Can we regain the glory we have lost?
The glory of Himachal Pradesh revives the poetic imagery of Kalidas, Goethe who translated Kalidas, and Milton who wrote “Paradise Regained”. Historians believe that in the natural terrains of Himachal Pradesh roamed the gods of Hindu trilogy, Shiva and Parvati with their host of elves and goblins: this has been the abode of demi gods and priests. And here now live the romantic, smiling and courteous people in one of the most beautiful States of India, who have tried to preserve the pristine beauty and its flora and fauna. With lush green forests, bubbling streams, emerald meadows, enchanting lakes and eternal snow peaks, it nestles in the lap of Mother Nature. Leaving behind the hot spots of sweltering heat of Punjab and Haryana, one starts his odyssey of delight as one reaches into the cooler and soothing climes above.
I recently got an opportunity to visit the land of Forests, Himachal Pradesh. The District of Solan, Himachal Pradesh (more than four hundred Kilometers from Jammu) was the first destination where I reached. Solan town is situated in Shimla Hills developed by British Missionaries with a market on the stretch spread over two Kilometers. The most important institutions in Solan are University of Horticulture and Forestry, State Council for Educational Research and Training, (SCERT). Besides, it is a naturally beautiful location where the temperature remains moderate throughout the year though a very minor snowfall takes place during the winter. On 29th of June, I started my Journey towards the splendid Shimla 70 kilometers away from Solan. As soon as one enters into the borders of Shimla city one watches that this once Summer seat of British Viceroy with its green meads of hyacinth and celandine is surrounded by solemn forests of deodar and towering pine. Indeed Shimla has everything to gladden the heart and mood of any traveler throughout the year.
Kudos to Shimla people and the Himachal Government that no deforestation has taken place not even in the city of Shimla 1 and Shimla 2, not to speak of outskirts which are densely forested. One is amazed to find that two hundred years of deodars and other trees and plants are standing intact even though the population and traffic flow has increased to a large extent. Our Srinagar city would have been the same before two hundred years with trees, plants, vegetation and water bodies but we scarcely cared the way Shimilities there. They have very rigorously followed the orders of the Honorable High Court regarding clearing of forests. The court has very vigorously detailed out the order that not a single tree should be uprooted from its place. And the brilliant thing is that the order has been followed. During my two days stay I found that even a small hedge or unwanted plant has not been uprooted only in extreme circumstances of some important construction. Forests are eternal there and consequently, the ecological balance exists and Shimla even in summers has rainfalls every day.
Shimla has had been always famous for its quality of education and many important schools have been imparting quality education throughout the state. Along with schools of higher education, several institutes are also present, namely Himachal Pradesh University and Indian Institute of Advanced Study. The prominent persons like Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Former President of Pakistan; Mohammad Hamid Ansari, former Vice-President Of India; Ruskin Bond, writer; Prem Chopra, Bollywood actor; Hamid Karzai, Former president of Afghanistan, Anupam Kher, Bollywood actor, Amrish Puri, Bollywood actor, Ratan Tata, industrialist / businessman , Preity Zinta, Bollywood actress, and Omar Abdullah, Former Chief Minister of J&K State have pursued their education from the Schools of Shimla.
The people of Shimla are informally called Shimilities. With largely cosmopolitan crowds, a variety of festivals are celebrated there. The Shimla Summer Festival, held every year during peak tourist season, and lasting 3–4 days, is celebrated on the Ridge. The Shimla arts and crafts are highly in demand by the tourists. They range from excellent pieces of jewellery, embroidered shawls and garments to leather made articles and sculptures. Since Shimla is full of Forests, the wood has been extensively used in all major buildings. The various kinds of crafts of Shimla made out of wood includes small boxes, utensils, image carvings and souvenirs. All is well in Shimla. Only the water crisis has loomed over the city over a period of time which the authorities are trying to solve.
On 1st of July 2018, I moved from Shimla to the famous town of Dharamshalla of District Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, festooned with greenery and forests, distancing 238 kilometers. In Dharamshalla, there is an international Cricket Stadium which has hosted International Five Day Tests, One Day and Twenty-Twenty Matches. There is a famous Buddhist Shrine at Mcload Gunj also. The Organization of Board of School Education is also located at Dharamshalla.
As I return home, I am pained to see what we have made of our beautiful Kashmir. Can we all strive to regain the Lost glory of our Paradise?