Saving the heritage of Dalhousie

Founded in 1850 A.D. and located on the western end of the mighty Dhauladhars at an altitude of 2378 metres, Dalhousie has a name due to its unique architecture and beautiful British style bungalows that dot the townscape. If the heritage is lost in the wake of development, town would suffer tremendously both economically and environmentally.

Old structures
According to a draft report on the ‘Heritage of Dalhousie Town’ drawn up by the H. P. Town and Country Planning Department the owners of the monuments, buildings, and bungalows be provided incentives to ensure preservation of these ancient structures. Heritage cess on tourists coming to the town and funds thus generated may be used effectively for value addition to the town heritage. Making heritage conservation as people’s movement is the foret necessity.

In the light of prosperous and proud past of Dalhousie being a British town on one hand and need for preservation of heritage on the other, regulatory control for heritage monuments of Dalhousie are devised for several monuments such as Sardar Ajit Singh Samadhi, Kynance Building, Subhas Bouli, Norwood Paramdham, Bara Pathar, Khyber House, St. John’s Church at Gandhi Chowk, Radha Swami Satsang Bhawan, Dakshina Murti Ashram, Shivkul in Moti-Tibba and St. Francis Church, Cemetery, Sacred Heart High School, Laxmi Narayan temple in Dalhousie Khas.

Heritage zone
The official report has laid down provisions for the ‘restricted development’ means only residential construction with two storeys and one parking floor shall be allowed in the heritage zone, which has been defined as ‘Restrict Area’ in the approved development plan of Dalhousie. The heritage of Dalhousie has been divided into two categories – natural heritage and built heritage. Natural heritage comprises socio-cultural spaces and parks, area on hillside of the Mall in Bakrota starting from Dhoop Ghari to the IPH tanks on Khajjiar road, G.P.O. and Subhas Chowk and its surrounding areas, the open green patches slopes, woodlands in heritage zone and outside heritage zone but within planning area limits. Sightseeing points near Sun Villa on Satdhara road and near Vikas Guest House on Potreyn road and site seeing points and rains shelters along the ‘thandi sarak’, the report recommends.

All the heritage buildings, monuments, spaces identified and mentioned in the report falling in proposed heritage zone and outside heritage zone within planning area boundary (municipal council boundary) fall in the category of built heritage. The report has prescribed regulations for natural heritage and heritage buildings, complexes and heritage zone..

The report on heritage of Dalhousie town has attributed the causes for neglect of heritage monuments in the past to the ignorance and lack of understanding the values of historical monuments and the buildings of olden times . As Dalhousie is easily accessible from the plains, the problem of conversion of structures of the British style and architecture into multistory, commercial flats, hotels and guest houses has posed a threat to the valuable heritage, besides scarcity of developable land and pressure of forces of consumerism.

Carelessness and inactive role of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), lack or coordination and interaction between local body, town planning, district administration and the INTACH are also the reasons responsible for the degradation of the hill town’s invaluable assets.

Grave neglect
The significant move of state government to preserve heritage of Dalhousie town is one of the paramount remedial measures for its conservation and saving the scenic town from further commercialization, in addition to the stringent byelaws of the Town and Country Planning Act and the regulations stipulated in the approved development plan for Dalhousie.
Town history

Dalhousie, conceived as a health resort, was set up in 1850 when the British rulers acquired five hills from the Raja of Chamba State for developing the area as sanatorium. The project of development of sanatorium was started in 1851 A. D. on a spot where the Dainkund Ridge breaks into spurs and Kathlag was identified for the construction of Convalescent Depot.

New name
In the year 1853, the British rulers from the Raja of Chamba acquired the five hills namely – Kathlag, Potreyn, Moti-Tibba, Bakrota and Bhangora. Since the estate was founded in the time of Lord Dalhousie, Sir Donald McLeod named the sanatorium “Dalhousie”. In the year 1856, ore land was acquired in Baloon and Bakka hills for the construction of barracks of the Convalescent Depot and as Cantonment respectively. With the expansion of the estate, which started during the British regime, the whole area has come to be known as Dalhousie.

After acquisition in 1850’s Dalhousie was made a part of then Kangra District of Punjab State. Later on, it was transferred to Gurdaspur District in August 1861.

Only after re-organization of States in 1966, Dalhousie became a part of Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh on November 1, 1966.

Pines & oaks
Dalhousie situated on the pine-covered spur at western end of mighty Dhauladhar Mountain range, was established in 1858 A.D. by the British Governor General, Lord Dalhousie and was named after him. Dalhousie town is a popular and gorgeous tourist destination of Himachal Pradesh because of its serenity, refreshing air and enchanting scenery. A number of picturesque walks run through the oak and pine forests in the town and offer superb glimpse of the Ravi valley.

It is thickly wooded with stately pines and oaks and has lovely picnic spots all around. Due to the disturbance in the neighbouring states, the importance of tourist towns of Himachal Pradesh including Dalhousie has increased and as a result, it has emerged as favourite tourist resort among the tourists. During peak season, more than 650 tourists visit the town in a day.

Dalhousie is situated at a distance of 394 km from Shimla, the state capital and 80 km from Pathankot, which is the nearest city as well as railway station while the Kangra airport is at a distance of 83 kilometres.

The municipal council of Dalhousie was established in the year 1885 as ‘nagar palika’, which included Kathlag, Moti-Tibba, Dalhousie Khas and Bakrota revenue up-Mohals. It was re-designated as ‘nagar parishad’ Dalhousie in 1994.

Kangra’s pride
The nagar parishad Dalhousie has 766 hectares of land with population of 7419 persons as per 2001 census. The cantonment area is located on north side adjoining to the nagar parishad area. The heritage of Dalhousie town can be seen in terms of natural vegetation, scenic beauty, British time bungalows, Mall roads, churches, temples, circulation system, buildings associated with the dignitaries like Subhas Chander Bose and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru etc.



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