Shimla: Not many people might be aware that this town, the erstwhile summer capital of British India, had witnessed the trial of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathu Ram Godse.
The trial was carried out from 1948-49 in the British-era Peterhoff building. At that time, it housed the Punjab High Court and this town was part of the united Punjab, historians say.
The Father of the Nation was shot dead from close range by Godse, a Hindu nationalist, while he was proceeding for a prayer meeting at Birla House Jan 30, 1948.
Home to seven viceroys during the British Raj, the Peterhoff has a glorious past. Located in the heart of the city, it is now a state-run guest house-cum-hotel. It has 34 suites.
The building stands on the charred remains of another building that was gutted in a massive fire Jan 12, 1981.
It was first occupied in 1876 by the viceroy couple, the Lyttons. It soon developed a reputation for its hospitality, particularly for the quality and quantity of exotic drinks served there.
After independence, Peterhoff housed the Punjab High Court when it witnessed the trial of Godse. The case was finally decided June 21, 1949, against Godse.
Later, the building was turned into the governor’s residence.
During a fire in 1981, then governor Aminuddin Ahmed Khan had a narrow escape from the flaming building. He lost all his belongings and was left with only the clothes he was wearing.
After the fire, Barnes Court was made the governor’s residence and continues to be so.
Peterhoff was rebuilt in 1992-93 and converted into a state-run guest house-cum-hotel.
Shimla has 91 British-era heritage buildings in typical Tudor style – all wooden frames and shingled eaves.