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




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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

Interiors talk of the effort put into the planning of the café. Wooden lamps are the catchiest elements that the owner has designed himself.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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




City Lifestyle

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



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.

Surya Ranjan Shandil

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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City Lifestyle

Bollywood film-maker Onir conducting auditions in Shimla for his next film



Teenage Shimla girl actors

Shimla: Shimla-based production house ‘Secret Corridor Pictures’, run by award-winning filmmaker Siddharth Chauhan, is looking for new faces for Onir’s upcoming film “Kuch Bheege Alfaaz”. The film will be shot in Shimla.

Onir is a National award-winning director and producer. He needs a young girl in the age group of 14-18 from Shimla to cast in his film.

Onir has directed films like: My Brother Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal, Sorry Bhai, I AM, and Shab. His ‘Chauranga’ had won him multiple awards last year.

The Secret Corridor is looking after the casting & production process for this film. The production house is currently scrutinizing applications and organizing auditions.

In the first round of the auditions was conducted online and five finalists were selected out of over 50 applicants. These five candidates were invited for an interview with Onir on October 8, 2017.

The production house is also looking for actors in all age groups for other projects.

Onir’s films are known for the unique content that works as a trailblazer for the Indian film industry.

He is the man behind ‘My Brother Nikhil’ – the first Bollywood film that addressed the sensitive topic of homosexuality and AIDS.

His other film ‘I AM’ had won him the prestigious National Award & many other awards at various international film festivals.

The interested candidates can apply for auditions alongwith their pictures and other details. The candidates can either apply through e-mail at [email protected]” or through Facebook.

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City Lifestyle

Himachal gets a ‘War Museum’ at Dharamsala as reminder of martyrs



dharamsala war museum

Dharamsala – The ‘War Museum’ at Dharamsala was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. He also laid the foundation stone of the Freedom Fighters Memorial at Dari.

The War Museum, he said was a reminder of the sacrifices of the valiant soldiers of Himachal Pradesh, right from recipients of Victoria Cross to Parmveer Chakra. The Museum would offer a flashback to learn more about the Nations first Param Vir Chakra recipient, the highest gallantry awardee, Major Somnath Sharma to late Captain Bikram Batra, Saurabh Kalia, and others who laid their lives for the sake of the Nation.

Recalling the Kargil war, he said that 54 brave soldiers from the soil of Himachal had laid their lives. These sacrifices will find mention in this War Museum.

The Museum is spread over a total area of 2190 square meters and built at a cost of Rs. 9.85 crores. Outside the Museum, the statue of General Zorawar Singh and murals of heroic deeds are on display.

The inner Hall houses busts of Vir Chakra awardees, Jamedar Bhandan Ram and Jamedar Lala small description of their legend on the wall against a golden background.

The busts of Param Vir and Vir Chakras include those of Major Somnath Sharma, Major Dhan Singh Thapa, Captain Vikram Batra, Major Sudhir Walia, Hony. Captain Sanjay Kumar.

The Museum also houses photo gallery of all PVC recipients of the country besides the medals of various gallantry award recipients including Victoria Cross, Ashok Chakra, Vir Chakra etc.

war museum himachal

Photo: Divya Himachal

There is also a 5×2 foot Ashoka Pillar beside a Pakistan captured flag, regimental flags, Medium Machine Guns etc.

The State government has requested the Government of India for MIG-21 and display of other warfare machinery, said representatives of ‘State Martyrs Memorial Service and Development Society’.

The inauguration of the Museum was timed with the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the quit India movement also known as ‘August Kranti’.

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