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Posted at: Jul 17, 2017, 2:15 AM; last updated: Jul 17, 2017, 4:01 PM (IST)

Lord Dalhousie never visited Dalhousie, says book

Lord Dalhousie never visited Dalhousie, says book
St Francis Church, one of the heritage buildings in Dalhousie, was built in 1894 during the British rule in India. — iStock

New Delhi, July 16

The over 160-year-old Dalhousie hill station in Himachal Pradesh may have been named after the famous Governor-General of India, but strangely Lord Dalhousie himself “never visited” the idyllic town, claims a new book.

The illustrated volume, authored by a retired civil servant, was released recently.

“Dalhousie was established by the British as a sanitarium and a convalescent depot for the troops returning from wars. Established in 1854, the town situated on the five hills was named after the then Governor-General of India, Lord Dalhousie. “Unlike other tourist destinations like Shimla, Mussoorie and Dehradun, Dalhousie is much more quaint and still retains its charm,” says Kiran Chadha, the author, whose paternal family — the Plahas — were one of the first settlers in Dalhousie.

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Born in 1950 in Ambala, she grew up in Dalhousie and says she trawled through “Raj-era cantonment and municipal records” for a year while researching for the book — “Dalhousie... Through My Eyes”, which was released last week. Born in Scotland in 1812, James Broun-Ramsay, later the first Marquess of Dalhousie, became the Governor-General at the age of 36, the youngest to helm the position. After the end of his tenure in 1856, he returned to his homeland and died there in 1860. Chadha says the reason he never visited the hill town could have been that it was for convalescing British troops and had come up just two years before the end of his tenure (1848-1856).

When asked about Chadha’s claim, noted historian Irfan Habib said, “It is possible. He was the Governor-General and the Government House was in Calcutta, so distance could have been another factor.” Historian Romila Thapar said, “One can ascertain only if there are historical documents to corroborate it.”

Incidentally, in October 2004, the then Earl of Dalhousie had sent a letter from Brechin Castle (in Scotland) to the “Citizens of Dalhousie” on the sesquicentennial of the hill town.

Chadha, who studied at the 116-year-old Sacred Heart Convent, said the area we know as Dalhousie today was earlier a territory of the Raja of Chamba. “The large stretch of five hills was acquired by the Court of Directors of the East India Company from the Raja and in return Rs 2,000 was lessened from the taxes the princely state was paying to the British,” she said. — PTI


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