SAGA OF INDIAN HILL STATIONS
- Escaping Diseases and overcoming fatigue of tropics: The sweltering heat of India took a severe toll on the health of the Britishers and they had fallen prey to diseases like severe fatigue, dehydration, malaria, diarrhoea, typhoid etc. So, these high-altitude places with salubrious climate offered them an opportunity to relax and recuperate. This resulted into improved health and immunity boost. Many Britishers also chose to stay at such Hill Stations for longer durations.
- Development of Amenities: As more Britishers chose to stay at Hill Stations for lengthier durations that in turn lead to the development of many recreational amenities full with English style comforts and many structures in accordance with British Architectural styles were created. Many artificial lakes too were dug out and built to imitate the felling of English countryside charm. Hunting was always a preferred activity for British aristocrats and vast swathes of land on mountains soon became their preferred hunting grounds as a part of leisure. Majority of expat residents of Hill Stations were women and children who mingled well with the locals teaching them the white mannerisms and etiquettes. This lead to the swell in population at Hill Stations.
- Nostalgia and Cultural Hybridization: The location of these places made English nostalgic and they compared them with the English boulevards, valleys, mountains, and peaks. They extensively planted the British crops and fruits and juxtaposed them with already existing indigenous Indian plants. Planting of cash crops also became rampant. The abundance of produce and the vastness of green cover today can be attributed to the Britishers. Since Britishers saw them as “second homes that exude the charm of a county” many British styled amenities were constructed like lake side walks. Central walk avenues, shopping districts / malls, huge Anglican churches etc. which still stand today as cynosure for visiting tourists.
- From Destinations to Stations: In the old days these highlands were known as Hilly Destinations /Hill Resorts. So, why do we call them as Hill Stations? As we already saw many English plants were planted by Britishers and many of them included cash crops like tea and coffee. There was always a surplus production of these which was transported down to plains. However, the journey down was very treacherous which lead to creation of light railways with few stations in between. Although that was not the only purpose behind construction of the scenic rail lines. Thus, the new word Hill Station came became prominent.
- An Escape: The feeling of tranquil solitude that Hill Stations of India offer is one of the reasons why even today the resorts / guest houses and other secondary accommodation establishments at hill stations see many long stay guests who occupy themselves in creative pursuits. In the colonial era Britishers too used these highlands to escape and segregate themselves physically and culturally from indigenous population, native servants, and native labour.