Skip to main content

Featured Post

Book Review: On Philosophising, Philosophers, Philosophy and New Vistas in Applied Philosophy, by Dr. Sharmila Jayant Virkar

A little bit of context before you begin reading this book review. I have recently enrolled for an MA in Philosophy at the University of Mumbai. Philosophy is something I have been getting interested in, over the past few years, as those of you who have been reading my blogs and Instagram posts would know. During the pandemic, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do next, and this is what I eventually came up with. It has been a challenge, getting back into academics as a student at this age, especially in a subject I have no academic background in. However, it has also been very exciting, especially thanks to my wonderful classmates (who, surprisingly, are of all age-groups, including some quite near my own) and my teachers, who have been very supportive and understanding. How well I will do is something that remains to be seen, but so far, I am enjoying this new journey and look forward to where it leads. Now that you know the background , you probably get an idea of how

Post Offices of Shimla


The bright red pyramidal roof stands out, marking it clearly against the rest of the buildings. The red and yellow symbol of India Post painted over the entrance is equally visible, indicating that it is the GPO – the General Post Office, at Shimla.



Inside, the GPO is a hub of activity. There are long queues at every counter, and there is scarcely any space to take a good look at the interiors. It looks just like any other post office, on a busy day. Heading into the Philately counter, however, is a pleasant change. There is just one person in the room, surrounded by papers, covers, stamps and the like. He looks up impatiently, but brightens up when we say we want the special cancellation of the GPO. His smile lights up the small office, and he happily takes out the stamping pad. The cancellation he is giving us is a special one – one issued for the date 12-12-12 (12th December 2012).



The stamped image has a Monal on it, the state bird of Himachal Pradesh, and Samhith is excited at the fact that he now has a bird on his collection of special cancellations! And a bird he has just seen on a visit to a bird park! The official is amused, and his happiness is evident. There are obviously not many philately enthusiasts coming here, and certainly few this young!





This is one of the oldest GPOs in the northern parts of the country, built in 1883. The half timbered structure is an example of typical British hill architecture, with hollow pillars of brick and stone that help warm the interiors during the cold winter months.





Almost every building here, on the Mall, is a heritage structure, and yet the GPO building manages to stand out. And, like most of the buildings here, this too has seen its share of renovations in modern times. A major fire which broke out in 1972 almost succeeded in destroying it, but persistent efforts to renovate the structure were successful and the renovated building, preserving the original features was re-opened to the public in 1992.



A little further down the road, is another post office. This one is painted the same colours of white and red as the GPO, but looks too simple to be an important building. We are surprised to learn that this is a heritage structure too, albeit of a different kind. At a time when horses were the only means of bringing the mail to Shimla from the plains, this structure served as the stable for the horses! 



The advent of the Kalka Shimla Railway line in 1903 retired the horses from service and rendered the building inoperative till the Postal Department decided to use it as a branch office!




Further down, at Chaura Maidan is a green and white building which looks more like a country cottage. It’s only the India Post symbol which marks it as another post office.



Considering our interest in Philately, it isn't surprising that the highlight of our heritage walk of Shimla turns out to be the post offices! However, it is surprising to see the state of preservation of each of these post offices. As I mentioned earlier, many of them have been renovated in recent times, but efforts have been made to retain as much of the design as possible, while modernizing the interiors to suit today’s modern world. Now, if only this was true of all our heritage buildings! 


Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Yes, it is, Shrinidhi, but the Mumbai GPO is much more majestic :D

      Delete
  2. Interesting! I think Trivandrum Post Master General's office is housed in a heritage building. Vaguely remember seeing it as a child. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Bindhu! I guess most of the GPOs and head offices of the postal dept would be housed in heritage buildings.... planning to do a series on post offices across the country.. as and when i visit them, of course!

      Delete
  3. Loved the hidden gem at the philately counter! I've been to Shimla and yours is such a unique perspective on the place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Manasi!!! we are always on the look out for philately counters at post offices wherever we go, and this was a real treat!!!

      Delete
  4. Beautiful buildings and a beautiful post too. I think now it is time to devote few posts on Samhit's collections.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks PNS! planning to do that.. just wondering how to do that :D

      Delete
  5. You have imparted very good information about post office of shimla in Himachal PradeshHimachal Tourism.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is a very interesting post. Those buildings look very nice.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in/2013/03/the-photographer-and-his-model.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a post after my own heart, and you have given me an idea for a blog post which I will discuss with you later. Lovely, lovely post, Anu.

    PS: I loved the green and white cottage post office the most

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. grt to hear that, Sudha! cant wait to read it now! and the green one looked lovely, and different. most post offices i have seen are painted red and white, but oculdnt go in as it was closed. would have loved to see what it was like from the inside.

      Delete
  8. Wonderful Post on Post offices of Shimla. Being a philatelist, I liked it very much...

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis

Gokarna Part II – The Five Lingams

We continued our Gokarna trip by visiting four other Shiva temples in the vicinity, all connected to the same story of Gokarna. The story of Gokarna mentions the Mahabaleshwara Lingam as the one brought from Kailas by Ravana, and kept at this place on the ground by Ganesha. (See my earlier post- Gokarna – Pilgrimage and Pleasure). However, the story does not end here. It is believed that, in his anger, Ravana flung aside the materials which covered the lingam- the casket, its lid, the string around the lingam, and the cloth covering it. All these items became lingams as soon as they touched the ground. These four lingams, along with the main Mahabaleshwara lingam are collectively called the ‘ Panchalingams’ . These are: Mahabaleshwara – the main lingam Sajjeshwar – the casket carrying the lingam. This temple is about 35 Kms from Karwar, and is a 2 hour drive from Gokarna. Dhareshwar – the string covering the lingam. This temple is on NH17, about 45 Kms south of Gokarna. Gunavantesh

The Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves , located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri, about 11 Km off the coast of the Gateway of India, Mumbai, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to these caves, excavated probably in the 6 th century CE, is awe-inspiring, and also thought-provoking. Over the years, I have visited the caves a number of times, and also attended a number of talks by experts in the fields of art, history and archaeology on the caves. Together, they help me understand these caves, their art, and the people they were created for, just a little bit better. Every new visit, every new talk, every new article I read about the caves, fleshes out the image of what the island and the caves would have been like, at their peak. I last wrote about the caves on this blog, in 2011, almost exactly 11 years ago. Since then, my understanding of the caves has, I would like to think, marginally improved. Hence this attempt to write a new and updated post, trying to bring to life, the caves of Elephan