Thursday, 29 September 2016

Inspring Viceregal Lodge, Shimla - showcases British supremacy in architecture

Viceregal Lodge_Flickr, ShimlaHimachal Pradesh. myindianstay.com
Viceregal Lodge - Shimla -www.expedia.co.in
Himachal Pradesh, a north Indian state of India  is a beautiful place  where one can find plenty of greenery and beautiful  mountains with mist and clouds hanging  on them and make them more exciting. Popularly referred to  as the land of Gods, HP is  famous for its heritage  building and monuments.  Millions of tourist from  India and as well as world  over  visit  this place that is replete with amazing landscapes and picturesque hills, besides Hindu temples and historical Buddhist monuments.

Vicerehal  Lodge,  Shimla www.indien.nu
During the Raj, HP was the most favorable  destination for the high-ranking colonial officers. No doubt you will find several bungalows, cottages, castles, mansions, administrative buildings, built in typical European style. Some impressive buildings have magnificent interior with priceless artifacts,  finely designed wooden architecture and paneling,  beautiful  Belgian chandeliers, brass beds, and tiled fireplaces, etc. The Viceroy Lodge / Viceregal Lodge (also known as  the Rashtrapati Niwas), represents typical British legacy and it showcases the superior English architecture and designs suitable for the local terrain.

The Viceregal Lodge located on the Observatory Hills, just 2 km from Shimla, now the capital of Himachal Pradesh,  is the most impressive  and  important building  in that state  because it was  formerly the Summer Residence of the highest ranking British officer -Viceroy of India who governed the entire subcontinent and its affairs from 1888 till 1946. The hill provides a panoramic view of the city and the greenery in the surrounding area. You will be thrilled to see the majestic Himalayan mountains to the north standing as sentinels, guarding India from land invasions.   Designed by British architect Henry Irwin and built in the Jacobean style during the regime of Lord Dufferin,  it was in the year 1880 the work on the building began and was completed in 1888. Lord Dufferin  wanted a beautiful building  built on the foot hills of the Himalayas, to impress the  state guests at the banquets and the reason why he chose this site on the summit of Observatory Hill is this place was very close to his native place. This  is the second highest point of Shimla, the first being Jakhoo hill. Lord Dufferin occupied the lodge on July 23, 1888. 

The interesting point is the  vast construction materials like sand stones and lime stones were transported  from the plains to the top of the hill, using mules. This palatial  building included a tennis court, big rooms for  empty suitcases and most importantly  a big wine cellar so that the numerous guests could relax over a glass or two of fine wine and carry on their gossips and business deals, etc. The guests after the party  was over would go home happily,
of course, with hangover in the following day.  Positively such a cool and extravagant  atmosphere could attract a large social  gathering of high ranking officers and the elite in the society in the by-gone era. A place for fun and frolic on the weekends. The huge  highly embellished building built in  a sort of Tudor style witnessed the heydays of the British rule, far away from their native place. It  has some of the most ancient articles and photographs going back to the times of the British rule in India. 

Other features that attract our attention  are the advanced piping system used in the building that could supply both hot and cold water and the building had a sort of rain-harvesting system  by which the rain water was not allowed to go waste,. It was saved to maintain the beautiful vast lawn around the building. The hidden steam generator in the building  provided enough electricity for the building. The building is a good example of  the technical supremacy of the British Raj in the late 1800s.
sweeping wooden stairway made of Burma teak.Viceregal lodhe, Shimla. www.myind.net
Among the Viceroys, Lord Curzon liked   Shimla and the surrounding place very much and he loved staying in this lodge during the summer recess. He also had the first 9 - hole golf course established in the near-by place called Naldehra (elevation 2044 meters; 22 miles from Shimla). He made some alterations to the building and the tower was his main contribution. It was Lord Lansdowne who developed the garden around the building. Mahatma Gandhiji visited this Viceregal Lodge for some political reasons in 1922. 

Vice Regal Lodge was the venue of the Shimla Conference to discuss Lord Wavell's  proposal for seal-government by the Indians that was out-rightly rejected by the Muslim members that otherwise would have paved the way for a United India without bifurcation.

The  successive Indian Presidents  used it as the Summer palace and hence it was accordingly named  Rashtrapati Niwas. This tradition was changed when Dr. S. Radhakrishnan was the Indian president, Being an erudite scholar and one of the eminent philosophers of his time, the Viceregal Lodge was  transferred to the Ministry of Education. It was taken over over by  the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. The C.P.W.D., the Himachal Pradesh High Court, and the Himachal Pradesh University were  later given permission to use the  buildings,  etc. But,  but greater part of the Estate, including its well kept lawns and rich glass-house, is under the control of  the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.

 http://shimlaindiaguide.com/attractions/Viceroy-Lodge-Shimla-India.html