Shimla has more history than one can imagine. Apart from important buildings like Gorton’s Castle, Viceroy’s Lodge, Railway Board Building, Town Hall etc. which have all been converted into Government offices and institutes there are lot more that lay hidden. We only have to dig deeper.
The Freemsons building just near the Ritz Cinema was built in 1909. I stayed at YMCA on my visit to Shimla and everyday I looked out of the window to the Red roof with pointed spire like a Church. I presumed it to be an old Church. On the last day I met a Freemasons who had come from Chandigarh to attend one of their routine meetings. It was he who apprised me about the society and the building in particular.
At Gaiety theatre I met a local gentleman who knew so much about the place. Of all the things he said I was most intrigued by the ‘Northbank’ house. It is the name given to the house Rudyard Kipling owned before selling it to another British. Few years later he too left Shimla leaving the property to a local businessman. It is believed that Rudyard Kipling conceived and wrote the popular ‘Jungle Book’ while he was living at Northbank. I was also told that not long ago some relatives of Rudyard Kipling visited Shimla and retrieved an old piano that belonged to the writer. I tried to trace down the building but most locals haven’t even heard about it.
There are many old buildings in Shimla that reminded us of the past. Some buildings are too crumbled to even live in but they are charming in their own way. Will there be anything to remind us of the past when they fall to the tide of time?
The Himachal govt. to great extend is trying hard to preserver the legacy of the British Raj. Apart from beautiful landscapes, it is what draws tourists to Shimla. The old charming buildings from another era lend distinct characteristic to the town. Recently more than 5 crore Rs were spent on renovating the Town Hall which was built in 1908. It is still preserved in its original form. For now the legacy lives on.