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Showing posts from December, 2011

HOTEL ROYAL AND THE UNVEILING OF SHANGRI-LA

The story of the first hotel of repute in Nepal starts with King Tribhuvan opening up the country after his return from a short exile in India. The year was 1951 A.D. Just a few years earlier King Tribhuvan was the first monarch in several generations to be granted permission to leave the country on a private visit since the Rana family started ruling Nepal. In 1944 Maharajah Juddha Shumsher the prime minister made arrangements for the king to leave for Calcutta on health grounds and my father Kiran Shumsher, Juddha's son then Major General was deputed to look after the royal visit.

Boris Lissanevitch was the purveyor of European style wining and dining to the metropolis that was Calcutta. The name of Boris's famed establishment was "Club 300", the name derived from his limiting its membership to 300 of Calcutta's elite while women too were allowed in bucking the Colonial trend. It became hugely successful. Soon it became as legendary as the bar in the movie &quo…

GODAVARI SCHOOL REVISITED

"Live for God, Lead for Nepal" was the mantra imparted to us by our Jesuit priests at St. Xavier's Godavari School, my alma mater. Life was simple and straight forward then as illustrated by the sound tagline for an English Medium School opened in 1951 A.D. by a special permission Fr. Marshall Moran, S.J. charmed out of the last Rana Prime Minister of Nepal, Maharajah Mohun Shumsher. Godavari is a pristine locality in the south east corner of the Kathmandu Valley, resting on the lap of the Phulchowki Mountain in the Mahabharat range, at over 9,200 ft. the tallest peak surrounding the valley. The Rana rulers of Nepal had built there for themselves summer palaces to escape the stifling heat of the city during the months of May and June. A road was cleared for horses and carriages and electrical lines stretched.

Starting this school was one of the epochal steps Nepal took to open itself to the outside world: hitherto Nepalese students going to school in India could now get…