THE WESTERN WALKS

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

Taking The Western Arm
Start from the Scandal Point on the Mall and walk towards the Wooden -framed structure of the General Post office. Below the mall presents an interesting roofline. Behind the post office stands the deconsecrated brick structure of St. Andrew's and just above this, is the YWCA. On the left are the upper sections of the Telegraph Office and past this, are the Police headquarters in a building called ' Bantony". Bantony has some delightful eccentric woodwork and was the residence of the rulers of the former princely state of Sirmaur and the remnants of the cast-iron railings still display their coat of arms.

Higher on the hill is the Grand Hotel and this site once held the Governor-General, William Bentinck's residence. Past this is the temple of Kali Bari founded in 1845 by Ram Charan Bhramachari, a Bengali Brahmin. Take the sharp slope opposite the gates of the Police headquarters to the base of the Telegraph Office.

Below the Telegraph Office is the district Collectorate in a brick and stone building in the Norman Baronial style of architecture. A neighbour is the dressed stone structure of St. Michael's Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Church. This was built in 1886 in the French Gothic Style of architecture and has a cruciform floor plan.

Original Village Of Shimla
The original village of Shimla is regarded to have stood below in today's Ram Bazaar area. Below this is the Deen Dayal Upadhaya (formerly, Ripon) Hospital. The hospital was built almost entirely by donations and is perhaps the largest structure in India in the Alpine Chalet style of construction the large buildings that hold the offices of the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) were the offices of the Commander -in - Chief of the Indian Army.

Near The Mall
Returning to the level of the mall, the walk continues down towards the State Bank of India- once the bank of upper India and then the imperial brands of India. As Dalziel house, one of the oldest structure of town stood at the site of this hand on me guiding, a road cuts off to the right and leads to Fingask Estate, the birthplace Lord Chelmsford and one the Chelmsford Club. Adjoining this is the Catholic Club in Ensham Estate's old building, Below lies Northbank, the one-time residence of the famous writer Rudyard Kipling, and the Sacred Art Convent at Tara Hall.

The Government Buildings
After the State Bank of India comes the unusual cast-iron and steel structure of what once held of the offices of the Railway Board. On a rise ahead is the office of the Accountant General in Gorton Castle. One of the most unusual buildings built in the British Empire, this neo-gothic structure had the famous Sir Swinton Jacob as its architect. Completed in 1904, this was the Secretariat of the imperial Government of the present-day Vidhan Sabha of Himachal Pradesh. This was the Legislative Assembly Chamber, which became necessary after the constitutional reforms of 1919 (the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms). It was completed in 1921. The same rise held 'Kennedy House'. Built in 1822 and regarded to have been the first 'permanent' house built in the station. A fork on the right leads to the Glen and to Annandale.

The Army Mess is housed at Knockdrin by this far, and was once the residence of the Foreign Secretary. Past this is a Command Houses, the sanitarium run by the Seventh Day Adventists and the exhaustively restored hotel the Cecil. A sharp (0.5-km) climb takes one to the State Museum and a rich display of Himachal's heritage.

The base of the climb has two roads that are like arms that encircle the hill. Both takes one to the gates of the Indian institute of Advance Studies. If one faces them, with one's back towards the Cecil then the fork on the left will take one past the radio station. This site once held the foreign office, and during the Second World War, the government of Burma (now, Myanmar) in exile was based here.

A Natural Surrounding
Above, at Peterhof, is the state guesthouse. Up to the time of the construction of Viceregarl Lodge atop Observatory Hill, this served as the Viceroy's Residence in Shimla. Interestingly, as with many other sites in Shimla, this is a natural watershed where the wash from the southern slope flows down towards the Bay of Bengal and from the other, towards the Arabian Sea.

The Return Journey
If one has taken the road on the right, one will be able to see the views of the northern hills, which are quite magnificent. Along the way, one can cross Ava Lodge - now a hostel - on the hillside above. This was once the official residence of a member of the Viceroy's Council. Below on the right lies Yarrow's whose large slate roof now holds the Indian Academy of Audit and Accounts. Both roads meet at the gates of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies where one can link with the Viceregal Trails or return towards the Mall. From the Telegraph Office to this point one will cover about 2.5-km along a fairly level walk.

OPTIONS AND LINKAGES: -

Suggested As Independent Walks

The Glen
From Knockdrin, one can turn down to the Glen. The first part is along the road to Annadale. About 1.5-km down the line, the path of the glen branches off the main road. Another kilometer along a narrow trail will take one to this wooded ravine where several tiny brooks pour their water into a large perennial stream.

The Glen, Shimla, Himachal PradeshThis is a Reserve Forest and is one of Shimla's oldest and most popular picnic spots. The trees are representative of the region's flora and include Oak, Rhododendron, Deodar (Himalayan Cedar), and 'Chil' and 'Kail' pines. The broad-leaved varieties include horse - Chestnut, Cryptomeria and Ash.

The undergrowth is fairly luxuriant too. The birds and animals that may be sighted in the area - especially deep down the valley include Phesants, Black Partridges, Yellow Throated Martens, Hen Harriers, Barking Deer and very rarely, Leopards, Foxes and the Leopard Cat. The area is best after the pumping station that lies in the beginning. The walk back is all uphill, so do try to return before sundown. From Knockdrin to the Glen pumping station, the distance is about 3-km. The area also has several narrow forest inspection paths including one that lies about the Glen and circles summer Hill - these paths should be done with a guide.

Annandale
Follow the first part of the route as for the Glen, and continue down along the metalled road to this large glade surrounded by Deodar woods. The name 'Annandale' may have come from the valley with the same name in Durnfiesshire in Scotland or as another tradition maintains, from 'Anna' the lady who first visited it when the British began coming to Shimla. There is a small wooden temple by the glade. One may also use the sharp slope via Kaithu.

The Old Carriage Track
Starting near the gates of the Institute of Advanced Study, by the little teashop, a road goes down and this connects to the point where the path to the Glen breaks away from the road to Annandale. This track makes a good walk through the woods and was used by the Viceroy's to go to Annandale.



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