Shimla has been blessed with all the natural bounties, one can think of. Dwelling on a panoramic location, the hilly town is surrounded by green pastures and snow-capped peaks. The spectacular cool hills accompanied by the structures made during the colonial era create an aura, which is very different from other hill stations.
Bulging at its seams with unprecedented expansion, Shimla retains its colonial heritage, with grand old buildings, among them are the stately Viceregal Lodge, charming iron lamp posts and Anglo-Saxon names. The Mall, packed with shops and eateries, is the centre of attraction of the town, and Scandal Point, associated with the former Maharaja of Patiala’s escapades, offers a view of distant snowclad peaks.
Shimla’s Heritage Walks
Have A stroll Around The Summer Capital Shimla places are one of the few places in the world where an enormous amount of history and heritage has been distilled into such a small place in so short a time. The town came into being in the first quarter of the 19th century and some four decades later, became the “Summer Capital’ of British India. Till the coming of India’s independence in 1947, momentous events and memorable architecture packed the town.
Today, the colonial order is gone, but its architectural bequest is now a part of the legacy for a free India. And the seven hills of Shimla hold a variety of architectural styles from all over the world- made all the more distinctive, for manstructural elements are local. In addition, the town has one of the longest stretches of purely pedestrian road and shopping anywhere in the world – the Mall. Shimla also holds what may well be the Earth’s only ‘urban forest’.
Shimla’s Seven Hill Attractions
The seven hills of Shimla are – Prospect Hill in Western Shimla, which has the temple of Kamna Devi; Summer Hill in Western Shimla, which has the campus of the Himachal Pradesh University; Observatory Hill in Western Shimla, which holds the estate of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study; Invererarm in Western Shimla, whose top has the State Museum; Bantony in central Shimla, which has the Grand Hotel; Jakhoo in central Shimla, which is crowned by the temple indicated to Lord Hanuman, and Elysium in north-western Shimla, which holds Auckland House and Longwood and reaches out towards the Bharari spur.
Shimla’s Mall Road
As the town of Shimla grew through the 19th century, its Mall steadily developed as the town’s commercial street and the hub of its social life. The road, which some 5-km in length, starts in the west at the gates of he former Viceregal Lodge , the present day Indian Institute of Advanced Study and ends at Chhota Shimla or ‘Small’ Shimla, in the east.
The route has bends, as one would expect any hill road to have, ut its nature essentially follows a wide sweeping curve along the hills. The primary aspect is south facing and affords a view of the valley below the town and of the foothills that reach out to the plains from its habitation. In pockets, snatches of the northern aspect spring up for a dramatic view and hold woods of Pine and Himalayan Cedar – the majestic Deodar. This picture of nature’s bounty is framed by the distant snow ranges of the Greater Himalaya.
The Intriguing Architectural Grandeur
The core of the Mall is a row of shops that take the approximate middle section of the road and traverse for about a kilometre and a half along is length. At one point of time, it was regarded to be as fashionable as the finest streets of London, Paris or St. Petersburg and every morning, the tarmac was washed down by ‘Mashkis’ carrying goatskin bags full of water.
Architecturally, this stretch is often likened to an English small town market place. Elements of Tudor framing, a varied roofline, assorted columns and numerous decorations have given this row considerable character. The row also has a variety of windows that range from bay, to sash barred and to diamond cut panes and some unusual elements also find expression and take the form of Mughal inspired cupolas that hold bay windows.