During the freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi made several visits to Shimla. He met viceroy on various issues and participated in various meetings in Shimla.
Gandhiji’s Shimla connection during 1921-1946 is now being forgotten; he visited the summer capital 10 times during this period; amazingly, three times in 1931 in May July and August.
Followings are his visits to Shimla:
1. Accompanied by Madan Mohan Malaviya and Lala Lajpat Rai, Mahatma Gandhi first reached Shimla May 12, 1921, to meet the then viceroy, Lord Reading. He stayed at Shanti Kutir in Summer Hill, Shimla. It is currently used as a residential complex. He gave a speech to the people in the Id–Gaha Maidan.
2. During his second visit in May, 1931, Mahatma Gandhi has a meeting with Lord Willingdon (1931-1936) in Shimla on violation of peace-related acts between Indian freedom fighters and the British government. He visited the residence of James Crerar May 13, 1931, to meet the then home secretary, H.W. Emerson. Ava Lodge, as the place is known, is currently in the possession of the Himachal Pradesh University. During that visit, he stayed in Firgrove, the bungalow of Lala Mohanlal in the Jakhu area. This bungalow is currently occupied by a New Delhi resident and known as ‘Firgrove Bhawan‘.
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3. On July 15, 1931, he again came here to meet the then viceroy, Lord Willington, at the Viceregal Lodge that now houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in an area of 123 acres. He again stayed in Firgrove.
4. Accompanied by Vallabhbhai Patel, Prabhashankar Pattani, M.A. Ansari, and Jawaharlal Nehru, Bapu reached Shimla Aug 25, 1931, to meet Emerson. They stayed at Carton Grove, near the Vidhan Sabha. This building was destroyed in a fire but subsequently reconstructed. Mahatma Gandhi had a discussion with viceroy Lord Willingdon and George Suster in relation to salt law.
5. From Sep 4 to 5, 1939, Bapu visited Manorville, the residence of Rajkumari Amrit Kaur at Summer Hill. There he spent most of his time reciting bhajans.
6. Again he visited Shimla on September 26, 1939.
7. Mahatma Gandhi visited Shimla on June 28, 1940, to talk with the then British viceroy Lord Linlithgow (1936-1944) in the context of the Second World War and our nation’s favor in that.
8. In this visit of Mahatma Gandhi spanning September 27-30, 1940 to Shimla, he informed the viceroy that the war is being forced on the Indian masses. In this visit, Mahatma Gandhi stayed with the eldest brother of Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Raja Raghubir Singh, at the Chadwick bungalow. The bungalow belonged to the erstwhile Maharaja of Kapurthala. The monitoring cell of All-India Radio also functioned from there.
9. During this visit from June 13, 1945, to July 17, 1945, Mahatma Gandhi participated in the conference convened by Lord Wavell (1944-1947), then viceroy of India, at Shimla to reconstruct the governor- general’s executive council pending the preparation of a new constitution (Wavell plan).
10. During May 2-14, 1946 Mahatma Gandhi participated in the Cabinet Mission in Shimla and discussed on Cripps mission also.
Other important Information:
On 26th April 1930 Vithal Bhai Patel, who was the president of the legislative assembly, resigned from the post at Shimla on 27 April he was arrested while he was addressing a large gathering at “Edward Gunj”.
Bal Bharat Sabha:
- Bal Bharat Sabha was modeled on the Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha, which had been founded by Bhagat Singh in 1928.
- A sood trader named Dina Nath is popularly known as “Andhi” because during his interrogation by police he gave his name as “Andhi Son of Gandhi” was a recruit to Bal Bharat Sabha.
Read also: Shri Dina Nath ‘Aandhi’
Shimla was the headquarters of the exiled Burma government from 1942 to 1945.
In 1945 Lord Wavell convened the “Shimla conference”, Mahatma Gandhi declined to participate in but promised to be in Shimla during the course of the proceeding of it.
In 1946 historical meetings of cabinet mission took place here. During this meeting, it was decided that country would be partitioned, and a boundary commission was appointed with Sir Cyril Redcliff chairman of two commissions for Bengal and Punjab.
In 1971 Shimla was made venue of the “India-Pakistan Summit” after 1971 war.
Formal and informal meetings were held between the two delegations at the Ellerslie (secretariat) and Barness court (Himachal Bhawan) respectively.
Read also: History of District Shimla
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