Glimpses of British Architecture in Shimla

Shimla, the queen of hills, enthralls you with the beauty of the high Himalayas, the energy of an urban city and the sleepy charms of a hill station. Located at a height of 6,890 ft., you are welcomed by lovely Deodar forests and enchanting mountain views.

It served as the summer capital of India in British India (and is the capital city of the state of Himachal Pradesh) and is a place where you can have your regular urban fun while at the same time it will be a treat for heritage architecture in India.

Take a walk on mall extending from the ridge to the Viceregal Lodge you will be a witness to Shimla’s unique personality and place in history. A stroll in the enchanting mall will take you through the pleasures of the magnificent views surrounding the hills which are framed in dripping Cedars and Cypresses, the traces of sunlight falling on the giants of colonial architecture and to the almost isolated wooden trials.


Photographer: Turya Samaddar

Heritage zone
Start from the ridge and walk the entire stretch of about 3 Km up to the Viceregal Lodge. En route you will see the ever changing characteristic of the road from the busy concentrated shops, roadside vendors lined with cozy and inviting benches, gradually up to the heritage buildings which lie sprawled in a more quiet and peaceful surroundings, and finally leading to the thick forests views from the hustle and bustle of the ridge.
Heritage building and architecture

The British had made Shimla the summer capital of the Viceroy from May till July, Shimla used to be the center of administrative activities and thus Shimla is richly populated with buildings, homes, churches, and lodges which are typically British in architecture . The architecture in Shimla is colonial architecture. Renaissance influenced designs and Neo Gothic architecture are predominantly present in the buildings. A few icons of architectural splendor not to be missed are:

Viceregal Lodge
Viceregal Lodge (now home of Indian Institute of Advance Study), this imposing structure can easily be passed off as Grand British house or even palace. The building’s exterior is done in grey sandstone and light blue limestone, the Gothic style icon girders, beams and trusses give it the look of a European castle. Grand staircase and teak paneling in the main hall are worth a look. There is a small museum also in the premises for a small entry fee of Rs. 20/-

Christ church
The Christ church illustrates the European architecture in British India. Christ church has been operational since 1857, and its cream colored spires can be spotted from miles as you approach Shimla. The most important attraction of the church is its stained glass windows with rich and intricate designs. It also houses a charming but small red-roofed stoned building of the state library which is in operation since 1860.


Photographer: Aritra Banerjee

Others
As you come out of the ridge stretch, there are a plethora of architectural fineries spread on your way. The Telegraph building in red, green and grey is 87 years old which now is functional as the BSNL office.

Back on the mall; walk on to admire the pretty state bank of India building dated back to 1903, which then housed the Imperial Bank.

Walk ahead and come face to face with an unusual looking structure, the Railway Board Building (1896).
Next in the heritage zone can be seen an impressive Gorton Castle, the red roof and turrets of which are visible from various places in Shimla.

Right behind it, is the Himachal’s Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly). Take a road leading upwards and reach the State Museum on Invevarm Hill. The museum is a showcase of the cultural and architectural heritage of Shimla. Go onwards from here to the Viceregal Lodge.


Photographer: Turya Samaddar


Photographer: Turya Samaddar

Take a trip to the enchanting Shimla for relaxing holidays with historical influences.

How to get there
Shimla is 370 kilometers from Delhi, there are several flights that can take you from Delhi. Several buses are available from different parts of India, that can take you to Shimla. If you want to travel by train, you can go up to Kalka–Shimla Railway, from there you need to catch a different train to Shimla.

Author: Pooja S. Banerjee

A pharmacist by profession,Pooja has research experience in the field of herbal medicine and medicinal chemistry. She has also authored many International and National research and review papers in peer reviewed journals. Her passion for writing has made her foray into the world of medical writing. She writes travel blogs for creative satisfaction.

Comments

  1. I love the old British Architecture that has been built in India long-time ago. It is sad some of those beautiful buildings are demolished for roads and other constructions. I hope the government and the people will save the remaining buildings that portray the India British architecture.

  2. During my stay in Chennai, I saw several building that are build during British time in India. Most of them are big and displays the Indo-Saracenic architectural features of during British time in India.

  3. British style building are slowly disappearing in Chennai due to new construction, road expansion, etc, not sure how it is preserved in Shimla, I hope these historical buildings can be there for the future generations to see and appreciate the history.

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