Shimla is ideal for walks, and life revolves around the busy Scandal point and Mall Road in the centre of town, which all has to cover on foot instead of driving.
The Ridge: The large open space in the heart of town presents excellent view of the Great Himalayan Mountain ranges. Shimla’s landmarks – the Neo-Gothic structure of Christ Church and the new – Tudor Library, Band Stand (Ashiana Restaurant) building is worth seeing. This used to be a parade ground in the British time period. Lakkar Bazaar (Wooden market) adjacent to the Ridge is popular for its wood-crafts and souvenirs, many of these are made local in the same market in Shimla. This market also has a roller skating rink.
Christ Church of Shimla: Situated on the Ridge of Simla is the famous landmark of Simla, infact it has become synonymous with Simla and no picture of the town is complete without it. It is the second oldest church of North India and was designed by Colonel J.T. Boileau in neo — gothic style of architecture. The foundation stone was laid on 09 September,1844 by Daniel Wilson, Bishop of Calcutta and the church was completed in 1857. The beauty of the church is enhanced by the stained glass in its windows which represents faith, hope, charity, patience and humanity. The pipe organ is one of the biggest in the country and was erected in September, 1899. Its tuning was completed on September 23, 1899. The beautiful “king of instruments” was built by Messer’s Morgan and Smith of Brighten (England) at a cost of Rs 23,000. It was extensively repaired in 1932.
The Mall: The Mall is the most favorable place for all the tourists as well as the locals people of Shimla. It is the main shopping street of Shimla and remains crowded during the day and evening. The street has many restaurants, clubs, banks, bars, Post Offices and historical buildings like Gaiety Theatre and Town Hall. People walk up and down the Mall slowly, stopping to gossip, as it is the main meeting place for everyone. The Ridge and The Mall both meets at the Scandal point. The mall is dotted with many old British buildings and it still presents a look of a small town somewhere in England. Lower Bazaar is another local market of Shimla and runs parallel just below the Mall Road.
Scandal point-: Scandal point of Shimla is the place where both the Mall Road and the Ridge meets together. Now a day this is marked with a lamp post in the middle of the road. According to the famous tale a British lady eloped with the local Maharaja (king) Bhupinder Singh of Patiala from this point, and she returned back to the society after several days, only after this- the place was named as the Scandal Point. Even it is said that this lady was the daughter off the Commander- in -chief’s of British Army in India, so the Britishers (Lord Kitchener 1902–09), restrict the entry of the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala into the summer capital, Shimla. This incensed the Maharaja and he vowed to build a new place at a more height than Shimla and later on built “Chail” as the summer capital for himself.
This might be a century old gossip but the scandal point of Shimla is the main focal point of the town and it is the place where people meet for both conversation and gossip. Every evening the scandal point of Shimla is still guarded by well dressed police men’s, in their special dresses.
Gaiety Theatre: The architect Henry Irwin, who built the Viceregal Lodge, designed the theatre building and it started as the Theater in 1887. The first play held inside the theater was comedy play, known as “Time Will Tell”. Shimla became the home of amateur theatre and the Gaiety Theatre produced the best of the plays performed in London. Rudyard Kipling and Lord Elgin ( Viceroy of India) have also performed and acted in the Gaiety Theater.
The Annandale ground: It is a flat readymade, semi circular ground and now days it is being occupied by the India Army. The Indian Army is operating ArmyheritageMuseum at this place which is worth to visit (Monday closed). The first fun fair was held in these grounds in September 1833, to raise funds for Girls school at Subathu. This ground was used by the Britishers to play polpo and even to organize horse races. The famous Durand cup football cup , still played in India was inaugurated by Sir Mortmier Durand in 1888 on the same ground. The Annandale ground gained such an importance that the viceregal dance in honour of the Queen’s birthday was actually held at Annandale on 24 May 1839.
Vice Regal Lodge : also known as the Indian Institute of Advance studies, it was designed by Henry Irwin. The building was made in 1844 – 1888, during the viceroyalty of Lord Dufferin. From Lord Dufferin to lord Mountbatten 13 Viceroys ruled from here. The building was used as the office and the residence of the Vice Roy (Governor General) in India. At that time Shimla used to be the summer capital of India (1864), it was from this building that the British Vice Roy’s used to rule the entire Indian sub continent . It is one of the most historical buildings of Shimla as the pre independence talks were also held inside the same building. During the time of Lord Wavell in 1945 “Shimla Conference” was held in the same building. The draft of the partion of British India, into two nations as India and Pakistan was also drafted inside the same building. Many of the national leaders have visited the building for pre independence talks including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Maulana Azad and Mohamed Ali Jinnah (Muslim League).
After the independence in 1947 the entire estate with the building passed into the hands of the President of India .It was used for few days in a year as the summer residence of the president of India, rest of the year this building used to remain closed. This was the time when it became famous as the name of Presidential House. On 6 October, 1964 the second President of India inaugurated this building as The Indian Institute of Advance studies. Now a days it has a big library related to the subject of Humanities and social sciences, which attract scholars throughout the world. The building is used as the higher research institute and a limited portion of the building is opened for the visitors to visit, with the official guide of the institute. It has beautiful and fascinating gardens.
This building is “must to see” in Shimla.
Jakhoo Temple: is an ancient temple dedicated to the Hindu deity, Lord Hanuman. It is situated on Jakhoo Hill, which is the highest peak in Shimla at an altitude of 2,591 metres (8,500 feet). There is a 108 feet tall, newly built statue of Lord Hanuman at the temple. After the name of the hill (Jakhoo) this temple is known as the Jakhoo temple. There are a lot of monkeys all over, near the temple and the Lord Hanuman himself looks like a Monkey God – having a monkey face with the Human body that is why many western people pronounce it monkey temple but the exact name is JakhooTemple.
It offers a fine view over the surrounding valleys, the town of Sanjauli and the snowcapped peaks of Himalayas at back, and over the town itself. The temple is a 45-minute of uphill walk from the Mall. There is driving way up to the temple from Sanjauli town. Beware of the small monkey and do not wear any kind of glasses or sun glasses. Rest all is fine.
According to the Hindu epical book of Ramayana (mythology), during the battle between Lord Rama and Ravana at Lanka (Sri Lanka now a days), Lakshmana, brother of Lord Rama, was mortally wounded by an arrow. To save his life, Hanuman journeyed to the Himalayas to retrieve the Sanjeevani herb. En route, he encountered a meditating sage on JakhooMountain; as he paused to inquire about the herb, Hanuman’s landing on the mountain compressed the earth, changing the shape of the mountain to its present state. In his haste to depart, Hanuman is said to have left his friends (other monkeys) behind, and they are said to continue to roam the area even today. A temple honoring Lord Hanuman was constructed by the saint Yakhu (Jakhoo). The pictures inside the temple related to the story of Ramayana are impressive.
Sankat Mochan Temple: Sankat Mochan temple is one of the famous sacred temples of Shimla. It is located on the Shimla Kalka highway about 4 kms from Shimla. It is dedicated to the Hindu deity, Lord Hanuman. The word “Sankat Mochan” means the one who helps in removing sufferings. According to Hindu mythology, one who visits the Sankat Mochan temple regularly, his wishes get fulfilled.
According to Vedic Astrology, Hanuman protects human beings from the anger of planet Saturn ( Shani Dev) and those who have ill placed Saturn in their horoscope visit the Sankat Mochan temple to get remedy. People put “Sindoor” (Orange colour of powder) on the statue and offer “Channa (Roosted chick peas)” to Lord Hanuman. The “Sindoor”, from the statue of Lord Hanuman is put on the foreheads of devotees as a blessing from him. If you have time with you visit this temple, as it offers very good view of Shimla town in front and can we covered with the hike or drive to Taradevi temple.
The other interesting places around Shimla are:
Naldehra, Kufri, Tattapani, Chail, Narkanda.