THE HERITAGE MILES
The starting point for the Mall and it's row of shops is the Telegraph Office which was completed in 1922 and is a superb example of stone Ashlar-work where each piece has been dressed to fit a specific position. A cornerstone carries the inscription Latin - "Molem Aedificcii Multi Construxerunt: Rationem Exegit J. Begg" - many men created the stonework of his building: the work was directed by J. Begg.
On its right the building loosely resembles a steam locomotive - which it may as well for till very recently this was the Railway Booking Office. The shops, banks and offices of this pedestrian stretch now begin and attention may be paid to the variety of architectural details. This stretch is often likened to a marketplace in rural England and forms the core of the declared 'Heritage Zone'.
Scandal Point remain the hub of Shimla's social life and is said to be so named after a British Commander - in - Chief's daughter eloped from the spot with the Maharaja of Patiala. The story is uncomfirmed and what is more likely is that the name is to result of it long having been the place where people have gathered for conversations.
The Gaiety Theatre
Continue past the fire station, on one's left lies the dressed-stone structure of the Municipal Offices and just ahead of the famous Gaiety Theatre. This building was originally a five storied structure that held the old Town Hall and was completed on 30 May 1887. Loosely Gothic in style, its architect was the same as of Viceregal Lodge - Henry Irwin.
Major defects in the construction were noticed soon after its completion and it 1911, The upper potations were dismantled. Subsequently, some minor additions were made in brick. The Theatre is renowned for its fine acoustics and was built after a design that won the prize offered by the Dramatic Society in London. Those who have acted on its stage include the writer Rugdyard Kipling, founder of the Boy Scout movement. Badan Powell, novelist M. M. Kaye, artist Amrita Shergil, actors the Kendalls - the famous singer K. L. Saighal is regarded to have given his first public performance on the Gaiety's stage. Several contemporary Indian actors and film personalities like Anupam Kher have been associated with this stage.
Further down the Mall, just short of the lift is Combermere Bridge, which was first, built in 1828 and was the first construction of a public nature in the town. A water tank was also built, past the half-timbered structure of the Clarkes, is the day school at the chalet. The name is indicative of its architectural style and this was once a part of the united services club. Ahead is another fine example of the Swiss Bavarian style in the Cedars. On the right is Oak over, the residence of the Chief Minister of Himacheal Pradesh and once the property of the Maharaja of Patiala. Just past this, by the rain-shelters is Shimla's oldest cemetery.
Turn left towards Raj Bhavan, the residence of the Governor of Himachal Pradesh. Earlier called Barnes' Court this handsome neo-Tudor building was the residence of various Commanders- in-Chief and then the Governors of the Punjab. The historic 'Shimla Agreement' between India and Pakistan was signed here on 3 July 1972.
Carry on past Raj Bhawan to the left track, which climbs to the Old Forest Hill Road - the one-time 'Lovers Lane'. Once one touches the Forest Hill Road, the turn of the right will take one to St. Bede's College, The Convent of Jesus and Mary, Navbahar and Sanjauli. If one decides to take this turn, then the walk can continue to the Sanjauli Chowk where one can take a left turn towards the Government College. This track will bring one back to The Ridge and the Mall via Lakkar Bazaar.
If above Raj Bhavan, one has to turn left, then past the Ramchandra Chowk (named after one of Shimla's leading citizens and a distinguished civil servant). One can see the town unfold below. One can choose two routes to return to the Mall. A sharp slope just past the house called "The Rookery", the road drops down to the Mall and arrives through the old United Services Club, near the lift. The recommended road carries on to the Ridge.
The Ridge holds Christ Church consecrated in 1857. This is one of the town's prominent landmarks and is embellished with some fine stained glass and memorial tablets. By its side is the neo-Tudor structure of the Library.