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Trails of India
Which is better, Manali or Shimla?

While India can boast of many picturesque places to visit, Himanchal Pradesh is perhaps the only part of the country where travellers would be conflicted to choose from a number of tourist attractions to visit. The choice would not be easy because each location on the map is as beautiful as the next, given that they are delicately nestled in between the Himalayas and the Shiwaliks. So, in deciding where to go, the inevitable question can come of that cause vexation for a lot of people: which is better, Shimla or Manali? In order to determine that, let us briefly talk about the two destinations.

Shimla is the capital of the state of Himanchal Pradesh. Therefore, it has its own importance as an urban centre of regional significance. Yet, Shimla itself possesses a huge and immense history that dates back to the colonial-era. Originally the territory around Shimla was procured from the Gurkhas after the East India Company had won the Anglo-Gurkha War. Many English officials noted the climatic similarities between Shimla and of England and for them it turned out to be a refuge from the scorching heat they experienced during summer in the Indo-Gangetic plains. Ultimately, the summer capital of British India was shifted to Shimla from Muree (in present-day Pakistan) and it is from this point onwards that the Shimla we know started to take shape.

Many relics and buildings from the colonial-era still stand in Shimla, some of which have been re-purposed to serve other needs. For example, the Viceregal Lodge at present accommodates the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. Christ Church, one of the oldest churches in Northern India, stands as a testament to the Gothic style of architecture. The Kalka-Shimla Railway, which was opened 1903, is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for having the steepest climb in the context of mountain railways.

On the other hand, Manali is a resort town which is located in the Kullu Valley in Himanchal Pradesh. Originally, the town was at the gateway of ancient trade-routes that led to Leh, Khotan and Yarkand. From a small trading outpost, it has emerged as a small-town whose local economy is more or less connected with the tourism industry. This boom in tourism was caused in part due to the instability in Kashmir in the late eighties and early nineties. Manali has become famous for it being a prime destination for skiing and other kinds of winter-sports as well as for trekking and mountaineering enthusiasts. With its fame steadily growing, Manali is slated to be a huge tourist destination in a couple of years.

Now that we have discussed in brief about both Shimla and Manali, the preference would be determined by the purpose for which one might go there as well as the proximity to other major destinations and places of interest, costs and staying arrangements are other factors that have to be taken into consideration. If colonial nostalgia and heritage with a dash of breathtaking scenery is your thing, Shimla would be the more viable option. However, if all you want to do is have fun and try out new sports or activities you have never done before, Manali definitely comes to being a viable candidate in this regard. Which is better, we live it up to you but we hope that where you decide to go, you shall be satisfied with the reasons for which you are going.