Harcourt Butler Sr. Secondary School, Delhi and its annual summer migration to Shimla during the Raj!!

 Have you ever  heard of a senior  secondary school in Delhi migrating to the hill resort of Shimla (HM) during  the Summer season almost every year in the colonial days? Does  it not sound too much cozy for the students and the teaching staff, regardless of cost involved?   Harcourt Butler Senior Secondary School of Delhi did empty the school  and move  over to Shimla during the hot, boiling summer months.  You may say the school administration followed the  annual summer migration to the cool hill station, a tradition set president  by the colonial rulers to escape from the scratching sun in the plains. 

Harcourt Butler Senior Secondary School,Delhi. dmission24.com

After the discovery of serene and cool hill resorts by the British explorers during the early colonial rule and later under the Raj, there was a tradition to temporarily  shift the government offices with the entire or part of the paraphernalia to the a comfortable hill resort during the summer. This was done by the British to escape from  tropical summer heat and dust. Hankering for cooler  climes on a hill resort  meant  they could relax on the week ends and enjoy pursuits  such as  exploring the near-by wooded areas, riding, racing, playing golf, cricket  and croquet,  under  cool and congenial climatic condition. These  Imperial British Bobs, sitting atop the hill stations, controlled one-fifth of the humanity. No doubt Shimla became their favorite idyll, particularly for Lord Curzon who established one of the the highest Golf-Courses in the world at Naldehra in the Himalayan foot hills.  

Shimla in Winter, Himachal Pradesh. indiatoday.in

When in 1864 Shimla officially became the Summer capital, the annual mass migration of the British higher-ups - viceroys, military attach├ęs, roughly 5000 imperial clerks, staff, etc., for decades was a routine one.  Neither a holiday jaunt nor a fun-loving trip, it was a sort of mini-exodus back and forth covering 1200 miles  one way. Simply a bone-breaking journey as they had to depend on horses, bulls, etc., to carry baggage, etc., uphill.  Years later  it became easier  with the advent of motor vehicles and the railways.  

The Madras Presidency government years later followed suit after the discovery of Ooty (Udhagamandalam) on the Nilgris hills of Tamil Nadu by  the then Coimbatore collector John Sullivan (1819) under the EIC. In the 1880s (under the Crown administration) to avoid hot and sultry conditions on the plains, the higher-ups from Madras stayed as long as 8 months on the cool serene Nilgris hill using some pretext.

Coming back to the Harcourt Butler Senior Secondary School on  Mandir Marg (earlier known as Reading Road), it was  among the Delhi schools that used to shift to Shimla during the summer season. However, this practice was  given up in 1839 on account of  the Second World War in which again the Indian soldiers had to fight along with the British army.  Britain later after the war faced economic downturn.  

 The school, that completed 100 years on December 16, 2017  used to shift to Shimla, now the capital of Himachal Pradesh,  in April and returned after six months in October.

During the  greatest ''Circus Show'' on earth called Delhi Durbar, a sort of ''Imperial Extravaganza'', (rich and cultured  Indians rulers were made  to prostrate before the king and queen) on 12 December 1911, George V, the then ruling Emperor of India, along with Queen Mary, announced that the capital of India would be shifted from Kolkata to Delhi. Along with the announcement, the foundation stone for Coronation Park, Kingsway Camp, was also laid. Following day Delhi became the capital of Imperial India.

After  the Raj had shifted the capital to New Delhi in 1911 from Kolkata, the practice of moving schools began.   Several schools came up in the vicinity of newly inaugurated capital at Raisina Hills to meet the  educational needs of children of government employees who had migrated here with the regime. Many of these schools also  migrated to the hill resort  during the summer months. They operated mainly from Shimla and their buildings in Delhi  served as  branches.

Harcourt Butler Senior Secondary School,Delhi.facebook.com

Harcourt Butler Senior Secondary School, Shimla

Above image he building in Shimla from where the school was run during summers. (Photo: Sourced)

Location of delhi, Kolkata and Delhi commons.wikimedia.org/

Then  the matriculation exam was conducted by the University of Panjab, Lahore (now in Pakistan).  For Harcourt Butler Senior Secondary School of Delhi, every year in April it was a daunting task to move over to Shimla with their  paraphernalia - a weird exodus bordering on anarchy. Later the British India  government faced financial drain due to WWII and the migration stopped in 1939.

First set up by  a Bengali society on a rocky edge of the central ridge, Shimla,  initially it was called a Bengali Boys' School. The British India not only took control of the school, but also provided funds to keep the school running. 

The credit goes to  Sir Spencer Harcourt Butler  who served as governor of the United Provinces (covering the present Uttar Pradesh).  The existing structure of Harcourt Butler School came up in 1917 through the efforts of Harcourt Butler  who was a member for education in the Viceroy’s Executive Council in India and played a  major role in the construction of many schools in the city.

At present Kendriya Vidyalaya is being is run on the premises of erstwhile Harcourt Butler School building at Jakhoo Hill (known for its Hanuman Temple) in Shimla.  Students from other areas have to climb about 1000 feet up hill. The School is a two-story structure built in English architecture - in mini-Tudor style with  high ceiling and gables and projected balconies. There is a bridge across the nallah connecting the old structure with new additions made in th 1960s.