The present capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla has been gifted with all the bounties of nature, which one can think of. Surrounded by lush-green hills and snow-capped peaks, Shimla is built over several hills and connecting ridges. It is an extremely famous location with outstanding Victorian engineering, which is reflected in specific regions of the Mall and The Ridge.

Photo: Manjit Singh

It is one of the few hill stations in India which are in the list of UNESCO world Heritage sites. Places Like Jakhu Temple, Kufri, and Hasan valley magnetically attracts the people from all across the globe. Despite being an extremely popular destination, there are several facts about Shimla of which even the locals are unaware of. So, here is a list of little known facts about shimla.

Shimla is located on seven hills

Shimla is settled on the top of seven hills. The Ridge is an actual ridge joining two hills. Though slowly shimla has grown and spread in other directions but it all began with these seven hills. Summer Hill, Prospect Hill, Jakhu Hill, Observatory Hill, Bantony Hill, Inverarm Hill, and Elysium Hill are the seven hills in which Jakhu Hill is the highest peak with a famous Hanuman Temple.

Shimla’s name based on a Goddess

Very few people know that the Name ‘Shimla’ originated from the name of a Goddess – Shyamala Devi who is considered as an incarnation of another Hindu Goddess “Kali”.

The only natural Ice Skating Rink of India

Shimla is the only place in India with a natural ice-skating rink. It is located in Lakkar Bazaar of Shimla. Not just India, this rink is Asia’s oldest and South Asia’s only natural skating rink. Founded in the year 1920, it has been a popular tourist destination in Shimla since then. The skating rink is operational December through February and attracts thousands of tourists every year to enjoy ice-skating.    

Oldest Post Office in Northern India              

Established in the year 1882, Shimla has the oldest Post Office in Northern India named the General Post Office of Shimla. Earlier the color scheme of this post office was green and white later it was changed to red and white under the ‘Arrow project’. Even though it is not a tourist destination, it is certainly an interesting place for historians.

Christ Church: Second oldest church in North India 

Situated on the ridge, Christ Church Shimla is in-fact the Second oldest church in North India. Build in 1857, this church is situated on The Ridge and is considered as a prominent Land-mark of Shimla. The worship here is conducted in Hindi and English. Being at prominent location, this place offers a great sunset view which you shouldn’t miss.

Story of Scandal Point

Scandal Point in Shimla is a place where the Ridge and the Mall Road join. The place is named after a major scandal wherein a Maharaja (ruler) of Patiala is said to have eloped with the daughter of the British Viceroy after meeting at this (scandal) point. Owing to the incident, the Maharaja was banned by the British from entering Shimla.

Shimla has oldest boarding school of Asia  

Established in 1859 by Bishop George Edward Lynch Cotton, Bishop Cotton School is one of the oldest boarding schools in Asia. The school has excellent education system and as a result it has produced many famous army officers, ambassadors, judges, ministers, politicians and actors.

Nathuram Godse trial at Peterhoff

Peterhoff is a heritage hotel run by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Corporation. This building was built in the 1800’s and was the home to many Viceroys and Governor Generals of India prior to being converted into a hotel, post-independence. In the year 1948-49, Nathuram Godse’s trial took place at Peterhoff. There is real evidence about the origin of Peterhoff name but it is believed to be named after the Peterhoff Palace in Russia. The hotel was rebuilt in 1991 as the original building was damaged by fire.

Kalka–Shimla railway – A World Heritage Site

The Kalka-Shimla Railway line was constructed between Kalka and Shimla in 1903. The construction of this narrow gauge line began in 1898. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, this line has 919 bends, over 850 bridges and 102 tunnels. The best way to visit Shimla is via the “Toy Train” which runs on this track and adds more glory to this beautiful journey.

World’s tallest statue at 8,500 ft above sea level 

Situated on the Jakhu Hill, a 108 feet high Lord Hanuman statue is World’s tallest statue at 8,500 ft above sea level. The statue was unveiled by Abhishek Bachchan on November 5, 2010. It surpassed then tallest statue of ‘Christ the Redeemer’, which measures at 98 feet.

Pic: Deepak Sundriyal

Story behind Shimla Mirch 

Shimla is the place where the plantation of capsicum was first introduced by Britishers. They decide to grow it at a large scale in the hill area of Shimla and so the moniker “Shimla Mirch.”

Most polluted hill station

Yes, you’ve read that right! Shimla is the most polluted hill station in India. The unplanned transportation system and global warming is taking away the glory of this gorgeous hill station. Now is the time that the authorities take some effective steps to retain the glory of this “Queen of Hills.”

Significance to Hindustan-Tibet road

Also known as Silk Route, the Hindustan Tibet road was started in 1850-51 at Kalka with the first section ending at Shimla. The road up to Shimla was used for wheeled traffic by 1860. A 560 feet-long tunnel was constructed beyond Shimla to extend the road from Shimla to the Shipki La Pass on the Indo-Tibet border which goes up to Shipki village in Tibet.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.