Hill stations were a distinct feature of colonial urban development. They were set up and developed to fulfil the needs of the British army. Shimla was founded during the course of the Gurkha War (1815-16); the British developed Mount Abu during the Anglo-Maratha War of 1818 and Darjeeling was seized from the rulers of Sikkim in 1835. Following were the distinctive features of Hill Stations:
• They were strategic places for billeting troops, guarding frontiers and launching campaigns against enemy rulers.
• The British associated hot weather with the epidemics, such as Malaria and cholera. Thus, the cool and temperate climate of the Indian hills protected the army from these diseases.
• Hill stations were developed as sanitariums; i.e., places where soldiers could be sent for rest and recovery from illnesses.
• They became an attractive destination for the British rulers. In 1864, John Lawrence, the then Viceroy of India officially moved his council to Simla. It also became the official residence of the commander-in-chief of the Indian army.
• The British made hill stations as a recreation that was similar to their home. The buildings were built in European style. Villas and cottages were set in the middle of gardens. Institutions of education and church were constructed to represent British ideals. Theatre, picnics and tea parties became recreational activities.
• The tea and coffee plantations made hill stations an important part of the colonial economy.
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