Shimla, India

Shimla, formerly Simla, was the summer capital of the British Raj in India. Set in the Himalayas at 7,000 feet, the city has pleasant summers and cold, snowy winters.

The General Post Office (GPO), the oldest post office in Northern India, was built in 1882 on the site of a tailor’s shop known as the Conny Lodge, and hence was known for a time as the Conny Cottage. Before rail or road links existed with Shimla, mail was sent via a “dak gari” from Ambala to Kalka. It was further transported by postal employees using horses, ponies and even elephants.

The city is famed for its architecture from the colonial era. One writer notes, “Shimla became a place of eccentric grandeur. The General Post Office is mock-Tudor with Gothic twiddles. Gorton Castle, built by a British official, is dour Scottish baronial enlivened by Saracenic arches. The Town Hall looks ramblingly medieval. The effect is of a film set where the director is unsure whether his subject is Merrie England, Brigadoon or Arabian Nights.”

The color scheme of the GPO for many years was green and white, but this was recently changed to red and white, which has not pleased the locals.

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