Holiday in Shimla April 2017

Picture above is a view along the ridge towards Christchurch just above the Mall and Gaiety Theater to the right.

Shimla was the summer capital of the British in India. Every year around March or April they would pack home and office and transfer to Shimla to escape the summer heat in Calcutta, returning in about October. The English in Shimla were more English than the English in England. In their determination to maintain standards and to recreate life at home the built English houses with English gardens, furnished them as they would at home. They dressed for Dinner, in fact they dressed or costumed for every event of the day, changing costume four or five times a day was common.
They promenaded on the Mall, called on each other with all the polite formality, they gossiped and followed the intrigue, manipulated and vied for social position.
They built a theatre where they put on elaborate productions and in private homes or at the Viceregal Lodge they performed tableaus. In a tableau they would pick an event in history, maybe the signing of a treaty or surrender. They would take great care over the costumes, furniture and scenery and they would pose the event, no movement or script. Everyone would discuss and admire it and after a while they would go back to the drinks party and the serious business of manipulation, competing for social position etc.

Below View from scandal point looking towards the main post and telegraph building painted red and white on the right and Mall Road going down to the left..


Chapslee is one of the oldest houses in Shimla and was been built between 1828 and 1835. It was built by Doctor Blake, a surgeon working with the British East India Company.
Lord Auckland, Governor General of the East India Company Territories, was living at Auckland House which is just behind Chapslee. He decided Auckland house was too small so he bought Chapslee in 1836 and used it as accommodation and offices for his private & Military Secretaries and renamed it ‘Secretary’s Lodge’. A number of notable historic events were initiated from Secretaries Lodge including the ‘Simla Manifesto’, declaring the first war with Afghanistan, was prepared and issued from ‘Secretary’s Lodge’.
The Estate now has a school on it. The house is now owned by Kanwar Ratanjit Singh and his family. He is the grandson of Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala and he runs the place as an exclusive heritage hotel and home.

Below is picture across Shimla from Combermere hotel roof. The arrow indicates our hotel The Oberoi Cecil.

Our Hotel The Cecil Oberoi.

One of the old buildings in Shimla, now restored and fitted out and furnished to the highest standards. Operated by Oberoi as a Heritage hotel. This is undoubtedly the best hotel we have stayed in and it will be a long time before we find one to beat it. See the Cecil Oberoi Video.

Go to Cecil Oberoi Video


Bantony Castle and Bantony Cottage. Bantony Castle was the summer palace of the Maharaja of Sirmaur an enthusiastic Anglophile who admired the British social scene in Shimla. The cottage was rented by the British and used as accomodation for visiting senior army officers. Sirmaur is the most south-eastern district of Himachal Pradesh

Wildflower Hall.

Wildflower Hall was the residence of Lord Kitchener and later of Lord Ripon during the British Raj. It is the Oberoi Hotel Group's extravagant, very extravagant bid to revive the viceregal good life among the pines and cedars of Mashobra, right down to china-and-linen picnics in the hills and cream teas on the lawn. Poised on a spur with wraparound views of the Himalayas that will impress even the most blasé global traveller.

We visited Wildflower Hall and it is a fabulous hotel but 23 kms from the town of Shimla which is about 90 minutes driving.

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