A peek at homes in Shimla

It was purely by chance that I learnt of Har Ghar Kuchh Kehta (Every House Tells A Story). Early last year, on one of many work-related visits to the Tourism Department in Shimla, the Director let drop during a conversation about his pet project: to encapsulate the colonial homes of Shimla in a coffee table book. Nothing singular about that, I had thought, as I politely nodded my head.

He went on to elaborate that the focus of the accompanying text would be on historical events, anecdotes and reminiscences associated with these beautiful buildings. And that the department was reaching out to citizens and visitors to provide personal accounts. My interest was suitably heightened by now, and it must have been hereabouts that I mentioned my own longstanding connection with the hill station.

Having wailed myself into the world at the Lady Reading hospital some four decades ago, I lived and schooled in Shimla during my formative years. Our home, Windsor Terrace, was located beyond Chotta Shimla in Kasumpti, on the furthest edge of a spur. A number of other prominent families of Punjab boasted of summer homes in Shimla, too. There be plenty stories from our stables, I had laughed, as I warmed up to the idea of a nostalgic memoir paying tribute to the place I was born in. Except not all those naughty recollections were suitable for public consumption!

On the Director’s request to play citizen editor, I readily shared a number of tidbits of interest about historically relevant homes I had lived in or had visited regularly during my years in Shimla. Presented a copy of Har Ghar Kuchh Kehta Hai during its launch last autumn, I was glad to see that a couple of them had found their way into the informative and beautifully packaged work.

On a more recent visit to Shimla, I was pleasantly surprised with another coffee table book from the Himachal Tourism stable. Called simply, Unforgettable Himachal, it is a selection of (mostly) splendid pictures of the ever changing landscape of this richly endowed Himalayan state. At rupees five hundred, this tome could well be your most pocket-friendly journey through the 55,700 square kilometers of snow-draped mountains, deep valleys, snaking rivers, sleepy hamlets, frozen lakes, lush forests and rolling meadows that comprise Himachal Pradesh.

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