(Last Updated on : 13/12/2011)
Shimla is a gorgeous and stunning hill station in the state of Himachal Pradesh
, India. It is also popularly know as "Queen of Hills". Shimla, originally spelt as Simla
, was chief town during the British rule in India. Thus, the art and architecture of Shimla is mainly influenced by the British rule. The main attractions of Shimla are the grand buildings constructed during the British rule and wooden handicrafts.
During British rule, Shimla used to be the summer capital of the Viceroy, where they, along with other administrative member used to spend summers in Shimla. Right from May to July, Shimla used to hubbub with administrative actions, and families of the office members used to accompany them to spend a lovely summer. This is mainly the reason why Shimla has homes, building, lodges and churches that has the taste of typical British Architecture. The architecture of Shimla is known as colonial architecture, where the families used to spend lot of time in hill station. The entire infrastructure of Shimla is based on the lifestyle and needs to British. The architecture of Shimla can be analyzed with the help of a few iconic structures of the town.
Among all the hill stations that are developed by British government, Shimla happened to be most beautiful and majestic and quite like the "jewel in the crown" of the Raj. It became the summer capital of the Imperial Government in the year 1963, and construction of railways happened in the year 1903. The entire lay out of the city was carefully determined by topographical conditions and was mainly developed on the top of ridge running in the east-west direction. The main area which was extensively used was the pedestrian mall atop the highest contour which was the main spot of rendezvous for Englishmen. And it was where the main offices, shops, churches, theatres and clubs were built. Parts of Southern Shimla were used as residential area and called "Chhota Shimla". The "native-quarters", grain markets and bazaars were built just below the exclusive mall road. The ridge is mainly dominated by the Christ Church, a Gothic structure with stained and buttress windows. It is made of stone and is plastered from outside; its tall spires become visible over the skyline of the city. Another colonial structure adjoining the church is the Municipal Library. This is a quaint structure with timber framed (dhajji-wall) construction with pitched roof. The framing is well decorated which is reminiscent more of English cottage, than of public building which it actually is. Another fantastic structure situated on the Mall is Town Hall, built in "Barog Stone". The roof of the structure is made of grey slates and the doors, windows and cornices are aesthetically drawn. The Mall, which is located at the heart of Shimla, is a place where people visit to spend some quite time, free from the fear of being run over by vehicles, and has a typical personality of its own. The Mall bears the symbol of quintessential spirit of the colonial city. The heights of the shops along the mall are uniformly double storey, with gabled roofs in wooden frame construction. This style of architecture imparts a rhythmic and harmonic character, which is punctuated by melange of palpable crowds. Apart from these significant buildings of the British period, there are many colonial structures as well like Gorton Castle, Ravenswood, and the Viceregal Lodge. The burrows of ramshackle structures in the lower markets, woven together with flights of steps and narrow lanes, have a personality of their own.
Post ndependent phase has been rather melancholy. With unplanned physical growth, increase of physical activity and exodus of population from village regions added to it the tourist pressure have actually ruptured the soft relationship of habitat and art in these small, finite township.