With all its intricacies, history seems to have been the mortar for every brick and stone that has built Shimla. As the summer capital of British India for well over a century it was the seat of one of the most powerful governments in the world. From its cedar-shaded heights, one fifth of the human race was ruled and the decisions made those decades ago affect our lives to the present day.
The town of Shimla rose in the nineteenth century when the Gurkha Wars came to an end in 1815-16 and the victorious British decided to retain certain pockets as military outposts and sanitaria. In 1822 the most rigorous of dandies and the greatest of sticklers for form Captain Charles Pratt Kennedy, Political Agent to the Hill States directed that a house be built for him at the village whose name is variously reported as Sheyamalaya Shumlah, Shimlu and Shemlah. Kennedy House led the vanguard of the hundred-odd houses that were to scatter themselves by 1841 over every level or gently inclining space. Lured by the climate and terrain scores of European invalids began moving to the station and the only stipulation of the local chief who owned the land was that no tree be cut or cattle slaughtered.
In 1864 the Viceroy, John Lawrence anointed Shimla – then spelt Simla, as the summer capital of British India.