As the bell of the neo-Gothic style Anglican Christ Church on Shimla’s Ridge pealed for the midnight mass on Christmas, history echoed after a gap of over three decades.
Old-timers got nostalgic with rich tales of the era gone by. Built-in 1857 Shimla served as the summer capital of British India between 1864 and 1939. It is said to be northern India’s second oldest church.
Church authorities say it took almost a month to repair the bell that developed a snag in the early 1980s and was lying worthless.
The bell is now fully functional and routine repairs would be carried out time and again, he added.
Jiya Lal Thakur, an octogenarian who has been settled in Shimla since 1950, told IANS that last night’s bell sound reminded him of the time bygone when worshippers all across Shimla started congregating within the church for midnight mass.
His wife Kamla said: “We hope the joyous ringing of the bell will keep echoing in Shimla’s skyline during celebrations.”
Retired mechanical engineer Victor Dean, who repaired it, told IANS that the bell was repaired extensively by assembling spare parts procured from Shimla and Chandigarh.
“Since its spares are not available in the market, we repaired it by using local techniques,” he said.
Shimla has 91 British-era heritage buildings, including Ellerslie, housing the state secretariat, Vidhan Sabha, Peterhoff (which was renovated after being devastated in a fire nearly two decades ago.
More than 60 years after the British left, this Himalayan town still attracts thousands of domestic and overseas tourists. Many of the foreign tourists are descendants of Englishmen who lived here during the Raj.