Gorton Castle, Shimla, India

Gorton Castle, Shimla, originally designed by Col. Sir S. Swinton Jacob, modified by Major H. F. Chesney. 1901-04. Built of stone set in lime, with red galvanized iron roofing, and located on the The Mall in Shimla. Photographs, captions and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite the Victorian Web in a print document.

Left: Main entrance. Right: Detail from side, showing Rajasthani-style balconies and pointed tower

Jacob, who drew up the original plan for this building, had the reputation of being "the best professional architect in India" (Lord Curzon's words, qtd. in Kanwar 308). So it was natural for him to be chosen to design what was then intended to be the new Government Secretariat in Simla. Jacob's plan was just to Curzon's liking, and ideally suited to the commanding, airy hilltop plot which had originally been donated to the government for a hospital. Although the plan had to be modified later by the Resident Engineer, Major Chesney, the prominent four-storey structure still looked much as both Jacob and Curzon had intended. Pamela Kanwar describes it well as "a picturesque, multi-faceted building." As she says, "The entrance has a chalet-like appearance with a large portico with a decorative frieze. Its sides have prominent bay windows. Its solid grey stone walls are surmounted by square as well as high-pitched pointed towers" (308, 309). Red galvanized iron roofing is common to many other buildings in Shimla, but in this case it adds to a fairytale feel; seen from a distance, its red towers stand out brightly amid the surrounding deodar trees. The building, which was faithfully restored in 2001-3, was then used as the office of the Accountant General of Himachal Pradesh, but a devastating fire in 2014 has meant that it now has to undergo an even more radical restoration.


Ellinwood, Dewitt C. Between Two Worlds: A Rajput Officer in the Indian Army, 1905-21. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2005.

Heritage Board outside the Castle.

Kanwar, Pamela. Imperial Simla: The Political Culture of the Raj. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed. 2003.

Last modified 21 April 2016