Shimla, well-known as the queen of hill stations, still retains some of the landmarks of its association with colonial India.
During British rule, it was the Capital of the country. The Viceroy and the British Indian Government used to move to Shimla during summers. To help the Government move there with all the records, the British had constructed the railway line from Kalka to Shimla, which is still existing.
Besides being the capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla is the main shopping centre for tourists visiting the hill resort. Branching off from the ‘mall’ as the main road of the city is known, the lanes and the bye-lanes have tiny shops which display attractive items which include handicrafts produced in the State and elsewhere.
The city still has some buildings that remind you of British architecture. Many foreigners, who arrive in Shimla look for these buildings.
Situated at a height of 2,310 metres above sea level, Shimla’s historic Mall Road and Ridge are buzzing with life as tourists can be found taking a stroll around the square, basking in the sun.
Many keep themselves busy roaming its winding streets and admiring the many British-styled buildings such as old Viceroy’s Lodge and the Catholic and Ridge churches, all reminiscent of its colonial heritage.
Richard Beyes, a British tourist, said: “You learn in school about our colonial past, and you find the evidence still existing here.”
Beyes added: “In Shimla, especially down the ridge, there exist a lot of buildings lining the lanes, similar to streets in the United Kingdom."
The curio shops are a favourite with the tourists.
Sha Lai Fung, a Malaysian tourist, said: "I have stayed here for one and a half days. There is a lot of shopping still left. It’s very cool, a very nice place and a very nice environment."
According to Atul Gautam, hotelier and President of Shimla's Adventure Society, Shimla is also an important transit point for tourists bound for Kinnaur and Spiti.
Shimla has received around 40,000 foreign tourists till May this year. The tourist season is not over. Almost 90,000 foreign tourists visited Shimla last year.
The hill town has witnessed an annual growth of 17 percent in tourist arrivals.