Shimla - The British Stilll miss it.

by SumitVashisht /
SumitVashisht's picture
Apr 24, 2009 / 0 comments


There is a place called Shimla in the North of India. It started its journey in early 19th century when a British Officers arrived here for the first time in 1815 AD. The British had come to save this area from the Gurkhas and fell in love with a small hamlet called Shayamala.

A British Officer was moving a troop from Subathoo in the lower hills to Kotgarh in the upper regions and he camped here for a few days. The jungle then was full of hyenas, leopards and bears. Locales were surprised to see the "Gora Sahib" - the white skinned gentleman and they came out from all the ten mud houses that Shyamala had. They had come to see him as this was their first chance to see a European. Some even touched him but they did not know that this Gora Sahib was going to mark their small hamlet to the world map.

The officer stayed here for a few days and every morning he would come out of his tent, sipping his coffee and looking at the plains towards the south. He did not know that he was standing at the elelvation on 2195 meters but he was astonished at the resembelance of the climate of this place to his own country. He had never thought that in a warm country like India he would ever find a place that has the same climate like England.

After leaving the troop at Kotgarh he returned to the plains by the same route and there in the plains he strongly recomended to his bosses that they must do something to set up some army posts in these hills. His advice was ignored for nearly next seven years but then they had to send a Political Agent called Captain Cahrles Pratt Kennedy. Captain Kennedy built the first Pucca - Permanent wooden house here. Although the main house was lost in a major fire in 1976 but a part of that still stands at the same place and serves as an office for CPWD.

After that there was no looking back for Shimla and everday it grew to a new dimenssion.

Shimla remained a summer retreat, a holiday resort and a summer capital for the British Government from 1822 to 1947. They brought here everything. They built here everything. They prepared here everything that was neccessarily required to lead a smooth life. Although here in the hills life is very simple but the British made it stylish and the present generation still follows the British lifestyle.

The British constructed roads to Shimla. They even got is connected to the plains through railways. They introduced the best schools of India for both the genders. They brought Medical facilities for locales and European population of the town. They gave us club culture and those clubs are still in use. Every summer to control the entire subcontinent form here, they built the Viceregal Lodge. Now, this building, still the most beautiful in the North India is being used as an Institute of Advanced Study. A visit to Shimla is a failure if this building is missed. This, marvel example of Baronial- Scottish architecture stands on the Observatory Hill at the western end of Shimla.

Christ Church of Shimla is another piece of attraction and is one of the most prominent landmarks in Shimla. The second oldest protestant Church stands still at the Ridge, below the western Shoulder of Jakhu Hill. The Shimla Ridge starts from this Church and extends towards west. This yellow colored building dominates the entire area and is visitble from most of the places in town. The major attraction, till a few years ago, in this building were the frescos around the Glass paintings made by Mr. Lockwood Kiling, Rudyard Kipling's Father. Those frescos were burried under the plaster during the renovation and the manangement of the Church has no answer to this negligence.

I think that there is no other shopping street that is more beautiful then the Mall Road of Shimla. The Tudor Style structures of Shops make it look like an old English Town. The Norman Gothic building of Gaiety theatre adds another jewel to its beauty.

Scandal point is the place at the Mall road where everyone meets, greets and Chats. This place is associated to a fake story that says that the daughter of the Commander in Chief was abducted by the King of Punjab. This is a pointless Scandal.

There are a number of other buildings which were all built by British such as Gaiety Theater, General Post Office, Bantony, Gorton Castle, Caston Hall (Now known as Dc’s Office), Cecil Hotel, Chapslee, Auckland House School, Woodville Palace Hotel, Clark’s Hotel, Shops at the Mall Road, Shimla Railway station, Lakkar Bazaar, Annandale Ground, Jakhu Peak and much more.