Cool to be in Shimla India

The Indian subcontinent has a reputation for heat and humidity, but India is such a diverse land that it has its surprises too.

Shimla is a hill station in Himachal Pradesh that was popular with the British Raj which, because of its location in the Himalaya Mountains, allowed them to cool down after suffering the heat of the Indian lowlands.

Now that the British have long gone, many Indians are discovering that Shimla, which used to be known as Simla, is indeed a great place to relax and enjoy a bit of moderate weather.
Called the `Queen of Hills’, Shimla is nestled in the North West Himalayas at an altitude of 2,205 metres (7,234 ft). It is a leafy city that is shrouded in pine and oak trees, with plenty of rhododendrons scattered about which add a bit of colour to the city.

When the British moved into Shimla in their droves they wanted it to remind them of good Old Blighty, so the architecture of the more imposing buildings is a curious mix of Tudor, Elizabethan and Neo-Gothic styles.

One of the joys associated with holidaying in Shimla is the journey itself. The town is connected to the city of Kalka by a narrow gauge railway that has a great reputation for the spectacular views you get of the mountain valleys and towns. On leaving Kalka, 656 meters (2,152 ft) above sea level, the railway enters the foothills and immediately commences its climb.

The line has 864 bridges, and passes through 102 tunnels and has an average gradient of 1 in 33, which railway talk for `very steep’.

One of the most popular places to congregate in Shimla is the Mall Road, which is the commercial centre of the town, and situated along the Mall Road is The Ridge, which attracts many shoppers.

Shimla is a good place to visit at any time; although during the Monsoon season the heavy rainfall does create landslides. However, it is an ideal place to visit in winter as the subzero temperatures create a lot of snow and skiing and snowboarding is popular.

Each year in May Shimla hosts a Summer Festival when the town bursts into colour as all the blooms unfold. Music and entertainment forms an important part of the festival when many of India’s most popular performers travel to the town to take part in the shows.

Although Shimla does get busy, it is predominantly a tourist town and, as such, can appear to be friendlier than most other Indian cities where the hustle and bustle of business is normally the order of the day.

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