It is a place that you would likely miss. I did too when I first visited Mall Road in Shimla. But Scandal Point (the name sounds intriguing isn’t it?) has an interesting legend behind it which was narrated to me by one of the drivers in the early morning in the hotel where I was staying in Shimla. He also proclaimed to be a former driver of none other than our Iron Lady and first and only lady Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi. According to him, once at the intersection now known as Scandal Point, the daughter of Viceroy was coming from one side on her chariot and the Maharaja of Patiala on his from the other. The road was narrow so both chariots had to stop.
There the dashing maharaja was bewitched by the beauty of lovely daughter of the British Viceroy who was enjoying his break in the then summer capital of India. The Maharaja – a tall handsome man with cult personality and charm according to the person narrating the story – got out of the chariot and asked the lady to accompany him…well for the rest of his life so the story goes.
The lady herself fell in love at sight with the flamboyant maharaja at once and took his hand and got into his chariot. They eloped together and got married. When the Viceroy heard of his daughter elopement he was infuriated. Fumed by the incidence the British Viceroy to India banished the maharaja from entering Shimla for rest of his life and he also sentenced his beloved daughter to exile.
So what did the maharaja do? He was undeterred and in love with the lady. To ensure that his lady got all the lavishness, indulgence and elegance characteristic of the maharajas of those times, he build her a palace. The same palace that is now the pride of Chail. Yes, the Chail Palace was built by the maharaja for his lovely lady so the folklore goes.
After hearing the legend, I was compelled to revisit the Mall Road once again just to go see Scandal Point and relive a few moment of the legendary tell that was narrated to me in the early morning. The man had all the quality of a court bard the way he romanticized the entire incidence.
Scandal Point is something that you are most likely to overlook if you are not aware of this folklore behind the place being named so. The place itself is more of a landmark due to the legend attached with it. There are no statues celebrating or glorifying the legendary maharaja and the lovely British lady. If you are a photography enthusiast, you will find some good photo ops at the point especially in the evening and after sunset when the church and street are lit.
If you are in Shimla I’d recommend that you do give a few moment to this historical place whose folklore are still shared my many old residents of Shimla and storytellers like the chauffeur that I had the good luck to meet at the hotel.
And this do reminds me of a song by one of my fave Simon and Garfunkel. It goes like:
A time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you
Some photos which are not mine. Due credit has been given.
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