Monday, June 14, 2010

Northbank - Rudyard Kipling's house in Shimla

“I don’t know who Amrita Shergil was.” “ Rudyard Kipling? I have heard of him, but.....” “ I don’t know. Was he a writer?” “Amrita Shegil? You mean Maharani Amrit Kaur?” “I don’t know....never heard of her”.

Sorry to disappoint you Readers, but I have come to a conclusion that we as parents, teachers and friends, have failed to disseminate knowledge on local histories to our children. Thus, we have produced a generation between 18 – 21 years, whom we can easily call the “I don’t know generation”. GenIDK, in short is characterised by blank looks every time you ask a question, inability to distract and focus on anything being said because most of them are cannot extricate themselves from their mobile phones. To add to this combination is also absolute complacency.

On my recent trip to Shimla, I found that most adults in that age group were absolutely ignorant of Shimla’s heritage. Or they just do not care! I feel sad that not only is the Government not really concerned about the many heritage buildings in Shimla, the youth too lack any motivation to preserve this heritage. The Viceroy’s Lodge in Summer Hill, which today is one of India’s premier Institutes – The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, is constantly under threat of being converted to a Congress Party Office as was suggested only recently by Sonia Gandhi!!

Rudyard Kipling’s house, Northbank, has been converted into a Police Office! Nobody there knew that it was at one time Kipling’s house. They did not even know who Kipling was!! Those who professed they knew, pointed out to any old house with a red roof and insisted it was Kipling’s residence. Remember, dear Reader, it is believed that The Jungle Book was conceived here in this house. Finally, having spoken to a historian, I was able to establish the house, or so I think!

Just imagine!!

As far as Amrita Shergil was concerned it was truly pathetic! They had not even heard of her! No body knew which her house was, although it is situated very close to the Himachal University campus! The map in Shimla on Foot by Raaja Bhasin(2007) proved unhelpful in both cases. The text did not explain that the houses were taken over by others, in Amrita Shergil’s case Escorts (see:
--> ) and in Kipling’s house, the The Shimla Police Department.
I feel a desperate sense of loss as I leave Shimla. I am not sure that if I came back even a year from now, then some of the heritage buildings will remain the same.

Thanks to our own lack of interest to see our heritage being passed down and preserved by the next generation in ways beyond the study book.

Please view more pictures:

NOTE: @Hari Sud, who lived in Shimla has identified on his blog, the real house belonging to Rudyard Kipling, which readers may please view and read HERE  Thank you Hari for bringing it to my notice.

Picture sent on 12 June, 2017 of Kipling's dilapidated house


Prekmurska Gibanica said...

Rudyard Kipling was one of my favourite author in the childhood :)

Amrita said...

Hi Julia, I absolutely agree about genIDK, you cannot pry them away from their slinky gadgets these dyas. The PVRs and shopping malls are their temples.

Our parent s took an interest to teach us about our heritage and we visited such places with them.

Thank you for sharing these lovely photos.
I hope Sonia doesn' t turn that monument into a boring office. But maybe it will preserve it in the long run.

Rudyard Kipling lived in Allahabad for a number of years and his house opposite the University is in shambles. No one bothers about it.

In India people care more for religious places than historical places

Anuradha Shankar said...

its a pity indeed that so few people know about our rich heritage....and this is true of almost all places... no matter where you go, there are interesting places to see which tell us of our history and heritage,but people are more interested in seeing places where some shooting took place, and overlook everything else!

Julia Dutta said...

Dear Zimbabwe,
What an interesting name. So you too have loved his books. It was such a nostalgic moment for me to see this house. You know, it is sad, we just don't care about our heritage :( and on the reverse...Look at England!How well they preserve their heritage.

Julia Dutta said...


You said it. My goodness me, these kids just don't want to hear see anything! It seems that they are stuck with their gadgets only.

Please, please do a photo blog on his house in Allahabad, in no matter what state it is in,so that I can link it to this post. At least together we will have preserved in picture what was once Rudyard Kipling's house in Shimla and Allahabad.Shortly even that may not be visible any more:(

Please Amrita!


Julia Dutta said...

Hi! Thanks for visiting. It is absolutely important that we preserve our heritage. And this needs to be a collective effort by all parents and teachers jointly. Instead of taking kids to Fantasy World and Essel World, they need to go on heritage walks etc.

Prekmurska Gibanica said...

In Poland some very old churches were destroyed by communists, many of them are well-kept now. But, for example, in my city there is Jewish cementery from 19th and 20th century. Some tombstones are new and clear, but most of them are grown by ivy and very dirty - and some of them are real works of art. In Western countries in Europe or in America there are moneys for this and people, who want to make their heritages better.

Julia Dutta said...


I am so glad you visited me again and wrote this comment. I had visited your blog and OMG yours is one of the most wonderful blogs I have ever seen. But I could not read and understand where I could put in a comment.

I agree with what you say but you know what, I would like teachers and parents to inculcate a habit of trying to preserve the past in children. It does not take too much, it would be an interesting History lesson, if one too students to monuments and places to remember, ask them to clean it and put things together. They would love it, 12 years up and would give them a sense of pride over their heritage. We need not depend on Governments always...what do you think?

Prekmurska Gibanica said...

Julia, I heard about practical example this what You said - the group teenagers from one school in South-Eastern Poland took care about orthodox churches and little cementery from the times of Second World War. When I was in high school, groups of volunteers cleaned old Jewish cementery in Wieliczka (this is near Cracow) - so it is possible. You're right, children and young people need lessons about past and elder people should give them love for this - and sometimes it is well done :) It only need to want.

Julia Dutta said...

Hi Zimbabwe,
Yes, you are right! All we need is the desire to make that happen! Thanks for all the examples where it has happened.

Pity I can't comment on your beautiful blog, because I don't know how to!!


Prekmurska Gibanica said...

Oh, I forgot about this. This is short instruction :) :
On the right You should see the translator from Google. Cklik on this to choose "English". If You will read the note, return to origin (Polish). Under the note there are: author (my nick), hour when note was written, and link where You can go to the comments. If You will cklik this link (it is red font), You will see the place like this in Your blog :)
And I have question: You thought about this green blog (my biggest and oldest and the most popular) with the flower?

Unknown said...

Dear Julia,

You are right that Ruyard Kipling resided in Northbank but it is not with Police department. The photograph that you have shown as his house is called Bantony and of course it is with the Police Department. This was the summer house of the king of Sirmaur who had given to the British to be used as a residence for the soldiers. Northbank has got some families staying in and is divided in many parts. Unfortunately the government has done nothing to take care of this house.