Thursday, October 22, 2009

The last day in Shimla

As a journey comes to an end theres always a hurry to fly back to ones nest, afterall home is where the world is, nothing can take the place of our comfort zone, our home, our space, where everything gives us a sense of belonging, right from the bent in the street to the gate that welcomes us with open arms :) But there was something that was still waiting for me in Shimla, it knew that I couldn't leave the royal destination without getting a royal touch together we made our way to the famous museum and the Viceroys palace, popularly known as the Viceregal Lodge.

Queen Victoria

"The Viceroys palace used to serve as the capital for the Viceroy in summers during the British Era. After independence, the Lodge remained the summer retreat of the President of India. In the early 60s the President of India, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, a leading philosopher and writer, and the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru decided to make it a scholars’ den where the best minds would find an ideal retreat. That’s when the Indian Institute of Advanced Study moved into the Lodge in 1965. Some of the interiors had to be changed to accommodate the needs of the Institute. The state drawing room, ballroom, and dining room, for example, have been converted into a library; the Viceroy’s office is now the IIAS Director’s office; and the conference hall is now a seminar room for research scholars.Without the large contingent of Viceregal attendants and the resources, the ambience of this large estate is very different from what it used to be in the days of the Raj. "
"This rambling Scottish baronial edifice was designed by Henry Irvine, architect to the Public Works Department of the colonial government in India. The south facing entrance portico sees the visitor into the reception hall.The hall is marked by a grand staircase which springs from the right and spirals up three full floors. Facing the main entrance is the grand fireplace.A gallery with well-appointed teak panelling is the central space of the building around which the other rooms are arranged.The state drawing room, ballroom, and the wood-panelled dining room – decorated with coats of arms of former Governor-Generals and Viceroys – lead to the gallery at the lower level.Verandas and terraces surround the entire building at different levels. Those at the lower level link the lodge to the magnificent grounds while those on other floors provide superb views of mountains. Way back in 1888 this Lodge had electric light – when nobody else in Shimla did – and, would you believe it, an indoor tennis court!The lodge had extensive facilities including huge kitchens; separate rooms for storing table linen, plates, china and glass; laundry; boilers for central heating and running hot and cold water in the bathrooms.Pretty much as in Delhi’s Viceregal Palace, the Viceroy hosted lavish parties and entertained the royal princes and nawabs (governors in the Mughal Empire) in style."
It surely was a royal encounter, some places speak through their architecture and this is one of them, it took me to the times when India was still in the making, an infant trying to walk its way to Independence, today I can proudly say that my country has come a long way, there are many things that need change but its progress through the years cannot be denied. My land today has given me the opportunity to hold my head high and enjoy the beauty of a place which would otherwise had been out of my reach.
India has been a home for innumerable cultures and has blended the goodness of all, the different architectures, be it British, Mughal or traditional Indian, every brick laid by the great artists is a masterpiece of its own kind.

On my way back from the Viceregal Lodge, I visited the Shimla State Museum, which houses a huge collection of magnificent paintings, sculptures, coins, handicrafts and photos.
From there I took off, tracing my steps back home.
However high an eagle may fly, it settles on its nest by the end of the day, and as I hit the plains from my flight to the beautiful mountains, I could feel the comfort of coming back home, as a caravan does once it reaches its destination.
The next day my drive from office and back was not the same, something had changed....for the better.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Serene Beauty

After disengaging myself from the authentic feel of the Indian coffee house, I started moving towards the main stretch of the mall road, where a serene beauty caught my eyes…it was a beautiful church which gave the hustle bustle of the market place a unique sanctity, it was an image of peace .

In this world where we are so caught up with the daily ride in the maniacal galore of our lives, God blesses our heart with a unique calm that we discover when we find ourselves at peace, this is God’s way of saying “I’m there”.
But what was that!! All of a sudden I could hear a joyous sound of music, it came from a source where I could see numerous faces twinkle with a smile as they moved, swinging to the tune of dholaks- It was the day of Dushera ..the smile on the faces of the people and the great festive spirit were quite contagious. Wherever we may be, we can always manage to find a festive chord that reminds us of celebrations back home.

(Though the sound cannot be heard due to some error, the vibes of celebration are quite stirring .)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day 2 continues....

The day began with a nice cup of strong coffee and a steaming dosa at the Indian coffee too had a legacy retained in its preindependence look.A comfortable place with a sprinkle of intelligentsia on every was quite a unique experience..the aroma of coffee mixed with the interesting look on the faces around me gave a pampered feel to the greys in me, it was as if the great Indian leaders were discussing what was to be the future of our country, a life free from bondage....I, a mere observer made my way to the mall road about to come across a lot many interesting things that danced on my imagination.

(This pic has been browsed from the net as I clicked the mall at night.All the other pics have been taken by me.) My steps took me towards the mall road. "The mall road is a promenade constructed during the British rule, and is the key attraction of Shimla."Its a broad streach with shops on both sides .... most buildings in shimla still remind one of the British era...its amazing how the old world charm blends with the new, making the experience a unique one. The smell of delicious food from the various outlets gave a delicious aroma to the surrounding. The mall road was brimming with life....the excitement had just begun... As I strolled on the mall road I came across an exhibition put up by the the Sahitya Kala Academy Delhi..It was quite a treat coz arts for me has been like a favourite sibling ...I stepped in to relish the beauty that man invented through his imagination...while nature waited outside, its man made imprints danced before my eyes..

My next stop was marked by a serene beauty.....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 3

My next step was a drive to Kufri. "An enjoyable drive through forests and small villages leads to this small but popular station."My first stop was the VIP helipad, I didnt find any big deal in it being a place where VIP helicopters land, but the scenic beauty all around the area was something that I enjoyed a lot.

(Yak- a unique mountain ride)

(Wild flowers spread their beauty all around the place)
As we drove further, we ( me and my family) reached a place where we were asked to take up a ride on the horses to reach several other destinations, as a car wasn't allowed to go any further. Though my brothers were all excited about the ride, my parents showed their reluctance. Company matters however beautiful a place may be. I decided that I would stay back with them, while my brothers would proceed with their ride....and it was indeed a great decision, since in order to make our trip interesting I inquired about the places that we would walk to and got to know that the zoo and the chini bungalow were great places that can be visited, so we started walking, all excited to explore the places....
(The beautiful white wolf)
The zoo (though did not have too many animals ) was a treat to the eyes and a big hug from was amazing..a small path, with huge trees on both the sides and big segregated areas for animals with an excellent provision of was just great.
(The tall tress touched the sky)
I was surprised, that even after walking for miles on end, I wasn't as tired as I should have been...maybe the motherly charm of nature had taken care of my well being and its beauty had given my eyes a break from the stiff concrete that I had left behind in the city:)
After a great visit at the zoo, we made our way to the Chini bunglow...the famous place where during the Shimla Agreement, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan respectively, stayed. After my eyes had feasted on the impeccable beauty of nature, the bunglow didnt have much of an effect on my senses..nonetheless the importance of the place made the visit worth while.

(This is where the horse ride took people)
Here I was rejoined by the rest of my family who had come back from their horse ride..the stories of their visit made me all the more happy about my decision of staying back ;) a steamy plate of noddles and nice hot cups of tea brought the various experiences and made them dance on a single table....we went back to shimla...the night had a lot to share on the mall road which was brimming with life..

The Queen of Hills- Day 2

5:30 a.m., the frost settled on the glass of my window, with a sprinkle of dotted lights peeping through it, shimla was still asleep. I , after offering my prayers sat at the corner of the bed , gazing at the world outside, waiting for the sun to rise from its long slumber..I was not the only one gripping each moment with patience, my royal friends, the huge mountains were waiting aswell. As both of us were indulged in the same activity, I started a conversation with the evergreen royalty.

I got to know that they had been here for a long time, holding on to the innumerable abodes of humanity. Time passed but they stood still. When I asked them what made them do that though innumerable centuries had passed, they said that its the love of humanity. Love is smeared on the face of nature and seeps down to its heart, its we who exploit it without realising that the depletion of nature, is but the ruin of selfless devotion that humanity has experienced over time immemorial.

There's a lesson thats well preserved in every corner of its beauty, the small paths made by man on the gigantic face of the mountains made me realise that however difficult life may be, we can always carve out a path and make our way. Its just determination and will that makes the task easy. With the enlightened conversation time passed and the sun made its way towards the sky, spreading its wings to brighten up the world, light fluttered its wings and wiped away the fog and dew left behind by the beautiful night.

Day 2 had a lot more in had just begun...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Queen of Hills -Day 1

The clock had been regular, regularly monotonous. It was as if life was demanding a change, therefore I like a city bird, fluttered my wings and flew away to the higher attitude, a distant land, to settle and be welcomed by royalty, to have a one on one with Shimla, "The Queen of Hills."
The journey started at four in the morning and it was around late afternoon that I reached my destination. The grandeur of nature tickled my mind and made me realize that beauty is not just about face value....its a beautiful feeling which can be measured with the kind of effect it has on you…and shimla sure casts a spell.After checking into my room, I peeped out of the window, a gust of cool wind embraced me, tickling my nerves and making my hair stand on their ends, it was indeed a spectacular sight. Huge mountains wrapped in a dark green cloak, with a faint red hue spread all around. It was magical. I often wonder how nature has such an enchanting effect that soothes our nerves, pumping in a fresh breathe of life. My fidgety city nerves calmed down and settled to experience the close encounter with nature…..It was a moment of transformation.

In came the twilight, slowly waking me up from the fusion of immaculate dreams poured on the canvas of nature which I was witnessing with wide open eyes. The fog settled on my eyelids, making them heavy and cradling me away to sleep…may be the night wanted to have a silent conversation….
Day two was yet to come..