How to Make the Most of Shimla’s Colonial Charm!

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Enjoying a hot cup of coffee at the Indian Coffee House, Shimla

Though summer vacations are coming to an end, a holiday destination that is popular year-round, is Shimla in Himachal Pradesh. This beautiful town was the summer capital of the British Empire when they governed India, and retains some of the colonial charm of that bygone era, till date. Many would have visited or read about Shimla earlier, so today I will tell you how to make the most of Shimla’s historic ‘British Raj’ allure, on your next visit.

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  1. STAY AT THE OBEROI CLARKES HOTEL

This grand heritage hotel is a boutique property dating back to 1898. Its location at the tip of the Mall Road and its old-world atmosphere enhance its appeal.

If you don’t mind splurging on some British–era hospitality, check out the Oberoi Cecil Hotel, located slightly outside of main Shimla town.

Read my review of the Oberoi Clarke’s Hotel here.

Book a stay in Shimla here.

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  1. STROLL THROUGH THE ICONIC MALL ROAD

Mall Road is the shopping street and hub of this town. It is a pedestrianised area and gets very crowded during tourist season. However, this hill-side market place with fantastic views of the valley, has an unbeatable charm.

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Picture courtesy: www.maps.mapmyindia.com

  1. TAKE PHOTOS AT THE LEGENDARY GAIETY THEATRE

This local club, located between the Mall and Ridge roads, was built in 1887. Its Gothic façade stands till today. Entry to the club is only for members and their guests, but it’s curlicued gates are a nice place to take a selfie.

The Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex, however, is open to public and houses a museum, art gallery and the Victorian theatre where many great actors have performed in the past.

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Scandal Point, Shimla

  1. OBSERVE HUMANITY PASS YOU BY AT SCANDAL POINT

Scandal point marks the place where the Mall Road meets the Ridge. According to a romantic legend, the Maharaja of Patiala eloped with the Viceroy’s daughter, at this particular point. It’s a lovely place to take in Shimla’s vibrant life.

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  1. ENJOY A HOT CUPPA WITH SOME TRADITIONAL FARE AT INDIAN COFFEE HOUSE

This iconic coffee house opened in the 1950s, when Pandit Nehru sought to provide employment to workers from local communities. The Indian Coffee House on Shimla’s Mall Road is one of the only coffee houses to survive to this day and do well.

The delicious coffee, uniformed waiters, and 1960s atmosphere makes up for the dingy interiors.

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The Shimla Book Fair

  1. PERUSE ANTIQUARIAN BOOKS AT MARIA BROTHERS SHOP IN MALL ROAD

This shop on Mall Road is mecca for those that enjoy perusing old leather-bound books. Shimla has always had a prominent reading culture. In fact, when I visited last month, I enjoyed a stop at their local book fair too.

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Picture courtesy: www.boardingedu.in

  1. VISIT ONE OF THE OLDEST AND GRANDEST BOARDING SCHOOLS OF INDIA- BISHOP COTTON SCHOOL

There are many boarding schools of note in Shimla, but the Bishop Cotton School is one of the oldest in Asia, dating back to 1859. It definitely merits a visit for its beautiful architecture, unbeatable legacy and rich historical past.

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  1. GORGE ON SOME DELICIOUS MITHAI

Walk down the Lower Bazaar on Mall Road and enjoy some lip-smackingly delicious Mithai at Shimla’s oldest Halwai shop, Mehru’s or Mehar Chand, as it is now known. The shop was established in 1902 and has been famous ever since, for good reason. Don’t miss the milk cake and laddoos sold here!

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A traditional soft-serve ice cream or softie

  1. BRAVE THE COLD AND ENJOY A TRADITIONAL SOFTIE ICE-CREAM

If you prefer ice-cream to traditional mithai, then Shimla Mall road is the best place to enjoy an old-school softie. The soft-serve ice-cream, or softie, was all the rage in the 1940s! Enjoying a softie in Shimla’s rains makes one feel thoroughly nostalgic.

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Ridge road in Shimla

  1. TAKE A HORSE-RIDE THROUGH THE RIDGE ROAD

Enjoy a horse-ride on the wide flat road known as the Ridge and feel transported back in time.

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Christ Church on Ridge road, Shimla

  1. VISIT THE BEAUTIFUL CHRIST CHURCH

Located on the Ridge, this beautiful church is the second oldest in India, dating back to 1859. It is a fine specimen of Gothic architecture and definitely merits a visit.

how to enjoy shimla's colonial charm

While this is my list of places to visit in Shimla that have a colonial charm, Shimla also has many modern delights to offer. These include the cable-car/ gondola ride up to the Jakhu temple, the Johnnie’s Wax Museum, the Municipal park with many rides for children, a number of cafes and bars and even a local brewery.

What is your favourite part of Shimla? Tell me in the comments below!

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BOOK A STAY IN SHIMLA ON BOOKING.COM BY CLICKING HERE

If you liked this post, you may enjoy my travel guides to SolanLandourLondonCambridgeAmritsarMumbai and Nashik too.

*This is not a sponsored post, however it contains an affiliate link. When you book a stay through my link at any hotel in Shimla, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I would be very grateful if you helped support my blog by using my link to book.

** If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy reading my e-book “Tales From My Travel Treasury: An Alliterative Anthology” which can be downloaded for FREE from here.

***Copyright in content and pictures (unless otherwise specified) belongs to nooranandchawla and cannot be republished or repurposed without permission from the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.

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39 Thoughts

  1. Your blog just made it so easy to plan for a visit to Shimla. I will plan it soon with your recommendations. And oberoi clarks is on my list too.

  2. Lovely post, Noor. I have never been to Shimla, whenever I wanted to plan, people would shut me saying there’s nothing to enjoy and it’s too crowded. But the way I see it through your pictures, I kind of like it and would definitely want to visit this beautiful hill station someday. And, when I do, I will surely remember your list of must visit places. 🙂

  3. Thanks for this lovely post as its gonna help in planing my trip to Shimla soon. I will surely go by your recommendations. I’m quite excited to visit the place now.
    Kim Paradise – MumFLIX
    http://www.mumflix.com

  4. OMG..Shimla seems to be such a lovely place.I have never been to Himachal till now.Was hooked to your blog word-by-word.Such beautiful pictures.I might now put Shimla next on our holiday list.Thanks you so much for putting everything in detail.

    (Snehalata Jain)

  5. Shimla 😍 I am yet to see this place! Unfortunately our this year’s plan got cancelled! Anyways… I’ll have to bookmark this post!

  6. Last time it was Solan and now Shimla. It reminded me of our long walks at the Ridge Road and how can I forget the horse ride. Thanks for taking me back to childhood days.

  7. I’ve been to Shimla but as a kid. Have walked on the Mall road and enjoyed it! The books store, the coffee house and the Scandal point sound great to visit.

  8. I have never been to Shimla, but I think the vibe is same as that of Mussoorie – Mall Road, Voctorian era vibe, LIbraries 🙂 I have always loved Indian Coffee House and you get the best coffee at this restaurant chain 🙂

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