Saturday, June 16, 2001
M A I L  B O X

The Shimla that once was

IN "Shimla: Another age, another time", (May 26) the writer Raghuvendra Tanwar has rightly commented, "Shimla is a good example of what so-called development and progress can do to nature and beauty."

Lured by its legendary charm, thousands of tourists throng Shimla. Yet, there isn’t much to hold their interest for even two days. Reality hits the eye when one encounters heaps of garbage and condemned vehicles, ill-conceived concrete jungles, landslides, congested markets, traffic jams and indifferent attitude of politicians who talk tall but do little.

Where is that Shimla which had unique lion-headed taps whose ‘ears’, i.e. knobs, were twisted to get cool and clear water; Shimla whose dense green forests flamed with red rhododendrons; Shimla "which had roses in the rain", "fern underfoot" and "ivy on the oaks"?

Once called ‘Jewel in the Crown’ by Rudyard Kipling, Shimla’s aura of grandeur has been lost forever, to be remembered nostalgically as "that was once Shimla".

Roshni Johar


The article was well-documented and informative. It is sad but true that Shimla has become overcrowded, commercialised and congested over the last few decades. It has virtually become a concrete jungle and as long as you are in the town you do not feel as if you are in a hill station. With tall multi-storey buildings obstructing your view on all sides and congested roads, the soothing beauty of nature seems to be a distant dream. Only once you get out of the town and reach the outskirts of the city can you breathe fresh air and bask in the sylvan beauty of the hills.

Being the capital of a state, it was inevitable that Shimla should develop into a commercialised city, but its quality of being a peaceful haven that could recharge the spirits of the people tired by the fast-paced life of the plains, has been lost somewhere along the way to progress.

Amrit Pal Tiwana

R.K. Narayan

I read with interest Ashwini Bhatnagar’s article "Magical Malgudi lives on" and Rajnish Wattas’ article "The intimate Narayan". It is true that writers like R.K. Narayan do not die. They continue to live through their characters. Narayan’s single most distinctive achievement is the creation of Malgudi — a fictional town. What is more important is the fact that Malgudi grows from novel to novel. It grows from a small village-like township in Swami & friends to a big city in The Vendor of Sweets. Major landmarks of the town undergo slight but significant changes but the basic spirit of Malgudi remains the same. Narayan’s heroes are ordinary people. Their desperate attempts to sound heroic only cause amusement. Swami, Chandran, Krishna Srinivasan and Natrajan — all lend credence to this impression. Narayan’s heroes ultimately accepts life as it is. They, in a way, come to accept life with all its absurdities, pretensions and difficulties.

Sarojini Nautiyal
Ambala Cantt