The power of one
Auto Today|January 2022
The Great India Drive with Hyundai returns as Dhruv Saxena heads out on a mega road trip with the Alcazar to meet inspiring individuals using sustainable practices in their respective areas of expertise ensuring progress for people and prosperity for the planet
Dhruv Saxena
Conservation is a term we’re all too familiar with keeping the current state of planet earth in mind. The need for conservation and working towards a sustainable future for the coming generations cannot be overstated. A quick search for the definition of conservation highlights two broad themes - preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment and of wildlife and preservation and repair of archaeological, historical, and cultural sites and artefacts. In India and across the globe, millions of dollars are being invested, thousands of people are engaged and plenty of resources are being directed towards conservation and building a sustainable future, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be restricted to projects at such a grand scale. Each individual has the ability to make a difference, provided the will and desire to do is strong enough. For this edition of the Great India Drive, we set out on a grand road trip spanning the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh with the Hyundai Alcazar to bring to light stories of inspiring individuals whose work is dedicated to conservation using sustainable materials and also reviving and preserving habitats for fellow beings we share the earth with in order to make a difference, in order to help make the world better place.

VIBE CHECK

For the first leg of our journey, we left the national capital’s concrete jungle behind to head towards the mountains of Uttarakhand. The Hyundai Alcazar, with its frugal diesel motor and the convenience of an automatic transmission, munched miles with consummate ease as we drove past the state’s capital Dehradun into what is easily one of the most popular hill stations in India – Mussoorie. Tourism driven development of the hill station has led to a stark rise in the number of hotels, restaurants and vehicles populating Mussoorie’s landscape and from a socio-economic standpoint, that sounds like positive change. That isn’t necessarily true, however, as Surbhi Agarwal, a third-generation resident of Mussoorie engaged in research, archival and documentation of different aspects pertaining to the region’s history and heritage points out. As someone who has seen the change in landscape first hand, she says the rapid tourism-centric development has led to Mussoorie losing its oldworld charm. “You come here for the air, the mountains, for the weather and if you’re not getting that along with the old-world charm of the colonial buildings or the beautiful Indian architecture that we have in Landour Bazaar, what will be left?” she questions.

The Clock Tower adjoining the Mussoorie Heritage Centre has been a victim of this very change. While the Parade Point House that dates back to the 1830s which currently plays host to the Mussoorie Heritage Centre run by Surbhi has been kept in its original form, the ungainly looking Clock Tower right next door was built in 2018 in place of the original that stood as the town’s landmark since the 1930s. Even the original clock has not been retained or even preserved. The authorities will justify the move citing the dilapidated state of the original as the primary reason, but perhaps restoring rather than razing it would have been a better solution. Surbhi has been doing a stellar job of archiving, researching and documenting the region’s heritage and history spreading awareness about the importance of keeping the town’s vibe intact, but she certainly could do with more support, especially from the local authorities. Armed with a fair understanding of the need for architectural conservation we drove out of Mussoorie past remnants of the days gone by including a post office from the 1880s and the Half Way House (see box) from the 1830s pondering over their fate towards Shimla in Himachal Pradesh for a tête-à-tête with an individual to understand how these structures can be preserved.

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