Planning A Short Trip To Shimla? Here's What To Do, See And Eat

The quaint hill-town has everything that makes for a great weekend trip. Here's everything you can do on your short holiday in Shimla
Shimla has everything that makes up a quintessential hill town
Shimla has everything that makes up a quintessential hill townShutterstock

Shimla is a popular getaway destination for all the right reasons. It offers incredible views, a rustic charm, fun and easygoing activities to fill your day and an incredible roster of cute cafes. It has everything that makes up a quintessential hill town. The best part is that it can all be covered over a short weekend trip. In case you have been thinking of planning your bags for a two-day trip to Shimla, our list of things to do will convince you not to think any further and get going .

Explore Colonial Charms 

While Shimla has taken very well to modern times, with many well-known brands opening up showrooms here, the old-world charm of its colonial past continues to live. It is famously known that Shimla was a loved summer capital of the British empire. With the onset of the sweltering subcontinent heat, the British would migrate from Calcutta between April and October. As a result, Victorian-style architecture found its imprint on many structures around the town. Luckily, many of them have been maintained well and continue to stand. The Town Hall on the ever-crowded Mall Road is the most well-known. Constructed in 1908 and featuring a Tudor-style design with its characteristic half-timber exterior, the beautiful building now houses the Shimla Municipal Corporation. 

Gorton Castle  is used as the office of the Accountant General of Himachal Pradesh
Gorton Castle is used as the office of the Accountant General of Himachal Pradesh

While you are on Mall Road, also visit the Gorton Castle, which is an incredible example of the beautiful and intricate Neo-Gothic architectural style built in 1904. Surrounded by tall and dense Deodar trees, the scene looks straight out of a storybook. Today, the castle is used as the office of the Accountant General of Himachal Pradesh. 

The Woodville Palace Hotel is yet another fantastic structure steeped in rich history. Constructed with elements of art deco style, the cream-coloured palatial building was earlier home to General Sir William Rose Mansfield, the erstwhile Commander-in-chief of the Imperial British Army, and now is a chic heritage hotel. The cosy wooden interiors and the warm staff give you a glimpse of the lives of the British aristocracy. 

The Viceregal Lodge is now known as Rashtrapati Niwas
The Viceregal Lodge is now known as Rashtrapati Niwas

The Colonial trail must end with a visit to the palatial Viceregal Lodge that now goes by Rashtrapati Niwas. Its past name hints at its centrality to the British Empire, as it was built as a summer residence for the Indian Viceroy. Renowned architect Henry Irwin built the structure in Jacobethan style and characterised it with features like carved brick detailing, round arches supported by columns and pillars, and gabled roofs. If you couldn't get enough of Henry Irwin's excellence, Gaiety Theatre is another fascinating visit. 

Toy Train Rides And Treks

You can't leave Shimla without hopping onto the Kalka-Shimla toy train that passes through the green, misty hills. It does not just put up a different view of the happening hill town but is an experience in itself as it passes through many tunnels and bridges to cover around 90 km. A ride is typically four to five hours long.

The Kalka-Shimla toy train  typically four to five hours long
The Kalka-Shimla toy train typically four to five hours long

Any visit to a hill station is incomplete without testing your limits on treks. Like other hill stations, Shimla has many trails that sometimes lead to interesting points but always offer breathtaking views. While here,  get your shoes out and hike to Prospect Hill, Summer Hill or Kamna Devi Temple. These hikes are moderate in difficulty and can be completed in only a few hours. But if you want to push your limits a bit, plan a trek to Jakhu Hill, coveted to be Shimla's highest peak. When you reach the top, you can also visit the popular Jakhu Temple, besides admiring the beautiful views. 

Shopping And Eating 

Shimla's local markets can spoil shopaholics with many choices. Mall Road, Lakkar Bazaar, and Ram Bazaar are the most famous markets. Across these markets, you can find almost everything, from trendy clothes to handcrafted traditional souvenirs. If you must pick up something from Shimla, it is the colourful Pahari topis. You can also buy wooden showpieces and silver or beaded jewellery. 

Mall Road in Shimla is the hub of activity
Mall Road in Shimla is the hub of activity

Shimla has many great joints to enjoy a hot brew and simple but well-made grubs. For an old-school affair, head to the iconic Indian Coffee House on Mall Road. For a chilled-out atmosphere, you can also head to Wake and Bake Cafe in the vicinity. This is a popular spot among youngsters and is one of those places where you can spend hours without realising it. If you are in the mood to enjoy traditional Himachali fare, head to Himachali Rasoi and try dishes like Sidu, Chana Madra, Dham and thalis. 

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