Shimla was once part of the Nepalese kingdom and called Shyamala, another name for the goddess Kali, but Shimla never gained any d=fame until it was ‘discovered’ by the British in 1819. Three years later, the first ‘British’ house was erected, and in 1864 Shimla became the summer capital of India. Every summer until 1939 the government of India would pack its bags and migrate almost 200km from the sweltering heat of Calcutta or Delhi to the cool heights of Shimla. After the construction of the Kalka-Shimla railway line in 1903, Shimla really blossomed. Following Independence, Shimla was initially the capital of the Punjab, then became the capital of Himachal Pradesh in 1966.

Today, Shimla is a pleasant, sprawling town, set among cool pine-clad hills with plenty of crumbling colonial charm. Some travelers find the place too ‘touristy’ but nostalgic history buffs will love it. It has good facilities, although accommodation, particularly in the high season, is expensive and hard to find.

High season is mid –April to mid-July, mid-September to late October and mid-December to mid-January. The best time to visit is mid-September to late November.