Lovingly restored between 2004 and 2009 and hoping for Unesco status, this remarkable 320-seater theatre opened in 1877, originally as part of a bigger grandiose civic centre. It's long been a focus of Shimla social life, and Rudyard Kipling, Baden-Powell, Shashi Kapoor and Michael Palin are among those who have trodden its Burmese teak boards. Entry is fee and a guide will explain the history behind this Shimla icon.
Swathed by cedar, rhododendron, fir and Himalayan oak trees, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh is one of the most popular hill stations of India. Basking in the grandeur of the British era with obvious influences in its architecture, Shimla charmed the British colonisers of the 19th century so much that they elevated the small township into the summer capital of an empire sprawling the sub-continent.
In its heyday Shimla attracted princes, merchants, diplomats and political leaders from Afghanistan, Tibet, China, Myanmar and other countries. Several heritage buildings in the city are witness to historical moments that have shaped the history of south Asia.
Leaders of the freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, C. Rajagopalachari and others frequently visited Shimla in their struggle to gain independence from British rule. Hard contested deliberations over the partition of India and Pakistan at Viceregal Lodge, now the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, between the resident Viceroy and leaders of the freedom struggle finally won the country its Independence on 15th August, 1947.
An engineering marvel, the Kalka-Shimla railway line with 102 tunnels constructed between 1898 to 1903 has been recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage mountain railway site. The Ridge and The Mall are still popular landmarks just as they were in the pre-Independence era. The imperial Viceregal Lodge, the graceful Christ Church, Gaiety Theatre, Gorton Castle, Barnes Court and several buildings are part of the colonial architectural heritage of the town.
Please be aware that everything closes down in Shimla on a Monday - however, all sightseeing spots and museums remain open at the weekend.