SHIMLA- MALL ROAD
In the last article, we mentioned how Shimla changed from a small hamlet to a popular town; Let us continue the journey into the past of Shimla.
Now, as ‘Shimla’ was the summer capital of ‘British India’, the building activity also reached its zenith. Some of the finest buildings of colonial architecture were built in Shimla during this time and those structures still exist on its seven hills. Shimla had municipal governance from very early since 1851. A lot of other facilities were also introduced, such as- from 1880s piped water supply was available in Shimla, hydro-electric power was available in the early 20th century.
Nobel laureate, Gurudev Rabindernath Tagore also came to Shimla in 1893 and stayed in the ‘Wood field’ building, where he wrote some of his finest literary pieces. A great engineering feat- the Kalka-Shimla railway line was completed in 1903 and in 1922 Shimla got its one of the world’s earliest automatic telephone exchange system. Since British made Shimla its summer capital, they ushered in all possible modern facilities of those times to Shimla.
Shimla was very popular amongst the national leaders also. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad and many other National Leaders often visited this place. Some of the most important historic decisions were finalized in Shimla. The most important being-“Partition of India” and carving of independent state of Pakistan in 1947, “The Shimla Agreement” signed by India and Pakistan on 3rd July, 1972.The agreement declared “to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations.”
Shimla served as the state capital of Punjab from 1947 to 1956. In 1966, Shimla was finally transferred to the state of Himachal Pradesh, to become its state capital.
A VIEW OF MALL ROAD OF SHIMLA
Shimla, the queen of hills is one of the most important hill stations of India. It is still prominent among all the hill stations, largely due to the fact that Shimla has a very long and interesting history. The town was liked very much by the British during their rule, in fact, Shimla was discovered and further developed by the British. Shimla was perfect for the British to escape the heat of Indian plains during summers because of its cool climate, the place later became a favorite destination for them . The British colonial architecture of old buildings is a reminiscent of that era.
Present day Shimla was initially a very small village known by various names as- Shimlu, Shemlah, semla, Shumla. Its being came into notice in 1815-16 when ‘Gurkha Wars’ came to an end and the British decided to keep it as a military outpost and sanitarium. Its existence is also connected to the name of Goddess Kali, who is worshipped with high reverence by the people living in the hills.
Charles Prat Kennedy, the newly appointed political officer to the hill states was the first to build ‘Kennedy House’ his residence in 1822. After him many political leaders built their houses in Shimla as Lord Anherst in 1827, then the ‘Commander-in-Chief’ Lord Combermere and others. The Governor General Lord Bentinck acquired the areas from the States of Patiala and Keonthal, who were given the land for their services in fight against the Gurkhas.
In 1864, Shimla was made the summer capital of ‘British Empire’ in India, which it continued to do so for a very long period of time even after India’s independence. Shimla, being the summer capital, the Government of free India used to spend more time in its hills than in the real capital of India. Such a vast country like India, which extended up to Aden in the west and Myanmar in the east, was ruled from these heights.
To be continued……………..