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Café Under Tree – Fall in love with Shimla hills over a cup of tea

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SHIMLA- It’s a scene from a movie; having a cup of coffee while sitting in the balcony of a house amid an evergreen forest, tranquil and mystique, fog crawls through it. Nature is a healer but urbanization has no place for it in cities choking in vehicular and industrial pollution, where air is always dusty and that honking of hundreds of vehicles at the same time never seems to stop, and to which city people have adapted.

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Well, at least, a part of this scene can come true in Shimla – capital city of Himachal Pradesh, once known as ‘queen of hills’. Among good cafes in Shimla, Café Under Tree is a new and unique addition. Considering traffic vows and struggle for parking cars, this place is blessed with ample parking space.

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Spread across an area of 1400 square feet, it is nestled amidst Deodar forest of Jakhu- highest peak of Shimla at 2,455 meters.It is barely 2-3 kilometers from the Shimla Mall.

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Through large façade of transparent glass, a foggy evening would make you fall in love with hills.

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It just sinks into your head and you just never want to leave the place. The music is great; food is even better, and the hosts are humble with a good sense of hospitality. Café Under Tree has caught everyone’s attention in a short span of time, and it does not surprise the kind of influx it has at peak hours.

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The café made mostly from deodar wood is encapsulated between trees. In fact, the architecture, designed by architect Toito Sema (from Nagaland), is inspired by a leaf-like design to justify the name -Café Under Tree. It is worth mention that the wood used in the construction of this café is totally reclaimed. Not even a single tree has been felled for it.
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Interiors talk of the effort put into the planning of the café. Wooden lamps are the catchiest elements that the owner has designed himself.

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They have spot lighting filaments which can be turned  up or down depending on the natural lighting.

In a portion of the café, there is large display of cutlery and other decorative items. The raw architecture is fused into a modern look that makes it charming enough places to hang out with friends.

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Café Under Tree is and has ample space for parking. For those who want to explore the place the conventional way, that is walking, it is well worth the effort.

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From parking, you need to take a few stairs to reach the cafe.

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Views from both the inside and outside are simply unique. Being high up on the Jakhu peak, you’ll encounter mist playing a game of hide and seek with the sun and clouds, now and then. On bright shining days, with your beverage, there are beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

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Just like the café ambience, the food served here is simply amazing. Café has a chef who previously worked with Oberoi Group and has an experience of 16 years.

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We enjoyed a mouth-watering sandwich, crunchy Masala Dosa, lemon tea and the popular Chola Bhatura. The food was delicious, we must admint, and non-oily which goes well for the diet conscious lot.

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After it, with the generous owners Akshay Pandit and Shrey Pandit, we had a look at the kitchen and chatted with the chef as well.

I and my brother Shrey are living the dream of our father who has always wanted to bring good to the city. He has a vision to serve good food to the locals and tourists and that’s what we envision about Café Under Tree,

said Akshay.

That’s not all. The owners are planning expansion in future.

Café Under Tree is going to undergo serious expansion as we are planning to organize evening woffes and late night dinners,

said Shrey Pandit

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City Lifestyle

Himachal’s fitness enthusiast shines at Indian TV Reality Show

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Himachal's Fitness enthusiast sachin sharma of Shimla

Shimla: Sachin Sharma, a handsome man of 26, is currently a person who stands in contrast to Himachal Pradesh’s ill-famed youth struggling with drug and substance abuse – a crucial issue that has sounded an alarm in the State. Sachin is the one who joined a gym at the age of 19 – an age at which teenagers are struggling to escape from the jaws of drug/substance abuse, especially Heroin (Chitta).

Sachin, born in a middle-class family of Deha village, Theog, Shimla district, recently appeared in what could be called India’s first fitness reality show “Indian Fitness League.” It wasn’t a bodybuilding show, but the challenge was to undertake tasks designed to check who is the fittest. Sachin was the only one from Himachal to have made through the auditions. He was selected as one of the 40 fittest people of India. He earned the special attention of the hosts of the show as well as among other competitors.

The next episode of the TV show would be telecasted on October 6 on Discovery Sports at 4 PM.

To know more about him, Himachal Watcher interviewed him (Watch Video). We found that his story is inspirational in its own way:


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Far from ill and unhealthy habits, he doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink or take anything that would toy with his physical and mental fitness. He definitely doesn’t take steroids. Since last seven years, he has followed a strict discipline in diet and habits. He didn’t compromise with his studies either. He completed his schooling from Dayanand Public School in Shimla.

In 2018 he completed his post graduation in Masters of Business (MBA) from Himachal Pradesh University and had procured a placement for himself too.

He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth so placement did matter for him. His father Mohan Lal Sharma and mother Subhadra Sharma are both serving with the Crime Investigation Department (CID), HP, as Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) and Head Constable respectively. It wasn’t easy to manage an additional expenditure of Rs. 15,000 – 20, 000 on his protein diet for seven years.

At this point, his decision-making ability was put to test. He had to choose one of the two: job placement and passion for fitness. He listened to himself and decided to seek a career in the fitness industry.

Though Sachin’s body is in good shape, he isn’t actually a bodybuilder. He is a fitness enthusiast, who has trained without a professional trainer or a mentor. He made ample use of YouTube to learn. He didn’t take up fitness as his passion because he was inspired by someone. He was his own inspiration.

He first received an opportunity to get on a stage at annual Mr. Himachal competition. Later he won the Maruti Suzuki Devils Circuit held in Chandigarh.

Now, after his tremendous performance at the IFL, Sachin has received sponsorships and was inducted in the TG Athlete group. Opportunities in the fitness industry have begun to appear before him. He believes that someday, he would extend support and guidance to other fitness enthusiasts of the state, which he could hardly receive for himself.

He is an idol for the youth of Himachal, especially because fitness is an antonym to drug/substance abuse and indiscipline. In the majority of cases filed under the Narcotics, Drugs & Psychoactive Substances (ND&PS) Act, the accused are reported to be between 20-25 years. A couple of days back Shimla Police arrested a 22-years-old local boy with a packet of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) stamps. 

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A small initiative by bunch of creative people making a difference

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Healing Himalayas rainshelter art

Shimla: Shimla – a name that leaves many hearts pounding, many wandering souls want to travel to this place, is well on its way of losing its charm. Every hilltop blotted with concrete houses, every slope shrouded under littered waste, every corner of the town chocked to death by oil-guzzling machines – this is the new picture of our town that was once famous for being ‘Queen of the Hill.’

Visual pollution mostly remained unchecked, and the majority of the public properties like rain-shelters have become free advertisement boards. 

To whatever direction you throw an eye, all you see is the tainted landscape. A hazy skyline hidden behind a cloud of dust and pollution ruins the vista. If you ask who is responsible for creating this mess – the only sound that echoes in the mountains is bad governance.

However, holding the governance alone responsible would be wrong. The people of the town are equally responsible for turning our town, which once used to be a beautiful hill station covered in deodar forests, into a wretch place. The landscape turns gloomier when you discover more about how our once-a-beautiful town looks on the inside.

Rain-Shelter at the BCS in Shimla City before Revamping

No matter how gloomy the landscape of our town turns, there are always people with positive spirits who refuse to give up. This group of creative people, under the name of a Non-profit organization Healing Himalayas – in association with some local artists and volunteers, is a good example of how to work in the right direction and set things right.

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Before revamping

They are striving hard to bring back the lost glory of the hill queen by making small efforts like conducting cleaning drives across Shimla and inspiring people to not litter.

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Removing posters/pamphletsa

This doesn’t stop here. They are taking steps to beautify the town by giving bus stops or rains shelters a revamped look. Almost all bus stops are in a really bad state.

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Cleaning the rain shelter

I am not very sure if they serve the purpose of providing shelter to the public on a rainy or sunny day, but they are a free and open playground for advertisers. Every local company, business, institutions especially coaching academies come and use interior as well as exterior walls of rain shelters to advertise their services and offers.

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Painting after cleaning

In an effort to spread awareness on how to use public properties/places, the NGO takes to the streets of BSC, New Shimla on Sunday, May 20, 2018, and started peeling off posters and banners that stained the walls of the shelter beyond repair.

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The team which included about 25 artists and volunteers took over the shelter at around 7:00 am and removed all posters and banners from the wall.

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The poster removal drill that lasted for about four hours was followed by applying multiple quotes of primer and whitewash. That’s not it; to turn the once-an-ugly-looking shelter into a work of art, the enthusiasts covered the walls in beautiful artwork.

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An inspiring initiative by a bunch of creative people turned gloomy walls of the shelter into a life-size canvas where beautiful forms and figures started taking shapes. In the tireless process, the rain shelter was a changed place that looked no less than an art gallery.

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Inspiring art depicting endangered mother earth instils an element of emotion in the concrete walls. Blooming flowers, guitar, beautiful landscapes, and ‘Ardhanarishvara’ with moon arch as his head ornament turn the walls into a multicoloured art.

After cleaning and painting

From blending colours to make a perfect hue to making the right brush strokes took them about 8 hours to complete the paint job. And, the final output, which reflects their (the team) artistic approach towards a mundane life, deserves your attention. See for yourself.
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By Yash Sharma, Shimla

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Self-taught local artist to exhibit ’17 Paintings’ oil painting works at Gaiety, Shimla

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Shimla: For the art lovers and critics in Himachal Pradesh, a self-taught local artist will showcase his collection of oil paintings titled “17 Paintings” on a two-days exhibition at the historic Gaiety Theater, Shimla on December 9 and 10 from 11.00 AM to 6.00 PM.

Surya Ranjan Shandil (31), who hails from Solan district, works in Bengaluru as a computer programmer in the field of education technology. After his schooling from Shimla, he obtained a B.Tech Degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

Himachal's cutlural paintings

Courtesy: Surya Ranjan Shandil

However, he did not ignore his love for the painting and continued it at evenings after college, work, on weekends, and Sundays.

Later, Ranjan realized he has a collection of his own. His first solo exhibition was held in November 2016 at the Gaiety Theater.

The appreciation he received at the first exhibition encouraged him to present his second collection of oil paintings that he painted during 2017.

He received his education upto Class 12 from Shimla’s St. Edwards and Dayanand Public School.

He is best known for his captivating genre paintings.

I started drawing at the age of 3-4 years. At that time, I used to sign the drawings with incorrect spellings of my name,

Ranjan told Himachal Watcher

His father, Dr R G Shandil, who is now retired, was a professor of mathematics at the H.P. University, Shimla. His mother Dr. Sandhya Shandil was a teacher at the St. Edward’s School, Shimla.

After graduating in 2010, I started with oil painting during the evenings and weekends. Gradually I built up a collection and in November 2016, I held my first solo exhibition of 29 oil paintings at gaiety,

he said.

local himachali painting artist

Ranjan’s paintings reflect people. The upcoming exhibition opens with simple themes like the joy of shopping, local festivities, celebration, dance and music. Most works painted on these themes are in the context of Himachal.

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Following these are mellow paintings ‘Seaside Nap’ and ‘Personal Sunrise’ – more subtle takes on human thought. The artist also takes a step towards satire in comically interesting works ‘Monkeys’ and ‘Chimpanzees’.

Slowly moving towards expressionism ‘Kayal’ takes the viewer to the realm of subjectless painting while in ‘Frenzy’ the artist dispenses with form.

Ending on a light hearted note, the paintings ‘Bonfire’ and ‘A Silent Conversation’ recreate the magic of Gabbar Singh and Rajesh Khanna on canvas.

About his love for painting, he said,

I believe art is a journey of constant improvisation.  

It would be his second solo exhibition. Earlier, he has participated and won prizes in several painting competitions throughout his schooling and B.Tech.

 

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