The Viceregal Lodge, located in Shimla, is one of the heritage buildings in the city. The building is located just 2 km from the Himachal State Museum and Library, on the Observatory Hill of Shimla. Earlier the building with regal colonial architecture and circled by tall pine trees was used as the residence of the Viceroy of India, Lord Duffrin. Constructed in 1888, the building is also known as the Rashtrapati Niwas. Henry Irvin constructed this long-winding Scottish grand house.
Viceregal Lodge is a wonderful building that houses numerous rooms and halls in it. The main entrance of the building is facing towards south, and it houses a reception hall. There is a huge hearth in front of the main entrance. A well-designed gallery adorned with teak paneling is in the middle of the building, and other rooms are set around the gallery. The rooms include a ballroom, drawing room and the dining room. Terraces and verandas encircle the whole building at different levels and the terrace affords a vibrant view of sunset. Upper floors of the building display wonderful views of mountains surrounding the town. It is said that during 1890s, there was an indoor tennis court inside the building and even electric lights were available in the building back then.
The Viceregal Lodge has all basic facilities befitting regality, like massive kitchen, rooms for storing plates, dishes and glasses, laundry room, a huge wine cellar, a separate room for empty luggage and hot and cold-water facility in the bathrooms. Earlier the Nawabs of the state used to have parties in the Viceregal Lodge, which were hosted by the Viceroy.
After India attained sovereignty, the Viceregal Lodge served as the summer retreat of the President of India. But that phase too changed. Later, in the early 60s the then President, S. Radhakrishnan and the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, decided to convert the place to a scholars' haven, where the premium intellectual minds would get the best environment to thrive. As a result, the Indian Institute of Advanced Study was shifted to the lodge, in 1965. After shifting of the institute, some of the interiors of the building were redesigned to house the requirements of the institute. The enormous library of the institute is located in the three old rooms named dining room, drawing room and ballroom. The old office of the viceroy presently serves as the office of the IIAS Director. The old conference hall of the lodge is today in use as a seminar space for research scholars. But though everything has changed, at the same time nothing has changed really. The building still exudes the same regal splendour, the same quaint charm, the same colonial pride, and the same class in this age of mass production and mass culture. Its serene environment refuses to listen to the demands of a hurried time, and refuses to ebb and fade away into history so soon… Visit Viceregal Lodge during your Shimla tours, to get the look and feel of the Shimla of yesterdays.
Last Updated On: 2011/07/07