SHIMLA (HIMACHAL PRADESH), Sept 16 - The colonial British rulers during their rule over India set up their summer capital in Shimla (then it was called Simla). A building was built as a home for Lord Dufferin, the 8th Viceroy of India (1884-1888) and was called the Viceregel Lodge. It housed all the subsequent viceroys of India. It occupied the Observatory Hill, one of the seven hills that Shimla is built upon. Now this heritage building houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), a dream of S Radhakrishnan, the second President of India.
The building was designed by Henry Irwing, an architect in the Public Works Department. The Viceregal Lodge had electricity as early as 1888, much before the rest of the town of Shimla. The building was also equipped with a sophisticated firefighting mechanism through wax-tipped water ducts.
The 131-year-old five-storeyed building has 117 rooms and eight halls. Two storeys of the building are in its basement. The outside of the building is made up of stone while the inside of the building is made up of Burmese teak wood.
Many historic decisions were taken in the building during the freedom struggle of our country. The Simla Conference was held here in 1945. The Partition Plan of India was also drafted here in 1947.
The lawn in front of the lodge is above a water tank. All the rainwater from the building goes to this water tank. This rainwater harvesting system goes back to the 18th century when this building was designed by the Scottish architects.
It is the first electrified building in Shimla. This electricity was run by steam engines which were brought from Britain.
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, visionary 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 Chhabra, on the outskirts of Shimla.
As per the decision of Dr S Radhakrishnan, the second President of India, the Indian Institute of Advanced Study was set up in this heritage building on October 6, 1964 by the Ministry of Education, Government of India. The institute was formally inaugurated by Dr S Radhakrishnan on October 20, 1965. Eminent historian, Professor Niharranjan Ray was appointed as the first Director of the Institute.
At present, the institute provides post-doctoral research facilities to the research scholars on Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural and Life Sciences without any guide. The library of the institute has more than two lakh books. Moreover , the institute has over 5000 publications till today.
The Institute is administered by a Society and a Governing Body, the members of which come from varied backgrounds. A statutory Finance Committee advises the Governing Body in financial matters.The director of the institute is assisted by a secretary, a deputy secretary, a public relations officer and other supervisory staff. At present, Professor Markand R Paranjape is the Director of the institute. The institute is run by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India with grants from the Ministry of Finance. The maintenance of this heritage building is done by the Archeological Department of India.
The media delegation from Assam on �Good Will Mission� to Himachal Pradesh visited this heritage building and witnessed the various historic antiques preserved in the building which brought reminiscences of various historic events of pre and post independence era. Moreover , the delegation was highly satisfied to see how the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS) is turning the dream of visionary Dr S Radhakrishnan into a reality.