Dollywood Dalhousie

The exotic and beautiful locations in India can compete with any of the foreign locations. Many movies have been shot at historic Indian cities and colourful small hamlets revealing the unique Indian panorama.

Himachal Pradesh is considered one of the most popular shooting destinations for movie makers.

Dalhousie retains a colonial look and feel. The beat has everything to get ranked as one of the topmost romantic places; well-maintained squares, snow-clad mountain ranges, buildings for their vintage looks, antique furniture and decor. The picturesque landscapes like Kalatop, Khajjar and the Chamba valley’ snooks & corners remain unparallel.

  • The other day, Nishu Mahajan shared some magnificent pictures of his Place on the upper left limb of the 8 of the Thandi Sardk Mall. Done up into a makeshift studio by the web film called DUOOND casting Raveena Tandon, Ashutosh Rana, it looks grand.

I find myself to be totally enthralled by the beautiful sets of 1942 A Love Story, one of the best works of Vidhu Vinod Chopra; starring Pran, Anupam Kher, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Manisha Koirala, among others. The film of 1994 was set against India’s freedom struggle.

Bol Radha Bol (1992) starring Rishi Kapoor and Juhi Chawla had many scenes shot in Chamba Valley. Hit Bollywood Movies Gadar – Ek Prem Katha (2001), Vinashak (1998) were also shot in Dalhousie in Chamba. The other movies – Lootera, Wajood, Himalaya Putrahad the scenes shot in Khajjiar.

  • Back in 2005, I visited Hyderabad to witness the passing out parade of my son Manu Maharaaj as IPS probationer at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA).

A trip to Ramoji Film City was inspiring. Synonymous with Tollywood. The layout is an integrated film studio complex. It has all types of locations available for shooting including a temple, prison, court, lake, mountains, fountains, villages, picnic spots, garden and even a man-made waterfall. Its twin city of Secundrabad merges to become one sprawling metropolis- like Dalhousie–Banikhet duo.

Looking around, I imagined putting Dalhousie on the world map as a Film City; wishful thinking in a country made up of 28 States and 8 Union Territories; 22 different languages.

  • The Dollywood* City; with the twin formations of Dalhousie and Banikhet; areas spread out up till tribal belts of Bharmour on one side, with Dharamsala just across the Dhauladhar range & Kashmir valley behind Bhandal–Kihar; must present a unique set up over the world map of filmmaking. The movie Rockstar (2011) starring Ranbir Kapoor and Nargis Fakhri and directed by Imtiaz Ali has its hit song Sadda Haq….. shot at Norbulingka Institute of Dharamsala.

Located amidst stately pine and oak forests, Dalhousie provides the ‘Natural Attractions’, Built-in ‘Heritage Attractions’&‘Institutional Attractions’; all in one. The belt has a vast potential for development as an attractive Dollywood land. The area requirements for enhancing shooting build-up as also the tourism shall be met in 87.09 hectare# developable land on predominant land use basis.

It is envisaged that the entire Planning Area of Dalhousie shall be urbanized except forest land and land under water bodies. The forest and orchards are plenty in and around Dalhousie town, which are serving as green lungs and areas for passive recreation. The town enjoys a unique environmental setting.

  • A preservationist planning approach towards built-up heritage including monuments, stylish bungalows of the British period, churches and street patterns including Mall road, etc, will do. In fact, these landmarks are the arteries of the town where extensive views of low hills and planes of south and snowy ranges of the north are conspicuous.
  • Dalhousie is well connected with different parts of Himachal as also plains of Punjab. Existing transport and road infrastructure shall need improvements with development and construction of Bus stand and various parking sites; a Truck Terminal at Banikhet.

Although, Dalhousie is not a populous, congested and environmentally deteriorated area, yet it is apprehended that if left to itself, there will be chaos, despite the constraints of the scarcity of water, forest land in and around the town and its terrain itself.

It has been proposed to invite and encourage investment only for high-quality hotels and resorts with proper facilities so that the reputation of the town is not spoiled further. At the same time, there is a need to provide some essential infrastructure facilities like urinals, toilets, water taps.

The town is vibrating with ever-increasing trade and commercial activity mainly based on tourism and educational institutions. As the commercial activities are of mixed nature, there is no clear-cut hierarchy in respect of specialized nature of business. A little flip shall make the film industry progress by leaps and bounds.

  • To preserve its status as a wooded tourist town, construction may be ensured in harmony with hill architecture.

As per the approved development plan#, The exposure visits of technical persons to planned cities of different parts of India made them aware regarding dimensions of the planning and development mechanism persisting.

The word “Lollywood” is a portmanteau of “Lahore” to which Dalhousie was a tagged hill station during the British era. Today; in its calm, quiet, pleasant and clean environs, the area has a vast potential for developing into Dollywood; besides being a popular tourist resort.

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* Author’s Vocabulary

# The land use was frozen on 29th July, 97 vide Govt. notification no. HTM/TP/PJT/DP-Dalhousie/93-7338-7410. Draft Development Plan issued vide notification no. HTM/TP/PJT/DP-Dalhousie/2003/volume-II/6251-6480 and appeared in the official Gazette on 22nd September 2003.

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