A tale of two Himachals


By: Varun

There have been many journeys which I have done between Shimla and Dharamshala, but the one completed yesterday was probably the most amazing one. Well, here comes the context. Long before I had even stepped out of Kangra, I had heard stories of how Shimla was practically ruled by people from upper Himachal. With ‘Raja Sahib’ as our Chief Minister and his coterie of loyalist, the civil secretariat in Shimla seemed a place occupied with green-capped Paharias from ‘Dhali paar’. Back then probably that was the only colour of the Himachali cap which the world related too. It was also what people in lower Himachal accepted as the only truth.

Well, these are the thoughts which are bound to come when you are in a car travelling with Khagtas, Khachis and Kaiths of upper Himachal. The youngsters, still in their early twenties, having travelled to cities like Chandigarh and Delhi, decided to go on a short trip to Mcleodganj.  Since I was a seasoned traveller on this route, it was left to me to be their guide on this pilgrimage. Boys being boys, were certainly on a lookout to capture shots of the nature in their cameras as well as hearts of some beautiful damsels of lower Himachal.

After an hour-long drive, the Paharis were amazed to see road-widening work being carried out there. This was a sight which they had not seen on the road to Rohru. “Certainly, it is Dhumal who has brought the change,” murmured one of them. I had a smile knowing very well that the road widening had been on for a long time. In fact roads leading to Dharamshala have been in a perpetual state of widening since I have been travelling. By the time we reached Bilaspur district, suddenly the roads had new tarring and now the thoughts were immediately heading towards a bias of development tilting towards lower Himachal. I was thinking of an article which I read on HimVani talking about how in the last term Virbhadra Singh forgot about road development in Rohru since he took to flying around in the helicopter.

Certainly the condition of roads was much better in Hamirpur and Kangra, but I saw a dip in the speed with which our car was travelling from what it had on the treacherous road of Shimla. My good friend Khagta was not sleepy but was enjoying the scenic beauty and the new shapes of village homes which he was looking at for the first time. I think I understand the feeling because in my first trip towards Hatkoti and Rohru I too had a similar sense of amazement travelling on high mountain roads and zipping past apple orchards. What had become mundane for me over the years in Kangra was something new for them.

By the time we were in Kangra district, Kaith, who is an orchardist, was wondering how lower Himachal can develop in absence of orchards.  To him there seemed no obvious way other than the orchards which bring huge money to farmers each year in their district. I think the answer lay in the number of statues and roads we found on the way in Bilaspur, Hamirpur or Kangra dedicated to soldiers who died in various wars. It is only through jobs by which rural families sustain living standards unlike their counterparts in upper Himachal. Khachi was amazed to see open fields in Kangra and for a while was sold out to the idea of owning these. But a rude interjection from Kaith brough back reality into him. “Bhai sahib, be happy with your apple orchards else what you earn here will only sustain life for you”.

By the time we were entering Dharamshala the boys had started to miss thickly forested deodar trees. They were overwhelmed with the feeling of travelling far into unknown parts of Himachal where they knew no one. They had a sense of insecurity which I felt while driving uphill from Chaila to Kharapathar in my first journey. Khachi had started to wonder how he will get back to Shimla. However, Kaith seemed braver and told him to calm down and enjoy life as it came along. By the time they reached Hotel Kunal in the evening the only thoughts they had were of a hot bath, good food and sound sleep. The feeling was no different for me only that I was thinking of how the two Himachals had biases which were so similar and deep rooted against each other that there seemed to be no common bridge between the two.

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  1. The prejudice of Two Himachals had been deep rooted from years and the politics favoritism had played a catalytic vital role into it, at the moment it is the responsibility of the Youth of Himachal to put up a common bridge between the two.


  2. Good writeup from Varun…but varun u missed third face of Himachal i.e.Mandi.It was part of Old Himachal but linguistically and culturally near to Kangra reason.Mandi always acts like buffer between these two different regions of Himachal and sometime act as link between two though many time it suffered politically as well as socially…But we all should try to work together for the progress of our beloved Himachal Pradesh and should prove ourselves true Paharis…

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