Shimla

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Town Hall as seen from The Ridge.
Spread across seven hills in the northwest Himalayas among lush valleys and forests of oak, rhododendron and pine is the capital of Himachal Pradesh that was once the summer capital of colonial India. And today, there is still more than a hint of the Raj in the former hill station of Shimla.

Shimla also spelled Simla, is the capital city of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, located in northern India. In 1864, Shimla was declared as the summer capital of British India, succeeding Murree, northeast of Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan). After independence, the city became the capital of Punjab and was later named the capital of Himachal Pradesh.

Quotes[edit]

  • The city is a unique combination of hills, spurs and valleys to the North and East; a network ofmountain ranges which are crossed at a distance, by a magnificent crescent of new peaks, the mountains of Kullu and Spiti in North, the central range of the Eastern Himalayas in the east and South east. Shimla town occupies a unique place in the history of the Indian sub-continent. Emerging as a nostalgic reminder of their country, for the British officers, posted in the region, the town went on to occupy the centre stage during the hey days of the Raj.
  • About centuries ago the area occupied by the modern day Shimla was dense forest. Only the Jakhu temple, which has stood the test of time and a few scattered houses comprised the signs of civilisation.
    • Planning Department, in "District Human Development Report Shimla}, p. 8
  • Spread across seven hills in the northwest Himalayas among lush valleys and forests of oak, rhododendron and pine is the capital of Himachal Pradesh that was once the summer capital of colonial India. And today, there is still more than a hint of the Raj in the former hill station of Shimla.
  • The former summer capital of the British in India, and the present capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla has been blessed with all the natural bounties which one can think of. It has got a scenic location, it is surrounded by green hills with snow capped peaks. The spectacular cool hills accompanied by the structures made during the colonial era creates an aura which is very different from other hills.
  • ...the first person who brought Shimla to notice was a British officer, who while moving Gurkha troops from Sabathu to Kotgarh in about 1816, passed through Shimla, was impressed by its cool climate. It was a dense jungle infested with wild beasts. It is however claimed by A. Wilson in his ‘Abode of Snow’ that the hill on which Shimla is situated was first made known by Gerad Brothers. These two scotch officers were engaged in the survey of the Sutlej Valley.
    • Planning Department, in "District Human Development Report Shimla}, p. 8
  • At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Shimla was taken from Jhind Rana in 1815 and given to the Patiala Raja for assistance rendered by him to the British in the Nepal war.
    • Planning Department, in "District Human Development Report Shimla}, p. 9
  • After Captain Charles Kennedy’s invitation of spurred a wave of construction in Shimla (then a village) at about 2200 m elevation), it came to notice in 1827, when the British governor-general spent summer in the place...The following year, the army headquarters and its staff set up camp in Shimla for the summer. From there on Shimla became increasingly popular.
    • Peter Aronson and Yésica del Moral, in "Shimla: India’s Queen of Hills".
  • In 1864, the place was declared colonial India’s official “summer capital.” Later, Shimla came to be known as the “Queen of Hills".
    • Peter Aronson and Yésica del Moral, in "Shimla: India’s Queen of Hills".
Rashtrapati Niwas, Shimla, former "Viceregal Lodge", built 1888
  • Sir John Lawrence, Viceroy of India (from 1864 to1869 moved the administration twice a year between Calcutta and a separate centre over 1,000 miles away, despite the fact that it was difficult to reach. Lord Lytton, Viceroy (from 1876 to 1880) planned the town from 1876, when he first stayed in a rented house, and built a Viceregal Lodge, on Observatory Hill. A fire cleared much of the area where the native Indian population lived (the "Upper Bazaar"), and the planning of the eastern end to become the centre of the European town forced these to live in the Middle and Lower Bazaars on the lower terraces descending the steep slopes from the Ridge.
    • Ashok Kumar, in "A Journey into the Past".
  • Though Shimla was formally acquired by the British in the tenure of Lord William Bentinck, but it was during Lord Aucklands’ time that Shimla began to come of age.
    • Raghuvendra Tanwar, in "Shimla : Another age, another time".
  • The British in India had called Shimla by various names — Viceroy’s Shooting Box, Abode of the Little Tin Gods and even Mount Olympus.
    • Raghuvendra Tanwar, in "Shimla : Another age, another time".
  • In 1832, Shimla saw its first political meeting: between the Governor-General [Lord Peter Aoronson] and the emissaries of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
    • Raghuvendra Tanwar, in "Shimla : Another age, another time".
In 1903, the British completed a narrow-gauge railway, whose diminutive locomotive led to its being called the “toy” train, to Shimla from Kalka. The UNESCO-recognized train route passes through 102 tunnels and crosses over 850 bridges...
  • In 1903, the British completed a narrow-gauge railway, whose diminutive locomotive led to its being called the “toy” train, to Shimla from Kalka. The UNESCO-recognized train route passes through 102 tunnels and crosses over 850 bridges. Before its advent, visitors had to travel the 69 kilometers from Kalka along a bridle path in two-wheeled carts pulled by pairs of ponies.
    • Peter Aronson and Yésica del Moral, in "Shimla: India’s Queen of Hills".
  • In November, 1903, the Shimla Railways was a monumental event that changed Shimla for ever.
    • Raghuvendra Tanwar, in "Shimla : Another age, another time".
socially desirables... all were on the Mall.
  • Most European products, ranging from fine fabrics to French sauces, Scot sardines, English sweets and even fine horses were all available in Shimla. There being no roads worth the name, the only mode of travel was the jampans for ladies and horses for men. The jampan was a kind of chair, usually covered and attached to two or four small poles and lifted on the shoulders by two or four men. Wheeled carriages were not allowed or were not feasible in Shimla till as late as 1840s.
    • Raghuvendra Tanwar, in "Shimla : Another age, another time".
  • The presence of unattached ladies, bachelors, flirts, match makers gave to Simla its early reputation.... Early evenings on the Mall, was the customary place for building acquaintances.... Eligibles... socially desirables... all were on the Mall.
    • Raghuvendra Tanwar, in "Shimla : Another age, another time".
  • It will not be surpassed by any mountain road in the world.
    • Dalhousie on building the first road to Simla, which became the Cart Road at Shimla, in "Shimla : Another age, another time".
  • The tone of Shimla’s social life in the 19th century was normally set by the Viceroy and his lady.
    • Raghuvendra Tanwar, in "Shimla : Another age, another time".
  • The Public works and other buildings have made Simla monstrous. Too bustling... too public... pomp to irksome, it is like dining everyday in the house keepers room with the butler and the maid.
    • Curzon in "Shimla : Another age, another time".
  • The tradition that made Shimla stand apart as a town of clean orderliness, a tradition that continued up to the time of Dr Y.S. Parmar’s exit from power, was started by Curzon. By the early years of the 20th century, Shimla had emerged as a ‘decent place’ to retire.
    • Raghuvendra Tanwar, in "Shimla : Another age, another time".
  • He rises early.... Six newspapers to read, forty Madras cheroots to smoke.... A kindly tiffin to linger.... A game of billiards... 12 pegs to drink... band on the Mall, dinner, chatter.... Scandals... jokes.....
    • A routine in Shimla, in "Shimla : Another age, another time".
  • During the Britishers’ time, the Mall was reserved for them;
    • C. Fook Chong, in "Shimla: India’s Queen of Hills".
  • Average Indians couldn’t walk on the Mall. You had to be dressed properly and educated, like a gentleman, because English ladies were on the Mall.lt’s like being in permanent air-conditioning!
    • Shagufta Chaki, in "Shimla: India’s Queen of Hills".
  • If people enjoy walking, they’ll like Shimla.
    • A Hotelier, in "Shimla: India’s Queen of Hills".
  • Shimla may have been called the summer capital, but for all practical purposes this was the real Capital of India as the Government of India stayed there for the better part of the year moving down to Kolkata and later to New Delhi only during the winter months. As the summer capital of the British Raj, Shimla came to be known as ‘the workshop of the Empire’.
    • Ashok Kumar, in "A Journey into the Past".
Christ Church on a sunny day
Evening biew of the Town Hall
  • The state capital has some of the world's finest examples of British colonial architecture. Inspired by the Renaissance in England, is the greystone former Viceregal Lodge (now the Indian Institute of Advanced Study), the neo Gothic structures of the gaiety theatre and the former imperial Civil Secretariat (now the Accountant General's Office). There are the Tudor framed Barnes Court (now the Raj Bhawan), and the distinctive Vidhan Sabha and the secretariat of the government of Himachal Pradesh.
  • The Vice Regal Lodge on the Observatory Hills, also known as Rashtrapati Niwas, was formerly the residence of the British Viceroy Lord Dufferin. It was the venue for many important decisions which changed the fate of the sub-continent. It is quite befittingly the only building in Shimla that occupies a hill by itself.
    • Heritage, in "A Report on Shimla Heritage".
  • The Ridge is crowned by Christ Church, which was built in 1857. The stately yellow edifice features tall, arched stained-glass windows surrounded by a fresco designed by Rudyard Kipling’s father. Inside, tablets commemorate British officers and citizens of the colonial period.
    • Peter Aronson and Yésica del Moral, in "Shimla: India’s Queen of Hills".
  • Christ Church, in yellow colour, the most prominent building on the Mall is reputed to be the second oldest church in northern India.
    • Heritage, in "A Report on Shimla Heritage".
  • A Town Hall, with many facilities such as library and theatre, as well as offices--for police and military volunteers as well as municipal administration exist in the Upper Bazaar area.
    • Ashok Kumar, in "A Journey into the Past".
  • The enigmatic world that was Simla had the rug pulled from under its feet; the summer capital ceased to be, in the post-Independence India.
    • Ashok Kumar, in "A Journey into the Past".
  • Shimla is a multi-hazard /multi-disaster prone City and it’s mainly because of its geo-climatic complexities and anthropogenic factors.
  • Having almost 160 years of history of Municipal Corporation Shimla the autonomous existence starts with the passing of the Himachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1994 (H.P. Municipal Corporation Act, 1994) government revised the delimitation of wards into 21. With 5 retention policies now the city is having 25 wards.
    • Municipal Corporation, in "City Disaster Management Plan-Shimla"
  • ...when India became independent in 1947, Shimla was one of the most important hill stations of the world. After the partition of India in 1947, many of the Punjab Government offices from Lahore in Pakistan were shifted to Shimla. In 1966, with the re-organization of territory into Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Shimla became the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Since then, Shimla has flourished, as capital of the state and has continued to be an important tourist resort of India and the world.
    • Planning Department, in "District Human Development Report Shimla}, p. 9
Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital at Shimla
  • After 1966 and 1971, Shimla has finally become a town that belongs to the people of the hills. Its character and social composition has changed forever. It was a town ruled entirely by the seasons. It waned to almost one eight to its summer size come winter less than a hundred years ago and it now waxes no more than a fourth its winter time numbers each summer. The summer influx of tourists still holds importance for a section of Shimla’s inhabitants but for a majority it is incidental, perhaps even a nuisance. It is a town that increasingly serves its own hinterland, as the seat of government and as the center of medical attention, education, and commerce related needs. The apple-rich valleys of Shimla district dominate the eastern suburbs but the town as a whole is now home to people from all over the state.

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