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....

25 August 2009

A divine and lordly manor

One weekend G and I decided to explore our neighbourhood, the learned portals of Himachal University. It yielded two hidden gems. I've spoken to you of one which, home to the Institute of Integrated Himalayan Studies, remains otherwise nameless. The second one is further down the same road.
It's called Manorville.
But first, this little marble plaque on the gate-post: "The Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi stayed here often when he visited Simla during 1935 to 1946", it informed us somewhat ungrammatically. Interest piqued, we walked in.

The chowkidaar on duty, a most helpful person, told us that this was the former residence of Rajkumari Amrit Kaur (1889-1964), who belonged to the erstwhile royal family of Kapurthala, but is better known for her active role in the nationalist movement. The Rajkumari went on to become independent India's first Health Minister. Like all true nationalists, she thought nothing of gifting away her considerable wealth and property to the country. This bungalow today serves are a guest-house for the visitors of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.

I pored over the Shimla Heritage Report of the Town & Country Planning Department, but found no details of Manorville's history. It rates only a passing mention, possibly through the Gandhian connection, but otherwise there's no description of its age or style of architecture. The chowkidar thought the building is about 50 years old! A fact entirely impossible since we know it for a fact that various nationalist leaders were tripping in and out of this beautiful brick and timber mansion.
Queries to locals also did not elicit any useful responses. To me, what was most appalling was that a large cross-section of Shimla's residents is clueless about the historic significance of this beautiful bungalow. Some knew it existed, others were totally unaware of its presence. Admittedly, Gandhi-ji lived in different places during his repeated journeys to the capital of British India, but even so, the town's fathers and educationalists have signally failed in telling their youngsters of this piece of history which still lives in their midst.

This is the balcony from which Mahatma Gandhi purportedly addressed the crowds.


The wonderful sitting room which commands a gorgeous view of a cedar and oak forest.

The carefully-preserved rooms where Gandhi-ji stayed.

The little marble board says it all!


Ann said...

That architecture is fantastic, as is the plaque.

Gallimaufry said...

Thank you, Ann.

Bibliophile said...

It's a lovely building, and it's sad that people don't realise its historical significance.

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