SIMLA AND THE PUNJAB
At Delhi the railway forks. One branch runs on to the frontier of Afghanistan via Lahore and Peshawur, and the other via Umballa, an important military post, to Simla, the summer capital and sanitarium of India. Because of the climate there must be two capitals. From October to April the viceroy occupies the government house at Calcutta with the civil and military authorities around him, but as soon as the summer heat sets in the whole administration, civil, military and judicial, removes to Simla, and everybody follows, foreign consuls, bankers, merchants, lawyers, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, hotel and boardinghouse keepers, with their servants, coachmen and horses. The commander-in-chief of the army, the adjutant general and all the heads of the other departments with their clerks take their books and records along with them. The winter population of Simla is about 15,000; the summer population reaches 30,000. The exodus lasts about a month, during which time every railway train going north is crowded and every extra car that can be spared is borrowed from the other railways. The last of October the migration is reversed and everybody returns to Calcutta. This has been going on for nearly fifty years. The journey to Umballa is made by rail and thence by "dak-gherries," a sort of covered democrat wagon, "mailtongas," a species of cart, bullock carts, army wagons and carriages of every size and description, while the luggage is brought up the hills in various kinds of conveyance, much of it on the heads of coolies, both women and men. The distance, fifty-seven miles by the highway, is all uphill, but can be made by an ordinary team in twelve hours.
Long experience has taught the government officials how to make this removal in a scientific manner, and the records are arranged for easy transportation. The viceroy has his own outfit, and when the word is given the transfer takes place without the slightest difficulty or confusion. A public functionary leaves his papers at his desk, puts on his hat and walks out of his office at Calcutta; three days later he walks into his office at Simla, hangs his hat on a peg behind the door and sits down at his desk with the same papers lying in the same positions before him, and business goes on with the interruption of only three or four days at most. The migration makes no more difference to the administration than the revolutions of the earth. Formerly the various offices were scattered over all parts of Simla, but they have been gradually concentrated in blocks of handsome buildings constructed at a cost of several millions of dollars. The home secretary, the department of public works, the finance and revenue departments, the secretary of agriculture, the postmaster general and the secretary of war, each has quite as good an office for himself and his clerks as he occupies at Calcutta. There is a courthouse, a law library, a theatre and opera house, a number of clubs and churches, for the archbishop and the clergy follow their flocks, and the Calcutta merchants come along with their clerks and merchandise to supply the wants of their customers. It is a remarkable migration of a great government.
Although absolutely necessary for their health, and that of their families, it is rather expensive for government employes, or civil servants, as they are called in India, to keep up two establishments, one in Simla and one in Calcutta. But they get the benefit of the stimulating atmosphere of the hills and escape the perpetual Turkish bath that is called summer in Calcutta. Many of the higher officials, merchants, bankers, society people and others have bungalows at Simla furnished like our summer cottages at home. They extend over a long ridge, with beautiful grounds around them. It is fully six miles from one end of the town to the other, and the principal street is more than five miles long. The houses are built upon terraces up and down the slope, with one of the most beautiful panoramas of mountain scenery that can be imagined spread out before them. Deep valleys, rocky ravines and gorges break the mountainsides, which are clothed with forests of oak and other beautiful trees, while the background is a crescent of snowy peaks rising range above range against the azure sky. Many people live in tents, particularly the military families, and make themselves exceedingly comfortable. Simla is quite cold in winter, being 7,084 feet above the sea and situated on the thirty-second parallel of north latitude, about the same as Charleston, S. C., but in summer the climate is very fine.