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Read the Signs

As 84-year old historical signboards wither away in Dehra Dun, residents appeal to the administration to do something to preserve these heritage structures. Otherwise, it will be too late they wayr....

Dr Nitin Pandey

25-July-2012



“Toll for Cycles, Horses and Bulls 1 Rupee and 8 Anna; Pigs & Asses 5 Annas” reads an 83 year old board at the foothills of Mussorie. Thousands of people pass by it every year, as they trek to Mussorie from Dehra Dun but few pause to read it and still fewer realize its historical significance.

The toll barrier
The Toll Barrier at the start of the Bridle Path


Put up by the Mussorie Municipality, in January 1929, this board is one of the four historical boards at the start of the Bridle Path which goes from Shanshai Ashram, Rajpur, Dehra Dun to Jharipani, in Mussorie. It informs people going towards Mussorie that the Municipality has decided to impose a tax on everyone passing through and lays down different rates for people walking or going in bullock carts, hand held carriages (‘dolis’), horse driven carriages and even for those taking livestock. Travelers were also advised to preserve the counterfoils as they would be checked once they reach Jharipani.

Devki Nandan Pandey, a noted Doon historian, informs “This bridle path was the only access route to the hills since ancient times and all supplies to the villages in the mountains, including Pauri, used to pass through Rajpur, which was a rich flourishing town in those days with numerous hotels, offices of rich businessmen and traders and the British Government.” The construction of the ‘motor road’ to Mussorie started only in 1926 and it was completed in 1930. “In 1929 the Municipality in Mussorie decided to collect toll tax along both the roads. The motor road to Mussorie was completed in three stages, but people still preferred the bridle path as it was shorter and not many people could afford the charges of the single bus which operated along the route. And only the extremely rich owned a motor car in those days” says Pandey.

The toll barrier
The Toll Barrier Boards


“Put up in 1929, these boards are a mute reminder of our history” says Dhruv Mehta, a fourth generation resident of Doon. “They are in their original condition and location and have never even been repainted. These 100 year old boards still gleam as if new, thought because of absolutely no maintenance, the iron has finally started yielding to nature. Very soon we will loose them and a valuable piece of history will be lost. It will be such a shame” he rues.

Even as world over, societies works overtime to preserve their heritage, neither the Mussorie Municipality nor the Uttarakhand Government seem to care. Says 65 year old Uday Singh Bhandari, a retired Municipality employee, who since 1974 is living in what used to be the Toll Office, next to these boards “These boards are priceless. In any other country, they would have been preserved in a closed weatherproof enclosure and showcased. Tourists would love it and this could be a major tourist attraction of Doon. But unfortunately, no one cares. I’ve met the Municipal Officers so many times, pleaded with the local MLA to save this piece of Doon’s history, but to no effect. Slowely, but surely they are disintegrating before every one’s eyes”.

Priceless as they are, preserving them would hardly cost a few thousand rupees, yet it appears odd that no one bothers. It is hard to believe that a State Government which spends lakhs of rupees on celebrating Uttarakhand Day, cannot afford a miniscule amount to save Uttarakhand’s history. It is also surprising that Mussorie which thrives on tourism has no money to save a priceless tourist attraction. Will someone wake up before history becomes “history”?



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Date30-Dec-15
From: I hate to say it, yeah, I really hate to say it but I have to agree with Tom here.Since when did the US and Israel or the US and any Country have a "family reiaoltnship"?In Europe at one time the different countries would go to war with each other all the
I hate to say it, yeah, I really hate to say it but I have to agree with Tom here.Since when did the US and Israel or the US and any Country have a "family reiaoltnship"?In Europe at one time the different countries would go to war with each other all the time, with making and changing alliances. The British would ally with the French against the Spanish, only to then go and ally against the French.In our own history, we were enemies with the French in the French Indian wars only to twenty years later ally ourselves with them against the British to gain our independence.Over the years England has been our enemy then our ally, the Germans our enemies then our ally (thanks Wernher von Braun for helping us get to the moon, though I didn't like how your V2 rockets brought destruction to London).Things change. Allies sometimes become enemies and then sometimes allies again. But ONE THING remains constant. LOYALTY TO ONES CITIZENSHIP!So this is a message to all those United States citizens out there - I AM AN AMERICAN HOW ABOUT YOU!Things don't always swing the way we might wish. Heck I didn't vote for the man but HE IS OUR PRESIDENT!So, yeah Tom, I have to agree. Fair is fair! Either respect the United States or get the hell out of it!


Date14-Oct-15
From: I so absolutely agree with your last line! i went to katernadh almost 20 years back, and even then, there was quite a crowd.... we were part of a crowd and my mom made me go ahead with some of the younger people (I was barely 15 then).... she came behind
I so absolutely agree with your last line! i went to katernadh almost 20 years back, and even then, there was quite a crowd.... we were part of a crowd and my mom made me go ahead with some of the younger people (I was barely 15 then).... she came behind with my grandfather and a few other elderly people in our group...unfortunately, they couldnt get a horse, and had to climb up all the way, got delayed due to the slow speed and it was dark... they almost lost their way but thankfully a stranger appeared and helped them out.... meanwhile i had reached the temple, had darshan, but was really worried,.. more so because i had already lost my father.. and the darker it got, the more worried i was..... this comment is getting almost as long as the post, so let me just conclude by telling you that they finally reached at night and only then did i heave a sigh of relief! It was a scary thing, but the only part of the trip i remember vividly after so many years... and which made us decide that we will visit the temples again, but when it is less crowded... i need to take my in laws now... incidentally, my hubby also visited kedar at about the same time that i did, with his grandfather! just imagine the co-incidence if we had met there!!Meanwhile, I am lookigng forward to reading your experiences and re-living mine!




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