SHIMLA – THE QUEEN OF HILLS
Shimla also called the Oueen of Hills — a quaint little town where once a
narrow gauge mini train pulled in to bring visitors to the summer capital
of the Raj. And now Shimla is curved like a sickle. Buildings, buildings and
more buildings spread out over the hill to roll down the slopes.
The sun was trying hard to peek from behind the dark canopy of rain clouds. The yuppie tourists from the plains clutched to their woolens to keep warm. Locals meanwhile went on with their business as usual.
This is what probably attracted the British to Shimla — a place where they could escape the terrible Indian summer — to weather that was rough, wet and cold and yet so close to homeland. Lt. Ross of the English East India Company stumbled upon Shimla in 1819. His cottage was the first house to be built in the area.
The British were the new rulers of the hills. They displaced the old rulers, the Gurkhas, after a series of hard fought battles. From a small town in the Shivaliks Shimla came into eminence when it was made summer capital of the Raj in 1864.
Shimla is now a bustling town on account of it being the capital of a state and an important hill station of north India. But for those who come seeking the British “Simla”, the place might be a big disappointment. Except for the architectural heritage tucked here and there the place is no longer British, as Delhi is not Mughal anymore. But it is a vibrant capital of a young state born in 1971 after a long peaceful struggle by its people. Today one can see Indians rubbing shoulders with English tourists on roads that were once forbidden to them.
GAIETY THEATER - simla
GAIETY THEATER in the heart of the busy Mall was the venue of social life. Some well known theater companies held performances here. These days the theater is looked after by the army. The management is hostile to any visitors who are there to know something more about the place. The theater, which at one time had the likes of Prithvi Raj Kapoor and the Kendall couple perform on its stage, has now gone into decline. The grey facade of the building presents a forlorn look and is barely noticeable in the rush of shoppers through the day. These days it is used for holding tambola — a mild form of gambling —on evenings and afternoons on Sundays and Wednesdays by its members.
SCANDAL POINT - simla
A little ahead is SCANDAL POINT from where one gets a sweeping view of the whole city. Scandal Point derives its name from an incident that took place at the spot during the days of the Raj. The daughter of a high ranking English official eloped with an Indian prince.
Found in higher altitudes of the state Monal is also the state bird of Himachal Pradesh.; Himachal state Museum the repository of some priceless artifacts from the state’s past. The T.V. tower rising from behind the building connects this hilly state to the rest of the world.; The Ridge in Shimla is where most visitors find themselves after walking the Mall. Christ Church can be seen to the right.
CHRIST CHURCH- shimla
CHRIST CHURCH in the square is an important landmark. Crowds of tourists can be seen around the Church throughout the year. The Church dates back to 1857 and has some fine stained glass windows.
VICEREGAL LODGE which has for the
last many years housed the Indian Institute of Advance Studies is a grand building. It was in this six storied building that the historic Shimla Conference took place in 1945. The conference unsuccessfully strived to form a totally Indian executive Council — except for the Viceroy and the Commander in Chief — before the end of the war.
The HIMACHAL STATE MUSEUM
The HIMACHAL STATE MUSEUM has a collection of stone statues and paintings of the Kangra school. For those wishing to know a little more about Himachal history a visit is a must. The tall TV tower that rises from behind the building connects the city with the present day worid, while the museum preserves its hoary past.
Another interesting place is JAKHU TEMPLE. A lot of simians can be seen prancing around the place. The temple is dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman. Being the highest point in the city it commands a panoramic view of the snow capped peaks.
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