For the last over three years Oakover, the official residence of the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, wears a deserted look as the incumbent prefers to stay at his personal residence The Holy Lodge in Shimla.
Oakover is one of the early houses that came up in Shimla. The house however, is said to be jinxed as it remains deserted for every alternate five year term and is occupied for five years in the intervening terms. The anti incumbency factor that changes a chief minister once in every five years, play its role in securing an occupant followed by an unoccupied status for a 5 year period of what is the most famous address in the state capital here.
Oakover, a historic building, was once a residence of the rich and powerful Maharaja of Patiala. Well that is before he was barred entry into Shimla. To avenge the insult the flamboyant Maharaja founded Chail, a rival town to Shimla built at an higher elevation that looked down upon the British Raj capital.
Overcast heavily with oak trees all around the building this sprawling mansion has two gates, one on the east and the other on the north side. The building is protected with a high wall along the stretch of Mall Road for security reasons perhaps.
The stretch of road alongside the mansion between Chota Shimla and Shimla was once upon a time referred as the ‘Khyber Pass’.
A bifurcation near the east gate leads to the Raj Bhawan on one side and Civil Secretariat on the other.
The channel like appearance of this approach is truly like a pass and was referred as ‘Khyber Pass ‘ linking it with the Anglo Afghan wars in the 19th century, linking the Indian Sub continent with Afghanistan.
Hundreds of locals walk down this pass everyday on way to and from Shimla. Just opposite to this sprawling building is another palatial structure of Punjab House. The wooded stretch from Hotel Marina to Raj Bhawan must have been a favourite summer retreat of princes.
In all probability Oakover is likely to be occupied by turn of 2018 as the state goes into elections by December next year.
Having moved on after spearheading corporate communications of a large public sector undertaking, its time to give vent to the creative urges that lay suppressed for long