The Ridge of Shimla
Shimla is unique as an Indian city as it has a wide and traffic free main street, which stretches the length of the city. This pleasant open space is referred to as the Ridge as it extends the length of the ridge between the two hills of Shimla. Visitors will find themselves spending a lot of their time walking along the ridge and it helps that the area is so pleasant; with traditional colonial architecture, fantastic views and an unhurried hassle free atmosphere, which is so uncommon in India.
Details about the Ridge of Shimla
Shimla as a city extends over the two faces of a steep ridge which connects Jakhoo hill to the east and Observatory Hill much further to the west. The highest point of the Ridge is to the eastern end and this is the location of the 500m long Ridge of Shimla. At the eastern end of the ridge the road is much wider and could be almost classed as a park or plaza where Indians and visitors alike come to stroll and admire the fantastic views.
The Ridge of Shimla at is a popular place
This section of The Ridge offers uninterrupted views of either the snow capped foothills of the Himalayas (the Sivalik Hills range) to the north or the lush green valley's heading south. Located in this area of the Ridge are two fine examples of colonial British Raj architecture, the neo-gothic Church of Christ and the mock Tudor state Public library. Just above this end of the Ridge is a viewing platform which provides photographers a great panoramic view of Shimla.
As the Ridge heads west the wide open space narrows as it passes the Town Hall of Shimla (Municipal Corporation). The traffic free road continues for approximately another 200 meters slightly downhill with both sides flanked by mock Tudor designed buildings which provide much of the unique charm of Shimla. The Ridge ends at a smaller square known locally as Scandal Point and here is the junction of Shimla's other main road, Mall Road. Mall Road which runs parallel to the Ridge but along a lower terrace on the southern side of the hill. The most significant structure of scandal point is the colonial post office which still today is the states central office.
The Shimla at night
History of the Ridge of Shimla
Before the English moved their administrative centre to Shimla the ridge used to be the main housing and market district of the small town. The area which the Ridge now covers was referred to as the Upper Bazaar and provided the only suitable flat surface to construct upon. The English had ideas for their summer capital and their plans to transform the area where great aided by a major fire which destroyed most of this old town in 1876. The reconstruction program was primarily designed for the English settlers and soon the area soon became exclusively for Europeans with the native Indians forced to leave on either side of the hill.
The Ridge of Shimla is unique within India as there is not a car, rickshaw or bus insight and this removal of traffic adds to the calm atmosphere of the state capital. The average height of the ridge is 2230m and provides spectacular views looking both North towards the Himalayas and South towards plains. As the ridge is Shimla's largest flat open area of the city's festivals occur here, the most popular festival being the summer festival which is confusingly held in May.