Why this blog is called "Gallimaufry".

gal-uh-MAW-free\, noun.

Originally meaning "a hash of various kinds of meats," "gallimaufry" comes from French galimafrée; in Old French, from the word galer, "to rejoice, to make merry"; in old English: gala + mafrer: "to eat much," and from Medieval Dutch maffelen: "to open one's mouth wide."

It's also a dish made by hashing up odds and ends of food; a heterogeneous mixture; a hodge-podge; a ragout; a confused jumble; a ridiculous medley; a promiscuous (!) assemblage of persons.

Those of you who know me, will, I’m sure, understand how well some of these phrases (barring the "promiscuous" bit!) fit me.

More importantly, this blog is an ode to my love for Shimla. I hope to show you this little town through my eyes. If you don't see too many people in it, forgive me, because I'm a little chary of turning this into a human zoo.

Stop by for a spell, look at my pictures, ask me questions about Shimla, if you wish. I shall try and answer them as best as I can. Let's be friends for a while....

28 April 2006

Christ Church

is the focal point of Scandal Point. Designed by Colonel J.T. Boileau in 1844, it was consecrated sometime after 1857. It is home to the country's biggest pipe organ and has some utterly lovely stained-glass windows.

Scandal Point

The soul of Shimla. In the late 18th century, the doings at Scandal Point reached such a stage that an admittedly irritated Harrop remarked,"The transmitters of gossip are ever at work and savory and unsavory secrets of our society are flashed to the uttermost limits of Simla with all the speed of wireless."! Things haven't changed much since...
And Shimla probably still has its Mrs. Hauksbees.

Sunsets in Shimla

Remind me of some lines by Emily Dickinson:
"Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,—
Prodigal of blue,

Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover’s words."

The "memory lane"

was so christened by my friend Yashodhara because we made innumerable trips up and down this way.
This is a view from the Railway Board building when you are headed towards Ellerslie, or the Himachal Pradesh Secretariat building as it is now called.

Born in the moonlight of the lane,
Quench’d in the heavy shadow again.

Gorton Castle from a distance

is as beautiful as from up close. Completed in 1904, this neo-Gothic building was designed by Sir Swinton Jacob. It takes its name from its first owner a Mr. Gorton who was an ICS. Formerly the Civil Secretariat of the Imperial Government of India, today it houses the offices of the Accountant General of Himachal Pradesh.
You might be allowed to explore it if you ask the Accountant General nicely!

Walking to the Mall

Just walking around,
An object of curiosity to some,
But you are too preoccupied
By the secret smudge in the back of your soul
To say much, and wander around,
Smiling to yourself and others.

Railway Board Building

Located at the foot of the Mall, this building was constructed by the Bombay firm Rishardson and Cruddas in 1896-97. It is a cast-iron & steel structure and once housed the offices of the Railway Board.
I was an officer-in-training in this building for a year & a half. Loved its four floors, three basements and gorgeous cast-iron staircases.

Tempted to quote Philip Larkin:

As light fails, to notice the first star
Pulsing alone in a long shell-coloured sky....

Chhota Shimla

which means "small Shimla" seen from a distance.

25 April 2006


This diesel-powered contraption may look a little unprepossesing, but it's possibly the nicest way to travel up to Shimla. About 14 years ago, we were a group of around 20 people all going up, so we bought tickets on the railcar. We also stocked up on potato chips, cookies, water, a guitar & a small tambourine.
What a lovely journey it turned out to be...


This little fellow pulls you up into the hills from Kalka. Small, but tough :)

The half-hidden sign at Barog

says: "The train stops for ten minutes at this station. You can take eatables from here."

More on Barog

It's really quite a tiny place located 1680m above the sea level and is best known for its railway restaurant. Sadly, the quality of food has diminished speedily. The restaurant had a 30s ambience not so long ago. But that's nearabout gone too.

Mid-way between Kalka & Shimla...

lies Barog. This picture shows its tiny signalling tower.

The Shivaliks

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my

Hebrew Psalm CXXI (l. CXXI, 1).


Trains are for meditation, for playing out long thought-processes, over and over; we trust them, perhaps because they have no choice but to go where they are going.

Distance, they say, makes the heart grow fonder!

From its blue vase the rose of evening drops;
Upon the streams its petals float away.
The hills all blue with distance hide their tops
In the dim silence falling on the grey.
A little wind said "Hush!" and shook a spray
Heavy with May's white crop of opening bloom;
A silent bat went dipping in the gloom.

Night tells her rosary of stars full soon,
They drop from out her dark hand to her knees.
Upon a silhouette of woods, the moon
Leans on one horn as if beseeching ease
From all her changes which have stirred the seas.
Across the ears of Toil, Rest throws her veil.
I and a marsh bird only make a wail.

Francis Ledwidge. 1891–1917

There's something about Shimla

Sir Philip Sidney is so right when he says: "O sweet woods, the delight of solitariness!" This is a view from the window of a place I usually stay in. Now would you blame me for wanting to go back there over & over again? This is the place where the idea of solitude delights and enlivens...
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