When was the last time you visited a Graveyard? Must be thinking what question is this, Is Graveyard a tourist spot? though it is a destination but nobody chooses on his own to go their. An year back or so I had not thought of this that one fine day I would be standing in a graveyard that too in Nainital, where people go to see lakes and natural beauty.
This was my third visit to Nainital : City of Lakes, and I was in no mood to enjoy the lake view only. Thanks to my host The Himalaica who understood my feeling and planned my whole tour according to my choices, which was to see that part of Nainital which Britisher’s brought to this world neither God nor the local Kumaon people who overtook the Nainital once the Britisher’s left India.
Without a doubt, a Nainital post can’t be complete without the glimpse of the Lake for which it is mainly known and where people end up their 2 Night 3 Days packages, roaming on the Mall Road.
An hour drive from the Mall road, everybody following the same route just for this view of the Lake and the Nainital town, named after very lake. From one angle it was this view and just turn the neck left one would see the Dhauladhar range, snow laden mountains.
It was not the view for which we were standing there, our guide Mr. Deepak Bisht aka Deepu had stopped there to tell me the first story. This guy was moving like a flowchart, first thing first and then connecting the dots, though I came to know quite late that this guy had same interests like me and it was this only which brought him to guide me otherwise he owns the full cable TV network of Nainital and a local news channel.
Deepu had stopped here to show me the point from where the Nainital came into being on the world map. This was the place where he was going to play a Rapid Fire round with me. As soon as I landed my foot out of the car, first question came from Deepu “When Nainital was founded?, by the time I could answer next question came, Who founded Nainital?, again some silence from my side and third came, Was he the first one to have founded Nainital?”. By the time he could shoot more and my moral could die in front of the missus, I said in a very polite way “Deepu Bhai I don’t know anything, please enlighten me with your knowledge”.
This was another mistake I had done, I had given him the “Right to Kill” and this time it was going to be by words. A mistake had been done, word from mouth never comes back but this time this decision was going in my favour. Standing on the edge of mountain he started his narration “Tarun sir, I know what attracts you I have been told by Uttam Sir of Himalaica. Can you see the Naini Lake in front of you, it is one of the shakti peeths out of total 64 in India. Mythologically speaking these shakti peeths were created wherever parts of charred body of Sati fell ,when Lord Shiva was carrying around her corpse in grief .It is said that the left eye (Nain) of Sati fell here and this gave rise to patron deity of town Nainital . It is said that the lake is formed in the emerald eye shape . Naina Devi temple is located at the northern end of the lake . Thus name of Nainital derivated from Naina and the tal (Lake)”.
Does this interest you Tarun sir? I can see from you soft smile coming that you are not interested in knowing these mythological stories, he asked me. Well this was the part I was waiting for, and he started “Ok you might have heard of P.Barron, who founded the Nainital town. But he was not the first person to have found this place, it was Mr. GW Traill who found this place before him but he never made it famous”, ok this was something was new for me.
Pointing towards the adjoining mountain of Naini lake, which makes this valley he said “It was from that mountain P.Barron came. He and his three friends went for a shooting spree and it was while that they discovered this lake and came up with idea to make their resting places here, it was P.Barron who sought the permission from then commissioner to allocate him some land along this lake, and this whole episode made the town Nainital”. but wait a town without the full guidance of an architect and a layout plan, is it possible? Do you think so sir?
Saying these words Mr.Deepak sat in the car and I followed him, din’t gave any sign neither said any word just sat in the car and me and my wife were looking at each other with dumb eyes. Well we were on our next destination for which Mr.Deepak said only one line in car “Apko darr lagta hai sir (Do you feel scared sometimes)”.
For the next 15 minutes missus actually looked scared, holding my hand and pinching me after every turn in the mountains she kept asking me “Where are we going, whats scary, why he asked like this”, and I kept smiling and saying only four words “How would I know”.
Bit of shakiness in the tyre, bit of wobbling and before we could feel the mountain sickness, next destination was right in front. Huge structure, for an instance looked actually like a spot of a horror film just the foggy feel was missing thanks to bright sunny day. St.John in Wilderness written on rustic metal board, and the word came “Was that not suppose to be in Dharamshala ?”, when it shifted here. Mr.Deepak smiling and said “There too we have the church with same name”.
Standing in front of church, built around 1844 in the name of St. John of Calcutta who came here in Nainital and settled here only. Those were the times when Nainital was just a name, in fact spelling too was different, Nyneetal. No doubt this church had the appeal, built in Gothic style but this is where it was ending, sadly with window glasses were broken, we couldn’t enter inside and see the beautiful paintings of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, though in fading condition.
I was like “Mr.Deepak, this place is good, it has a charm but what to see?, everything is locked”, and he replied “Do you think I brought you here to see a locked Church sir, remember Scary word? come follow me and don’t tell Mam anything where we are going”, lets meet the guy who actually brought Nainital on the map of the world. what?
To be honest I envy the speed with which these mountain people walk, Deepak had told me to follow him, but is it possible to follow somebody who is gone in the wind. Walking down the meandering lanes which came up with the ages of Rain, I was sure nobody comes here anymore, no footstep signs, grass was evenly raised which showed its been an era somebody crawled or walked on them.
“Sir this is the oldest graveyard of Nainital, you remember year 1848 witnessed the most havoc scene of Nainital, landslide which took away souls of thousands of people in which some of notable britishers bodies is buried here in which one is of Mr. George Thomas Lushington”.
As soon as “Oldest Graveyard of Nainital” knocked my ear drums, excitement had struck like lightning, smiling and clicking the pics I kept moving here and there. Suddenly came to realize one more person was along with me, my Missus. She was standing at one spot, confused face looking at me, I went to her and asked what happened, she said What are you clicking I can’t see anything here. I laughed loudly and said “First you get down from the slab on which you are standing, somebody is sleeping inside”, What? “We are standing in oldest graveyard of Nainital madam”.
I guess the question asked before by Deepak “Do you get scared sometimes?” was for my missus, as soon as she came to know that we were standing in a graveyard, I could see a different missus. That day I realized two things, first one being, even a Graveyard can be a tourist spot sometimes, atleast for me, and second was the most apt “Indian husbands are happiest when they see their wife scared” :).
Well watching scary wife for long can give serious after effects, mark my words. It had been long time I was clicking graves, but what about that line which Deepak had said “Lets meet the guy who brought Nainital on the map of world”.
It was time to resort to Mr.Deepak’s Gyan again, he too was waiting for the moment and just a look towards him was enough to raise a question. Are you through with your pics sir? He said. I am waiting to meet the guy who brought Nainital on the world map, I said. Come follow me sir.
“Meet Mr.George Thomas Lushington, one of commissioners of Kumaon region during British rule. He was the guy who brought Nainital on the world map. He was the guy who issued the order to plan the town, he was the one who planned for Mall road map and market along the lake. As far as you know the Mr.GW Traill who was another commissioner of Kumaon region found this Nainital place, but thanks to Mr.P.Barron who made it famous. But sir for a town to settle you need population and the place for them to live. Mr.Lushington was the person who spotted the spots for all the famous spots which people see these days known as “Must Visit places in Nainital”. It was he who issued the papers to appoint an architect to plan the town, where you see the Rajbhawan of today, it was Mr.Lushington who saw the vision to make that marvel in the middle of dense forest”.
I sometimes think Tarun sir what if Mr.George Thomas Lushington had not visioned of making this town a live able place. By now his introduction to Mr.Lushington was over, my clicks were over too. One thing was left, and as expected it came at the right moment when I thought off “Ab Kahin Aur Chalein Agar Murdon se Baat Ho Gayi Ho To (Shall we go somewhere else now, if talk with dead people is over)” said Missus.
I wanted to come out of Graveyard, hail and hearty with soul intact inside the body only, understanding the condition of Missus we stepped towards the car for our next destination.
While writing this post too, this thing surely came in my mind too and it is not long gone when I discussed the same thing with another fellow bloggers, What if Britishers hasn’t come to India? What India would have been then? Leave your views in comment box……