THE VICEROY'S TRAILS

Know your location
» North India
» Himachal Pradesh
Also Known As: The Summer Refuge
Altitude: 2,159m.
Places of Interest: The Mall, Christ Church, Kufri, Narkanda
Best Time To Visit: April To August & December To January

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).

Later Additions
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.

FURTHER LINKAGES AND OPTIONS: -
  • Carry on to the Conversation Zone's woods, Potter Hill and the rain-fed Chadwick Falls - a walk of another few kilometers, which really depends on how soon one would like to turn back. The road, which is above the Railway Station and leads towards the Conversation Zone also circles Summer Hill and takes 4-km in doing so.
  • Take the shorter route back from Summer Hill to town by following the road that faces north and connects back at the gates of the lodge. (1-km). Climb to see the Aviary below Peterhof, the present day State Guest House of Himachal Pradesh. The site of Peterhof held the Viceregal residence till Viceregal Lodge was built on the adjoining hill.
  • Walk towards Boileauganj (1.5-km). Without entering the bazaar, one can move back to the institute's estate through the large metal gates and walk back to town. Both roads run roughly parallel to each other and meet near the gates of the Institute. On the latter, lies the old dilapidated house, Woodfield, where Rabindranath Tagore once stayed. There are some interesting examples of colonial architecture to be found on these stretches.


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