Viceregal Lodge

Top choice historic building in Shimla

Image by IndiaPictures UIG via Getty Images

The official summer residence of the British viceroys was completed in 1888 and the entire Indian subcontinent was ruled from here for just over half of every year (usually early April to late October) from then till WWII. Henry Irwin's grand, grey sandstone creation resembles a cross between Harry Potter's Hogwarts and a Scottish baronial castle. Half-hour building tours visit three rooms with interesting photo exhibits (one was the billiards room) and the three-storey entrance hall lined in Burmese teak.

Historic happenings here included two conferences of Indian and British political leaders in the lead-up to Independence. Today the lodge houses a postdoctoral humanities research centre, whose 180,000-volume library occupies the old ballroom, dining room and drawing room. 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: fork left 100m after the Oberoi Cecil hotel, go 800m to the lodge gate, then 500m more to the lodge itself.

Opposite the lodge gate is the glum Himalayan Bird Park, where you can see the iridescent monal pheasant, Himachal’s former state bird.


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