Shimla Day Hikes 2017
The best way to get to know Shimla is to walk on some of its quiet roads. Inspite of a lot of construction in recent years, some of these roads still retain a certain charm. They bring out the stark contrast between Simla, the erstwhile summer capital of British India and Shimla, the present day capital of Himachal Pradesh. There are enchanting experiences to be found in deodar and oak woods, pleasant weather, deep blue skies, the play of shade and light as you walk through the groves of trees and new vistas opening up after every curve.
It is a pleasure to explore this hill town all year round. On a bright winter day, when you venture out all wrapped in woollens, your breath condenses. The chill necessitates frequent stop at roadside dhabas for a glass of hot, sweet and strong tea. In summer, the pleasant cool winds are a welcome relief from the sorching heat of the plains. Autumn is wonderful with deep blue skies and wild flowers. The old oak, horse chestnuts and rhododendrons shed their older leaves amidst the majestic conifers. The monsoons are a good time to be here if you don’t mind a little dampness. This is the time when the town is at its quietest, not too many tourists, gentle rain and mist and, when the skies clear, the most awesome sunsets !
A walk on the lawns of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (the former Viceregal Lodge) on a rain-washed, foggy afternoon can be a wonderful experience. On these walks you can stop and sit in the rain shelters with sloping tin roofs or on roadside parapets – not because you are tired but because it is a pleasure to just sit and watch the mists rising and settling around you.
Delicious hot food like rice, rajma, karhi, chapatis and stuffed paranthas, besides a variety of other cuisines are available at dhabas and restaurants, all over Shimla and its suburbs like Summer Hill, Boileauganj, Chhota Shimla, Sanjauli, Dhali and Mashobra.
One road goes to Jakhu Temple (climbs up to the right, or north), the other goes to Ramchandra Chowk (goes straight and descends south-west) while the third one goes to Rich Mount (descends to the right, or north). Follow the road to Rich Mount, a residential area, and then on to Drean Land Hotel before descending back to the Ridge visible below. Enjoy the view of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks to the north-west as you walk past the Indira Gandhi Medical College Hospital (popularly known as Snowdon Hospital). Bask in the silence, birdsong and dappled sunlight on your way to Five Benches, and finish your walk, with mouth-watering chaat on top of the Ridge, at Taka Bench.
Distance: 10 km Time : 3-4 hrs Level: Easy
Start at the Ridge and head north to Lakkar Bazaar and then turn east for Sanjauli (3km). At Sanjauli Chowk, turn to your right (south-west) and move up a narrow road ascending steeply up to Jakhu Hill. This road leads to the boy’s hostel of Indira Gandhi Medical College. The climb end at the point where the road forks. Take the road going left (south). The road to the right leads to the hostels and then back to Lakkar bazaar. Called the Upper Forest Road, the left hand road heads towards Indus Hospital. After about a kilometre, there is another bifurcation, follow the road going up to the right. It leads to a place called Five Benches (no benches now). At Five Benches, three roads branch off.
Distance: 8 km Time: 3-4 hrs Level: Easy
From the Mall Road, you have two options going west: one, to take the road going past the GPO towards the Kali Bari Temple. After the temple, descend to the Mall Road near the Railway Board building. The second option is to walk the length of the Mall Road, and reach the Railway Board building, past the State Bank of India. On the way, the headquarters of the ARTRAC ( Army Training Command ) is to your left.
Take the road to the right of the imposing building of Gorton Castle. It is now the office of the Auditor General of Himachal Pradesh. The walk then goes past the Himachal Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) building and reaches Chaura Maidan accross from the Cecil Hotel, the oldest of the Oberoi Hotel properties. A number of small roads branch off from Chaura Maidan, including one heading straight up to the State Museum at Inverarm. The main Mall heads north-west to Summer Hill ; follow it to reach the Indian Institue of Advanced Studies, located in the Viceregal Lodge. This neo-Elizabathan building was completed in 1888 and became the residence of the British Viceroy (who earlier stayed at Inverarm), from where in the summer the British ruled their empire from Aden in the west to Rangoon in the east.
Visit the Institute and then head to Summer Hill (turning right at the institute gate, the road on the left goes to Boileauganj). The road winds around to a crossroads at the entrance to the Himachal Pradesh Universtiy. An option here is to descend west for a short distance to the University Boys Hostel and carry on into the pretty forest area of Potter’s Hill for a lovely hike.
The route to Boileauganj and Kamna Devi is a sharp turn south-wards, at the University entrance crossroads. The road joins the main Shimla-Mandi Road at the beginning of Boileauganj Bazaar.
Directly across, a small road ascends to the left (west), to head up to the small Kamna Devi Temple (2176m), commanding a view of the whole of the Shimla town upto the Jakhu Hill on the east, and the gradually descending hills of Arki to the west.
Attractions include the State Museum at Chaura Maidan, the Aviary, the IIAS (with tea in the institute canteen), HPU with lunch at any of the small dhabas, sunset at Kamna Devi.
Distance: 4 km Time: 3 hrs Level: Easy
Start at the Ridge and climb east up to Hotel Dreamland, and then to Rothney Castle. A proper road leads to the Hanuman Temple on the Jakhu Hill (2,453m). Legend claims that Lord Hanuman tarried here when he was carrying the sanjeeevani booti (the miracle herb) to cure Lakhshman, who was injured in a battle with Ravan. Descend the same way or wind down to the Five Benches on the Forest Walk (described earlier).
Distance: 9 km Time: 4-5 hrs Level: Easy
Start from the Mall and walk west to the Vidhan Sabha. Follow the road going down to the right (north). Past the HP State Electricity Board Office and a concrete rain shelter, the road turns right to descend to the Anandale Meadow (a golf course now), while a broad path goes on straight before descending left to the Glen.
Distance: 7 km Time: 2-3 hrs Level: Easy
Start from the Mall heading south-east to Chhota Shimla. The road goes past Oak Over, official residence of the Chief Minister. Take the road going left, leading to Raj Bhavan (the erstwhile Barnes Court), the governor’s residence. It was in this historic building that the 1972 Shimla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan. At the entrance of the Raj Bhavan, take the going left(north-east) to Nav-Bahar. This road is known as the Lovers Lane. It is a quiet road winding through oak and conifer trees, past Churail Baori (the witches’s spring) to the crossroads above St Bede’s College. From here, you can take a bus back to Shimla, if you don’t feel like walking !
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can do these day walks & hikes ?
Shimla Day Hikes are ideal walks for beginners who are looking for a trail on an easy to moderate gradient. Any physically active & healthy person can do these walks.
How to physically prepare for these walks ?
Shimla day walks involve hiking almost 5-10 km daily, so its better if you include jogging or walking in your daily routine.
Are these walks suitable for kids ?
Shimla day walks are recommended for kids aged 7+ years. The hikes involve at least 5-10 km of day walking which can be done by any physically active kid above 7 years.
What is the best season to do this trek ?
Shimla day hikes can be done all year round. They have a different charm in every season. Snow trails in winter, pleasant weather in summer, lush green scenery in monsoon & autumn season.
What is the ideal duration for this trek ?
Duration for these walks range from 2 to 5 hours depending upon the chosen walk, weather and fitness level of the hikers.