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How To Reach Shimla

A Guide to Reaching Shimla

Shimla, the “Queen of Hills,” beckons travelers with its colonial charm, majestic Himalayas, and refreshing mountain air. Reaching this quintessential hill station can be just as delightful as exploring it, offering scenic journeys and diverse travel options. This guide equips you with everything you need to know to plan your perfect route to Shimla.

Choosing the Perfect Travel Mode

Shimla, despite its hill station status, boasts excellent connectivity by air, rail, and road. The ideal mode for you depends on your budget, time constraints, and travel preferences. Here’s a breakdown of each option:

By Air: 

Shimla has two airports – Jubbarhatti Airport, located 23 kilometers away, and Chandigarh Airport, the nearest major airport, situated 113 kilometers from Shimla. However, Jubbarhatti Airport has limited operations due to weather conditions. Daily flights connect Delhi to Shimla via Jubbarhatti, with a flight time of approximately 90 minutes.  Consider Chandigarh Airport as a more reliable option, with frequent flights from major cities. From Chandigarh, you can take a taxi or bus to reach Shimla (around 3.5 hours).

By Train: 

Shimla isn’t directly connected by a broad-gauge railway line. The closest railway station is Kalka, 96 kilometers away. The iconic Kalka-Shimla Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a unique and scenic journey on a narrow-gauge track. The train winds its way through 103 tunnels and over countless bridges, showcasing breathtaking Himalayan vistas. The journey takes approximately 5-6 hours, with several trains operating daily. You can also opt for the luxurious Shivalik Express with fewer stops or the Rail Car, a single-coach train offering a charming experience.

By Road: 

Shimla enjoys excellent road connectivity with major North Indian cities. Direct buses ply from Delhi, Chandigarh, Kullu, Manali, and other destinations. The journey from Delhi can take up to 7-8 hours, while Chandigarh offers a shorter trip of around 3.5 hours. Opt for overnight luxury buses on longer routes for a comfortable journey. Taxis are readily available from all major cities and offer flexibility, especially for a group trip.

Popular Routes to Shimla

The most popular routes to Shimla depend on your starting point. Here’s a glimpse into the commonly chosen routes:

Delhi to Shimla: 

This route offers options by air, rail, and road.  While flights offer a quicker option (though limited from Jubbarhatti Airport), the road journey provides a more economical choice. The Kalka-Shimla toy train is a popular choice for its scenic beauty.

Chandigarh to Shimla:

This route is well-connected by road, with a shorter travel time of approximately 3.5 hours. Taxis and buses are readily available.  You can also fly into Chandigarh Airport and then take onward connectivity.

Manali or Kullu to Shimla: 

These hill stations offer road connectivity to Shimla. The route is scenic, but be prepared for winding roads and mountain passes.

Important Aspects to Consider:

Distance: 

The distance to Shimla varies depending on your starting point. Refer to the options mentioned above for estimated distances.

Travel Time: 

Travel time also depends on the chosen mode. Flights offer the fastest option, followed by road and then the toy train. Consider traffic conditions and potential delays while planning your itinerary.

Budget: 

Flights are generally the most expensive option, followed by taxis and then buses/trains. The Kalka-Shimla toy train offers a unique experience at a moderate price.

Seasonality: 

The weather and operational status of Jubbarhatti Airport can impact travel plans. Monsoon season (July-September) might lead to road closures or delays due to landslides.

Travel Tips for a Smooth Journey:

  • Book in Advance: Especially during peak season (summer months), book your flights, train tickets, or bus tickets well in advance to secure your seats.
  • Choose the Right Mode: Consider your budget, time constraints, and travel style when selecting your mode of transport.
  • Pack Accordingly: Pack light woolens or jackets throughout the year, as Shimla’s weather can be unpredictable. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and comfortable walking shoes are essential. During monsoons, pack rain gear.

Acclimatization: Shimla is located at a high altitude (2274 meters). If you’re not accustomed to high altitudes, take some time to acclimatize after arrival to avoid altitude sickness. Drink plenty of fluids.

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