well worth it. If you like spending time in nature and want some peace and quiet, this quaint hill station will not disappoint you and help you show the other side of these hills.