Looking for Beauty

“Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it.”
Confucius

Our world is full of beauty. Nature is the manifestation of the creation’s desire to experience life. The cities, towns, settlements houses are a manifestation of man’s dream to create shelter and a sense of permanence. Man’s possessions act as his crutch and anchor as he negotiates life and its curves.

Often we go through life, sleepwalking, thinking only of our immediate concerns. At other times, we march on, eyes firmly on horizon, looking only at our dreams, desires and goals.

In between all this, we forget to live the most precious gift of all, our present and our now. Do we stop to smell the flowers, to notice the vibrant colours around us, to appreciate the beauty in the mundane?

Inspired by these thoughts, I took a day out to appreciate and capture these fleeting moments, the present that is on the cusp of becoming the past.

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Blue Railing

I went looking for the now dilapidated, abandoned Bantony Castle on the Kali Bari Road near The Mall in Shimla. Constructed in 1880, it was the summer palace of Maharaja of Sirmour and had seen better times. I was won over by the blue railing although I could not get a closer look because of frolicking monkeys.

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Scandal point marks the convergence of two of Shimla’s most important roads, The Ridge and the Mall Road. It is a great point for ‘people watching’. Taking shelter beneath the canopy, I looked up and saw this pattern.

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The Ridge road is a large open space, located in the heart of Shimla. It is the hub of all cultural activities here and is always teeming with people, except on a rainy day like this one. A rarity indeed and worth capturing.

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This moss covered wall caught my eye and I followed along the path.

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I passed by the red door at Tara Hall, a school founded by Mary Ward in 1894. I wanted to peep in, feeling sure of seeing little children laughing and playing in their school room.

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These radiating lines gave a mysterious look to whatever was beyond.

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The lovely colours and objects were everywhere and I wanted a part of them.

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The fog rolled down from the hills and obscured everything in the distance. The building looked stark against it.

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And finally, the clouds parted and there was sun in all its glory. I stayed outdoors to watch a beautiful sunset.

Everyday Adventures- II

Living in Shimla, the famous North Indian hill station, comes with challenges. Sure, we are living in the lap of nature, amongst majestic mountains. Yes, the weather is wonderful throughout the year. Of course, the pace of life is incredibly leisurely. And to get from one place to another, you must be ready to walk. (Read about more walks, here).

It is one of the highlights of my life here. Walking trails are incredibly interesting, and there are so many ways to get from one place to another. I mean so many paths, shortcuts and stairs. Everyday I choose a different path to get to the same place.

Recently, I visited the famous Kali Bari temple in Shimla. These were the Navratras, the nine day festival dedicated to the Goddess Durga and her various avatars. The temple is thronged by devotees all through the nine days. The approach to the temple is lined by small shops set up to cater to the need of the devotees to buy offerings-flowers, prasad, bangles etc.

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The entire area resonated with religious hymns or bhajans. Being a part of the multitude was exhilarating for once.

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Kali Bari Temple
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Devoted to Lord Shiva

Prayers offered, I was free to explore the area, the previously unpassed roads (unpassed by me, that is), streets and trails.

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The view around the Kali Bari Temple

Some paths were so steep that there were stairs alongside for help in walking.

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Stairs or path-take your pick

I encountered beautiful British era architecture, some old buildings in disrepair and abandoned.

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And then there were some houses, looking serene.

Serene
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Old World Grandeur

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The walk from the temple left me glad.

Everyday Adventures

What felt like a chore actually turned out to be an adventure.

A few mornings ago I had to take my daughter to the dentist. The day was cold, the skies were grey and it was raining. It made the winter day look even more uninviting.

Well, we started and took the local bus. The second best way to move around in this popular North Indian hill station of Shimla is the bus. The best way is to walk. Umbrellas firmly under our arms, we stepped down the bus at the Lift on Shimla’s arterial Cart Road. The Lift, which is actually a couple of lifts, takes people up to the famous Mall Road which is the hub of the city. Normally this place sees serpentine queues and I prefer the best option, of walking up the steep trails and stairs. The dentist we needed to see was in the Dental College and Hospital, attached to the prestigious Snowdon Hospital, now rechristened as the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital.

We were the only passengers in the normally very crowded lift and when we reached the top, voila! the road was uncrowded too, owing to the early morning and the bad weather. It seemed as if we had the place to ourselves. The lift exit is right opposite the large Indira Gandhi Sports Complex and there are many food fests, book exhibitions here the year round.

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Walking on was exhilarating without having to avoid the numerous tourists and locals. I clicked the empty benches where I usually look anxiously to find a space to sit.

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Benches waiting to be sat on
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Mall Road

The road leading down to the largest market, the Lower Bazaar, was enticing. Not many shops were open, just the ones selling liquor! Ah! People get up that early for a drink!

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Leading down to the Lower Bazaar
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The as-yet uncrowded Lower Bazaar

A little further on, we took the upper road to the Ridge and were rewarded by our first view of the Christ Church and St. Michael’s Cathedral. It is probably the most photographed place on the Ridge and can be seen from miles around.

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Christ Church

There were some limpid pools after the rain and the nature spots looked inviting.

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Limpid pools
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Grey Skies

We reached the magnificent Ridge maidan.

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Ridge

Crossing it, we took the road to the famous shopping destination of Lakkar Bazaar, full of colour, interesting artefacts and knick knacks.

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Shop till you drop
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Roller Skating Rink Building
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Magnificent Views

After a few minutes and a bend in the road was the hospital, catering to thousands from across the state on any given day. It is easily the medical helpline for the people in this hill state.

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Snowdon Hospital

Our work done, we retraced our steps, holding on to our umbrellas as they almost flew off in the strong gusts of wind. I wished I could photograph that, even though we were drenched!

Time for a hot snack of momos before we caught the bus home.

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Momos at the Bakery
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Yummy Sweets here

Hot food rounds off this adventure.

Art on the Street

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Wall Art

Improving the aesthetics of the Mall Road in Shimla (India), is this wall art. It attracts the attention of the passers by, hundreds of which are tourists in this popular North Indian hill station.

The road is flanked by a swank row of shops on the other side. Art like this, at intervals on this road entices the eye away from the restaurants and the showrooms.