President’s visit to be a date with Shimla’s rich colonial past

Unlike any previous President's visit to Shimla, Pranab Mukherjee's itinerary is not only a date with Shimla's colonial past, but also a historic moment for the state capital as Mukherjee would inaugurate Tagore Centre.

Mukherjee, during his two-day visit beginning Thursday, will visit Barnes Court (now Raj Bhawan), All India Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIS), Vidhan Sabha and Himachal Pradesh University. He will inaugurate Tagore Centre at IIAS, said IIAS public relations officer Ashok Sharma.

He said that earlier it was scheduled to be inaugurated on November 9 last, as the Government of India as part of the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore had decided to set up Tagore Centre for the Study of Culture and Civilization (TCSSC). However, it was postponed due to the assembly elections.  

The centre has eight rooms, one is dedicated to showcasing the life of the Bengali writer. Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), an example of British architectural excellence, is now an esteemed research institute in Shimla, located in a heritage building that ages back to 1884. It originally built as a house for Lord Dufferin, the then Viceroy of India. 

After India gained independence, the building was renamed Rashtrapati Niwas and was used as a summer retreat for the President of India. However, due to its neglect, Dr S Radhakrishnan decided to turn it into a centre of higher learning.

The summer retreat of the president was shifted from here to a building known as "The Retreat", situated in Chharabra, in the periphery of Shimla. This building was constructed in 1850 as a summer residence of the Viceroys of India when Shimla was the summer capital of the British.

The president will also visit Barnes Court, now the residence of governor Urmila Sing. He will at her residence, now known as the Raj Bhawan, on a dinner hosted in his honour.


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