Nostalgic about Shimla of my Days…

Chaura Maidan

We came to live at Chaura Maidan in the year 1973. The house we came to live in was spacious, sparsely furnished and secluded. With nobody to talk to, I would stand behind the window so that people from outside would not be able to see me and would gaze and gaze at the horizon outside. The back of the house had a verandah but I could see only the Himachal School Board building (the present Kotshera Boys’ College) and nothing else; so the view from the front was always better. There was a police post, the small round one, in the middle of the open space called by the name of Chaura Maidan. I wonder what would the policeman do throughout the day as he had not to manage traffic the way his brethren do these days on the Mall. The only vehicles that we could see plying on this restricted road would be the ever faithful Mail Vehicle and some ambulance once in a while and the vehicles of the governor’s retinue that would be a sight to behold! One or two black ambassadors of some Brigadier who lived in the vicinity would be seen. To cut it short the police walah had little or no job except to give the place a semblance of a high profile area.Shimla 28 Feb 09 019

Human memory is really very short. I crossed Chaura Maian so many times in the recent past but did not miss the round or hexagonal structure of the Police post that was a land mark during our days! It was a chance discovery of an old snap that I remember having taken from the window of our Chaura Maidan house which revived all the lost memories about this post. In fact I had taken this picture not as a keeps-sake but since it was the last picture in the roll and I wanted to exhaust it before giving it for developing so I extended my hand out of the window, and without even focussing on anything, clicked the picture.

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The old timers talked about a big tree where the Police post was in our times. I remember vaguely hearing to a story about a tree that used to be atthe place in the nineteenth century where we had this police post in the seventies. It was said about this tree that it was abode to a benevolent spirit

and whosoever wanted to have some wish to come true, would hover round this tree! The tree was cut, much to the dismay of old-timers. But we in our times never even missed having a tree in the middle of the Chaura Maidan. It is the same way as the present generation people don’t even remember that there used to be small police check post in the middle of the Chaura Maidan, once upon a time. But as I remember having seen the Police post, I wish to make a record of it so that we remember the evolution of the then Simla to the Shimla of today! And also to invoke the blessings of that benevolent spirit if it is still hovering in the area and is listening to me!

8 thoughts on “Nostalgic about Shimla of my Days…

  1. aarkay

    “Once upon a time and a very good time it was……..” so am I tempted to quote James Joyce.
    As one who has also seen Shimla growing or rather being reduced to its present state, I fully agree with the observations made by you.Yes there was this Police Gumti, also serving as a road divider of sorts. I remember crossing Chaura Maidan in my childhood while going to the mini Zoo ( which later harboured birds only ) adjacent to the Peter Hoff and also during my University days in early seventies when we would come walking from Summerhill to the Mall rather than coming by bus or by train. The photographs truly represent Chaura Maidan-past and present.

  2. Nitin From Australia

    Hello Madam,

    I am an avid blog reader. I have been reading you blog from long time and I really liked the way you have described the Himachal and it’s places through your writing. I am happy that you have started writing blog again. I really like reading the blog, because it helps me to understand the Himachal and its people. Keep writing blog and my all best wishes are with you.

    From Australia

  3. Nice post Saroj ji.

    I remember in my childhood days I used to live in Sanjouli. Those were the days when people used to walk to reach all corners of the town. There were no buses and ‘cars’ then. An uncle of mine used to stay in Chaura Maidan. I walked all the way from Sanjouli and back and this was a very tiring day for this 7 years old. To me, Chaura Maidan used to be the farthest end of Shimla then and later I would always desist going there as I had this notion, ‘<i.Bada door hai‘ Years later I worked at The Cecil at the Chaura Maidan itself and had one of the best period of my working career. The place had lost all the glory, peace and tranquility by then. Chaura Maidan holds a special place in my heart.

    Thanks for making me go down the memory lane.

  4. Hello,
    I lived in Sanjauli from 1948 to 1957 and completed grades 1 thru 4 at the Harcourt Butler High School. Two of my aunts, i.e.’buas’, lived with us and studied at the Government Training College on the road from Sanjauli to Lakkar Bazaar. My father worked in the Punjab Government secretariat in Chhota Shimla in Ellerslie Building which is currently occupied by Himachal Secretariat.
    I have fond memories of Shimla although our lives at that time were probably fairly basic and frugal. I travelled to Shimla in November 2008 after a gap of 28 years. I was very disappointed to see what had happened to a beautiful town in terms of vehicular traffic, pollution, and congestion.

    1. Rubin N Saigal

      I read your comments what a beautiful Town Simla used to be – have seen photographs of the late and agree with your comments of pollution, traffic and congestion.
      Sad is all I can say.
      What is interesting is having lived and traveled in various parts of the World. Still have dreams of Simla.

  5. Rubin N Saigal

    It was a long time ago when I used to walk thru Chaura Maidan to my school Harcourt Butler in Simla. I recall it was difficult to go up hill to school if there was snow and ice. Sadly, I read the school was burnt down. How used to play in the school grounds and how used to pluck green walnuts from trees when hungry and get lips and tongue colored.
    As growing up used to walk Scandal Point in the evenings. The year will be 1950.
    Have very fond memories of life and living in Simla now Shimla.
    I am 81 and live in Florida but never forgot the snow covered mountains in summer. It is dream and will remain a dream.
    Miss it all.

  6. Shimla remains a dream for us living outside Shimla….though not that beautiful as it used to be but still having a lovely soul,..There is a group on FB In memories of Shimla. If you join it you will feel as if you are living Shimla. Regards.

    1. Rubin N Saigal

      Thanks the reply and noted comments. Do I understand correctly you not living in Simla at present?
      I live in Florida (USA) but dream of the place I grew up.
      Now I dream of visiting Antarctic been close to North Pole few years ago.

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