Shimla, truly the Queen of the Hills, is a beautiful town perched atop 7 hills and with vast vistas. There’s a lot to take in when in Shimla. One of the most popular hill stations of India – Shimla’s charm captures the heart of many. Also, the fact that it is a comfortable drive away from the Indian capital also adds to its popularity.
However, over the years, Shimla has become very touristy. And, I can understand if you want to explore the nearby regions in similar distances and with similar landscapes. Though, with far lesser tourist visitations – the places I will mention today will take you back to the old time charm of Shimla, without compromising on the time to reach there.
5 Other places to visit instead of Shimla
With Shimla becoming especially congested with traffic woes – there are a bunch of other places nearby for you to explore and fall in love with. Though, this post is in no way discouraging you to enjoy the beauty of Shimla. It is merely a guidepost for those who have covered the Queen of the Hills!
As a resident of Chandigarh with a lot of family in Shimla, I never thought much of Kasauli. So, it was a shock to me when a coworker informed me she had honeymooned in Kasauli! Classic case of taking a place for granted, I guess. Don’t get me wrong – Kasauli is a beautiful, picturesque town and cantonment, just about an hour from Chandigarh. Primarily known for its scenic beauty, there is a lot to do in this sleepy little town. Kasauli lies halfway from Chandigarh to Shimla.
You’ll be surprised to know that the easiest way to get to Kasauli is by train. Get yourself a seat on the Kalka Mail, which is one of the most important trains in the country connecting cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Amritsar. From Kalka – you’ll be only 40 KMs from Kasauli.
Even though it is a small town, it has many attractions to keep you busy. The Monkey Point (Hanuman Temple), the Gilbert trail on Kachcha Road, the Sunset Point, the Gurkha Fort, Baba Balak Nath Temple Christ’s Church, Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, and the Central Research Library (virological research and studies in the fields of immunology) all are a part of this town.
Former summer capital of the princely state of Patiala, Chail is a stunning hill station. Chail lies approximately 63 km from Shimla. Not known to many outsiders – Chail lies in the Shivalik region, and is spread across the three hillocks – Sadh Tiba, Pandewa and Rajgarh. Overlooking the river Satluj, Chail has some beautiful weather all year round. Truly representative of the idyllic village life in the hills, Chail is beautiful for its British Raj era architecture. In fact, you will find the world’s highest cricket stadium here. Some of the most beautiful accommodations are available here, making your trip one to remember.
Chail along with Shimla and Kufri, is also known as the Golden Triangle of Himachal Pradesh. A stunning hill station, free of Shimla’s massive crowds – Chail is a perfect alternative for those looking to relish the charm of this village in relative peace.
3 Kufri (& nearby places)
Only a small drive from Shimla, the tiny and scenic town of Kufri is quite famous in itself and doesn’t need no introduction. Surrounded by a ring of the Himalayan ranges, Kufri gives Shimla a stiff competition in terms of tourism. Particularly – honeymooners flock to the region in spades.
The supercilious gorges of the small town are almost always pleasingly green especially during warmer months. And, as soon as the winter beckons – the valley turns ethereally white – truly a winter wonderland. Adding to the charm of the valley are the variety of local flora and fauna, such as thick forests of pines and deodars. Kufri is similar to Shimla in the sense that it is fairly developed. And, it also houses a few sports and adventure opportunities for travelers.
Boasting of an extensive and prevalent wildlife, the Himalayan National Park here is a pleasure to wildlife and enthusiasts. Surrounded on all three sides by the stunning snow-capped mountains, the Park is home to approximately 31 species of animals and over 150 species of birds. If this isn’t enough, you can ever head on our and explore the nearby Green Valley or the town of Fagu in Kufri.
For some conventional fun (not for the mountains, though) you should definitely spend some time in the Kufri Fun World, one of the highest amusement parks anywhere in the world. The park hosts a Go-Kart track, which is super memorable with the Himalayan backdrop.
Winter months make Kufri even more important as it gets converted in to a skiing destination. Other months afford you the opportunity for donkey or mule rides to the tallest peak of the region – Mahasu peak.
Mashobra – truly a green oasis of vast green fields and stunning mountains all around – is a liberating experience awaiting to be taken. Situated at an elevation of 7,700 ft., the tiny hamlet is super close to Shimla. And, thanks to minimal human interference, Mashobra is a perfect alternative to Shimla’s crowded hills. This makes for the most serene vacations. With an added advantage of cheap accommodations.
A nature lover will be in heaven here. For Mashobra is blessed with breathtaking beauty and the landscape is peppered with gushing water streams, captivating fruit orchards – particularly apples – and lush oak forests. If the natural beauty wasn’t enough, Mashobra also has a lot to offer history buffs, spiritual travelers, and culture seekers too. Also, adventure seekers are in luck as Mashobra is replete with a number of offerings to satiate their adrenaline cravings.
Almost unknown, and on no one’s radar – Nahan is a fanciful little township on the boarder of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It makes for a favorite weekend getaway as this little hamlet lies in the Shivalik range and is easy to approach. Cool temperate climate – you can visit the region almost all year round. Though, avoiding the region in the monsoon months seem wise. In terms of natural beauty, Nahan presents an excellent escapade with Renuka lake and Rajbans tal. Also, the Renuka Sanctuary offers an opportunity to explore the wildlife here. To add to the charm, you’ll have a ton to explore in terms of many ancient temples including Jagannath Temple, Trilokinath Cave Temple.
Recently, the tourism in the little city has started to pick up – though it is still quite unexplored. Also, when you’re here – do make time to visit the historic Jaitak Fort, or trek to the Churdhar peak. And, shopping at Mall Road, at Kangojodi will provide with enough and more to do without missing the Queen of the Hills one bit.
There’s a lot to do in Shimla, no doubt. But, when you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of a touristy town which is on the list of ALMOST everyone heading to the hills (at least for the first time) – there’s so much to explore. Benefit points – everything is at similar distance to Shimla. Enjoy exploring and reconnecting with nature. Believe me, you’ll have the time of your life. If you have any questions about the above places – do comment below and I will be happy to help. Also, if you have any suggestions on other nearby places with similar topography – we are all ears!