Historic Bantony Castle to be converted into museum.
The Himachal Pradesh government has decided to convert Bantony Castle, a private heritage building in Shimla town, into a city museum. The state language, art and culture department issued a notification to acquire Bantony Estate near Scandal Point on Shimla’s famous Ridge.punjab Updated: Nov 24, 2013 18:37 IST
The Himachal Pradesh government has decided to convert Bantony Castle, a private heritage building in Shimla town, into a city museum.
The state language, art and culture department issued a notification to acquire Bantony Estate near Scandal Point on Shimla’s famous Ridge.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh headed cabinet in a meeting held on July 5 had accorded approval to acquire Bantony Castle, which had remained the summer palace of Maharaja of Sirmaur.
The coat-of-arms of the maharaja can still be seen in the cast-iron railing in front of the house.
Before its construction in 1880, the place had a cottage belonging to Captain A Gordon, which housed some army officers.
The building, which is at an advanced stage of decay, had also remained the headquarters of the state police since 1957. However, it was later vacated after a court order.
An official of the department of language, art and culture said the government had initiated the process of acquisition under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
Earlier, a London-based businessman along with a local partner had moved an application for converting the heritage structure of the 19th century into a high-end spa during the regime of the Prem Kumar Dhumal-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
The government first attempted to acquire this property in 1968, then from 1975 to 83 and a third attempt was made from 1986 to 96.
One of the owners of the historic castle, Vishwanath Sood, 72, said, “The government should pay us according to the market rate, if the government is so keen to possess it. If the government adopts a proper way to acquire the castle as per the law, we have no problem. Otherwise, we have full right to challenge it.”
Like many buildings in Shimla, Bantony’s architectural style is somewhat eclectic — part mock-Tudor, part chalet and crowned with sloping roofs with mini-towers. Architect TEG Cooper is said to have designed it.
The official said the government has also proposed to acquire Dicksy Estate and a private hotel in Chhota Shimla.