Shimla is the Capital of Himachal Pradesh. It is one of the oldest cities of India and was developed during the pre-independence era under the British Rule. It was supposed to be the summer capital of the country when all the high officials would shift to the hills during the summers to enjoy the cool breeze and the scenic beauty of the hills in order to avoid the heat during the summers. From then onwards Shimla became one of the most popular tourist destinations of India. It is an evergreen city located in the hills which attracts thousands of tourists throughout the year.
Shimla is located at a height of 2,276 above the sea level. Although it attracts tourists all over the year but it is advisable to visit Shimla from March to May. At this time the days are warm but nights are still chilly. If you love winters and can bear the chill then you can visit from October to February. If you are lucky you will be able to witness the snowfall in the city around that time. It’s best to avoid monsoon season due to landslides on roads.
History of Shimla-
Since Shimla dates back to pre independence era it does have a lot of historical significance. It has a lot of historical buildings with exquisite design and architecture which you don’t want to miss. Apart from the scenic beauty, the weather, it is the historical significance of this place which makes Shimla one of the most popular tourist destinations of India.
Shimla was originally under the Gurkhas until 1819 which was taken over by the Britishers after the Gurkha war. Although it was in 1830 when Shimla gained its popularity. The main aim of building Shimla was for rejuvenation of British men and women. It was a good break from the hot climate of India. Shimla was given the name of as the- “Queen of the hills”. In 1864 it was named as the summer capital of India. After Independence Shimla was under the State of Punjab until 1966 when it became the capital of Himachal Pradesh.
In this blog I’ll be sharing 3 important historical places which are must visit in Shimla. Now even if you are not a history buff you will still not want to miss these places because they are breathtaking and magnificent. So here are the 3 historical places which are a must visit-
1. Viceregal lounge and Botanical gardens-
One of the grand and well maintained building is the Viceregal Lounge. It was supposed to be a very important building pre independence. The lodge was the Rashrapati Niwas which means Presidents house. It was also the summer residence of Indian viceroys. The building was designed by architect Henry Irwin during Lord Dufferin’s tenure who served as an Indian Viceroy. The architecture of the building is greatly inspired by the renaissance period. Before the Independence, this lodge was a hub of conferences and meetings which were held as a run up to the independence. Some famous conferences held here were- Simla Conference 1945 and Simla Cabinet conference- 1946.
Presently it is turned into Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. You can go inside the lodge by paying some fees but only few rooms are accessible. Vicregel lodge was declared as a historical heritage in 1997 and was open to public in 1991.
Located on the observatory hill, it offers a paranoiac view of the city as well as the hills. The building is surrounded by lush green gardens which offers a picturesque view of the whole building.
How to reach- It is located 3.5 kms from the Mall Road. You can easily reach this place via taxi or cab.
2. Christ Church-
Christ Church is located bang on the Mall Road Ridge. It is one of the landmark places of Shimla. Whenever you see pictures of Shimla a picture of the Christ Church is always there. Located between the hustle bustle of the local life this church totally stands out. It was built in Neo- Gothic style in 1844 by Colonel Jt Boileau. It is the second largest church is northern India. This church was built for the Anglo- British communities which were residing around the church. It took almost 12 years for the completion of its construction.
The architecture of the Church is magnificent. It is about 90 feet in height and has a round clock, a metal cross, a brass bell and a series of six small bells. One of the important aspect of the church’s architecture are the 5 stained glass windows which represents five different virtues of Christianity- faith, hope, charity, fortitude, patience and humility.
There is a fees for entry to the church. It has a library too which has many books and ancient scriptures preserved in there. It has many interesting stories related to it and one of them is that the church bell rang after 35 years on the day of the Christmas Eve. Last it was functional till 1980 but due to non availability of the spare parts it could not be repaired. I highly recommend to pay a visit inside the church.
How to reach- This church is located on the Mall Road. You can take a local taxi or bus till the Mall Road starts. Form there onwards you have to walk because vehicles are not allowed on the Mall Road.
3. Town Hall-
Town Hall is again a very prominent historical building located on the Ridge of the Mall Road. It is a common sight for the local people and for tourist it’s difficult to miss this because of the marvellous architecture of this building. This is also a neo-gothic architecture style. Completed in 1910 under the British rule, this building was formed for the administrative purpose. Since Shimla was the summer capital, a lot of buildings were built for the purpose of being government offices. Many important decisions were taken here regarding the administration of the country. It was the Shimla municipal board which laid down the foundation of the Town Hall.
It was one of the important buildings during the British rule. It was designed by Henry Irwin. Though the original Town Hall was very small and was built in 1860 but later on it was expanded according to the needs of the local administration. The famous Gaiety theatre is also located inside the Town Hall. Along with it, it had a library, ball room, armoury and police station. The place served as a hub to various activities.
Presently, the office of municipal corporation is still functional inside. Apart from that, there is a very big library inside which has been preserved since the British rule. Even though the place has undergone a lot of renovation but still efforts have been made to preserve the historical building.
How to reach- This Town Hall is located just next to the Christ church so the route is same.
With these popular historical places in Shimla, I end Part-1 of the blog here. I’ll be sharing more historical places to visit in Shimla in my next blog. So stay tuned for my PART-2 series of famous historical places in Shimla.
Note- All the images above are clicked by me and are subject to copyright.