Viceregal Lodge

Top choice historic building in Shimla
Image by IndiaPictures / UIG via Getty Images

A cross between Harry Potter's Hogwarts and a Scottish baronial castle, this 1888 pile was the official summer residence of the British viceroys until WWII and the scene of two crucial conferences (1945 and 1946) that essentially sealed the partition of India. To look inside join a group (departing every 45 minutes from the cafe/ticket booth) for 20 minutes perusing three rooms of historic photos. Then exit through the superb three-storey entrance hall that looks like an MC Escher design built in Burmese teak.

The rest of the huge, grey sandstone building houses a postdoctoral humanities research centre, whose 180,000-volume library occupies the old ballroom and more. The well-manicured gardens make a nice stroll even if you don't take the house tour. The lodge is 3.5km west of Scandal Point: from the Oberoi Cecil hotel you can cross the grounds of the building's predecessor Peterhof (rebuilt after a 1981 fire as a not-quite-grand hotel), descend past a small aviary to the lodge gate (around 800m), then climb 500m more through mature woodland to the lodge itself.