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Viceregal Lodge (Institute of Advance Studies)

The Viceregal Lodge (Now known as The Institute of Advanced Studies), Obervatory Hill, Shimla, India, by Henry Irwin. Completed 1888; tower height increased later by Lord Curzon. Local grey sandstone and light blue limestone, with iron girders, beams, and trusses. Photograph and caption 2008 by Jacqueline Banerjee.
Viceregal Lodge (Institute of Advanced Studies)

Viceregal lodge Built in 331-acres, levelled for the purpose, this mock-Tudor or baronial-style building is visible from a long distance of hillside, and was intended as a proud symbol of Empire. Inside, the main hall is panelled in teak. The unicorn originally carved over the impressive main fireplace has since been replaced by the Indian wheel of progress. The double-galleried corridor off to the left is lit by mullioned windows and a glass ceiling, and leads to the ballroom, now the library of the Institute of Advanced Studies. On the ground floor were also the dining hall, lounge and drawing room. On the upper floors were the Viceroy's office and rooms. To the right of the main hall is a splendid three-storey high teak staircase, the kind of feature, no doubt, that earned Irwin his eulogy in the Madras Mail, to the effect that his genius was displayed in his interiors (see Kanwar 305). In the morning room and visitors' lounge on this side, finishing touches like a walnut ceiling with a Kashmiri design, lavish wall-coverings (some of which remain more or less intact), an original chandelier and so on, can still be seen. Maple & Co, London, were the western suppliers. A large picture of one of the Vicereines, Lady Elgin, hangs over the fireplace of the visitors' lounge.
For its day, the Lodge had state-of-the-art technology. It had its own steam generator, and was the first building in Shimla to employ electric lighting. Indeed, Lady Dufferin, the first Vicereine in residence, is said to have first used an electric light switch here. The original light panel is still in place (with an added fusebox). The Lodge also had running hot and cold water, together with a sophisticated system for collecting and storing bath and rainwater, including two tanks under the front lawn.

Speaking generally of Irwin's work, Pamela Kanwar finds that his "lively imagination revelled in utilizing a variety of styles," and appreciates the way he "pampered his buildings with exuberant embellishment and ornamental detailing" — whilst, as an engineer, "incorporated the emergent technology with skill." As for the Lodge itself, she records Irwin's own description of it as "English Renaissance (Elizabethan)" but adds perceptively, "It was perhaps Victorian par excellence" (304-5).

Outside in the landscaped grounds stands a tall tulip tree, a rarity in an area dominated by pines and deodars. It was planted during the stay of the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Viceroy who replaced Dufferin in 1888.

Inside, the main hall is panelled in teak. The unicorn originally carved over the impressive main fireplace has since been replaced by the Indian wheel of progress. The double-galleried corridor off to the left is lit by mullioned windows and a glass ceiling, and leads to the ballroom, now the library of the Institute of Advanced Studies. On the ground floor were also the dining hall, lounge and drawing room. On the upper floors were the Viceroy's office and rooms. To the right of the main hall is a splendid three-storey high teak staircase, the kind of feature, no doubt, that earned Irwin his eulogy in the Madras Mail, to the effect that his genius was displayed in his interiors (see Kanwar 305). In the morning room and visitors' lounge on this side, finishing touches like a walnut ceiling with a Kashmiri design, lavish wall-coverings (some of which remain more or less intact), an original chandelier and so on, can still be seen. Maple & Co, London, were the western suppliers. A large picture of one of the Vicereines, Lady Elgin, hangs over the fireplace of the visitors' lounge.

For its day, the Lodge had state-of-the-art technology. It had its own steam generator, and was the first building in Shimla to employ electric lighting. Indeed, Lady Dufferin, the first Vicereine in residence, is said to have first used an electric light switch here. The original light panel is still in place (with an added fusebox). The Lodge also had running hot and cold water, together with a sophisticated system for collecting and storing bath and rainwater, including two tanks under the front lawn.

Speaking generally of Irwin's work, Pamela Kanwar finds that his "lively imagination revelled in utilizing a variety of styles," and appreciates the way he "pampered his buildings with exuberant embellishment and ornamental detailing" — whilst, as an engineer, "incorporated the emergent technology with skill." As for the Lodge itself, she records Irwin's own description of it as "English Renaissance (Elizabethan)" but adds perceptively, "It was perhaps Victorian par excellence" (304-5).

Outside in the landscaped grounds stands a tall tulip tree, a rarity in an area dominated by pines and deodars. It was planted during the stay of the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Viceroy who replaced Dufferin in 1888.

Located on the Observatory Hill at the western end of the Shimla ridge (4 km), the Viceregal Lodge is a humongous structure ringed by tall pines. It was built in 1888 as the residence of Viceroy Lord Dufferin. It can be reached by taxi or bus within 5 mins.

Located 2 km further west of the Himachal State Museum, it is now called Rashtrapati Niwas. The Lodge houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Study and is the only building in Shimla that occupies a hill by itself. Exploring the whole place will take around 1 hour.

The architecture of the lodge is brilliant. A grand staircase which springs from the right and spirals up three full floors marks the hall. A grand fireplace faces the main entrance. Verandas and terraces surround the entire building at different levels which allures tourists and make the lodge totally immaculate.

 

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