Himachal Pradesh is one of the top holiday destinations for travellers, both Indian and foreigners, honeymooners, and people from nearby states who are looking for a weekend getaway. Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, is the main draw as it offers many historical sight-seeing places, pleasant weather, beautiful landscape, and plenty of adventure activities such as trekking, mountaineering, river rafting, snowboarding, paragliding and many others. Kullu-Manali follow next as the next top holiday destination in the state. Manali serves as a gateway to Leh in Ladakh, and hence, many riders take a stop to rest and relax here and see the hill station before starting their journey once again. Summer months are the best time to visit Himachal Pradesh as the weather will be cool, and pleasant, with roads cleared for major tourist spots. So, here are the top 5 destinations to visit in Himachal Pradesh.
Mall Road is an important tourist spot in Shimla, capital of Himachal Pradesh. You must include Mall Road as part of your Himachal Pradesh tour packages. Just like Park Street in Kolkata, MG Road in Bangalore, Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Mall Road in Shimla is a hanging spot where locals, tourists, and travellers roam around to feel the vibe of this vibrant city. Mall Road is famous for its local shopping centres, arts and crafts, handicraft products, culture, and tradition of the state. Few important landmarks in Mall Road include Scandal Point, which is named after the trouble caused when an Indian Maharaja ran away with a British Lady; Gaiety Theatre, a centre for performing arts that has seen performances of popular film stars, and Town Hall. One of the scenes of the hit Bollywood movie ‘3 Idiots’ starring Aamir Khan was shot on the Mall Road.
Kali Bari Temple
Kali Bari Temple is the abode of Goddess Shyamala, who is the reincarnation of Goddess Kali. Shimla is said to be named after Goddess Shyamala. The temple is located atop the Bantony Hill, and offers amazing views of the Himalayas, and various important landmarks of Shimla such as the Old Bus Stand and Shri Hanuman Jakhu. It is a popular tourist attraction among travellers in Shimla, and must be part of your Himachal Pradesh tour packages. The temple was built by Ram Charan Brahamchari in 1845 in Jakhu. Later, it was moved to Bantony Hill by the Britishers. The temple is famous for its architecture, and is similar to the Dakshineswar Kali Temple in Kolkata. You can visit the temple from 6am to 7pm on all days, and also savour the ‘prasad’ offered there. There is no entry fee to visit the temple.
Christ Church at The Ridge in Shimla draws travellers for its architectural beauty, and is a must-visit destination in your Himachal Pradesh tour packages. It is the oldest church in Shimla, and overall, it is the second oldest church in India. The Christ Church boasts of Neo-Gothic architecture; a big round clock right in the middle of the church’s façade; five stained glass windows representing the Christian values of Faith; Pipe Organ – which is the largest in India; and paintings depicting Jesus Christ’s life. The calm and serene atmosphere gives you the opportunity to meditate, and soak in the holy vibes of the church. It is also a popular film shooting location with films such as Black featuring Amitabh Bachchan being shot here.
Timings: It is open on all days from 7am to 6.30pm from Monday to Saturday, and 8am to 11pm on Sunday. There is no entry fee.
Shimla State Museum
Shimla State Museum, situated atop Mount Pleasant, has a long history, dating back to the colonial era when it was the residence of Lord William Beresford, who was the Military Secretary of Lord William Bentinck, the Viceroy of India then. It was converted to a museum on 26 January 1974, and has since been a major tourist attraction, and forms a major part of Himachal Pradesh tour packages. Now, the museum, which is located in the Victorian villa named Inverarm, is home to ancient metal, wooden and stone sculptures; different eras and types of paintings such as Rajasthani, Mughal and contemporary; and coins from across the country. It also doubles up as a library, housing as many as over 10,000 books and journals. It also houses Himachali dolls. Apart from this, the museum’s surroundings have beautifully crafted lawns, and greenery, and offers a great background for photos.
Timings: It is open on all days except Monday and public holiday from 10am to 5pm.
Entry fee is Rs 10 for Indians, and Rs 50 for foreigners.
Himalayan Bird Park
If you are a nature and bird lover, then Himalayan Bird Park should be a must-visit destination for you in Shimla, and you must include them in your Himachal Pradesh tour packages. The park, which is located opposite heritage building Viceregal Lodge, is home to a variety of trees and plants, but its major attractions are the rare and exotic species of birds such as peafowls, pheasants and peacocks that you can review on your trip. It also gives shelter to the Himalayan Monal, the state bird of Himachal Pradesh until 2007. The park is also called Himalayan Aviary, and sees hundreds of visitors daily.
Timings: It is open during the summer months from March to September from 10am to 5pm. As winter months see snowfall that covers this park, it is closed for visitors.
Entry fee is Rs 10 per person, but Rs 5 for kids between 5 and 8 years. There is also a fee for cameras and videos.