Viceregal Lodge in Shimla, once a summer residence of the viceroys of India, had been the venue for many important decisions that changed the fate of the sub-continent. The majestic grey stone building had also remained the hub of negotiations between the British government and nationalist leaders in the pre-Independence days.
A photo gallery set up at the Viceregal Lodge, now housing the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS) was thrown open by acclaimed poet, lyricist and film director Gulzar on Monday.
The gallery relives the rich history of the Viceregal Lodge which had remained witness to several historic moments that signalled the end of the British rule in India. The gallery that has over 300 collections of photographs of the British era had been created by noted photographer Aditya Arya.
The gallery has over 300 exhibits that relive Shimla's past, including negotiations between the leaders of the Indian freedom movement and the British government.
Noted curator from Wiltshire (UK), Dr Kate Fielden, provided the pictures of the Viceregal Lodge dating back to the time of Viceroy Lansdowne (1888-1894). Rare photographs provided by Prof Michael Discrall, vice-chancellor of Middlesex University are also displayed among the exhibits.
Janet Sexton, grand niece of Margret Meikel who was nurse to Lady Reading also donated some of the rare photographs of for the exhibits.
Former public relations officer of IIAS, Ashok Sharma, had pitched in to collect photographs from the various other sources, both national and international.
The photo gallery has a wide range of pre-Independence era photographs that had been clicked by noted photographer Kulwant Rai, particularly when nationalist leaders gathered for the historic Shimla conference.
After the end of the second World War II in May 1945, the British government had invited nationalist leaders and representatives of various political groups in the country for negotiations on new constitutional arrangements.
The talks were held at the Viceregal Lodge on June 25, 1945 under then governor general Achibald Wavewell. Though Mahatma Gandhi did not participate in the talks, he remained present in Shimla for informal discussions. Also, there are iconic pictures of Mohammad Ali Jinnah with Jawahar Lal Nehru. There is one rare picture where Mahtama Gandhi has been surrounded by a battery of journalists at the entrance gate of Viceregal Lodge.
The photographs of the first Indian governor general, C Rajagopalchari, Nehru riding a horse, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad with frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Mater Tara Singh. Besides, there are scores of the pictures of Cabinet mission held in Shimla to chalk out modalities of transferring powers to the Indian leadership.