Venturing into a completely new arena, Himachal will now add another attraction to its list of adventure, cultural, health and pilgrim tourism as it will develop sites along the Hindustan-Tibet road, which formed the backdrop of many literary works of Rudyard Kipling, who spent some moments in these idyllic locations in the Himalayas.
With references of many of these places and rest houses in one of his books, “Kim”, the forest department has embarked on a unique project of developing the “Kipling” trail. It will be a combined venture of the forest and the tourism departments as the trail is expected to attract not only British travellers but also others who hold interest in his writings.
Even though there is no exact information or documented evidence of his presence at these places, writers, historians and local people will be involved in the project to get inputs of his stay.
“We will identify about 10 sites along the Hindustan-Tibet road where there is an evidence of Kipling’s stay, so that these can be developed to attract tourists,” says Avay Shukla, additional chief secretary, forest department.
The newly created eco-tourism wing of the forest department is enthusiastic about the project. “Since the project would be a big one with a scope for further expansion, we are exploring all options, including having jeep safari, camping sites and caravan travel along these sites, which inspired Kipling to pen his famous books,” explained Virender Kumar, conservator, eco-tourism.
In order to ensure the authenticity of the information about Kipling while he frequented these places, Shimla historian Raja Bhasin will be involved in preparing the literature aimed at attracting foreign tourists and those evincing interest in literature. “We will prepare literature about the writer, his life, his interests and his visits to these areas,” said Virender.
There are references about Kipling having frequented Shimla and many other places along the Hindustan-Tibet road in “Shimla Past and Present”. During his forays into these areas, the writer is learnt to have stayed in some of the old forest rest houses, still in existence. In fact, sources said he was learnt to have penned his remarks in the visitor’s book at one of the rest houses. Places along Kipling’s trail, where a forest rest house exist, would be given a facelift. In other places, camping sites would be developed.
The authorities are hopeful that the trail would attract a large number of foreigners, especially from Britain, as many of them come here to trace the places where their parents or grandparents resided during the days of the Raj. The forest authorities are trying to seek external funding for the project, which will involve the tourism, PWD, revenue and a number of other departments. Informal talks have also been held with Asian Development Bank but the detailed project is yet to be prepared. It would take some time before it is posed for funding.
The tourism authorities here have been trying to promote tourism connected with the British era. It is with the objective that a well-documented book, “An introduction to Churches and Christian cemeteries in Himachal Pradesh”, is being brought out by the department. This will provide information about the Britons who have been laid to rest in the cemeteries at various British settlements in the state, including Shimla.