This stroll can be taken in a single walk when one can step
into an age of Viceregal scepters, rusting gowns and silk slippers-and the
strains of a waltz may still swirl in the breezes. The former Viceregal
Lodge, now the Indian Institute of Advanced Study on Shimla's western arm,
was the official residence of the British Viceroy of India.
The building was completed in 1888 and drew its architectural inspiration from the renaissance in Elizabethan England. It is built of light-Grey stone with a tiled pitch roofing. The main block has three stories roofing. The main block has three stories and the kitchen wing has five. A tower strikes above the rest of the building and its height was; increased during Lord Curzon's tenure(`1899-1905).
In Lord Irvin's time (!926-31) a public entry wing was added in 1927. Within its walls were marked some of the most momentous events of Indian history including the decision to partition India. In the heady days that led to India's freedom in 1947, the leaders who visited the 'Lodge' included Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Maulana Azad, Sardar Patel and C. Rajagopalchari.
The elaborate gateway of the 'Lodge, was once called the 'Gurkha Gate' as it was manned by these brave soldiers. Climb the drive (1/2-km) to touch the main building. The lawns, a portion of the interior with its splendid woodwork are open on a ticket. Within the estate, stroll towards the back lawns and do take a moment to check the sundial and the map of the peaks and other landmarks visible from the spot. Turn back for the glass-house, above which is a rose pergola designed by Lord Curzon.
Veer back and descend a 100m along the drive and take the fork towards 'Squires' Hall', now the residence of the Institute's director. The narrow road passes through woods of oak and rhododendron and arrives at the university campus at Summer Hill.
Want To Explore More!
If one wishes to know more about Viceregal Lodge, a small booklet is sold at the ticket booth. Guides are available to take one through the guiding and there is a Cafétaria by the grounds. Summer Hill has eating-places and if one's timing is right, one can take a train back to Shimla station from the Summer Hill stop, which the Viceroys once used.
Summer Hill has two historically important houses- 'The Holme' once the residence of the celebrated artist Amrita Shergil and 'Manorville', the property of Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, where Mahatma Gandhi often stayed.
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