It is a Raj era relic that the Himachal Pradesh government takes obvious pride in. The Council Chamber, built in 1925 and which now houses the state legislative assembly, has got a major makeover ahead of the budget session, which started off on Monday.

The British era building was refurbished by painting its exteriors and interiors, polishing furniture and wooden panels and changing draperies and carpets, Vidhan Sabha Secretary Govardhan Singh told IANS.

He said the makeover was done after 23 years. The last time it was spruced up was in 1988 when the entire furniture was replaced and interiors were beautified during the silver jubilee celebrations of the legislative assembly.

The Council Chamber was was one of the last buildings made by the British after Shimla was made their summer capital.

After Independence, the chamber came to house the Central Legislative Assembly, the Punjab Legislative Assembly, the Himachal Pradesh government secretariat, the All India Radio Station and now it houses the state legislative assembly.

“The exteriors and interiors of the building have undergone massive restoration and conservation work, keeping in mind its original architecture. Even refurbishing of the interiors and exteriors was done without disturbing its natural form,” Singh said, adding that “the seats and chairs were stuffed again to provide more comfort to the legislators.”

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who also holds the finance portfolio, would present the budget on March 9.

The assembly has a provision to accommodate 72 legislators though the assembly has 68 members. In 1988, when the shape of the main Hall was changed from rectangular to U-shape, a provision of 72 members was made keeping in view future requirements.

The ‘Queen of Hills’, as Shimla was fondly called by the British, has 91 British era heritage buildings. These include Ellerslie housing the state secretariat, Peterhoff which was completely renovated after being devastated in a fire nearly two decades ago and now serves as the state guest house, United Services Club, Town Hall, Barnes Court housing Raj Bhavan, Viceregal Lodge housing the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies and Gorton Castle.