The Rural Olympics in the Punjab Countryside

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This past February, valentine days arrived a bit earlier for me this year. I am not talking about the flattery proposals, expensive gifts, and heavy words of promises of everlasting love.  To be honest, I never had such sort of celebrations on my valentine days. My valentine days has more or less like normal ones and in some perspectives boring one as all my friends would muddle around with their partners celebrating the whole week snubbing me.

However, this year was bit different. I spent the first week of the valentine month wandering in the countryside of Punjab for Rural Olympics watching some spectacular events, cherished some precious time with old school and college friends and finally culminating the epic trip in the lap of Himalayas with the Queen of Hills i.e. Shimla with one of my friend.

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While our ride was still in the outskirts of the town, I peeped out of the window and was completely dazzled to see the countless lights gleaming from the city. I hurriedly took out my phone to capture the moment, but the bumpy ride made it impossible to get a good image. Soon, we reached the town, booked a room and went to a sound sleep.

The next day we went to Kufri and witnessed the tiny flurry balls dropping from the sky, wrapping the whole area with the white blanket of snow (for more details read). After enjoying the unexpected snowfall, we moved back to Shimla to watch the charm of the talk of the town- the famous Mall Road.

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When I was in college, my friends (including me) spent hours imagining and discussing about the beautiful girls of this hill town and visiting Mall Road was on the top wish list of the guys. Some of them who had visited the place would exaggerate the stuff too much to tempt and make other feel jealous. With all these amusing memories, I and my friend walked through the slender market lanes of this town to reach our destination. Mall Road is located at height from the main highway of the town, so one has to take an inclined walk through the narrow pathways and stairs for about 15-20 minutes to reach the road.

We took a slightly longer time as my friend’s extra kilos that he gained during the last 2 years made him halt number of times to catch his breath and walk further. The walk to the mall road was quite an interesting one. The shops tucked along the sides of the congested trails had a large variety in spite of their small area. Then there were some tunnels which connected the markets with each other. I was completely lost in this labyrinth of these streets and often took help from the locals for direction.

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Finally braving all these minute obtrusion, we finally reached the much awaited road of our dreams. My eyes widened to have a glimpse of the beauties of which we talked during the college days. But, I realized that the girls of the town are beautiful but not to the extent we had exaggerated. However, the beauty of the ladies is still debatable but there are no second thoughts to the beauty of the mall road – It’s simply awesome….!!!

There is no traffic allowed on the mall road but still I spotted one traffic constable under a canopy at the scandal point which left me perplexed. I did not bother myself with the question and just moved further to experience the magical charm of the place. The no traffic zone on the road allows people to stroll freely and dozens of people flood the road during evenings.

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The mall road is cosmopolitan market place with branded showrooms, food joints, bakeries etc. on its sides. All the major government offices are also located on the road itself. But one thing that catches everybody’s attention and also a famous landmark is the building of Municipal Corporation, Shimla often referred to as Town Hall.

It’s the central attraction of the town depicting the glorious example of imperial planning of the city and a saga of British architectural bravura. The grey coloured stones, sloping roof with small chimney towers and the old fashioned doors and windows revive the reminiscences of the colonial period. The building also houses the library and the renowned Gaiety Theatre of the town.

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My friend surrendered to walking and sat on one of benches wheezing while I decided to ramble to the ends of the road. I walked further from the scandal point and spotted a red building with a maze of thick black wires snaking in and out to many places.

A few more steps, my eyes went on BSNL board on the building and I knew it was Telegraph Office (also called CTO building). It was initially a wooden structure but later was demolished to erect the present structure. I walked back from the Telegraph Office towards the other end.

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While strolling to the other end, I saw many couples, teenage groups, young college student and even some beautiful ladies too enjoying the atmosphere while some sat on benches like my friend adoring the beguiling view and observing the passing world.

As I moved closer to the other, my eyes were captivated by the neo gothic style architecture with a clock tower. Later, I came to know that this was first proper church in Shimla known as Christ Church. It was a spectacular piece of architecture with small pointed turrets and elongated windows like the ones in castles. I went inside the church and found pin drop silence.

There were fancy lighting dangling from the roofs, long benches with foot rest in front of them and a narrow aisle between the benches covered with red carpet right up the Jesus. The walls were covered with tabloids hung by the families of British who probably once served in India. It was my first experience in a church and really loved the quietude of the place.

After spending some time in the church, I spent some time sitting on the bench and standing on the ridges watching some amazing views of town. Although, I wanted to stay but all good things come to an end, we walked down through the same maze of market, picked up our bags and walked back to our city dwellings ending the valentine week.

 

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