Simla  -   The Summer Capital of British India

Simla - The Summer Capital of British India

Product ID: 30347

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Author: Raaja Bhasin
Translator(s)/ Editors(s): MM Kaye
Publisher: Rupa
Year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 458
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788129117687


‘As the summer capital of the Raj, Simla came to be known as “the workshop of the Empire.” An awed visitor wrote, “Every pigeonhole contains a potential revolution, every office box cradles an embryo of a war or death…” The heady mixture of hill air, political power and social snobbery held an irresistible allure. Ambitious careerists, calculating matrons with daughters to marry off, enigmatic adventuresses, bored young wives, and dashing roués flocked here.

Often with disastrous result. In a letter home, a correspondent lamented “ the pure atmosphere and foul rumours ruined prospects, guilty passions, frivolity, intrigue… jealousy, madness… remorse unmitigated…”Husbands went into debt to send their families to summer in Simla. A breath of scandal scented these holiday sojourns-a consequence of a social climate which thrived on pleasure seeking and gossip…’

Back the Book

This is an extraordinary book that traces the extraordinary history of an extraordinary place. Exhaustively researched, insightful and accurate, the story of Simla is told with verve and accomplishment. From a nondescript village in the early nineteenth century Simla (now spelt Shimla), grew to become ‘the summer capital of British India’. From this town in the Lower Himalaya, a fifth of the human race found governance for a century.

Simla may have been called the ‘summer capital’, but for all practical purposes this was the ‘real’ capital of India as the Government of India stayed there for the better part of every year moving down to Kolkata (Calcutta) and later New Delhi only for the winter months. In this brilliant recreation of those years of Splendour and the process of change, a window is opened to a way of life and an age that has now vanished.


‘A brilliant book’.
--- Peter Hopkirk

‘The standard history of Shimla.’
--- Stephen McClarence in the Times

‘Full of interest: local history with world significance.’
--- Robin Blake in The Independent on Sunday

“The best Modern book on Simla’.
--- William Dalrymple


List of Illustration s
Preface to the First Edition
Preface to this Edition

1. Mud, Muskets and ‘The Best Part of India’
2. The Early Years
3. The Eye of the Storm
4. Into the Clouds
5. Rudyard Kipling’s Simla
6. Under Curzon’s Long Shadow
7. Wheels and Big Wheels
8. Atop the Pedestal: Government, Monkeys and People
9. Actors and Curtain-calls
10. On the Roads and by the Wayside
11. The Close of the Season
12. After the Raj

Appendix I – Chronology
Appendix II – Glossary
Select Bibliography