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Shimla

From stately Windsor Castle where the "Widow of Windsor" reigned in lonely, isolated splendour after the death of her beloved consort, Prince Albert, to the small, but ancient temple surrounded by thick woods where the himalayan Goddess, Shamla, a synonym of Kali, reigned her celestial realm on earth is indeed, distant cry, but for well over a century, the two places, almost inter-linked, ruled the destiny of this sub-continent. In the year 1818, when Queen Victoria's uncle, William IV, was King of England, Lord William Bentick, the Governer General, had transformed the Company's dominion in India to the Dominion of India, and it was accurate to speak of Britain's Indian Empire. The frontier ran from bengal to Kathiawar, to the north it ran through the Thar desert and along the Sutlej nearly to the Himalayan range. The great hills were the northern boundary except for the Gurkha state of Nepal. Beyond this line lay the Punjab, Kashmir and the kingdom of Afghanistan. In 1814, the Nepalese king brought.

about the first war with Nepal over Sikkim, the Gurkhas had marched into Sikkim, whose ruler appealed, to the East India Company for help. the Sikkim ruler was installed and his territorial status was guaranteed but during the conflict the British discovered the beauties od Darjeeling and accidentally also the thickly wooded spot, abode of the goddess Shamla, and a part of the Kingdom of Nepal. When war broke afresh in 1819, the British took the place with its cool and healthy climate. Here was installed a village of tents, where the heat-weary British civil and military officers came to rest in the arduous process of empire building. Here they recouped from fatigue and went anew into battle. The year 1822 was an eventful one in the history of the salubrious spot a young officer, Major Kennedy, built the first permanent residence for himself it is still there. Hillsmen continued to worship the wooden image of the goddess, never dreaming what lay in store for them or their unpretentious little village. Worshippers of Shakti, they built small temples dotting the hill sides, peaks, ridges and valleys, which began to be known by the name of the goddess herself, like Taradevi, Sipur, Mahasu, etc. In due course the image was removed and enshrined in a wooden structure where is the present site of the kalibari. Later, a marble image from Jaipur replaced the old. Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 but for the Sikhs, who were to last another ten years, dominion was complete. The court etiquette was very rigid and proper under the stiff rules imposed by the young queen. young officers who did not behave were banished to India form where they invariably found their way to Shimla which had begun to thrive. banished from the strict life, at court, they began to built themselves a substitute life, but without the attendant rigid impositions against revelry. LIfe begun to a gay round of sport, riding and long picnics, the hung, followed by a gay party and impromptu dance. The goings on, were kept from the queen but more girls began to be interested in taking the boat to India.

Air: The Jubbarhatti airport is 23-km from Shimla and major domestic airlines cater their services from here to Shimla. One can catch direct flights from Delhi.

Rail: Shimla has a narrow gauge railway line on which toy train runs from Kalka to Shimla. The train cruises its way through valleys and beautiful landscapes at a very slow pace making the journey very pleasant. From Kalka one can take trains to other parts of the country. The Toy train from Shimla is of two types - one is the normal multi coach train and the other is the single car train, which has a glass roof giving an enthralling experience during the journey.

Road: Roads connect the capital city of Himachal with other places in the state as well as other major towns and cities. There is regular bus service from Delhi and Chandigarh as well as ordinary; semi deluxe, deluxe and AC coaches for Shimla are available too. One can also cross over to Leh and Ladakh via Rohtang pass from here.

 

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