Notes on the Geography of Northern India: Official Shimla
Viceregal Lodge was in Shimla, so we'll begin with it and work our way down.
The entrance is less grand than you might expect; as the sign indicates, the lodge now houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.
Approaching the pile. Maybe you can imagine the racket from the steam-engine that in the early days drove a generator producing electricity for the lodge's thousand electric lights.
Buck wrote, "A small tower surmounts the house from which flies the flag which denotes the presence of the Viceroy in Simla. In this tower are the water tanks into which is pumped the supply from the municipal mains, and the view from its summit on a clear day is magnificent." The wing in the foreground was a later addition to house the Council of State.
The first resident was the Earl of Dufferin.
The royal coat of arms.
Rear garden terraces.
View of the lodge from the gardens.
Buck writes (p. 52), "The Council chamber of twenty years ago was a handsome room with teak panelling hung with silk, and adorned with a complete collection of engraved portraits of every Governor-General and Viceroy, which was made by Lord Curzon, by personal reference to the families, or descendants of his predecessors." The silk's still on the wall; now it's Nehru on the left, Tagore on the right, and a cheap clock between.
Alas, no photos are now allowed of the main hall, but in the previous folder there's one taken in the early 1990s.
Nearby, Observatory House, at one time the residence of the private secretary to the viceroy.
At the front door, just what every private secretary needs.
Also along the western part of the ridge is Gorton Castle, built about 1900 as the Civil Secretariat of the Government of India. It now houses the Accountant General of Himachal Pradesh. Thinking of the climate at this elevation, John Lawrence wrote, "I believe that we will do more work in one day here than in five down in Calcutta" (Buck, p. 36).
You might think that the name Gorton Castle comes from such turrets, but in fact it comes from the previous building on the site, which was the property of a man named Gorton.
A few years earlier, in 1896, this more structurally innovative building had been put up for the Railway Board. There are three or four stories on this, the ridge side of the building, but there are seven on the other, very steep, side. The innovative aspect of the building is its lack of masonry.
Built to be fire-resistant--and presumably cheap.
Stairway. The building now houses an assortment of central government offices.
The cast-iron design was copied here in what was the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, now the Office of the Army Training Command.
View from below.
Here's a hybrid, partly cast-iron, partly masonry. It's Ellerslie, the headquarters from 1899 of the Punjab Government. It now houses the government of Himachal Pradesh.
Shimla's Municipal Offices.
The ridge-top side of the same building.
The town library, at the east end of the ridge. Its collections are depleted of historic material.
What does this park look like today?
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