Monday, 4 January 2021

Old ''Secretariat building'', a British legacy and the hill town of Nainital, India - a brief note

.Nainital old secretariat building (high Court) jagran.com

Uttrakhand High Court building, Nainital, financialexpress.com

Nainital, Uttrakhamnd state. Maps of India com. 

The High Court Of  Uttarakhand state  at  Nainital  is a heritage building. The Uttarakhand State was carved of erstwhile State of Uttar Pradesh in Nov. 2000. The composite state of Uttar Pradesh was the most populous and the largest  in terms of land in the Indian union.  When the new High Court of Uttarakhand was established in 2000 to deal with civil and criminal cases of the newly formed state, since that time  at Nainital  the court has been functioning in an old building located in Mallital, Nainital.  Built in 1900 during the British Raj, it was known as the old Secretariat and  this government office building  was  active when this hill station  became the summer capital of the United province ( after 1947 Uttar Pradesh and other states were part of it.). 

In the colonial period, during the hot summer season, unable to bear the intense heat and scorching sun there used to be an annual   migration of  almost the entire government  machinery -  British staff both senior  and officers of other ranks headed by the state Governor  along with important government files, etc. This had been a tradition among the Presidencies  across India  for a pretty long time.  This is true of the British India's head Viceroy and his  government staff based in Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal  who would move  over to Shimla (elevation 7467 feet), now in the Himachal Pradesh state. Shimla was the summer capital of the Raj and the most favorite hill station of Lord Curzon. In the case of  Madras Presidency, the British Governor would  shift his office, his staff and files  from Madras (now Chennai) to Ooty ( elevation 7350 feet;  original name: Otagamund) in the Nilgiri hills of the Western Ghat, Southern  India. There is a Raj Bhavan building in Ooty  built in 1888 by the British

As for Nainital, the secretariat building was  exclusively built  to house various  government offices during the summer season to carry on the administrative work without any delay. The congenial climate on the hill in the Himalayan region provided them  with pleasant ambiance to get on with their official work without getting fatigued, as they had experienced on the hot plains of India. At Nainital High Court - building is  in front of a park  facing the  Naina Peak, the highest in Nainital;  in the backdrop of the tall mountains, the old building looks impressive and picturesque. 

As the building was inadequate for the High Court staff and justices, additional court rooms, Chief Justice Court Block and a Block of Lawyers’ Chambers, etc were built later. 

Tit-bits:

A brief information  on Nainital:

Nainital hill station, Uttrakhand, India.traveltriangle.com

Nainital hill station, Uttrakhand, India..yatra.com

The British East India Company  soon after the  Angelo-Nepalese war in 1814- 1816 took possession of the region  mostly made of Kumaon hills (Kumaon means  black out due to poor sunshine in this location) ).  Nninital  founded in 1841  is named after Sati ( God Shiva's consort)  where the eye of Sati fell; Nain (eyes) tal (lake of the eye ). There is a Shakti temple called Naina Devi on the north shore of the present lake.  There used to be 250 Shiva and 35 Vaishnava temples in the Kumaon area controlled by the British, according to Historian Atkinson. Of them,  there were 64 Shiva temples and 8  Vaishnava temples  dedicated to Shakti. The prevalence of Shiva and Shakti worship was and is common through out the Kumaon Himalayan region, part of the reason is the proximity of Mt. Kailash and the Lake Manasharovar. Besides, there are many folk gods and Goddesses in the interior region. As for Nainital and its surrounding area, Shakti worship is  common.

Nainitai, is a famous hill station located in the picturesque  valley ( altitude 6837 feet/2084 m) part of the Kumaon Hills on the outer Himalayas; the present population is more than  38500. In1841, first European house (the Pilgrim Lodge)  was built by a sugar merchant P. Barron from Shahjahanpur. In 1846,  on a visit to Nainital,  Capitan Madden of Bengal Artillery  recorded many houses on the hills. 

With the construction of St. John's Church  in the wilderness,  lots of colonial officials and  British soldiers moved in  large numbers as they liked the pleasant weather and the hill,  far removed from the plains, where the summer heat was  horrible. Soon it became a famous health resort for them. The added advantage was the presence of lot  of   wooded areas nearby where they could go hiking and do some exploration. Soon  a summer residence of the Governor  of United provinces  came up in the early part of the 20th century. 

Raj Bhavan, Nainital, Uttrakhand.
en.wikipedia.org

In the early 19th century, Europeans schools for boys and girls came up and most of the students were from the families of officials and soldiers of the English company and some traders. Sherwood college  and St. John's college ( .started in 1888; completed 125 years in 2013 )  well-known colleges in Nainital. Even today some  European boarding schools are famous. In the 1880s Nainital became,  after its founding in 1842  became an exclusive preserve of the Europeans  and the natives- Indians were confined to service  industries. The population grew up to 6700 by 1906 and every year more people took refuge on the cool hill leaving the hot plains and an hilly town surrounded by wooded areas. Their choice fell on Nainital a growing hill town with more European population. Included in these groups were  retired higher-ups, workers  and others from the United province. The annual migration of the British officials  slowly  stopped in the 1925, as the British govt. offered concessions, etc., to those who opted for  summer vacation in England.  Toward the days of  active Independence struggle and later freedom from the British, the English population declined over a short period taken  by the slowly swelling Indians. 

https://www.nainital.info/culture-of-kumaon/



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