Witness Of The Independence Movement
A magnificent mansion, majestically standing close to the 'Administrative Block' of Himachal Pradesh University at Summer hill, a suburb of Shimla, was the house of Late Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur, a veteran freedom fighter and close associate of Gandhiji and the first Union Health Minister of India.
A Royal Heritage
A number of memorable happenings of country's freedom movement are associated with this historic building. This house has the unique distinction in as much as that, 'Father of the Nation', Mahatma Gandhi, stayed here during his visits to Shimla between 1935 and 1946. Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur gave this house to the All India institute of Medical Sciences - 'AIIMS', Delhi and is now under their administrative control and is being maintained as a guesthouse.
The building was the property of Maharaja of Kapurthala, an erstwhile state of Punjab and was inherited by his daughter, Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur. It was one of the three buildings in the entire estate of the Maharaja. The other two buildings came to the share of her two brothers, Sir Maharaj Singh, the first Governor of Bombay (Mumbai) after Independence and Mr. Dalip Singh, Chief Justice of Lahore High Court before partition of the country.
The houses of her two brothers got gutted and now the 'Administrative Block' and 'Library Block' of the Himachal Pradesh University stand on those sites. Another building near Chadwick falls belonged to her third brother, colonel shamsher singh and is now in the possession of "All India Radio", Shimla. Gandhiji used this place in serene environments, for evening prayers, which were attended bya large number of shimlaites. The central Government has handed over this building to the state government for setting up a gandhian study centre in it.
Mansions Exquisite Interiors
The entire area on which this building is constructed is about 5 Bighas. The building has three floors besides the basement. In addition to the Reception cum drawing hall, it has a kitchen, pantry and suite nos. 5 and 6 on the ground floor. First floor has suite no. 1 to 4 while the attic floor houses suite no. 7.
A major attraction of the house is the exquisite teak and walnut furniture, carpets and wall hangings adorning the rooms. Gandhiji used to stay here, along with his two private secretaries, Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur and Ms. Sushila Naya, in suite no. 6, which is the smallest one. The same old, large sized portrait of Gandhiji is placed on a high mantel in this suite even now.
It was from here that Gandhiji, with a galaxy of leaders like Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Dr. Rajender Prasad and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, set out to meet the then Viceroy of India, Lord Wavell in June 1945, for discussions regarding country's independence. There were many servant quarters where nearly 20 servants of different disciplines stayed.
Shri S.D. Sharma, who is on the establishment of the AIIMS, is the present caretaker of the building.