Called as the "Queen of Hill Stations" by Britishers, Shimla is situated in the north-West Himalayas. Being the summer capital of India before independence is now the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla derives its name from "Shyamala", the goddess Kali, whose temple existed in the dense forest that covered Jakhu Hill in the early 19th century. The English named it Simla. Shimla is bounded by the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashimir and the Union territory of Chandigarh. Covering the area of 18 sq. km. at a height of 7,238 ft. Shimla is surrounded by pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron forests. Its well developed facilities, easy accessibility and numerous attractions make it one of Indian's most popular and biggest hill-stations.
Geography of Shimla
Situated in the North-West Himalayas, the climate of Shimla varies from a maximum of 10-11 degrees in winter to a maximum of 25-26 degrees in summers. Shimla never allows the gods to raise the temperature above that limit and the gods always oblige. Shimla changes its moods with the seasons. In spring flowers of all kinds, both wild and cultivated, smiling in each garden blossom. During the monsoon, some of the best sunsets in the world can be seen here.
Winter in Shimla is known as the season of "Long moon-night." It becomes a frost glistening silent city. A gathering of dark clouds tells us of the approach of snow generally a slight fall first, followed by a heavier one when the snowflakes sweep down through the fine-needles bending long branches to the ground.
Places of Interest
The Mall, like most hill stations in North India, 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.
Situated on the Ridge is Christ Church, which 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.
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. Art objects in the Museum collection are mostly related to art, archaeology and cultural anthropology of Himachal and other states of India. At present Museum, has about 9000 objects in its collection. At the outset, museum started with four galleries. Since then more galleries have been added. These galleries pertain to Pre- historic, Indian Archaeology, Woodcarvings, Himachal Archaeology, Pahari Miniature Paintings Monuments, Photographs, Rajasthan paintings, Bronzes, Numismatic, Arms Gallery, Gandhi Gallery, Philatelic, Anthropological, Contemporary Art & Wall Paintings gallery. In addition to these galleries museum has one exhibition hall for arranging the exhibition and other museum activities.
Indian Institute of Advanced Studies
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.
Situated at a distance of 5 kms. 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.
Developed as the playground of Shimla, Annandale is 2-4 kms. from the Ridge at a height of 6,117 ft. It is a favourite spot for cricket, picnics and the princely game of polo.
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