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Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

The Viceregal Lodge, Shimla is the most historically significant and architectural impressive building of the region that makes for a pleasant half-day excursion. The Viceregal Lodge was the summer residence of the Indian Viceroy, the British Raj leader who governed the whole of the Indian subcontinent between 1888 until 1946. Within the Viceroy Lodge many significant decisions from this era about India were devised, discussed and agreed upon.

For visitors the Viceregal Lodge is an elaborate Mock-Tudor stately home that is surrounded by immaculately maintained gardens. Only a few of the staterooms can be visited as part of a brief tour as the building has been transformed into an advanced university complex. Viceregal Lodge is located 2km west of Shimla on the summit of Observatory Hill, which provides wonderful panoramic views over the region.

Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

The grand Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

Tourist Guide about the Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

The Viceregal Lodge Shimla is commonly known as the Rashtrapati Nilayam (the President’s House) and the reference is to the era between independence to the mid 1960’s when Indian Presidents used the lodge as their summer retreat. The Viceroy Lodge may have been used by modern India presidents but it was conceived at the height of the British raj and their absolute control over the whole of India. Construction started in 1888 for Lord Dufferin who desired a building that was both suitable for impressing guests at state banquets but also reminded him of his home country. The beautiful Viceroy Lodge was the building he was given.

Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

The grand Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

The chosen site for the Lodge was on the summit of Observatory Hill. This is the second highest point of Shimla, highest point is Jakhoo hill. In preparation for the construction of the Viceroy Lodge the entire summit of Observatory Hill was flattened and leveled. The lodge was constructed from local gray sandstone and light blue limestone all of which had transported to the construction site by mules. No expense was spared during the construction of the lodge and notable features included; a vast wine cellar, a room for empty suitcases and an indoor tennis court!

More Details about the Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

The Viceroy Lodge was not just an architectural charming building it was filled with the latest technology of the Victorian era and some were the first examples in the India subcontinent. The Viceroy Lodge had a complex piping system to provide both hot and cold water and gathered rain water to be stored under the lawns in the front of the house.

Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

The entrance to the Viceregal Lodge complex

Hidden in the grounds was a large steam generator which provided the lodge with electric lighting, the first such building in Shimla. It is also reported that the first ever light switch was also install in the Viceroy Lodge which was first switched on by Lord Dufferin’s wife. This may or may not be true but the Viceroy Lodge was a shining example of Britain’s technological supremacy during the British Raj era.

 

The Viceregal Lodge Shimla was the official residence of the Indian Viceroy during the summer months when the administrative centre moved to Shimla to escape the heat of Delhi. Successive Viceroys made alterations to the lodge, the most notable changes was the addition of the tower by Lord Curzon and the planting of the gardens by the Marquis Lansdowne.

 

The Rashtrapati Nilayam is historically significant during both the independence of India movement and founding of modern India. During the independence movement Mahatma Gandhi visited the Viceroy at his residence in 1922 and later Lord Willingdon in1931. In 1945 the lodge was the venue for the Shimla Conference which proposed the Wavell Plan for Indian self-government. The plans were rejected by the Muslim representatives and this meeting, as viewed by historians, was the last opportunity for a united India. This rejection of a united India lead to the next historically significant meeting held in the Viceroy Lodge, the 1947 partition discussions which created India and Pakistan.

 

After India was granted independence in 1947 the lodge became the summer residence of successive Indian presidents who all followed the British example of retreating from the heat of Delhi’s summers. In the 1960’s this tradition ended and the building was handed over to the Institute of Advance Studies.The Viceroy Lodge is to the west of Shimla and is a pleasant 2km walk from the centre of the city.

Follow the Chaura Maidan Road out of Shimla until the main entrance of the Institute of Advance Studies, the lodge is approximately 500m along this road. The entrance fee to the Lodge is 20RS and includes a tour.

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