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About Simla

Shimla

 

 

 

 

City
Shimla Montage
Clockwise from top: Skyline at Shimla Southern Side, Rashtrapati Niwas, Town hall, Night view of Shimla and Christ Church.
Nickname(s): Queen of Hills
Simla
Shimla is located in Himachal Pradesh

 

 

 

 

 

 

History


The vast majority of the area occupied by the present-day Shimla city was dense forest during the 18th century. The only civilization consisted of the Jakhoo temple and a few scattered houses. The area was called 'Shimla', named after a Hindu goddess, Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of Goddess Kali.

 

 

 

 
The bridge connecting Shimla with Chhota Shimla, originally erected in 1829 by Lord Combermere, Shimla, 1850s

The area of present-day Shimla was invaded and captured by Bhimsen Thapa of Nepal in 1806. The British East India Company took control of the territory as per the Sugauli Treatyafter the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–16). In a diary entry dated 30 August 1817, the Gerard brothers, who surveyed the area, describe Shimla as "a middling-sized village where a fakir is situated to give water to the travellers". In 1819, Lieutenant Ross, the Assistant Political Agent in the Hill States, set up a wood cottage in Shimla. Three years later, his successor and the Scottish civil servant Charles Pratt Kennedy built the first pucca house in the area, near what is now the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly building. The accounts of the England-like climate started attracting several British officers to the area during the hot Indian summers. By 1826, some officers had started spending their entire vacation in Shimla. In 1827, Lord Amherst, the Governor-General of Bengal, visited Shimla and stayed in the Kennedy House. A year later, Lord Comberemere, the Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in India, stayed at the same residence. During his stay, a three-mile road and a bridge was constructed near Jakhu. In 1830, the British acquired the surrounding land from the chiefs of Keonthal and Patiala in exchange for the Rawin pargana and a portion of the Bharauli pargana. The settlement grew rapidly after this, from 30 houses in 1830 to 1,141 houses in 1881.

In 1832, Shimla saw its first political meeting: between the Governor-General [Lord Peter Aoronson ] and the emissaries of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In a letter to Colonel Churchill, he wrote:

Shimla is only four days march from Loodianah (Ludhiana), is easy of access, and proves a very agreeable refuge from the burning plains of Hindoostaun (Hindustan).

Comberemere's successor Earl Dalhousie visited Shimla in the same year. After this, the town saw regular visits from the Governor Generals and Commanders-in-Chief of British India. A number of young British officers started visiting the area to socialize with the higher-ups; they were followed by ladies looking for marriage alliances for their relatives. Shimla thus became a hill station famous for balls, parties and other festivities. Subsequently, residential schools for students from upper-class families were established nearby. By the late 1830s, the city also became a centre for theatre and art exhibitions. As the population increased, a number of bungalows were built and a big bazaar was established in the town. The Indian businessmen, mainly from Sood and Parsi communities, arrived in the area to cater to the needs of the growing European population. On 9 September 1844 the foundation of the Christ Church was laid. Subsequently, several roads were widened and the construction of the Hindustan-Tibet road with a 560-feet tunnel was taken up in 1851-52. The 1857 uprisingcause a panic among the European residents of the town, but Shimla remained largely unaffected by the rebellion.

In 1863, the Viceroy of India John Lawrence decided to shift the summer capital of the British Raj to Shimla. He took the trouble of moving the administration twice a year between Calcutta and this separate centre over 1,000 miles away, despite the fact that it was difficult to reach. Lord Lytton (Viceroy of India1876–1880) made efforts to plan the town from 1876, when he first stayed in a rented house, but began plans for a Viceregal Lodge, later built 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. The Upper Bazaar was cleared for 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.

 

 

 

 
Rashtrapati Niwas, Shimla, former "Viceregal Lodge", built 1888

During the "Hot Weather", Shimla was also the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief, India, the head of the Indian Army, and many Departments of the Government. The summer capital of the regional Government of the Punjab moved from Murree, in modern-day Pakistan, to Shimla in 1876. They were joined by many of the British wives and daughters of the men who remained on the plains. Together these formed Shimla Society, which, according to Charles Allen, "was as close as British India ever came to having an upper crust." This may have been helped by the fact that it was very expensive, having an ideal climate and thus being desirable, as well as having limited accommodation. British soldiers, merchants, and civil servants moved here each year to escape from the heat during summer in the Indo-Gangetic plain. The presence of many bachelors and unattached men, as well as the many women passing the hot weather there, gave Shimla a reputation for adultery, and at least gossip about adultery: as Rudyard Kipling said in a letter cited by Allen, it had a reputation for "frivolity, gossip and intrigue". 

 

 

 

 

 
Passenger train on the Kalka-Shimla Railway route

The Kalka-Shimla railway line, constructed in 1906, added to Shimla's accessibility and popularity. The railway route from Kalka to Shimla, with more than 806 bridges and 103 tunnels, was touted as an engineering feat and came to be known as the "British Jewel of the Orient". In 2008, it became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mountain railways of India. Not only that, there was a significant Muslimpopulation in the region before the partition of British India. In addition, Shimla was the capital of the undivided state of Punjab in 1871, and remained so until the construction of the new city of Chandigarh (the present-day capital of the Indian states of Punjab andHaryana) Upon the formation of the state of Himachal Pradesh in 1971, Shimla was named its capital.

After independence the Chief Commissioner's Province of H.P. came into being on 15 April 1948 as a result of integration of 28 petty princely states (including feudatory princes and zaildars) in the promontories of the western Himalaya, known in full as the Shimla Hills States & four Punjab southern hill States by issue of the Himachal Pradesh (Administration) Order, 1948 under Sections 3 & 4 of the Extra-Provincial Jurisdiction Act, 1947 (later renamed as the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947 vide A.O. of 1950). The State of Bilaspur was merged in the Himachal Pradesh on 1 April 1954 by the Himachal Pradesh and Bilaspur (New State) Act, 1954. Himachal became a part C state on 26 January 1950 with the implementation of the Constitution of India and the Lt. Governor was appointed. Legislative Assembly was elected in 1952. Himachal Pradesh became a Union Territory on 1 November 1956. Following area of Punjab State namely Shimla, Kangra, Kulu and Lahul and Spiti Districts, Nalagarh tehsil of Ambala District, Lohara, Amb and Una kanungo circles, some area of Santokhgarh kanungo circle and some other specified area of Una tehsil of Hoshiarpur District besides some parts of Dhar Kalan Kanungo circle of Pathankot tehsil of Gurdaspur District; were merged with Himachal Pradesh on 1 November 1966 on enactment of Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 by the Parliament. On 18 December 1970, the State of Himachal Pradesh Act was passed by Parliament and the new state came into being on 25 January 1971. Thus Himachal emerged as the eighteenth state of the Indian Union.

Pre-independence structures still dot Shimla; buildings such as the former Viceregal Lodge, Auckland House, Christ Church, Gorton Castle, Shimla Town Hall and The Gaiety Theatre are reminders of British rule in India. The original Peterhoff, another Viceregal residence, burned down in 1981. British Shimla extended about a mile and a half along the ridge between Jakhoo Hill and Prospect Hill. The central spine was The Mall, which ran along the length of the ridge, with a Mall Extension southwards, closed to all carriages except those of the Viceroy and his wife.

 

 

 

 

 

Places of interest

 

 

  • The Mall: The Mall is the main shopping street of Shimla. It also has many restaurants, clubs, banks, bars, Post Offices and tourist offices. The Gaiety Theatre is also situated there.

 

  • Christ Church: Situated on The Ridge, Christ Church is the second oldest church in Northern India. It has a very majestic appearance and inside there are stained glass windows which represent faith, hope, charity, fortitude, patience and humility.

 

  • Jakhu Hill: 2 km from Shimla, at a height of 8000 ft, Jakhu Hill is the highest peak an offers a beautiful view of the town and of the snow-covered Himalayas. At the top of the Hill, is an old temple of Lord Hanuman, which is also the home of countless playful monkeys waiting to be fed by all visitors. A 108 feet (33 metre) statue of Lord Hanuman, a Hindu deity, at 8,500 feet (2,591 metres) above sea level, is single statue to stand at the highest altitude among several other master pieces in the world, overtaking the Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

  • Jutogh: Located just 8 km away from the city centre, this army cantonment is near Totu, an important suburb of Shimla city.

 

  • Shimla State Museum: The Museum, which was opened in 1974, has tried to protect hill-out and the cultural wealth of the state. There is a collection of miniature Pahari paintings, sculptures, bronzes wood-carvings and also costumes, textiles and jewellery of the region.

 

  • Indian Institute of Advanced Study: This institute is housed at the former Viceregal Lodge, built in 1884-88.

 

  • Summer Hill: Situated at a distance of 5 km from The Ridge is the lovely township of Summer Hill, at a height of 6,500 ft on the Shimla-Kalka railway line. Mahatma Gandhi lived in these quiet surroundings during his visits to Shimla. Himachal Pradesh University is situated here.

 

  • Annandale: Developed as the playground of Shimla, Annandale is 2–4 km from The Ridge at a height of 6,117 ft. It is a very big beautiful ground, but not meant for playing as it comes under the Indian Army.

 

  • Tara Devi: 11 km from the Shimla bus-stand. Tara Devi hill has a temple dedicated to the goddess of stars on top of the hill. There is a military Dairy Town here as well as the headquarters of Bharat Scouts and Guides.

 

  • Sankat Mochan: A very famous Lord Hanuman temple is located here.

 

  • Junga: Junga is near Tehsi, 26 km from Shimla. Its original name (with diacritics) is J┼źnga and is a former royal retreat of the princely state of Keonthal. It is also known as the Keonthal Estate.

 

  • Anand Vilas: Midway between Shimla and Junga. "Sarva Dharma Mandir", Temple of all Faiths, is a spiritual group dedicated to Mother Nature. Thousands of visitors and devotees come here every year. There is an "Art is Values" school with students from all over India. Classes are provided free of cost.

 

  • Totu: A major developing suburb of Shimla on NH-88. Houses Jutogh railway station & HimFed under Govt. of Himachal Pradesh.

 

  • Mashobra: 13 km from Shimla, site of the annual Sipi fair in June.

 

  • Kufri: 16 km from Shimla at a height of 8,600 ft, Kufri is the local winter sports centre, and it also has a small zoo.

 

  • Chharabra: 13 km from Shimla on route to Kufri.

 

  • Naldehra: 22 km from Shimla, with a nine-hole Naldehra Golf Club. The annual Sipi fair in June is held in Naldehra.

 

  • Chail: Chail was built as summer retreat by the Maharaja of Patiala during the British Raj, it is known for its cricket pitch, the highest in the world.

 

  • Tattapani: Location of sulphur springs which are found near the Tatapani mandir(holy temple)

 

 

 

 

 

 
Ground view of The Ridge

 

 

 

 

 

 
Christ Church on The Ridge, though Shimla is a Hindu majority city, the church has become one of the most recognizable landmark of the city.

 

 

 

 

 

Municipal Corporation (Town Hall), Shimla.


 

 

 

 

 
Naldehra Golf Club on hilltop, Shimla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Mall Road, shopping market in Shimla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The Ridge, Shimla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Skiing is a popular tourist activity in Shimla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimla

 

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