Due to the summer heat everywhere, we decided to spend a week in a cold place. After much contemplation, we zeroed down on Shimla and Manali. It was lovely to experience the cold after five years. The last cold place we visited was Norway on our Europe trip in 2017.
Shimla is a beautiful place though it had some confusing weather in the three days we were there. The first day was quite pleasant. I simply wore a knee-length dress and roamed all of Mall Road. On the second day, it was cloudy and pouring with thunder and lightning. The bonfire was canned due to the weather. The third day had mist and chilly winds. Check out some Shimla properties here.
Whenever the weather permitted, we walked around Shimla to visit Christ Church, Scandal Point and Kari Bari Temple. But the best tourist attraction there, according to me, was the Viceregal Lodge (currently known as Rashtrapati Niwas). I was in awe of it. Not as much as I was in awe of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona but it was still a very impressive heritage building.
The tour timings are from 10.30 am to 5 pm with a 30-minute lunch break at 1.30 pm. You can buy tickets at the counter for the different kinds of sessions they have with a guide who will explain all about the history of the lodge. Wearing a mask is mandatory and clicking pictures is not allowed.
Viceregal Lodge was built, as a summer residence, on a hill 7000 feet above sea level, in 1888 for the British Viceroys of India. Currently, it is considered a heritage site by UNESCO, so it is only being used by scholars to study. More about its significance is mentioned below.
WHY I THOUGHT VICEREGAL LODGE WAS THE BEST VISIT IN SHIMLA
-Very few are aware that the papers for the Partition of India were prepared at the Viceregal Lodge, Shimla. There is a round table, made from walnut wood, around which a lot of discussion on this subject is believed to have taken place (during the Shimla conference in 1945). But besides being a building where the division of India was discussed before it got its independence, it was a building built by an intelligent architect.
-The place was constructed with a marvellous rainwater harvesting system. The tank is under the lush green garden and rainwater from around the lodge collects into it. No one is allowed to step on the lush green lawns because the covers of the tank would get damaged. There is a footpath all around the garden to admire the lodge and click your pictures.
-Viceregal Lodge was the first building in Shimla to have concealed electrical lighting. There is a huge steam generator hidden in the grounds for this purpose. It would be great if the whole country followed this concept. I’ve only seen this in Moscow and loved the way the city looked illuminated.
-The fire-fighting system, built into the ceiling and walls, has a piping network that spans the entire structure and is yet not visible as their sprinkling ends are sealed with wax. The science was that wax melts at 58 degrees, so, any fire would cause enough heat to melt the wax thus allowing the water to flow. It hasn’t been used till date but the twenty overhead water tanks are always primed with water.
-The creative architecture outside and inside the lodge is marvellous. The walls are made of teak wood from Burma. The ceilings of the private rooms are made of walnut tree wood brought from Kashmir.
– The furniture is more than 130 years old but thankfully still well maintained. The viceroy’s chair is kept on display. It is made of Burman teak wood. FYI – Beginning with Lord Dufferin, Lord Mountbatten was the last viceroy to occupy the lodge before the Presidents of India began using the place as a summer retreat.
-The 135-year-old pendulum Dutch wall clock brought from Holland not only displays the time but also shows the degree of the moon. The clock is wound once a week.
-High up on the walls are depressions of the weapons that used to be on display. Currently, the weaponry has been transferred elsewhere as the place is currently used by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS). I imagined how it looked back then with the real ammunition hung up merely to show power.
-The huge ballroom and dining room have been transformed into a library for the scholars. We weren’t allowed to enter this area as it was in use but you can assess the magnitude of it from its enormous glass entrance.
-On display, in the main hall and some rooms, are old articles and photographs dating back to the times when the British ruled India. It was interesting to read some of the memos from those times. There are also photographs of important leaders standing outside the lodge.
The downside to this visit was that we were not allowed to visit the higher floors or get into the library. As we were also not allowed to click photographs (or even take a phone call in there), I found a website that had a few images of the interiors. Do check it out.
To conclude, I must reiterate that this lodge, which has seen so much for so long, was the best visit in Shimla. Though we didn’t get to explore every part of it, it was unique, huge and still exuded power in some way. So, if you are visiting Shimla, I recommend that visiting this lodge should definitely be on your list.
Have you visited the Viceregal Lodge in Shimla yet? Did you like something there that’s not mentioned here?
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I have never visited Shimla . I haven’t heard of this lodge too . Sounds interesting with historical significance. Thanks for detailed description.
the location sounds good. I’ll kep in mind for my next visit. I visited Shimla long time back, but I want to visit in the winters and enjoy the stay there.
I will add this to my bucket list whenever I will be visiting Shimla. Shimla is a great hill station, the weather is so pleasant there. Great blog.
Looking for a perfect place in highly tourist place is truly a tiring task. Your review has made a plan for me to travel again and gain experience.
The location looks absolutely picturesque. Thanks for sharing about this resort. Been waiting to plan a trip to Shimla.
I’m amazed to know about the Viceregal Lodge in Shimla. My son has studied at Bishop Cotton School. Despite our frequent visits to Shimla, it’s unfortunate that we missed out on visiting and knowing the historical significance and architectural beauty of this lodge. Our bad! Will certainly check it out whenever we visit Shimla next!
I have never been to Shimla even though I have lived my whole life in the North. But I want to visit there once with my family, so whenever we plan to go there, I will not miss this place. Its historical significance, architectural grandeur, and breathtaking views make it a must visit tourist attraction.
Such a nice and detailed review, I a gonna visit Shimla soon for sure and saving this for my reference 🙂
I’m gonna consider your rec when I visit Shimla next.
Visited Shimla a number of times and explored the Viceregal Lodge on my first visit with my parents way back in 2000. The architecture is mind blowing and I have always been a big fan of Victorian interiors. Definitely a must visit!
I have been to Shimla but haven’t heard of this lodge. Sounds interesting with historical significance. Thanks for detailed description.
I visited Shimla as a kid and had never heard about this place then. Your post shows how important it is historically as well as aesthetically. Definitely going to visit it when I plan with my family next time.
Thanks for sharing this post, Cindy. Though I stayed there for almost two years but never knew about this heritage building in Shimla. I would surely visit this building in my next trip.
Huh? Are you serious, Debi?
It’s such an amazing place to visit. It’s actually my first time hearing about this place and must say, I’ve been very much impressed with all the things you’ve written. The way you’ve written mixes personal experience and guide that every tourist would need to want. Appreciate you sharing this! Cheers to more travels!
I had been Simla in 2016 and we stay at Mall road but didn’t visit this place. The structure look so beautiful and you describe how historical things till maintained. I always love to visit such historical place. Whenever I will visit again I will make sure to check the place.
The photos look awesome. Such a lovely building. I am drawn to old places and find such peace in them. Haven’t gone to Shilma, though we did Kulu & Manali.
I looked up the pics on the Travelling Camera site. The place has such an old-world charm to it. Interesting that it includes rainwater harvesting which is often considered a fairly new concept, considering the building is 140 years old. I am surely going to check it out next time I visit Shimla. Thanks for sharing about it, Cindy.
I have never been to Shimla but a handful of friends and family have been to the place. That said, I had never heard of Viceregal Lodge until today. Maybe, as you mentioned, not many who pose as tourists are aware of it. I am definitely adding this to my bucket list because being a history buff, I’m fascinated by the significance of the place. It is sad that we cannot take pictures, but that is also good in a way to maintain the sanctity. Lovely photograph of you in a summer dress! 🙂
Thank you, Shalini!
Strange but true but I haven’t been to Shimla yet. Thanks for sharing such in-depth info about the Viceregal Lodge. I smiled at your comparison with Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. I have been there and have fond memories. But Shimla is now on my bucket list.
Ya I was in total awe (like with my mouth dropped open) when I saw the Sagrada. Viceregal Lodge is awesome, too.
I have been to Shimla a lot of times but I have not visited Viceregal Lodge yet. I saw the photos you linked and it looks really beautiful. Reminds me of the old days.
Let me begin by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed the read and appreciate the trivia research you’ve done about the solitary edifice that commands an entire hill in Shimla – the Viceregal Lodge. It is truly resplendent in its isolation. Today, this majestic structure has found new purpose, serving as the esteemed hub for the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS). One can only marvel at the foresightedness of our then President when he handed over the Lodge to the Ministry of Education. What stayed in my mind are the panoramic views that one gets to see from Viceregal. Reading your detailed post rakes up pleasant memories of that beautiful day I spent at the Lodge on my last visit to Shimla.:)
That’s awesome, Dipali!
The viceregal lodge seems to be great from a tourist point of you. I think the write-up is so detailed when you speak about the magnificence of the place and the walnut tree wood for the furniture.
Your beautiful write-up captures the essence of this picturesque location. I have been to Shimla multiple times and visited this lodge, I can confidently say that it was the most remarkable experience in the city. Despite being unable to explore every corner, the lodge’s distinctive character, vastness, and a lingering sense of power left an indelible impression.
Nicely summarized, Anjali!
The way you have described it assures that it’s a must visit place, will surely keep in mind whenever we travel.
Heard alot about Shimla and definitely what I heard proves right tru your post, this lools so lovely. Its like India has so much related to history. Beautiful pics and nice dress 😉
Thank you, Flavia. Yes, India has a lot to be seen!
I have visited Shimla many years ago and had a great time. your post has reminded me that time. will keep this suggestion in mind, if get a chance to visit Shimla again in future.
I miss you. I still remember those days which I spend with you holding the hands of my love. If I am not too wrong it was in the month of February when I visited you to spend some cozy and romantic days with my husband. Yes, I was a newly wedded one that time and everything was just full of love when I looked around roaming near the Christ Church area. I was very scared about riding a horse and my husband wish to reach the lover’s point riding one as walking to reach the top was something bit difficult to think for us the non hilly people. There was no option and I just hold the breath and with the help of the horse rider I somehow sat on the horse and it started action. OMG …. I shouted loud and then the rider became angry with me. Looking at my husband’s face I felt bad and like a good wife I kept mum till i reached the top. Thanks dear Shimla you are the one who helped me to overcome the phobia of horse riding… and see now I can ride one happily. In short my love Shimla I wish to revisit you after reading the travelogue of my friend Cindy and this time with my baby. My love for you and Cindy…. stay blessed. As mentioned by Cindy VICEREGAL LODGE is an attraction worth visiting in Shimla.
I haven’t visited Shimla but whenever I do I will make sure that I visit Viceregal Lodge. It looks majestic n grand. I had no idea that the place holds a historical significance n that the papers for the partition of India was signed there… not that I’d like to remember it because of that.
The weather in hill stations is really unpredictable and u are lucky that you could go around in a dress for a whole day.
I don’t know if the papers were signed there, but they were definitely prepared there according to the guide at the lodge.
What a lovely write up describing a beautiful place. I’d visited Shimla eons ago when I was a teen and have pics agaist the backdrop of the Visceral Lodge akin to urs. Not sure if i remember the details of the lodge from within, but your post surely refreshed my memory of Shimla again. Will hopefull travel there again with my kids and hubby soon.
I feel so bad that having visited Shimla, even though that was very long back, I was not even aware of the existence of this palatial and historically important monument – the vice-regal lodge. At least i got to know about it through this post!
On my first (and last) visit to Simla, I heard about the grandeur of Viceregal Lodge. My visit was short and planned, so couldn’t afford to see the building. Hopefully, my next Simla plan will include this magnificence.
I have been to Shimla many times, but not visited the Vicergal Lodge. If I ever go again, I will surely visit this. Shimla being the summer capital of the British has so much history and now that I am slowly gaining confidence of my photography, I would love to do more shoots. Even the exterior of this historic monument would be fun toshoot.