Referendum in Dalhousie

Amid whispers to Change Dalhousie’s Name to ‘Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Nagar’, the authorities deny any move to change the name. There is no formal request; though there is turmoil in the country.

British-era popular tourist spot—Dalhousie in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, is named after Lord Dalhousie –late British Governor-General in India. The erstwhile ruler of Chamba, Maharaja Shri Singh had in 1853 permitted the British to make a settlement, in return, his taxes were reduced. The area of the five hills — Kathalagh, Potreyn, Terah (now called Moti Tibba by the locals), Bakrota and Bhangora was developed as a sanatorium; later it grew into Dalhousie town and a summer retreat.

  • Dalhousites cry hoarse over tinkering with Dalhousie‘s name. It will be a huge blow to the fame of Dalhousie being a famous tourist destination.
  • The name change will not serve any purpose rather it will amount to fiddling with the history. The tourist town in Himachal Pradesh has been an attraction not only due to its location, but the name Dalhousie gave the town an international identity and drew tourists from far and wide.

  • The former President of the municipal council has gone public opposing the proposal.
  • Local business magnate S. Paramjeet Singh Babbu says, “Dalhousie is a town with its own old-world charm. Why rename it?” His father Late S. Malkiat Singh was the man behind the rehabilitation of Dalhousie after independence.
  • “This is a unique name. Renaming will lead to confusion. Misplaced letters etc. It will add to cost as all the Notice boards will have to be changed.” Says Rev Sunil S/O Bishop Maqbul Caleb& Mrs. Jane Caleb.
  • According to Ramniya Dalhousie Welfare Society “changing the name to something else will not only affect the history, it will also hit the tourism sector as a whole”.

 

  • Scenic Dalhousie

    “The locals also take much pride in its popularity. The business community, hoteliers, old natives, and social activists are opposed to changing its name. We should respect the sentiments of the people”, says the People’s representative.

The state government may hold a referendum in the town to gauge the sentiments of the locals on whether they are in support of renaming Dalhousie,” she says.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose –who had visited Dalhousie, is held in high esteem. ‘Charring Cross’ of Dalhousie (as known during the British era) is now renamed ‘Subhash Chowk’- like Kolkata’s ‘Dalhousie Square’ is renamed B.B.D. Bagh after revolutionaries, Benoy, Badal, and Dinesh. Another landmark Subhash Baoli is well kept in full patriotic spirit to pay tribute to Netaji for his role in the freedom movement.

Besides Bose, people pay tribute to Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who had written parts of his famous composition, Gitanjali, at the hill station; and revolutionary leader S.Bhagat Singh’s Uncle S.Ajit Singh, who had spent time in Dalhousie during the freedom struggle.

  • Known for its pleasant climate and natural beauty, Dalhousie is a quiet hill station in Himachal Pradesh. The hill resort is one of the most well-planned hill stations housing colonial-era architectural marvels, with a backdrop of lush green mountains; known for its fresh and peaceful atmosphere and healthy surroundings.

  • The modern town is facing the Pir Panjal range of snow-capped and pristine mountains, surrounded by thick forests of pine and deodar trees. Many old bungalows here are made in the Victorian style. The town preserves some beautiful churches.
  • The town’s varying altitude shades it with a variety of vegetation that includes stately grooves of pines, deodars, oaks and flowering rhododendrons and hydrangeas.
  • This Place Registered its Name in History. Now the connection is more of sentimentality for the past.
  • Elsewhere; in Canada, the “Dalhousie University” is one of the best in the world. The Dalhousie Art Gallery is both a public gallery and an academic support unit of the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

  • The name change controversy has erupted after over three decades; when it was opposed by the residents; & was turned down subsequently. Naming is, however, tied to authority and intimacy.
  • ”What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (quote from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare}
  • What something is called is arbitrary compared to its intrinsic qualities. The name of a thing does not matter as much as the quality of the thing.
  • The reason we spent so much time picking names for our children is because a name speaks to identity, and identity is a big deal.

‘Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!.. How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!’ A quote from The Crucible-Arthur Miller.

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Prof. (Er.) Chander P Mahajan is an art critic & a free lance journalist. The Environmentalist stays in Shimla and Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India.

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