City (pop., 2001: 142,555), capital of Himachal Pradesh state, northwestern India. The city was built by the British after the Gurkha War (1814–16), on a ridge of the Himalayan foothills some 7,100 ft (2,200 m) high. It served as the British summer capital (1865–1939) and as the headquarters of Punjab (1947–53). Because of its cool climate and scenic setting, it is one of India's most popular hill resorts.
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Shimla (Hindi: शिमला), originally called Simla, is a city in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is also the capital of the state and a municipal corporation within the Shimla district. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the erstwhile British Raj in India. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills" (a term coined by the British). Located in north-west Himalayas at an altitude of , the city of Shimla, draped in forests of pine, rhododendron, and oak, experiences pleasant summers and cold, snowy winters. The city is famous for its buildings styled in tudorbethan and neo-gothic architecture reminiscent of the colonial era. Shimla is connected to the city of Kalka by one of the longest narrow gauge railway routes still operating in India. Shimla is approximately 115 km (71.4 miles) from Chandigarh, the nearest major city, and 365 km (226.8 miles) from New Delhi, the national capital. The city is named after the goddess Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Kali.
The Lord Amherst, Governor-General of Bengal from 1823 to 1828, set up a summer camp here in 1827, when there was but one cottage in the town, and only 'half a dozen' when he left that year. There were more than a hundred within ten years .
Shimla, or Simla as it was called until recently, caught the eye of Lord William Bentinck, the Governor-General of Bengal from 1828 (later of India, when the title was created in 1833) to 1835. In a letter to Colonel Churchill in 1832 he wrote
Simla is only four days march from Loodianah, is easy of access, and proves a very agreeable refuge from the burning plains of Hindoostaun. His successor, Sir John Lawrence, Viceroy (and Governor-General) of India, 1864–1869, decided to to take the trouble of moving the administration twice a year between Delhi and a separate centre over 1,000 miles away, despite the fact that it was difficult to reach. . Lord Lytton, Viceroy 1876 -1880 made efforts to plan the town from 1876, when he first stayed in a rented house Peterhof, but began plans for a Viceregal Lodge, later built on Observatory Hill. A fire cleared much of the area where the native Indian population lived (the "Upper Bazaar"), and the planning of the eastern end to become the centre of the European town forced these to live in the Middle and Lower Bazaars on the lower terraces descending the steep slopes from the Ridge. The Upper Bazaar was cleared for a Town Hall, with many facilities such as library and theatre, as well as offices - for police and military volunteers as well as municipal administration.
During the 'Hot Weather', Simla was also the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army and many Departments of the Government, as well as being the summer capital of the regional Government of the Punjab. They were joined during the hot weather by many of the British wives and daughters of the men who remained in the plains. Together these formed Simla Society, which, according to Charles Allen , "was as close as British India ever came to having an upper crust." This may have been helped by the fact that it was very expensive, having an ideal climate and thus being desirable, as well as having limited accommodation. British soldiers, merchants, and civil servants moved here each year to escape from the heat during summer in the Indo-Gangetic plain. The presence of many bachelors and unattached men, as well as the many women passing the hot weather there, gave Simla a reputation for adultery, and at least gossip about adultery: as Rudyard Kipling', said in a letter cited by Allen, it had a reputation for "frivolity, gossip and intrigue". (See also .)
The Kalka-Shimla railway line, constructed in 1906, added to its accessibility and popularity. The railway route, touted as an engineering feat, came to be known as the "British Jewel of the Orient". In addition, Shimla was also the capital of the undivided state of Punjab in 1871 and remained so until the construction of the new city of Chandigarh (the present-day capital of Punjab). Upon the formation of the state of Himachal Pradesh in 1971, Shimla was named its capital. Pre-independence structures still dot Shimla; buildings such as the Viceregal Lodge, Auckland House, Gorton Castle, Peterhoff house, and Gaiety Theatre are reminders of British rule in India. British Simla extended about a mile and a half along the ridge between Jakko Hill and Prospect Hill. The central spine was The Mall, which ran along the length of the ridge, with a Mall Extension southwards, closed to all carriages except those of the Viceroy and his wife.
Shimla is located in the north-western ranges of the Himalayas. At an average altitude of 2397.59 meters (7866.10 ft) above mean sea level, the city is spread on a ridge and its seven spurs. The city stretches nearly 9.2 km from east to west. The highest point in Shimla, at 2454 meters (8051 ft), is the Jakhoo hill. Shimla is a Zone IV (High Damage Risk Zone) per the Earthquake hazard zoning of India. Weak construction techniques and increasing population pose a serious threat to the already earthquake prone region. There are no bodies of water near the main city and the closest river, Sutlej, is about 21 km (13 miles) away. Other rivers that flow through the Shimla district, although further from the city, are Giri, and Pabbar (both are tributaries of Yamuna). The green belt in Shimla planning area is spread over 414 hectares (1023 acres). The main forests in and around the city are that of pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron. Environmental degradation due to the increasing number of tourists every year without the infrastructure to support them has resulted in Shimla losing its popular appeal as an ecotourism spot. Another rising concern in the region are the frequent number of landslides that often take place after heavy rains.
Employment is largely driven by the government and tourism. Being the administrative capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh, the city houses several central and state government offices. Government jobs account for almost half (47%) of the working population. Direct hospitality industry personnel such as tour guides, hotel and restaurant employees, etc., are few (10%). Individual crafts and small scale industries, such as tourist souvenir production and horticultural produce processing, comprise most of the remainder.
In addition to being the local hub of transportation and trade, Shimla is the area's healthcare center, hosting a medical college and four major hospitals: the Indira Gandhi Hospital (formerly known as Snowden Hospital,) Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital (formerly called Ripon Hospital,) Kamala Nehru Hospital, and Indus Hospital. The city's development plan aims make Shimla an attractive health tourism spot.
Shimla city consists of the Shimla municipal corporation and Shimla planning areas(SPA). The SPAs are Dhalli, Tutu, and New Shimla urban agglomerations. As per the 2001 India Census, the city has a population of 1,42,161 spread over an area of 19.55 km². A floating population of 75,000 is attributed to service industries such as tourism. The largest demographic, 55%, is 16-45 years of age. A further 28% of the population are younger than 15 years. The low sex ratio - 930 girls for every 1000 boys in 2001 - is cause for concern, even though it is not atypical of the region.
The unemployment rate in the city has come down from 36% in 1992 to 22.6% in 2006. This drop is attributed to recent industrialization, the growth of service industries, and knowledge development. 84% of the population of Shimla city is literate, compared to 80% in Shimla district and 77% in the entire state. The majority of Shimla's population consists of natives of Himachal Pradesh. A large minority is composed of Partition-era migrants from Pakistan. Hindi, Punjabi and Pahari are the main languages. The major religion is Hinduism, followed by Sikhism. Other religious groups include Christians and Tibetan Buddhists.
The people of Shimla are informally called Shimlaites. With largely cosmopolitan crowds, a variety of festivals are celebrated here. The Shimla Summer Festival, held every year during peak tourist season, , and lasting 3-4 days, is celebrated on the ridge. The highlights of this event include performances by popular singers from all over the country. Shimla has a number of places to visit. Local hangouts like the mall road and ridge are in the heart of the city. Most of the heritage buildings in the city are preserved in their original tudorbethan architecture. The Viceregal lodge which houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, and Wildflower hall that is now a luxury hotel are some of the famous ones. A collection of paintings, jewellery and textiles of the region can be found at the State Museum (built in 1974). Further out from the city is the Naldehra nine-hole golf course, the oldest of its kind in India. Kufri is a ski resort (winter only) located from the main city. Lakkar Bazaar, a market extending off the ridge, is famous for souvenirs and crafts made of wood. Tatta Pani, from the main city, is the name of hot sulphur springs that are believed to have medicinal value located on the banks of river Satluj. Shimla is also home to Asia's only natural ice skating rink. State and national level competitions are often held at this venue. The Shimla Ice Skating Club, which manages the rink, hosts a carnival every year in January, which includes a fancy dress competition and figure skating events. Due to effects of global warming and increasing urban development in and around Shimla, the number of sessions on ice every winter have been decreasing in the past few years.
Shimla has many temples and is often visited by devotees from nearby towns and cities. The Kali Bari temple, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali is near the mall. Jakhoo Temple, for the Hindu god Hanuman is located at the highest point in Shimla. Sankat Mochan, another Hanuman temple, is famous for the numerous monkeys that are always found in its vicinity. It is located on Shimla-Kalka Highway about from the city. The nearby temple of Tara Devi is a place for performing rituals and festivals. Other prominent places of worship include a Gurudwara near the bus terminus and a Church on the ridge.
Famous people associated with Shimla include English author Rudyard Kipling, Indian film personalities Anupam Kher, Preity Zinta, Amrish Puri (who studied here), Prem Chopra (brought up here) and Celina Jaitley (who was born here) , economist and former vice-president of World Bank Shahid Javed Burki, Satyananda Stokes who introduced apple in the region, writer Idries Shah, ornithologist Allan Octavian Hume (had his home here), and former general of Pakistan Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who studied here. Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan since 2004 also did his postgraduate studies from Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla. Prominent artist Sanat Kumar Chatterjee (www.sanat.in), whose name figures in Guinness Book of World Records for making longest painting on silk, lives in Shimla.
The Mall: The Mall is the main shopping centre of Shimla. It also has many restaurants, clubs, banks, bars, Post Offices and tourist offices. The Gaiety Theatre is also situated there. People walk up and down the Mall slowly, stopping to gossip, as it is the main meeting place for everyone. The Ridge and Scandal point are the two main meeting points at the Mall.
Christ Church: Situated on the Ridge, Christ Church is the second oldest church in Northern India. It has a very majestic appearance and inside there are stained glass windows which represent faith, hope, charity, fortitude, patience and humility. Christ Church is a place all visitors should spend some time in.
Jakhu Hill: 2 km from Shimla, at a height of 8000 ft, Jakhu Hill is the highest peak and offers a beautiful view of the town and of the snow-covered Himalayas. At the top of the Hill, is an old temple of Hanuman, which is also the home of countless playful monkeys waiting to be fed by all visitors.
Shimla State Museum: The Museum, which was opened in 1974, has tried to project hill-out and the cultural wealth of the state. There is a collection of miniature Pahari paintings, sculptures, bronzes wood-carvings and also costumes, textiles and jewellery of the region.
Indian Institute of Advanced Study: This institute is housed in the Viceregal Lodge, which was built in 1884-88 during the British times. It has spacious gardens and is ringed by beautiful pine trees. All is calm and serene just the right atmosphere for a student of literature or politics.
Summer Hill: Situated at a distance of 5 km from the Ridge is the lovely township of Summer Hill at a height of 6,500 ft on the Shimla-Kalka railway line. Mahatma Gandhi lived in these quiet surroundings during his visits to Shimla. Himachal Pradesh University is situated here.
Annandale: Developed as the playground of Shimla, Annandale is 2-4 km from the Ridge at a height of 6,117 ft. It is a favourite spot for cricket, picnics and the princely game of polo.
Tara Devi: 11 km from the Shimla bus-stand. Tara Devi has a temple dedicated to the goddess of stars on top of the hill. There is a military Dairy Town here as well as the headquarters of Bharat Scouts and Guides. At a height of 6,070 ft, Tara Devi is an ideal place for a person wanting peace and some rest.
Sankat Mochan: A popular Hanuman temple is located here. We get an excellent view of Shimla from the temple. It can be reached by car or on foot.
Junga: Junga is a Tehsil in the picturesque district of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. Its original name (with diacritics) is Jūnga. Located at a distance of 26 km from Shimla this place is known for a palace and museum of erstwhile Junga Princely state and its scenic beauty and the numerous easy to hard treks it offers. Junga is surrounded by green hills with snow capped mountains and has a forest cover of Kail, Deodar, Pine, cedar, Oak Rhododendro, Cheel, Ban and other trees.
The princely state of Junga also known as Keonthal Estate was formed before 1800 AD. Raja Veer Vikram Sen, is the current Raja of Keonthal since the 13th of December 2002.
Junga is designed for Eco Adventure tourists. Junga has couple of resorts designed for maximum staying comfort and with all facilities and luxuries but the essence has been to touch the natural space as little as possible. Easy accessibility and many other attractions makes it a popular eco-adventure destination.
Mashobra: 13 km away from Shimla, Mashobra has several excellent picnic spots. Mashobra is the site of the annual Sipi fair in June. The nearest rest house is at Craignano which is 3 km from Mashobra, and is a beautiful holiday resort.
16 km from Shimla at a height of 8,600 ft, Kufri is the winter sports capital. During winter, visitors have the facility for skiing. The skiing season is at its best during January and February. Equipment for sking is available from HPTDC winter sports club at Kufri. Apart from skiing, Kufri is a lovely picnic spot with a beautiful view of the hills around and the snowy peaks. There is also a zoo that delights children.
Naldehra: 22 km from Shimla and surrounded by beautiful deodar trees. Naldehra has a well kept nine-hole golf-course. It is a lovely, popular picnic spot. The annual Sipi fair in June is held in Naldehra. Tatapani
Another tourist place where you can find the sulphur springs which are found near the Tatapani mandir(holy temple)
Chail: Chail is a little mountainous heaven 45 km from Shimla. It was the summer capital of the Maharaja of Patiala before Independence. The forests near Chail have many species of birds and deer. Chail is known for its cricket pitch, which is the highest cricket ground in the world.
Arki: 40 km away from Shimla, Arki is a town and a Nagar panchayat in Solan district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. The town is notable for its fort built in late 18th century when Arki was the capital of the erstwhile hill state of Baghal. The Arki Fort is a converted hotel and lovely to visit.
Shimla is well-connected by road and rail. The National Highway NH-22 connects Shimla to the nearest big city of Chandigarh. The scenic Kalka Shimla Railway, a narrow gauge track, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the steepest rise in altitude in a distance of 96 km. Kalka, the plains rail terminus, has daily departures to major Indian cities. Flights from the airport at Jubbarhatti (12 km away) connect Shimla to Delhi.