St. John In The Wilderness

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After visiting the Atari-Wagha border daily ceremonial parade, we (Tanveer and me) resumed our journey to Dharamshala. When you move and go around  these places, you never feel that you are away from home.

As I just love street food, I was craving to have a lot  and my dear friend said,  let’s go tiger and we had all kinds of paratha by visiting  a different dhaba (a highway restaurant, serving authentic regional dishes at throwaway prices) and enjoyed  Patiala peg of lassi.

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After a long journey, we reached a wonderful place in the woods and that  was a church folks, standing alone in the wilderness St. John, since 1852  made up  of black stone.

The story of this church is very interesting. This church survived an earthquake in 1905. This very earthquake killed somewhere close to 20000  people and destroying many historic buildings in and around Dharamshala and Kangra area.

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Thankfully St John’s suffered marginally losing only the bell tower and its spire.

St. John in the wilderness church was built for John the Baptist, Located 1.2 km from the main Mcleodganj. It is located  in a very dense forest and the way to the church is very cold and foggy.

If you love walking, this will be a heavenly experience for you! In  the church, there is  an information board which tells the story and  it’s been recently  installed.

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This Church was the main  center of attraction during  the pre-independence era. This was very powerful in the northern region. St. John the wilderness is built using  neo-Gothic architecture, the church is known for its Belgian stained-glass windows donated by Lady Elgin (Mary Louisa Lambton), wife of Lord Elgin.

There is a bell which was cast in 1915 by Mears and Stain bank of England.

Most of the time here in the Church, I spent looking around and taking a  glimpse of the structure. There is a grave there,  lot actually a lot, but a grave caught my attention.

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This was the grave of Lord Elgin or you can say James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin. He was the Viceroy of India (1862–1863) the Governor General of India, apart from Governor General of the Province of Canada and High Commissioner in charge of opening trades with China and Japan.

He became Viceroy of India in 1862, and was the first to use Peterhoff, Shimla as the official residence of the Viceroy. He died in 1863 of a heart attack while crossing a swinging rope and wood bridge over the river Chadly, on the lap between Kullu and Lahul.

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Lord Elgin was so attached with the Deodar grove that surrounded the church that he wished he would rest in peace if he was buried here in the church premises. The place reminded him of Scotland. According to his wish, he was buried in the premises of the St. John’s Church in Dharamshala.

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In the same premises is also the grave of the Lieutenant General of Punjab David Mcleod after whom the place Mcleodganj is named.

It looks like a hidden treasure and it has that element to turn you into a tireless traveller. You just can’t ignore the urge to visit it once that you have heard of it. In my opinion, you should give it a try and visit this beautiful  piece of history, the Church of St John in the Wilderness morphs as a camouflage into the natural surroundings of the Himachal deodar forest. Surviving 150 years of varied weather, intense earthquakes and yet standing tall,  this structure deserves one visit for sure!

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Thanks guys for reading the post! Cheers!!!

I will return soon with another fascinating account of another place of historical importance!

Nainital

 

Nainital : It is believed that the Naini Lake is one of the 64 Shakti Peeths, or religious sites where parts of the charred body of Sati (Parvati) fell on earth while being carried by Lord Shiva.The spot where Sati’s eyes (or Nain) fell, came to be called Nain-tal or lake of the eye. The goddess Shakti is worshiped at the Naina Devi Temple on the north shore of the present day lake.

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Nainital Lake– Also known as Naini Lake, it is situated in the heart of the city and it is owing to this lake that Nainital earned its name. The eye-shaped lake is a tourist hotspot and acts as a magnet for all those visiting the hill resort. Here, a person can either take a leisurely stroll or indulge in boating and enjoy the surrounding beauty. The northern end of the lake is called Mallital, while the southern one is called Tallital. The Lake Bridge that connects the two banks has quite a few shops as well as a post office, the only one in the world to be located on a bridge.

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Naina Devi Temple– The temple is located on the northern shore of Naini lake. The presiding deity of the temple is Maa Naina Devi represented by twoNetras or eyes. Flanking Naina Devi are the deities of Mata Kali and Lord Ganesha. Nainital is believed to be one of the 64 Shaktipeeths, where one of the body parts of Goddess Sati fell, when Lord Shiva carried her body. In Nainital, the eyes (naina) of the Goddess are asumed to have fallen. The shrine of Naina Devi is a must visit for devout Hindus. and was reconstructed after being destroyed in the 1880 landslide. One can also get an amazing view of the hill station, overlooking the lake, from the temple.

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St. John in the Wilderness, a church established in 1844 and is located on the north end of town (Mallital), about half a mile north-west of the Naina Devi temple. The church was so named by Daniel Wilson, the Bishop of Calcutta, who, after falling ill during a visit to Nainital in 1844 to lay the foundation of the church, was obliged to sleep in an unfinished house on the edge of the forest. (See excerpt from Josiah Bateman on the Literary references to Nainital page.) A brass plaque on the altar is inscribed with names of the victims of the Landslip of 1880.

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Governor’s House also known Raj Bhavan and formerly, Government House was built in 1899 and designed in the Victorian Gothic domestic style(also called “domestic Gothic”) by the architect F.W. Stevens. Originally built as the summer residence of the governor of the North West Province, it later became the summer residence for the Lieutenant Governor of the United Provinces. Currently, Raj Bhavan is the official guest house for the governor of Uttarakhand and for visiting state guests. The complex consists of a two-storied mansion with 113 rooms, a large garden, a swimming pool, and golf links. Obtaining prior permission is a “must” for visiting.

Snow View is situated at an altitude of 2,270 m (7,450 ft) and located atop the Sher-ka-danda Ridge (north by north-east of the town centre), is easily reachable by cable car.Charges for cable car is Rs. 150 per person, Rs. 75 for child. Charges are for stay for one hour at the point. Timings are 10.00 am to 5.00 pm On a clear day, it offers spectacular views of the snowbound high Himalaya, including Nanda Devi, Trisul, and Nanda Kot. The best time of the year for viewing the mountains is late October and November.

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Naini Peak also known as China or Cheena Peak or Naina Peak is the highest peak in the town, with an altitude of 2,615 m (8,579 ft). and at a walking distance of 6 km (3.7 mi) from the north end of the town (Mallital). From atop the peak, one can not only see a broad swath of the snow clad high Himalaya, but also obtain a panoramic view of Nainital town itself. The summit is an invigorating hike from Nainital town; in addition, for the less energetic visitors, ponies can be hired in Mallital or on Snow View.

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Tiffin Top also known as Dorothy’s Seat This terraced hill top (2,292 m (7,520 ft)) on Ayarpatta hill is a 4 km (2.5 mi) hike from the town centre and commands a nice view of the neighbouring country side. Dorothy’s Seat is a stonework picnic perch on Tiffin Top built as a memorial to a British Army Officer’s wife, Dorothy Kellet, by her husband Col J.P. Kellett DSO MC, City of London Regiment, and admirers after her death from septicaemia aboard a ship bound for England to be with her 4 children, Elizabeth, Joan, Barbara and Richard. She was buried at sea in The Red Sea in 1936.

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Pt. G.B. Pant High Altitude Zoo: Opened in 1994, it is one of the two High altitude Zoo in India, Second is in Darjeeling, West Bengal. It houses various Phesants e.g. Kaleej Phesant etc.; high altitude endangered Mammals like Siberian Tiger, Snow Leopard, Goat Antelope-Ghooral and Serao etc. The animals are according to their habitat altitude, e.g. Snow Leopard is kept on the highest point.

Gurney House, the former residence, of Jim Corbett, is located on Ayarpatta Hill. Before leaving for Kenya, Jim and his sister Maggie sold the house to a zamindari family in Bihar. It is a private residence but is open to visitors as a museum of Corbett memorabilia.

Eco Cave Gardens is a natural garden which is situated just next to Kumaon University Campus. It is just 1 km away from Sukhatal and 2 km from Mallital. It has six caves along with a musical fountain.

🙂