Clarkes Hotel is a grand heritage property and one of Shimla's oldest hotels. The story of Clarkes Hotel dates back to the 1920s, when Mr. Ernest Clarke was Manager of the then Cecil Hotel. Both Mr. Clarke and his wife Gertrude had a keen eye for talent and took a great liking to the honesty and hard work of young Mohan Singh Oberoi, the front desk clerk at that time, who later became the sole owner of the property when the Clarkes returned to England. He changed the name to Clarkes Hotel in honour of the former owners.
Nowadays, Clarkes Hotel resembles a grand colonial bungalow, with all the elegance and grace of the British Imperial era. The 32 rooms and suites are tastefully appointed and offer spectacular views of the mountains around Shimla. The pillarless dining room was built during the times of the British Raj and the bar dates back to the late 18th century.
Reputed to be the second oldest church in India, Christ Church in Shimla is the most prominent building on the Mall Road due to its charming yellow facade. Christ Church was designed by Colonel J.T. Boileau in 1844. The clock dates back to 1860. Christ Church is a lovely place to visit on any day of the week, but especially for the English language Mass held here every Sunday.
Opened in 1887, Gaiety Theatre was designed by Henry Irwin, who also built the Viceregal Lodge in Shimla. Gaiety Theatre was a popular entertainment spot for members of the British administration during the times of the Raj. Nowadays, schools in Shimla use the space for performing arts. It also hosts visiting theatre groups. It has a hall for art exhibitions, an art gallery, a modern multi-purpose hall and a restored gothic theatre that can seat up to 320 people.
Scandal Point in Shimla derives its name from a story about the flirtatious Maharaja of Patiala. Rumour has it that the Maharaja was besotted with the daughter of the Viceroy of India, and one day back in 1892, while she was taking a stroll through this area, she disappeared. It was later discovered that she had eloped with the Maharaja. This caused great scandal not only in Shimla, but across India and throughout the British administration. The Maharaja was banned from ever entering Shimla again and from then onwards the place came to be known as the Scandal Point of Shimla.
The red brick Telegraph Office, designed by the Scottish architect Scott Begg in 1922, is a pleasing sight on the Mall Road. It is home to one of the world's first automatic telephone exchanges, with a capacity for 2,000 lines. Back in the 1930s, the exchange was connected to England and the then Viceroy was the first person to speak down the line. Nowadays, the Telegraph Office is owned by the Indian telecommunications provider, BSNL. It remains one of the most photographed buildings in Shimla.
The Railway Board Building
Dating back to 1897, the Railway Board is a smart, turreted building with a fire-resistant cast-iron and steel structure. The building has four floors above road level and climbing down the hill, it has three basements. Today, it houses central government and police offices.
Kalibari is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Shimla. It was built in 1845 to honour the Goddess Kali, also known as Shyamala, from which the name Shimla is derived. Kalibari temple is a popular tourist stop and place for Hindu pilgrimage.
Colonel Sir S. Swinton Jacob, reputedly the best architect in India during British colonial times, designed Gorton Castle with a fairytale ambience. It has a chalet-like appearance, with a large portico, prominent bay windows, grey stone walls and pointed, red towers that stand out brightly against the trees on the hilltop. Gorton Castle is approximately 400 feet long, 100 feet wide and 110 feet at its highest point.
The State Museum of Shimla is housed in an original Victorian mansion house. Perched on a hilltop, it commands spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Formerly the private residence of the Military Secretary to the Viceroy, the building was inaugurated as the State Museum in 1974. Nowadays, it houses a large collection of artworks, sculptures, coins, handicrafts and photographs from across the State of Himachal Pradesh and India.
During the times of the British Raj, Peterhoff housed at least seven Viceroys and Governor Generals. After independence, the building served as the Punjab High Court. Most famously, it was here that the trial of Nathu Ram Godsey, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, took place in 1948-49. Peterhoff was destroyed by a fire in 1981. It was restructured in 1991 and is now a luxury heritage hotel.
The Viceregal Lodge
Viceregal Lodge, or Rashtrapati Niwas, the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, was originally the residence of Lord Dufferin, Viceroy of India (1884–1888). It sits upon Observatory Hill, one of the seven hills that Shimla spans. The Viceregal Lodge was notable for having had electricity as early as 1888, much before the rest of Shimla. It also boasted some of the first boilers, which enabled it to have central heating and running hot and cold water in the bathrooms. Many momentous decisions were made in this building, including the move to carve Pakistan from India in 1947.
During colonial times, Annandale was known as the playground of the British. It hosted fairs, cricket matches, polo and horse races. Nowadays, a golf course and a helipad occupy the position of the former racecourse. Annandale is also home to the noteworthy Army Heritage Museum, which is home to arms, weapons, uniforms, flags, awards, honours and much more. Situated amongst beautiful, fragrant deodar trees, Annandale offers wonderful views across the Himalayas and Shimla valley.
Situated close to Annandale, the Glen is a U-shaped valley that can be easily reached by car or on foot from the Mall Road in Shimla (just four kilometres away). The Glen boasts serene picnic spots situated amidst rhododendron bushes and cedar trees. It has a beautiful stream and a waterfall, for picture-perfect memories.