A Journey Through my Eyes: Sanjauli Degree College, Shimla

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The Way I remember my Sanjauli College, Shimla…
I must have been in seventh or eighth class in the year 1967 or 1968 when I first saw the magnificent building of the Sanjauli College which at that time was a B.Ed.College. It so happened that the teacher trainees of the B. Ed. College would come to our school, Lady Irwin Girls’ Higher Secondary School, for teaching practice. But for the final teaching practice we would betaken to the B.Ed.College building. We would be so happy for this excursion as it would mean a different routine for us, a visit to a new part of Shimla and to a new routine where we would be so important part of the class, second only to the examiners perhaps!! The only thing that we hated was that we would be taken in queues to Sanjauli, such was the discipline. But even that was so enjoyable keeping in view the way we chatted throughout the way. Crossing the Mall, the Ridge, the Lakkar Bazaar we would march past the Snowdown hospital to reach the Sanjauli B.Ed. College. As this was the way that the dead would be taken to the cremation ground, we would be a little solemn once we would pass the public tap wherefrom the mood would become solemn. But, near to the college, the animated discussions would again be restarted. The records about the college building say that following the independence of India in 1947, the building was put to use as the B.Ed/B.T. College for Girls affiliated to the Panjab University, and it functioned thus till 1969. Little knowing about the historic importance of the building, we would scrutinize it from all sides as we wanted to explore it to its fullest. On the left hand side wall of the building, was a big bell hanging from the top. It would remind us of the famous “Bell of justice of the Jehangir”. Enquiries from my father told me that the building housed an orphanage during the Raj period and the big bell must have been used to time the activities for the inmates of the orphanage. My little heart would be full of sympathy for the orphans but would be envious as well for living in such a magnificent building. The building had an aura of mystery and majestic charm for me. Later I came t know that the main building of the college was raised way back in 1869 as Himalayan Christian Orphanage. In 1872, it was occupied by the Mayo Industrial
School for female orphans and girls of European descent. This was my first tryst with the college building. Little did I know that my infatuation would turn to love for this building in the near future.It was in the year 1970 that my elder sister passed her Matriculation from Dayanand Public School Shimla and was admitted to the Govt. College Shimla, that was housed in the same building. This college has the rare distinction of being the first Govt.College set up in the township of
Shimla in 1969. As earlier to it there were two colleges—St. Bede’s and S.D B.College, both run by private managements. It was then affiliated to the Panjab University, but a year later in 1970, when H.P.
University was founded; it became affiliated to the latter. In the year 1971 I, too, was admitted to this very college. Those were the days when the population of the college was quite less and it gave us the benefit to remember he faces of so many students of those times. Well. I remember vividly Anupam Kher to be a student of the 1970 batch as he was my elder sister’s classmate.

At that time the main building housed the administrative block, a few class rooms, offices of the principal and the staff. The stairs led to the library and physics laboratory. There was another block at the back of the main building that had Botany and Zoology laboratories. The residence of the principal was also in the premises and we could peep inside his courtyard from the stairs leading to the Physics Laboratory. There was another building on the right had side of the main building that had the college canteen in the basement and two class rooms on the ground floor.

The college days were non-descript except for some happenings that are deeply etched in my memory. One was a strike, and I don’t even remember what the cause was for the strike except that we would be taken to Chhota Shimla secretariat to protest against, god knows what!

And the second is the fire that burnt the building to ashes!!! I don’t remember the exact year but it must have been either 1972 or 1973 when we were taken to the firing range at Sanjauli. The firing range was where we have a concrete jungle of houses when we watch down from the Sanjauli chowk. Those days, the whole space was bereft of any house and was used as a shooting range. We walked down, all the college students, to the shooting range where the army personnel taught us to shoot with the help of very heavy rifles!! It was a wonderful experience to watch petite ad delicate girls take up rifles, balancing it at their shoulder and taking the aim. These were the idyllic situations and days. Others sat relaxing in the sun watching the scene.

It must have been the time when such training was made compulsory to all college students. In the evening, we were tired yet excited to have shot some rounds as it provided us wit a sense of having achieved something that needed strength, both physical as well as mental. Elated at our achievement, we started back home. The return walk had to be from the same route—from Sanjauli to the Ridge and to home. It was while we passed through the college that smoke was observed coming up from a part of the main building. And we found, to our dismay that the college building was on fire. All of us just pounded on the building to save what we could.The courage of the girls, including me, was worth appreciation. We tried saving whatever we could till the arrival of the fire brigade.

A magnificent building, a relic of the past was razed to ash, in front of our own eyes. The wooden work helped the fire to spread in no time. The present building has carried the same architectural plan as the stones used in the making of the building helped to raise the structure with minimum changes, but the image of the old building that I have in my eyes is gone for ever. I remember that after this incident the classes were shifted to the local DAV Boys’ school for some time and after that to S.D.B.College which was magnanimous to adjust our classes in the evening shift. Those days were full of excitement as we would feel like refugees in another college, but having the courage to excel and come up.

Another memory of the college days, that floods my mind, concerns the sinking of Shimla that we had to experience as we walked everyday from the Mall to Sanjauli through Lakkar Bazaar. It was a rumor first, but was a confirmed news later on that the Ridge and the Lakkar Bazaar were sinking. The road had sunk in and had become reclined. It would be an adventure to cross some parts of the road but we would enjoy it. Such is the vibrancy of youth that nothing can deter it with fear, even if the fear is grounded in reason.

The road was officially declared unsafe for use and we had to divert from the Ridge, through the little known connecting trails of Shimla, descending near the first gate of the Snowdown hospital. But it was a thrill. We explored so many small ways to reach home that ach day would be a new adventure. It was a time when such an adventure would not be questioned.

I loved my stay at the college though it made us experience diverse happenings but looking back I can relive all those days. About some other incidents that left a mark on my memory, I would dwell at some other time.

 

18 thoughts on “A Journey Through my Eyes: Sanjauli Degree College, Shimla

  1. Pavan Kukreja

    Hello Saroj:
    What a heart warming article. I am an ex-Bedian too ( Class of 1984 ). I guess the common thread we share is our nostalgic annointment of our Alma Mater. What a ato come across ur blog. Wonderful articles…took me right back to my good ole’ days in Shimla. I would love to invite you to check out my profile on http://www.facebook.com, and it would be my absolute honor to have you join the Bedians Abroad Group.
    Happy 2008!
    Kind regards
    Pavan Kukreja
    Atlanta, GA – USA

  2. Rajan Sharma

    Saroj
    what a beautifully thought and vivid description..
    This was great , I spent a year in that college in 1972-1973 and can remember the canteen the tea stalls etc. and of course the walks along ridge ,Lakar bazar and past snowdon hospital more so as after several years I was there late last year for…

  3. I live in Miami USA area. I was there in Sanjauli staying at Snow Rock View or some thing like it, in June 2005. A very old place I am told over looking a very beautiful valley. If any one is from that area and still have contacts, I would very much appreciate a phone number/email of the retired Col who ran the place. I am planning to Visit Shimla again in July and then go on to Manali for a week, from there. Even though I grew up in New Delhi in the early 60’s but never had the opportunity to go to Shimla before this. What a wonderful place, very nicely described. My direct email in case some one like to contact me is paulgundotra@yahoo.com or you can Google life changing publications and it will point to my web site.

  4. I found this link under my name on Google. Just wanted to thank you for posting this on the internet even though I have not gotten any responses from this site, but you never know. I did drop the idea of coming to India this summer. Keep up the good writing work, wish you all the best.
    I can be reached at LifeChangingMedia.Net or at paulgundotra@yahoo.com

    Regards,
    Paul

  5. Wonderful Saroj, It refreshen my old memories. I was at this college from 1979-1982. I want to mention another attracive thing, the tea stall of uncle and aunty. I never new their actual names as every body used to call them uncle and aunty. I visit Shimla every year and visit college area some time. I really appreciate your efforts in bringingup this nice description of GCS. Regards.
    AC, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, USA.

  6. Balbeer Negi

    hey..thank u guys fr redifining the memories of sanjauli collage,,,i have been in ths collage fr two years in 2004-05-06…..it was awesome to study out there,,,,now i live in Delhi and m wrkin with convergys,,,,any message ,,u can mail me,,yah

  7. aarkay

    Thanks . i am reminded of the Lady Irwin School, the precursor of present day Dayanand Public School. i studied in that school from nursery to fourth standard, as boys were allowed only upto that level. later on,in higher classes a visit to the B.Ed College was an annual feature, sometimes the reward for answering questions correctly was 2-3 toffees.as for the sinking of the ridge and Lakkar bazar, i still remember that Mr. J.N.Sadhu of the Indian Express had written a beautiful article with the caption “Is Shimla Sinking?” which was published in the Sunday Standard (Sunday edition of the paper).the hawa ghar on way was said to be haunted by a santare wala(orange wendor.

  8. aarkay

    Thanks . i am reminded of the Lady Irwin School, the precursor of present day Dayanand Public School. i studied in that school from nursery to fourth standard, as boys were allowed only upto that level. later on,in higher classes a visit to the B.Ed College was an annual feature, sometimes the reward for answering questions correctly was 2-3 toffees.as for the sinking of the ridge and Lakkar bazar, i still remember that Mr. J.N.Sadhu of the Indian Express had written a beautiful article with the caption “Is Shimla Sinking?” which was published in the Sunday Standard (Sunday edition of the paper).the hawa ghar on way to Sanjauli was said to be haunted by a santare wala(orange vendor).

  9. deepak

    Many Thanks.
    Your article has revived some very fond memories. In 1970/1, I had some friends in St Bedes and it was almost a ritual to escort them back after their weekly outing We would walk from Mall to Ridge and then through US Club (so called lover’s lane) as this appeared to be a shorter route. On our way back I would invariably come through Sanjauli, B.Ed College, Snowdown Hospital,Lakker Bazzar etc.

  10. Daljeet Singh

    Thanks for the nice article and the picture that brought back fond memories of Government College (as it was called in 1980) from where I did my pre-university and was catapulted into an engineering college due to great teaching by the faculty. In particular I remember Prof. Bhardwaj (English) and Prof. Malhotra (Maths) who were inspirational.

  11. rajnikant

    hi,
    i fill good to read about sanjauli college because i have
    passed my graduation from same college ………………i like your painting its much closer to real picture

  12. Pawan Kumar

    I was Assistant Professor at GC Sanjauli till recently.After getting inspired by this blog I have also started my own blog- pawankrsharma.blogspot.com.

  13. J K Banerjee

    Thanks Dr Saroj for giving such a vivid description of the college,I almost felt present in the college campus.I also studied there from Jul 1972-76.Prof BL Handa was the Principal that time.The main building at that time was being resurrected from the aftermaths of recent fire (it caught fire in Jan or Feb of 1972).A long row of classes in tin shed were put up below the college canteen building, where we used to have classes-english by Prof Bisht,Chemistry by Prof JM Chopra,Botany by Prof ? Chopra and Ms Raizada,Zoology by Prof MC Sharma and Ms Sushma Mahajan.I remember Anupam Kher ,? Anil Sharma, Shubhra Bhattacharjee doing plays together on college stage,and that Anupam Kher+ Anil Sharma song of ‘zindgi mein kabhi kabhi aisa ho jata hai’ in the voice of a crow and buffallo. Good old days!

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