Rothney Castle

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Rothney Castle interior, May 2006. Photo by Michael Gomes.

Rothney Castle was the home of A. O. Hume, located on Jakko Hill in Simla, India. H. P. Blavatsky, H. S. Olcott, and A. P. Sinnett visited there frequently.

Rothney Castle

According to Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett:

Rothney Castle, AOH's large home on Jakko Hill in Simla. Reputed to have cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars to build in 1880. His large bird museum as connected with it. It was the frequent practice of Britishers in India to give their homes names, often after some mansion in England. According to a large map of Simla made in the 1870's most of the houses there had personal names.[1]

Mr. Hume was a Secretary to the Government of India when he purchased the property. His lavish expenditures in expanding the castle may have been intended to make it attractive for the government to purchase as a residence for the Viceroy:

He added enormous reception rooms suitable for large dinner parties and balls, as well as a magnificent conservatory and spacious hall on the walls of which he displayed his superb collection of Indian horns. He engaged the services of an European gardener, and with his aid he made the grounds and conservatory a perpetual horticultural exhibition, to which he courteously admitted all visitors.

But, possibly because ‘Rothney Castle’ can only be reached by a troublesome climb, any anticipations which Mr. Hume may have formed of the purchase of the building by Government were not realized, and Mr. Hume himself made little use of the larger rooms otherwise except that he converted one of them into a museum for his wonderful collection of birds, and for occasional dances.[2]

Rothney Castle was the site where Madame Blavatsky performed several phenomena. Upon Hume's request, she located a lost brooch that was buried under a bush, and a teacup that was needed for a picnic. The brooch incident was described in Mahatma Letter Number 5.

Road to Rothney Castle


  1. George E. Linton and Virginia Hanson, eds., Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 242.
  2. Edward J. Buck. Simla, Past and Present. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink, 1904, pp. 116-122. An excerpt, "Madame Blavatsky in Simla," is available at Blavatsky Study Center website.
Jakko Hill, May 2006. Photo by Michael Gomes.