A century-old Grand Hotel was destroyed in a massive fire that broke out late on Monday night in Himachal Pradesh’s Shimla. Three floors of the recently-renovated Mayo Block was gutted in the fire, which broke out at the heritage Grand Hotel’s reception at about 12:30am. The fire was extinguished at around 3am on Tuesday morning. “The fire incident was first noticed by the constables on night duty and they immediately reported it the fire department, There was no staff in the building when the fire broke,” Sources said. Fire tenders were rushed to the spot from the Mall Road, Chotta Shimla and Boileauganj fire stations 15 minutes later. The Grand Hotel is 250 metres from Scandal Point of the main Mall Road near the historic Kali Bari temple.
The fire tenders had difficulty in reaching the building because of narrow roads and the low water pressure in their hydrants added to the problem. The police are also probing the cause of fire at the building, which houses many central government offices and is managed by the Central Public Works Department. The Mayo Block was a VVIP wing of the hotel and was recently renovated and lavishly furnished. It is usually fully occupied on weekends but as the building was under renovation, there were no guests in the wing.
The Grand Hotel was the first hotel to be built in Shimla after Chevalier Federico Peliti, confectioner to the viceroy, acquired the property in 1892 for Rs 2 lakh. In 1922, three buildings of the hotel were entirely destroyed but rebuilt in stages at around 1930. They, however, were accounted for in government books in 1942. Since then the Union ministry of urban development has the administrative control of the heritage hotel.
The Grand Hotel was the most sought after holiday home till the 1960s but gradually lost its charm due to the shortage of water. The Union ministry of urban development drew plans for its restoration and refurbishing by using in-house expertise in 2000 to its past glory.