Shimla (English: //; Hindi: ( listen)), also known as Simla, is the capital and the largest city of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla is also a district which is bounded by Mandi and Kullu in the north, Kinnaur in the east, the state of Uttarakhand in the south-east, and Solan and Sirmaur. In 1864, Shimla was declared as the summer capital of British India, succeeding Murree, northeast of Rawalpindi. After independence, the city became the capital of Punjab and was later named the capital of Himachal Pradesh. It is the principal commercial, cultural and educational centre of the state.
Small hamlets were recorded prior to 1815 when British forces took control of the area. The climatic conditions attracted the British to establish the city in the dense forests of Himalayas. As the summer capital, Shimla hosted many important political meetings including the Simla Accord of 1914 and the Simla Conference of 1945. After independence, the state of Himachal Pradesh came into being in 1948 as a result of integration of 28 princely states. Even after independence, the city remained an important political centre, hosting the Simla Agreement of 1972. After reorganisation of state of Himachal Pradesh, the existing Mahasu district was named Shimla. Its name is derived from the goddess Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali.
Shimla is home to a number of buildings that are styled in the Tudorbethan and neo-Gothic architectures dating from the colonial era, as well as multiple temples and churches. The colonial architecture and churches, the temples and the natural environment of the city attracts tourists. Attractions include the Viceroy Lodge, the Christ Church, the Jakhoo Temple, the Mall Road and the Ridge, which together form the city centre. The Kalka–Shimla Railway line built by the British, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also a major tourist attraction. Owing to its steep terrain, Shimla hosts the mountain biking race MTB Himalaya, which started in 2005 and is regarded as the biggest event of its kind in South Asia. Shimla also has the largest natural ice skating rink in South Asia. Apart from being a tourism centre, the city is also an educational hub with a number of colleges and research institutions.
Most of the area occupied by present-day Shimla city was dense forest during the 18th century. The only civilisation was the Jakhoo temple and a few scattered houses. The area was called 'Shimla', named after a Hindu goddess, Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of Kali.
The area of present-day Shimla was invaded and captured by Bhimsen Thapa of Nepal in 1806. The British East India Company took control of the territory as per the Sugauli Treaty after the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–16). The Gurkha leaders were quelled by storming the fort of Malaun under the command of David Ochterlony in May 1815. In a diary entry dated 30 August 1817, the Gerard brothers, who surveyed the area, describe Shimla as "a middling-sized village where a fakir is situated to give water to the travellers". In 1819, Lieutenant Ross, the Assistant Political Agent in the Hill States, set up a wood cottage in Shimla. Three years later, his successor and the Scottish civil servant Charles Pratt Kennedy built the first pucca house in the area in 1822, near what is now the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly building. The accounts of the Britain-like climate started attracting several British officers to the area during the hot Indian summers. By 1826, some officers had started spending their entire vacation in Shimla. In 1827, Lord Amherst, the Governor-General of Bengal, visited Shimla and stayed in the Kennedy House. A year later, Lord Combermere, the Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in India, stayed at the same residence. During his stay, a three-mile road and a bridge were constructed near Jakhu. In 1830, the British acquired the surrounding land from the chiefs of Keonthal and Patiala in exchange for the Rawin pargana and a portion of the Bharauli pargana. The settlement grew rapidly after this, from 30 houses in 1830 to 1,141 houses in 1881.