Shimla, Dharamshala, not Himachal are better known in Canada

Halifax : The weather has not been particularly good. There has been a lot of snow, but the holiday season is still there and a lot of people have been visiting.

Surprisingly, not very many people have heard of Himachal Pradesh, though when you say Shimla or Dharamshala, it seems to ring a bell.

Shimla is recalled because of the fact that it was the summer capital of the British raj and though over six decades have passed since India became independent, many of the Canadians still relate it with the days of the Raj and the number of great historic buildings that the place has.

Viceregal Lodge, Shimla : Photo by Geetali Tare

Surprisingly the Viceregal Lodge, that now houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, and the Gaiety Theatre seemed to be well known here. Though many have seen the pictures of the two buildings only on the net but their grandeur and architecture seems to be a big attraction to them and quite a few look forward to go to Shimla to see them some day.

Very few seem to know that it is also a holiday resort and summer destination for the large number of Indians that visit the place during the summer months.

However, it does not seem to gel with them the fact that at one point of time it was just a small time township, confined in space, but has now spilled over its seams and become a large state capital.

Dharamshala and not McLeodganj is better known as the residence of the Dalai Lama and not because of the fact that it is the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile. What automatically comes to their mind is that the Dalai Lama has made the place his home after having fled from China many years ago.

They are surprised when told that McLeodganj is now a mini Lhasa with a large Tibetan refugee population and a number of shops that sell Tibetan ware. This surprises them, specially when told that very many VIPs including Hollywood stars and big names visit the place to have an audience with the Dalai Lama.

The Himachal Tourism department needs to get more proactive to lure tourists to the state, and not just the adventure tourists, keen to go for long treks along the heights near the glaciers, and mountaineers, but even those who are keen to see the grand buildings that dot the Shimla landscape and perhaps to mini Lhasa.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

2 Comments

  • very rightly said………………….Himachal Pradesh Tourism deptt. needs to be little more proactive………………………….even in most parts of India, the story is very much identical………………….except Shimla and Dharamshala not many are aware about other major towns in Himachal Pradesh…………

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