Winters bring in foreigners to Shimla

Shimla, Nov. 13: A large number of foreign tourists start arriving in Shimla with the onset of winter. The scenic hill station has an unusual fascination not just due to its environs but also due to the historical significance linked to this place.

Thousands of foreign tourists besides domestic tourists from different parts of the country come here for a long stay. Their presence during November and December also brings a big cheer to the locals associated with the tourism industry.

Situated at an altitude of 2,130 metres above the sea-level, Shimla draws international tourists who wish to unwind and relax in a tranquil environment.

"We had no specific plans (of coming to Shimla) because after four weeks in South India and then Rajasthan and Delhi we just wanted to relax. We think this is probably the best place to enjoy walking, " said, Graham Dliff, a New Zealand tourist.

Also known as "Queen of hills", the hill station is situated in the midst of pine forests. It has been a major captivation for foreigners since the British rule.

Shimla offers a lot of activities like winter sports, mountain climbing and joy rides for tourists.

"This is our fourth visit to India and this was the part we had not been to before. With so much history linked to this place, we wanted to come here. It's very interesting place, " said Richard.

Tourism is the mainstay of Himachal Pradesh’s economy with Shimla fascinating a lot of tourists every year.

"When foreigners arrive here from other areas, they appreciate our higher reaches and we are getting good response from foreign tourists, " said B. L. Sharma of Himachal Pradesh’s Tourism Department.

Over 800,000 foreign tourists visit Himachal Pradesh annually and about 200,000 tourists visit Shimla alone.

Situated in the North-West Himalayas, the climate of Shimla varies from a maximum of 10-11 degrees in winter to a maximum of 25-26 degrees in summers.

Covering an area of 18 square kilometres, Shimla is surrounded by pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron forests. Its well-developed facilities, easy accessibility and several local attractions make it one of the most popular and biggest hill-stations in North India.

A narrow-railway links Kalka with Shimla. This important rail-link was built in 1924 and its "toy trains" still ply between the two stations, passing through 105 tunnels and beautiful rail-road stations.

Shimla is well connected by air, road and rail with all parts of Himachal Pradesh, and the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashimir and the Union territory of Chandigarh.

Shimla derives its name from "Shyamala", the Goddess Kali, whose temple existed in the dense forest that covered Jakhu Hill in the early 19th century. The English named it Simla. (ANI)