How to reach Shimla: Our guide for your holiday in the hills
Dreamy, tranquil, cold and wistful - there are many adjectives that describe Shimla, but none come close to completely describing this stunningly beautiful hill station in Himachal Pradesh. So why waste time talking about it? Let’s get you started on planning a pleasing Shimla getaway this year.
There are a variety of ways if you wish to know how to reach Shimla. The easiest and most recommended way is flying to Shimla, either by landing at the Shimla airstrip or Chandigarh airport (more on this in the following sections). However, if you are nervous about flying or are going to Shimla via another Himachal Pradesh city, then it is best to take a car or bus to your destination. For everyone else, there’s the train.
Here are some suggestions on how to reach Shimla:
There is an airport at Shimla, known as the Jubbarhatti Airport. It is actually better qualified to be known as an ‘airstrip’, also because it is infrequently used. It is located 20 km from Shimla town. It is a newer airstrip with not many flights operating there regularly. However, it is one of India’s most beautiful airports and one of its few hill station ones.
You might not prefer to land at this airport if you are a nervous flyer, or if you are affected by the slightest turbulence. The landing at this small airstrip can be quite bumpy and abrupt.
You might also want to check if the Jubbarhatti Airport is working when you wish to visit Shimla. It is kept closed during some months of the summer and monsoon season, and almost always during winter. But don’t worry about how to reach Shimla if this airport is shut – just pick a flight that lands at Chandigarh airport and drive down to Shimla from there. Chandigarh Airport is about 60 km from Shimla.
Apart from inner city flights, there are regular flights from cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, that fly to Chandigarh airport.
Shimla is well connected by road to many Indian cities. You can find how to reach Shimla from your hometown by referring to online maps or looking up updated Shimla travel guides list many routes to reach Shimla from the rest of Himachal Pradesh, as also other cities like Delhi, Agra, Srinagar, Jaipur, Amritsar and even far flung cities like Mumbai and Chennai. Consider the following distances between cities before you plan your road trip or book bus tickets:
From Chandigarh: 114 km
From Amritsar: 335 km
From Delhi: 344 km
From Gurgaon: 381 km
From Agra: 559 km
From Jaipur: 630 km
From Srinagar: 700 km
From Mumbai: 1,764 km
From Kolkata: 1,813 km
From Pune: 1,814 km
From Hyderabad: 1,891 km
From Goa: 2,231 km
From Bengaluru: 2,480 km
There are regular private and State transport buses plying to Shimla from Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, J&K, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal. It is advisable to take a bus that connects you to Chandigarh, from where the Chandigarh-Shimla highway takes about 3 hours in all.
The nearest railway station to Shimla is at Kalka, about 96 km away. It connects Shimla to other Indian cities like Chandigarh and Delhi.
You can take the Kalka Shatabdi from Delhi. It leaves at about 6 am thrice a week, and you can reach Kalka by noon. You also have the option of reaching Kalka from Chandigarh by train; it only takes about three hours.
We recommend taking the scenic route to Shimla by buying a ticket on the Kalka-Shimla toy train. This is a heritage grade train that was started in 1903 by the British. The total 60-km route traverses a mind-boggling 102 tunnels, 865 bridges and 919 bends. Along the way, you can feast your eyes on dense pine and deodar forests, snowy mountains, meandering country roads and tiny hill stations with charming houses. The journey takes about 5 hours to complete, mostly because the train runs quite slowly.
The Summer season - The best time to visit Shimla
Shimla is known as the ‘Queen of Indian Hill Stations’. It was first discovered as a summer vacation spot by officers of the British Raj, who would vacation here when the Indian summer became too unbearable for them. When Shimla gained in popularity as a summer retreat, most British officers stopped taking the two-month-long back home to England and made a beeline for this quaint spot instead.
Even today, the right time to visit is during the summer months from April to June. The weather is pleasant and the nights get a little chilly. The favourable weather conditions also make it a veritable magnet for tourists, who descend here in droves both from India and from around the world.
Expect day time temperatures to range from 15⁰C to 25⁰C. You may carry cotton clothing, but be sure also to carry thick overalls or a jacket. It is also a good idea to carry a beanie, since it can get windy in the evening and you don’t want to catch a cold.
On the plus side, there are many adventure sports, hiking and trekking trails, camping opportunities and delicious things to eat in this season.
We would not advise you to head out to Shimla in the monsoon season. Though the place itself is lovely, it lacks good supporting infrastructure like sturdy and well-maintained roads. The monsoon season often witnesses several landslides, and even the lightest rain leads to waterlogging on the streets. Residents also prefer not to head out on the slick roads, also because the rain falls in heavy sheets and brings a chill to the air.
However, the good news is that since tourists keep away during this time, it can turn out to be an ideal visiting time for those who like to explore a place in peace and quiet. You will not be harangued by the throngs and you can expect a big drop in the prices of restaurants in Shimla, and hotel tariffs. Flight tickets are also reasonably priced during this time, so you can plan your vacation accordingly. But be warned that there may not be many guided tours and certainly not many adventure sports to indulge in. But if you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a holiday for one, then this is a good time to visit. Just carry a poncho and rainproof boots, and you’re golden.
Visiting Shimla in the winter is like walking into a snowy postcard. But the Shimla winter is not for the fainthearted – it can get really cold, and it often snows in the months of December and January. So if you are likely to fall ill due to the cold weather, or suffer from joint or rheumatic pain, the cold temperature might not be to your liking. Little children and senior citizens are especially susceptible to illnesses chest congestion and skin allergies.
On the other hand, if you want to try your hand at skiing or snow sledding, then the winter season the right time to be in Shimla. Let’s face it: there are not too many places in India where it snows, and Shimla is one of the few spots where it does. Also, the ice packs in tightly, so ice skating and skiing are viable options in adventure sports during this time.
Another reason why the winter season is a good choice for a Shimla getaway, is that restaurant and hotel tariffs are often much lower as compared to the summer season. Since tourists prefer to wait for the summer months to visit Shimla, you can get lower rates on flight tickets as well.
If you decide that the winter is the time you want to visit Shimla, then you must carry these essential items with you: moisturiser to remove dryness from the skin, warm clothing to layer up, a couple of fleece jackets, thermal underwear, and a thick woollen beanie. Do not leave any part of your skin exposed, or you might get frostbite. Also carry a pair of snow goggles – the glare from the snow can affect your short-term vision.
On the flip side, it is not possible to see all of Shimla’s attractions during this time. You might have to tweak your plans and your expectations a little bit to suit the weather conditions! Keep a trusted local travel guidebook or ask your resort to help you plan your itinerary better.
Now that you know how to reach Shimla, let’s get you up to speed on what to see and which things to do in Shimla. Here’s presenting, in no particular order, our list of places you need to visit when you are in Shimla: the hill stations of Kufri and Theog, the Jakhu Temple, Bantony Castle, Shimla Christ Church, Tattapani hot springs and river rafting site, golf links at Naldehra and Anandale, Green Valley, Himachal State Museum, shopping at Mall Road and Lakkar Bazaar, Bird Park and Sanctuary, Scandal Point and Shimla Forest Reserve Sanctuary – phew!
Book yourself into a superb Shimla resort like the famous Club Mahindra Kandaghat Resort or Club Mahindra Mashobra Resorts. These are luxury resorts located in Shimla and which offer the best in terms of service, comfort and amenities. Ask them for details on how to reach Shimla from your hometown, how to plan your itinerary and suggestions for where to shop and eat, among other things.
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited (MHRIL), India’s leading player in the leisure hospitality industry, offers quality family holidays as also stated by Club Mahindra Resort Reviews, primarily through vacation ownership memberships. While Club Mahindra is the flagship brand offering Club Mahindra Memberships, the other brands offered by the company are – Club Mahindra Resorts Fundays and Svaastha Spa. As on Mar 31, 2019, MHRIL has 61+ resorts across India and abroad and its subsidiary, Holiday Club Resorts Oy, Finland, a leading vacation ownership company in Europe has 33 resorts across Finland, Sweden and Spain. Visit us at www.clubmahindra.com