Hanuman Idol in Shimla
While walking toward the Mall, I looked far and up, as usual, to catch a glimpse of the horizon where the Jakhu greens touch the blue sky. My eyes rolled back in astonishment and I was astounded to see some ugly monstrous concrete structure coming up. I could not make out what it was as all I could see was the supporting structures around something sinister. Why do I keep calling it sinister and horrendous is because these are the first emotional responses that came to my mind. I felt deeply hurt. How could they do it to the Shimla green cover. Who could have dared to erect a huge rising structure which was overshadowing whole of the queen of Hills!
My curiosity was aroused and I asked a few by-standers, the locals of Shimla, about this huge mass of concrete. “It is Hunumana’s idol” said someone, with piety and devotion filled voice. And added proudly, ” the biggest ever one can see around Shimla!” For a second I, too, was taken aback and felt bad for having harbored such hostile thoughts for the Monkey God and secretly asked to be forgiven for making such un-pious statements about a God I adore! But still the image of the concrete structure overshadowing and marring whatever ramnants are left of Shimla and its pristine beauty, disturbed me a lot.
I thought hard. Why an idol of a god had to be erected and that too at a strategic position so that it would be visible from almost all parts of the town. Why the Shimla-scape had to be turned into Hanuman-scape? Not that I am an atheist but going gaga over something like religion, which must be a private affair, angers me. True that Jakhoo hill has a long connection with the Monkey God and numerous stories abound the Faqir at the famous Jakhu temple but still all these legends don’t give any rights to anyone to deface the beauty of Jakhu hill. It is also true that the monkey menace has become a point of concern for the present residents of Shimla and raising this huge statue might mitigate the wrath of the notorious Shimla monkeys but again to my nitwit mind this does not seem like a logic reason. Or perhaps the idol has been installed to attract religious tourism in Shimla as I am sure this Hanuman idol is soon to get a prominent place in all the tourism brochures! But why this large that was a question that kept haunting me. I thought of Hanuman temples in Shimla of my days and I could place only the Jakhu temple and the Sankat Mochan temple, near Taradevi, as the two places of worship. During our days, Jakhu temple was the only one much revered and held in high esteem but later the Sankat Mochan temple became equally famous. But neither of these has a huge idol of Hanuman Ji.
I wonder who permits the deposition of such huge quantity of concrete on the fragile hilly terrains and that too if that concrete instead of housing human being is only to make them feel overwhelmed of the power of concrete. I sincerely believe that the number of devotees or tourists going to Jakhu temple would decrease manifold as they can have Darshana from anywhere they like. And the big objects look better from greater distance.
Down the memory lane I think hard of all the religious structures in and around shimla—Chirst Church, Kali temple, Gurudwara, Masjid etc. All co-existed together, almost of same size and none vying with each other to gain supremacy in size. Going by these parameters I think the British could have erected Chirist Church somewhere on the Jakhu Hill and in an enormous size. I think that religious places must retain their mystery and enigma by remaining shrouded from public gaze. Only the believers must travel, traversing the hardships, to reach the destination of their devotion. The sweetness of having reached the destination and having the Darshana has some deeper meaning. It is aimed at cleansing of the soul during the arduous process of the pilgrims’ progress. But sadly the mystery and the enigma of the Jakhu temple is marred forever. My heart bleeds to see the saffronization of secular Shimla done in a very poor taste!