Diminishing Charm of Shimla

shimla in snowShimla, once the summer capital of the erstwhile British Raj in India, is a fantasy place for maximum people leaving in the hot climate. It is one of the favourite honeymoon and education destinations. No wonder this hill station has seen numerous changes over decades.

I’ll discuss some changes from our daily lives.

I’ll talk about an incidence from my personal life to illustrate. About twenty years ago when we were in school, our Uncle from Delhi used to visit us every year in winters. The time spent with him appears to be a dream for me. Heavy snowfall in December, we living on water melted from snow and no electricity. Like hunting trips, we all got together to collect snow from clean place like roofs for drinking. A full snow bucket when melted couldn’t even provide half a bucket of water. We played in snow and made huge snowman… But today he refuses to come to Shimla because there is neither such heavy snowfall nor that pure environment.

He says. “There is no much difference in Shimla and Delhi now. Snowfall toh hota nahi aakar kya karna!” (Its useless to come there as it does not snow in Shimla.)

Snowfall was not the only reason for his denial, it was the traffic jams and litter which made the “Queen of Hills” unpleasant place to relax.

The cause of these is the increasing population of Shimla. According to the 2001 census the population of this hill station has increased over 700,000 from 770 in 1901. Lack of proper knowledge of family planning is not only the reason behind growing population but the rapid migration to the capital city of Himachal Pradesh for better opportunities is also one of main the cause.traffic jam in Khallini, Shimla

Another concerning issue is the littering around by the people which makes our Queen of Hills unattractive and dirty. People don’t wish to spend some amount of their earning to hire a sweeper (appointed by the state government) to dispose their daily household dregs. Their vanished ‘civic sense’ and ‘self-centeredness’ is a big subject of worry, which cannot be removed by any law.

The only way seems to be the improved moral values and sense of responsibility towards the nature and other fellow beings.

Today, with thanks to easy-made-installment-schemes offered by various banks, buying a vehicle is a dream-come-true for everyone. Where one car is sufficient for a family, people go in for four different budget vehicles to maintain their flamboyant status symbol. Thus, making their genuine contribution to traffic jams and air/sound pollution.

It’s the call of the hour that each and every citizen takes their responsibility towards their city seriously, leaving this very causal approach… “chalta hai!”

Raised in Shimla and originally from Mandi district, Disha wears many caps which includes being part of a lead team of a fast growing IT company based out of Chandigarh. Earlier Disha was associated with My Himachal and visits Shimla regularly.

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  1. says: Raman Sharma

    Very impressive article.. and very true in words.. Seriously “Chalta hai!” is the common answer when you stops anybody from doing wrong. especially when they throws packets and other wastes here and there and you stops them then the answer is very usual “Chalta hai yaar!”

    but asal mein nahi chalta yaar.. we need to change our attitude towards this..


  2. says: Manish

    I too agree with the article. Shimla is the not the place it used to be. With lotsof traffic , moderate temperature and garbage , you dont feel like u r in hillstation. Its like any other city now. Shimla Municipal corporation needs to take drastic steps if they want to preserve shimla old charm and hertitage.

  3. says: Rajesh Khanna

    Shimla 15 to 20 years back:
    The path to my School ( Bishop Cotton ): A life of discipline n’ Academics & a very active childhood. A quaint trek through pine forests, beautifully kept houses with Dalias & Gladiolas, raspberry n’ bush Roses in full bloom; which I used to innocently pluck to present to my mom on getting back home( Housing Board, Jakhoo ), In short; a long walk through the enchanted forest.

    My Home: A place called Sunrise Cottage: with tall coniferous trees all around; with the whistling breeze n’ the background of a glacier ( Chudi Chandni ) offering you a view of the perrienial snowline. Friends who used to visit each others houses regularly & play simple but innovative outdoor games without the worry of traffic or the noise associated with constant movement of vehicles.

    The climate: Five seasons; Winter: Mostly mild, with lots of snowfall right through from mid December to end February with a few blizzards during January or February. Spring: Cool weather with wild flower blossoms & crisp air. Summer: mild warmth but never heard of anyone using a cieling fan. Monsoons: rainy days with duckback (brand) bags, raincoats, Gumboots n’ caps, greenery all around n’ warm subtropical moist air n’ the dream of chasing rainbows, Autumn: Crisp cool days with all the possible hues of colour all around you.

    My life: simple & innocent; the way childhood should be for all; we used to watch plays n’ musical shows at Gaity Theatre; play outdoor sports at school, simple outdoor games with friends at home, walk around the woods; help the family with daily chores; do justice to our education; listen to music; spend a lot of quality time within the family; walk the mall in peace; read hardy boys n’ Archie comics; eat cream rolls brought in by the local bakery guy on a bicycle; feed the dogs n’ play with them; watch ‘House in the Prairies’ brodcast on Lahore television, dress up to watch a movie/ chitrahaar on TV.

    Shimla now: 12 storied concrete structures everywhere, looks like the whole hill will come down one day, a weeping old tree in the middle of mall road with it’s branches stooping down which has withstood all the manmade devastation but looks haunted & as if it was about to cry out aloud, a path to the same school littered with garbage & traffic of all kind that you wouldn’t want your child to cross on his own, a walk through a concrete jungle instead of the enchanted forest, my home has been converted into an office of some quasi government scheme & turned completely upside down with no one there to see the sun rise, the climate seems to have completely changed with fans & A/cs in every household & irregular & minimal snowfall with summers being extremely hot & winters being dry n’ extremely cold, garbage dumping areas starting from the top of the hill n’ flowing down to the Shimla bypass. Where streams used to run n’ the chirping of birds could be heard now garbage dumps overflow n’ eagles n’ vultures now nest. The areas below BCS were earlier used by us for treks through forests, farms & natural surroundings; now you have a complete concrete jungle which resembles Sanjoli, solan or the slums of any big city in the plains.

    For me Shimla of my dreams has now turned into a place beyond recognition; which is not bleeding any more; it’s dead & could be best described as ‘ a glimpse of Hell ‘. A place we may all be going to for having done this to our beloved ‘Shimla’.

    1. says: Ravi Sadana

      Sorry to read of Shimla’s decline and over-building.
      For a true account of Shimla’s old grandeur, please read Disha’s interview of Ravi Sadana in Himachal writers. The books are set in Shimla (1930’s and 40’s) and depict true life stories and interaction between the Brits and Indians. A must read for Shimla lovers!

  4. says: Rajnish

    Shimla has changed like any other developing city. It is getting warmer, conjected and crowded. All of us agree to this and as said Chalta he attitude has come in. Well now that we understand the problem we should start looking for solutions. Like spreading awarded among people about hygiene and garbage disposal. I think we have the perfect platform to initiate activities to help the city bring back its glory that it possesses and needs to be polished a bit.

  5. says: AK Murthy


    I am originally from Bangalore but settled in USA from last 22 years. This August I was in Shimla for 3 days with my family for the first time and I really enjoyed my stay here. The Mall road and Lakkar bazaar was very nice to see people and shopping.

    I understand the complaints of readers as to how Shimla has become now with over population and dirty etc. But please understand this. After spending one week in August in N India visiting Delhi, Agra and other places including Bangalore – Shimla is paradise on earth. I tell my kids that Shimla is the Switzerland of India.

    Please take care of your wonderful city and make Shimla a paradise that we all can visit with our families. The people are beautiful, the place is beautiful, the views are beautiful and so what more can one ask.

    Best Regards…Arvind

    Los Angeles

  6. says: Anup Ranta

    OUR SHIMLA is the best place in this whole world….
    And RIDGE & MALL…..Guys i love dat place….
    SHIMLA is a prestine world….
    SHIMLA is a passion…
    SHIMLA is a glory…
    SHIMLA is a love….
    SHIMLA is a charm….
    Anup Ranta.

    1. says: NIMISH KANT

      My University days in Shimla comes in my mind as we were in some national park. Deodar Trees, birds and langoores.
      Well the hostel of HP University connects student to the forests..
      Enjoyed my two years there..
      Now working in Delhi in these hot days forces us to think of that period in which we were there..
      The best place to be for solitude…
      But yes people are not using their civic sense.. the growth of sachet culture in every product is the biggest problem we have..
      Every product is available in sachet,,and normaly people dont think a proper place to dispose it. Milk packets, mineral water bottles, gutka sachets even shampoo sachets are increasingly being used and marketed in every part of country.
      Saying that we have to do something is not a proper step..
      start from your home your visits ..
      start a habit in you not to throw these sachets anywhere..

      Proper idea would be collect these small packets from homes.
      1. Pack all sachets in a bag in every home.
      2. Collection by Municipal people from every home.
      3. Dispose in a proper place
      4. Or recycle this.

      So small but practical steps scan make a difference.
      SAVE THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE ON EARTH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. says: Rinku Kashyap

    Yes Its true and we seriously losing the beauty of SHIMLA day by day. But instead of complaining lets do something to save our Himachal.

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