Saturday, June 21, 2008

Indian Institute Of Advance Studies, Shimla

Welcome to The Indian Institute Of Advance Studies, Shimla!

The building was completed in 1888 to serve as the Vicaregal lodge. The whole Indian subcontinent was ruled from the Summer Capital of Shimla, from this building in fact. The basic plan of this building was conceived by the Ninth Viceroy, The Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, with the sanction of Lord Randolph Churchil. The Principal Architect was Henry Irwin of PWD. Grey limestone was quarried from a site five miles away and transported on mules to create this huge edifice in a mock-Tudor or Scottish baronial style much favoured by Victorian Britain. It was the first Government Building to have electricity, also European style kitchen and laundries housed in their own five-storey wing.

The surrounding lawns, gardens and terraces, which form part of the 331 acres were expanded during the Viceroyalty of The Marquess Of Lansdowne (1888-1894). Successive Viceroyalties continued to alter and add but the main building never lost its Victorian character. Lord Irwin added the Main Entry in 1927. A staff of 800 including 40 gardeners were employed here at that time. Mainly used for entertainment of the Viceroy’s guests.

The Lodge witnessed many historical events as well. In the struggle of Independence and the negotiations that led to the partition, crucial meetings with Mahatma Gandhi, Jawarharlal Nehru and Mohammed Jinna took place here.

After Independence in 1947, the building became part of the estate of the President Of India and was renamed Rashtrapati Nivas. It was our second President, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan himself, an eminent scholar who was instrumental in establishing here the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in 1965 as a residential centre for research in the humanities and the Social Sciences. It has one of the best libraries in the country, with books in Philosophy and Religion and other subjects, which are ancient texts as well. The woodwork in the building, was all done with red wood brought from Burma. This 120 years old building is in the hands of ASI and needs lots of repairing and renovation which may cost the Govt of India, huge sums of money. Hence, the work is slow. In my opinion, having seen the structure and majesty with which it still stands, it is a world heritage building. Thankfully, at least the genius of British Rail, the passage from Kalka to Summer Hill, through 102 tunnels in the hills, has been given World Heritage status. may the same follow with IIAS.

Forget Me Not

The Route that the Toy Train takes - Kalka-Shimla-Kalka has been given World Heritage Status!

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