In the long list of renamed Indian cities, Shimla could be the latest entrant as the ruling BJP government is considering a proposal to change its name to Shyamala.
A campaign has been launched by some right-wing Hindu groups demanding that the capital of Himachal Pradesh be renamed. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and state health minister Vipin Singh Parmar said many cities in different parts of the country used to have historic names but they were changed. So, there would not be any harm in reverting to those names. If the people want Shimla to be rechristened as Shyamala, the proposal can be considered, Parmar told PTI.
Notably, social media has been abuzz with discussions on the topic for the last few days. The debate has left people divided with some favouring the name change and others opposing it.
Senior Himachal Pradesh Congress leader Harbhajan Singh Bhajji questioned the intention of those who want Shimla to be renamed. "What is the justification (for changing Shimla's name)," asked Bhajji as he vehemently opposed the proposal.
This is a historical city and if you change its name, it will lose its character, Bhajji argued. What's wrong with the name Shimla? Will the renaming ensure development? The state government should focus on ensuring that the state progresses instead of indulging in such frivolous antics, he added.
According to Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) functionary Aman Puri, the popular holiday retreat was originally called Shyamala but as the Britishers found it tough to pronounce, they renamed it Simla which later became Shimla.
Also known as the queen of hills, Shimla was declared the summer capital of British India in 1864. It remained that way till India got independence in 1947.
British officer Captain Charles Pratt Kennedy played a pivotal role in transforming Shimla as he built the first house here in 1822 aptly calling it-- Kennedy House.