ALPINE HERITAGE INN, SHIMLA
Restored and modified, this is a colonial bungalow that has a considerable measure of the character that marked Shimla's architecture. Period furniture and artifacts have been tastefully blended with modern facilities.
With the comfortable elegance of an English country manor, Chapslee was originally built in 1835. With major refurbishing done at the turn of the century, Chapslee has a magnificent interior with priceless artifacts. Ornate brass beds, Belgian chandeliers, drapes from the Doge's palace in Venice, delft tiled fireplaces and exquisite rugs, all combine to evoke the heyday of another age. Even the Burma teak used in the paneling, belongs to the same shipment that was used for the interior of the Viceregal Lodge at Shimla. In time, Chapslee became the property of Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala, whose descendants now run it as a select hotel.
MADAN KUNJ, SHIMLA
Once called Khud Cottage, this colonial cottage in western Shimla, has a flavour of the past. During World War II, when Burma was under Japanese occupation, this was the summer residence of the Governor of Burma.
THE OBEROI CLARKES, SHIMLA
Towards the eastern end of Shimla's Mall, where the row of shops ends, is the Clarkes. Its neat Tudor- framed structure with window boxes, started life in the early part of the 20th century as the Carlton. In the 1920s, the hotel was taken over by Ernest Clarke and named after him. While over the years, major modifications have gone into the structure, it retains the character and warmth of an English country inn.
WOODVILLE PALACE HOTEL, SHIMLA
Backed by a hillside covered with trees of tall Himalayan cedar - the fabled 'deodar' - Woodville is a stately art-deco mansion. From 1865 to 1881, the site held the residence of the British Commander-in-Chief of the Indian army. In 1938, Raja Sir Bhagat Chandra of Jubbal, had the old house removed and in its place, the present structure was created by a body of Pathan and Chinese workmen. The terraced lawns and a facade bearded with trimmed Virginia vines, is complemented by an evocative interior - complete with select objets d' art, hunting trophies and even signed photographs of Hollywood's 'golden age' stars.
HOTEL SPRINGFIELD, SHIMLA
Towards Shimla's eastern section called 'Chhotta' - small - Shimla, is this refurbished bungalow. With an excellent view of the peak of 'Choor Chandni' - that poetically translates as 'the mountain of the silver bangle', Springfield was the residence of the former chiefs of Sheikupura.
THE CECIL, SHIMLA
In the last quarter of the 19th century, at the site of the Cecil - towards the western stretch of Shimla's elegant Mall - stood the small 'Tendril Cottage'. Its most famous occupant for a 'season' in 1885, was the writer Rudyard Kipling. The estate went on to provide the location of the Cecil - which since its creation in 1902, has been a major focus of Shimla's social life. As a guest clerk, it was here that the well-known hotelier, M.S. Oberoi started his remarkable career. The hotel which has hosted variety of dignitaries over the years, has recently been exhaustively renovated. Warm woodwork is set-off by elegant furniture and furnishings. There is a full range of suites, rooms and facilities that are comparable with the best in the world. The hotel has the coveted classification of 'Heritage Grand'.
PALACE HOTEL, CHAIL, SOLAN
The little 'hill station' of Chail came into being when Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala was banished from Shimla, the 'summer capital' of British India, after a dalliance with the Commander-in-Chief's daughter in the late 19th century. Facing Shimla-at Chail-the smarting Maharaja decided to build his own 'summer capital'. A splendid mansion surrounded by picturesque cottages, soon took shape. Chail is encircled by forests of 'deodar'—Himalayan cedar-trees and has splendid views on all sides. In 1972, the property set in about 75 acres of land—including orchards, tennis courts and cottages—passed into the hands of Himachal Tourism, and is now run as a popular Heritage Hotel and a full-fleged destination resort.
FORT RESORT, NALAGARH, SOLAN
Strategically placed at the foothills of the Himalayas, Nalagarh was the capital of the state of Hindur. This area witnessed some fierce fighting during the 'Gurkha Wars' in the first quarter of the 19th century. Spread over considerable acreage, the fort and the palace of Nalagarh have a series of structures that are mostly built in the Mughal style of architecture. These have been exhaustively renovated and are now a quality heritage resort.
HOTEL ROS COMMON AND THE HOTEL ALASIA, KASAULI, SOLAN
The small town of Kasauli has an enormous amount of 'character'. Attractive cottages with gables set in neat gardens, narrow cobbled paths shaded by oak. pine and massive horse- chestnut trees, make it picture-perfect. In this quaint town, are two properties that hold considerable measure of what is nostalgically called 'old world charm'. Himachal Tourism's Hotel Ros Common is a modified bungalow, while the Alasia dates back several decades as a hotel.
RAJMAHAL PALACE HOTEL, MANDI
A manor built in the colonial style-and still owned by the former ruling house of Mandi the hotel lies partially concealed from view by other buildings. With corridors lined with arms and portraits, its interior echoes another age. Striking pieces of ornate furniture appear at every turn and fill every nook and corner of the palace.
HOTEL CASTLE, NAGGAR, KULLU
With hewn stone neatly packed in a horizontal mesh of timber sleepers, this medieval castle was built by Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu around 1460. Perched high on a cliff, this was the stronghold of the rulers of Kullu for over two centuries till they moved down the valley. The hotel overlooks the Kullu valley and apart from the spectacular view and superb locale, this has the flavour of authentic western Himalayan architecture.
TARAGARH PALACE HOTEL, TARAGARH, PALAMPUR, KANGRA
Low rolling hills criss-crossed by narrow fast-flowing streams, scores of tiny hamlets, lush tea gardens and paddy fields - with the backdrop of the majestic Dhauladhar mountains - all combine to make Kangra one of Himachal's most beautiful tracts. Here, built in 1931, by the 27 year old ruler of Bahawalpur, Nawab Sadiq Mohammed Khan Bahadur is Al Hilal-'the Land of the Crescent Moon'. Now called Taragarh after Maharani Tara Devi, of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, who became its subsequent owner, this is a splendid art-deco mansion set amidst large grounds. Memorabilia of past adorns its elegantly appointed rooms while the grounds host a 'jungle camp'.
HOTEL MOUNTVIEW, HOTEL GEETANJALI, HOTEL GRANDVIEW, HOTEL AROMA'N' CLAIRE AND SILVERTON, DALHOUSIE, CHAMBA
The town of Dalhousie swings around the hills like a figure of eight. Along its roads and paths are a variety of trees — pine, oak and rhododendron. And nestling among them, are examples of fine colonial architecture. Having become popular in the 'second string' of hill stations that the British built in the 19th century, Dalhousie is still a popular holiday destination. Hotel Geetanjali is run by Himachal Tourism, while Mountview, Grandview, Silverton and the Aroma'n' Claire are in the private sector. All date back several years and have a long tradition of hospitality. Built in 1939, Silverton is a modified bungalow in the heritage tradition, and is run as an exclusive guest house.
CLOUD'S END VILLA, DHARAMSALA, KANGRA
Placed in the upper reaches of the town - and with a spectacular view that encompasses the hills and allows an unimpaired look towards the plains, this is an attractive villa. With gracious hospitality, this is run by the erstwhile ruling house of Kangra. The grounds have a 'Shikar Camp'.
THE JUDGE'S COURT, PRAGPUR, KANGRA
The little village of Pragpur in Kangra's sylvan tracts, has an endearing beauty. Narrow cobbled lanes flow past old houses, and flowering Bougainvillaea drape their colours over pipul and banyan trees. And to the north, the snow clad Dhauladhar ranges frame this picture of pastoral beauty. Completed in 1918, the Judge's Court stands in a large orchard and here, the area's rural life goes easily by. Built in the 'haveli' style, but with a largely European floor plan, the house has been meticulously restored. Just a stone's throw away, is the 300 year old ancestral home that also offers the Court's hospitality.
OTHER HERITAGE PROPERTIES:
ARKI FORT, ARKI, SOLAN
Once the capital of the princely state of Baghal, Arki has witnessed a good measure of turbulence in this area. Arki became the stronghold of an invading force of Gurkhas during the 'Gurkha Wars' that came to an end in 1815-16. About 1850, Raja Kishen Chand had the fort decorated with fine murals executed in the Pahari style. Here is a place packed with history and adomed with fine art.
DAOJIDHAAR, MASHOBRA, SHIMLA
Quite different from the other heritage places, this is a rural Himachali house that has been modified to accommodate a more modern lifestyle. This is set in a large acreage, surrounded by forests - and has a stunning view of the valleys and mountains.
SUJANPUR FORT, DISTRICT HAMIRPUR AND THE LAMBAGRAON PALACE, DISTRICT KANGRA
Close to the district border of Kangra, is the fort of Sujanpur. Popularly known alongwith its twin title 'Tira', this was built by Raja Abhaya Chand of Kangra in 1758. In the early nineteenth century this was the home of the famous Raja Sansar Chand - renownded patron of the Kangra school of miniature paintings. The fort has a Barahdari Hall', where Sansar Chand used to hold court, some shrines and excellent wall paintings. With the rise of British power in the area, Lambagraon (Lambagaon) became the 'Jagir' village of the Kangra family. By the waters of the Beas, this has a charming setting and the river stretch offers good fishing.
KUTHAR FORT, KUTHAR, DISTRICT SOLAN
Within a short driving distance of both Arki and Subathu - and barely an hour away from the Jubbarhatti (Shimla) airport - is the fort of Kuthar. Its oldest sections are 800 years old while the most recent structures are barely eight decades old. This is spread over a large area and fresh-water springs flow within its confines. Close-by are several scenic attractions like Kunihar, the Gurkha fort of Subathu and the hill station of Kasauli.
THE HOLME, SHIMLA
Perhaps a place with greater 'heritage' than many there, situated, at Summerhill in Shimla. This colonial bungalow was the one-time residence of the celebrated artist Amrita Sher-Gill where she painted.
A HERITAGE MISCELLANY
Shimla, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh has some of the world's finest examples of British-colonial architecture. There is the English renaissance-inspired grey-stone former Viceregal Lodge (now the Indian Institute of Advanced study), the neo-Gothic structures of the Gaiety Theatre and the former Imperial Civil Secretariat (now the Accountant General's Office), The Tudor-framed 'Barnes Court' (now the Raj Bhavan), the Vidhan Sabha and the Secretariat of the Government of Himachal Pradesh. Colonial buildings can be found elsewhere in the state, especially in the 'hill stations' of Kasauli and Dalhousie.
In addition, there are forts, palaces, temples, monasteries and residences that follow a much older tradition, to be found all over the state. The thousand year old Buddhist monastery of Tabo in Spiti with its fine wall-paintings and stucco statues has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The village of Pragpur with its age-old and well preserved architecture and cobbled streets has been declared a 'Heritage village'. Many of Himachal's forts, palaces and residences are privately owned, and naturally, the discretion of their use rests with their owners. Yet, we are proud to have them as a part of our rich heritage. Some remarkable places within or easily accessible from the main holiday stations are - Padam Palace, Rampur, The Palace Sarahan, Jandrighat Dalhousie, The Palace, Jubbal. The Palace, Sunni. The Palace, Nahan. Many traditional farmhouses all over Himachal, are also making accommodation available on their premises. These will provide visitors an insight into local lifestyles, cuisine and culture.