The table that saw Partition
The carved table crafted from walnut wood is displayed in one of the rooms, which has a photo gallery displaying pre-independence pictures in general and that of Simla pact in particular.india Updated: Aug 14, 2017 15:27 IST
The Viceregal Lodge that has stood a mute witness to history since the late 19th century, houses a table on which papers for Partition were prepared.
The carved table crafted from walnut wood is displayed in one of the rooms, which has a photo gallery displaying pre-independence pictures in general and that of Simla pact in particular. “Not much is known about the table, but it is believed that papers for India-Pakistan partition were prepared on it during the Simla conference in 1945,” Prem Chand, officiating secretary of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, told HT.
“This building is rich in history. We never knew that the foundation of India and Pakistan table was laid on this table,” marvels Rajat Sambhial, a tourist from Rajasthan.
A galaxy of leaders, including Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Maulana Azad, Liaqat Ali Khan and Master Tara Singh had attended the conference. There is a dedicated photo gallery on the Simla Conference that was called by Lord Wavell to find out ways to carve out Pakistan after Mohmmad Ali Jinnah insisted on it. Mahatama Gandhi was also in Simla but he did not attend the meeting. Later, it was in May 1947 that Lord Mountbatten discussed the plan for Partition on the same table.
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Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who headed the commission, was given two months to chalk out the boundary between India and Pakistan. In Simla, Radcliffe was optimistic that all the differences would be resolved at the final meeting. But the four members of the Radcliffe Commission, who included two Muslims, a Hindu and a Sikh, disagreed so much that he took it upon himself to do the needful. The ballroom, which hosted the Simla conference, has now been converted into a library.
History of Viceregal Lodge
The Viceregal Lodge is a building from where the British ruled South Asia during the summer months. Located on the Observatory Hill, one of the seven hills of Shimla, it is just a kilometre’s drive from the old bus stand in Shimla. The Jacobethan style building was commissioned as a residence for Lord Dufferin, the then Viceroy of India (1884-1888).
It came to be known as the Rashtrapati Niwas after it began to be used as a summer retreat by the President of India. In the early 1960s, President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan decided to make it a scholars’ abode. Consequently, the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS) moved into the lodge in 1965. The drawing room, ballroom and dining room were converted into a library, while the Viceroy’s office became the IIAS director’s office and the conference hall was turned into a seminar room for research scholars.
First Published: Aug 14, 2017 15:17 IST