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Ladakh - Planning The Trip

Over 2000 Km by road, in around 10 days. Stunning landscapes, wonderful people. That sums up our Ladakh trip. But how did it actually work? How did we make it happen? Read on to find out!  Leh, the capital of Ladakh , is accessible by air and road. Flying into Leh is the easiest, and time-saving option, while the road is the time consuming one, but with the added advantage of driving past some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country. Each option has much to recommend it, and we chose the road for just one reason – altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was one of my biggest concerns, since I suffer from motion-sickness. Yes, I do travel a lot, but that is despite my condition, and, over the years, have learnt how to handle it. I struggled with it when we visited Nathu-La in Sikkim, and wondered if I would be able to manage a week at the even higher altitudes that we would encounter in Ladakh. This was the reason we stuck to a basic plan, of only 9 days in Ladakh, though we

Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

This Independence day, let me take you to Shimla, where the Indian Flag flutters over the erstwhile Viceregal Lodge.




Today, this building is home to the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. Before that, it was Rashtrapati Nivas, but it was built to be the home of the Viceroy of India. The name itself is interesting, since it is not a lodge by any standards! Regal, it certainly is, and I don’t think the nomenclature can be attributed to anything but the classic British understatement!



The entrance led us to a path lined by huge stone walls which made us wonder if it was intended to be fortified!




From the outside, it looked like a massive castle, fully made of stone.



On the inside, the delicate woodwork complemented the look, giving us a glimpse into how impressive it must have been, as the residence of the Viceroy.



The structure has an interesting history, being the first permanent residence of the Viceroy, built in 1886. This was the first structure to get electric supply in India, and most interestingly, some of the original electrical fittings still work, after the passage of centuries!!!



This was also where the meetings for the famed Shimla Agreement were held, deciding the fate of India and Pakistan. Many of the memorabilia from the time have been preserved, such as the original table on which the agreement was signed, and old photographs of the meet.



Post-independence, this became the residence of the President of India, to be used during the summer. However, the residence was rarely used, and under Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, it was handed over to the Institute of Advanced Study, to ‘provide an environment suited for academic research’. Part of the building still functions as such, with an impressive library on the ground floor, and rooms for the scholars on the upper floors. Part of it is closed to visitors, while a section is opened to tourists, albeit under the supervision of a guide, to give us a glimpse of its magnificence.



Back on the outside, creepers have crawled up the stone, and provide a splash of colour to the grey of the stone…



The British lion glares down at us from the Royal coat of arms. This is one of the few places it hasn’t been replaced by the Indian symbol – the Ashoka pillar.





On the arch, the building’s name has been replaced, but the names of the architect, Henry Irwin and the executive engineers – F.B. Hebbert and L.M.St.Clair stay on, a reminder of their art.



Information:
  • The Viceregal Lodge is closed to visitors on Mondays. On all other days, there are regular guided tours every hour.
  • There is a caferteria cum shop on the grounds where you can await your turn for the guided tour, and while you are at it, you can stock up on postcards, momentos, or, if you are literally minded, publications of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS)
  • The IIAS website has more details about the building – architectural, historical as well as photographic.




Comments

  1. I don't know how trustworthy those old electrical circuits are ! :) Fascinating to see the old British architecture. It would have been wonderful to wander the library there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Natalie, I was surprised to hear that these were really trustworthy!!! still working after all these years! and in any case, they were special.. apparently, this was the first residential building to get electricity in India! surely they made sure they were given the best! after all, it was for the viceroy!! i would have so loved to get into the library, but its only for the scholars! wish i could go there and study too!

      Delete
  2. excellent blog
    awsm images :)
    keep bloging :)



    www.itarsia.in

    ReplyDelete
  3. It is beautiful .. and the rest of the pics brought so many memories .. of shimla .. it use to the weekend haunt for us when we were in college friday evenings ride to shimla and come back early monday mornings :)

    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Bikram! you were lucky guys indeed to go off on weekends! and that too to Shimla! this was my first visit and i loved the place, though it was crowded. hope to go again sometime when the crowd is less :)

      Delete

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