Shimla is the capital and the largest city of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla is also a district which is bounded by the state of Uttarakhand in the south-east, districts of Mandi and Kullu in the north, Kinnaur in the east, Sirmaur in the south and Solan in the west. In 1864, Shimla was declared as the summer capital of British India, succeeding Murree, northeast of Rawalpindi. After independence, the city became the capital of Punjab and was later named the capital of Himachal Pradesh. It is the principal commercial, cultural and educational centre of the state.
Small hamlets were recorded prior to 1815 when British forces took control of the area. The climatic conditions attracted the British to establish the city in the dense forests of Himalayas. As the summer capital, Shimla hosted many important political meetings including the Simla Accord of 1914 and the Simla Conference of 1945. After independence, the state of Himachal Pradesh came into being in 1948 as a result of integration of 28 princely states. Even after independence, the city remained an important political centre, hosting the Simla Agreement of 1972. After reorganisation of state of Himachal Pradesh, the existing Mahasu district was named Shimla. Its name is derived from the goddess Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali.
Shimla is home to a number of buildings that are styled in the Tudorbethan and neo-Gothic architectures dating from the colonial era, as well as multiple temples and churches. The colonial architecture and churches, the temples and the natural environment of the city attracts tourists. Attractions include the Viceroy Lodge, the Christ Church, the Jakhoo Temple, the Mall Road and the Ridge, which together form the city centre. The Kalka–Shimla Railway line built by the British, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also a major tourist attraction.
Shimla also has the largest natural ice skating rink in South Asia. Apart from being a tourism centre, Shimla has many temples and is often visited by devotees from nearby towns and cities. The Kali Bari temple, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali is near the mall. Jakhoo Temple, for the Hindu god Hanuman is located at the highest point in Shimla. Sankat Mochan, another Hanuman temple, is famous for the numerous monkeys that are always found in its vicinity. It is located on Shimla-Kalka Highway about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the city. The nearby temple of Tara Devi is a place for performing rituals and festivals. Other prominent places of worship include a Gurudwara near the bus terminus and Christ Church on the Ridge.
The Mall is the main shopping street of Shimla. It has many restaurants, clubs, banks, bars, post offices and tourist offices. The Gaiety Theatre is situated there.
The Ridge is a large open space, which is situated alongside the Mall Road and hosts all the cultural activities in the city. Christ Church, The State Library and Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex are some of the notable buildings located here.
Christ Church situated on the Ridge, Christ Church is the second oldest church in Northern India. Inside there are stained glass windows which represent faith, hope, charity, fortitude, patience and humility.
Indian Institute of Advanced Study is housed at the former Viceregal Lodge, built in 1884–88.
Summer Hill township is at a height of 6,500 ft on the Shimla-Kalka railway line. Mahatma Gandhi lived in these quiet surroundings during his visits to Shimla. Himachal Pradesh University is situated here.
Jakhoo 2 km from Shimla, at a height of 8,000 ft, Jakhu Hill is the highest peak in the city and has views of the city and of the snow-covered Himalayas. At the top of the hill is an old temple of Lord Hanuman, a Hindu deity which is popular among tourists and locals alike. A 108 feet (33 metre) statue of Lord Hanuman, at 8,500 feet (2,591 metres) above sea level, is the statue standing at the highest altitude among several other masterpieces in the world, overtaking the Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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