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CASTLE HILL, an 182acre estate in Mussoorie, a hill city in the Himalayas, which was the summer residence for a short period of Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last Sikh sovereign of the Punjab who after the annexation of his dominions was exiled by the British to Fatehgarh, in present day Uttar Pradesh. The entrance to the estate, in Landour Bazaar, is a fortress like construction, with battlements for guards, an iron gateway and a reception room for visitors. The estate, originally known as Woodcraft and Greenmount, was the property of one` G.B. Taylor before it was purchased by the government in 1853 for Maharaja Duleep Singh.

It came to be known as Castle Hill from Duleep Singh`s occupation of the `castle` on the top of the hill as his residence.As Duleep Singh arrived at the estate in the summer of 1852, he was, besides the train of servants, accompanied by his guardians, Dr and Mrs Login, the former officially designated as superintendent and agent to His Highness, his tutor, Walter Guise, and his nephew, Shahzada Sahdev Singh, son of Maharaja Sher Singh and his Rajput queen, Rani Dakno. The Maharaja received here lessons in music and drawing and enjoyed outdoor activities such as cricket, hunting and hawking.

He learnt especially to play the flute and raised a small band which performed at the Mall, in the city, in the evenings. He practised painting under the tutelage of the city`s artist George Beechey. The summer of 1853 was again spent at Castle Hill, this time Prince Sahdev Singh`s mother, Rani Dakno, also joining the party. In April 1854, Duleep Singh left for England never to return to live in India again. The estate now is the property of the Union government and houses the offices of the Survey of India. Wm.S.

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