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Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills by Minakshi Chaudhry

Read Between December 8th, 2019 and December 20th, 2019
Read again between March,2020 to April 2020

Edition Details:
Format: E-book
Page Count: 140 pages

Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills by Minakshi Chaudhry
Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills by Minakshi Chaudhry
Ghost stories of Shimla Hills is a collection of 15 stories by Minakshi Chaudhry. Minakshi had spent six months in Shimla collecting these stories. These are anecdotes that have been told to her by the people. The stories are in the collection are:

The Angrej Churail (3/5)
First Sentence:
Sadhu! I am coming.

Sadhu was a fruit vendor who was returning after selling his wares. It was late at night and he wanted to reach his home. And then he saw her.
Who was she? 
What was she doing in the middle of the night? 
Was Sadhu able to help her?

It was a decent story. I enjoyed reading it.

Haunted Roads, Bauris and Benches (2.5/5)
First Sentence:
Three A M on the ridge.

There are many places in Shimla that are supposed to be haunted. This piece covers most of them. These are collection of anecdotes of various people about the time when they had encountered a ghost or a Churail. These are interesting anecdotes and i think each  one of them could have been turned into a separate story. I think collecting them in a single piece doesn't do them any justice. The author should have expanded each one of them. I know i would have.

The Spirit Takes Revenge(2/5)
First Sentence:
Major longwood felt good as he settled down into the easy chair of the resthouse at Kaithu: he had managed to escape the blistering Calcutta Summer.

Major Longwood had come back to Shimla. He should have been happy but he was not. There was a feeling of sadness that had been enveloping him lately.

And then he started seeing the ghost. It was a spirit of a girl that wanted something from Longwood.

Was Major really seeing someone or was it his imagination? If he was seeing some spirit then, what did the spirit want?

The spirit takes revenge is a decent story. The title gives away what the story is going to be and it's almost that only. There is a spirit but instead of revenge it wants justice for itself.

 I liked that the author didn't tell it like an anecdote but the story is told as if it's just happening. The writing style is simple which i think didn't do justice with the story. The story had many possibilities that could have been explored. Since this is a story set up in old Shimla so i think the reader could have been taken to that place. Also, since author had had decided to tell the story in present tense so she could have used a lot more things to enhance the atmosphere of the story. Right now it's very simply told.

The story's end had an information that left a question in my mind. The story ends with a temple being made at the place where guesthouse used to be but we are not told why was there a need to make a temple there. I think there would have been a good reason for making a temple there. The author should have addressed it.

The Premonition(3/5)
First Sentence:
It was quiet, almost unnaturally quiet.

Raveena is not happy. She has been brought to the school for completing her studies but she doesn't like the atmosphere. There is something that is gnawing at her. Something which she thinks would happen.
Why is not Raveena happy? 
What does she think would happen in her new school?

There is this innate desire in everyone to know future. Even you would be having it. I have wondered so many times that what would be if i could know future events. It would be so much fun. But sometimes that could be scary too. That is the case of Raveena. She knows her future and can see everyone is pushing her towards it. And she can't do anything to stop it. And that is  a scary thing.

This one is a sad story. I felt for Raveena. You know what the ending would be and it's that only but i would have like the author to show the last moments of the protagonist. I know it's morbid but i'm curious about what must be going through the protagonists mind when the final step was taken. Or was the protagonist was forced to do that? We don't know it. We can only speculate.

The Bhootwallahs(3/5)
First Sentence:
So you want to hear the story...

Lato is old now and author has come to visit her. The author has heard that her father-in-law could speak to ghosts. She wants to know more about him.
Was it the truth?

I was reading this anecdote and it made me remember that i too had a acquaintance who could see ghosts. He was a friend of a friend whom we met during a cricket match. It was then i came to know that whenever he used to see these spirits first he used to hit himself with his slippers. It used to drive away the spirits but as time progressed he didn't feel the need to do it. He said the experience was scary for him at first but then as time progressed he made peace with it. He used to ignore them now. They were harmless. Initially, you get scared but as time passes by and you discover that most spirits are innocuous, the fright lessens.

Today, I believe life is very short, but life after death is a very long period. A period of silence. Long,long silence. And that is precisely you are desperate to have your presence felt.

I would have loved to meet Lato and would have loved hear her stories.

The Sanjauli Fruit Seller(4/5)
First Sentence:
'In all Rs 5', the vegetable seller told Atal, and then, turning to the man standing next to him, said, 'and yours Rs 4.50'.

Atal has recently moved to Shimla. He's staying in his sister's place in Sanjauli. But when he got a little late in the market, the reaction he got from local people was something that he couldn't fathom. The people seemed to feel that he should not go to Sanjauli alone after dark. Atal thought it to be a simple superstition.

But was it so? Why were people so afraid?

I loved this story. I think it's the best one in the collection. You can feel Atal's fear while reading the story and the surprise though predictable is still chilling. This is how a ghost story should be.

Bhoot Bangla(2/5)
First Sentence:
If i described the house to you, it would seem like an oridnary, run-of-the-mill house.

Rakesh and Ajay had come back to Shimla. They were childhood friends. They had been working outside of Shimla from quiet sometime. When they came to hear that Sinha's Bhootbangla was being sold, the found it amusing. They had an experience there and they couldn't help but remember it.

What had Rakesh and Ajay experienced in the bunglow? Was it really haunted?

Every town has a place which is supposed to be haunted. This is a story about once such place. The incident that had happened with Rakesh, Ajay and his friend is definitely scary but that fear doesn't come out through the story. But since that is not the purpose of this book so it's okay.

The Road to Lover's Paradise (3/5)
First Sentence:
"Lovers' Paradise- how does the name sound madam?"

Aakash and Geetanjali have come to Shimla for their honeymoon. They are happy and want to have a good time. They have come to Hotel Lover's Paradise for it. But something else awaits them there.

The Road to lovers' paradise was an intriguing read. Aakash and Geetanjali are your normal couple and you want to know what happened to them. The story doesn't have unnecessary theatrics and feels plausible. I guess most stories in this collection are like that only.

The Ghost on the Railway Line(3/5)
First Sentence:
Amit looked with satisfaction at the table, eply except for a glass of water, a golden pen stand and a map of the Northern Railways.

Amit has recently moved from Bangalore to Shimla. He is the new station master. Amit has a habit of going for long walks in the evening. But more than one person has warned him against it. They think the place is not safe in the night.

Meanwhile, Amit can't understand what the whole fuss is all about. He just ignores them until he has that experience.

What was it that Amit experienced? What were the villagers warning him about?

Read the story to find that out.

The Ghost on the Railway Line as the title suggests is about a ghost which Amit encounters on the Railway Line. Although, the meeting with the Ghost in itself is not scary but the circumstances that Amit met him are definitely scary. I have heard such anecdotes from different people. I have a cousin brother who used to tell me that there were places which gave him bad vibes. A unknown fear used to overtake him and he didn't know what was he afraid of because you couldn't see anything. There was just a feeling of dread that used to sweep over him in certain places. This story reminded me of him. I enjoyed reading it.

Enduring Love(3/5)
First Sentence:
Chhaya looked down silently from the balcony at the marriage preparations going on below.

Chhaya is about to get married. Everyone is happy in her family. She should be too but she's not. There is something that's gnawing her. She wants to share it with someone but everybody in her family is ignoring her.

What's the matter with Chhaya? 
What is troubling her? 
Why is she not happy?

It is said that love know no bounds. It doesn't know reason,no distance and no boundaries. And to experience such love is bliss but sometimes that kind of love can be scary. This story is about that kind of love. You are pulled into the story from the start. The reader would want to know what is the thing that is troubling the birde. Yes, one may feel that this is something that they have heard before but the writing is such that you would not stop before finishing up the story. I enjoyed reading it.

Ghost Don't Exist(2.5/5)

First Sentence:
During my months of travel in and around Shimla, i encountered various people.

A woman has come to Shimla to research the supernatural phenomenon occurring there. She has decided to visit the cemetery in search of a ghost story.

Did she got one? 

The story written in first person is an okay read. I have heard stories like this before. It would be scary to experience which the girl experienced. Reading it may not seem scary but if it would happen to you then you'd have different opinion.

The Walk Back (3/5)
First Sentence:
Ranjit Singh looked affectionately at his friend.

It was by accident that Ranjit Singh came across Amandeep. They were school friends and had long been out of touch with each other. This chance encounter made them want to connect and retell old stories. It was then Amandeep asked Ranjit about an experience that had happened 40 years  ago and Amandeep felt that it was needed some closure.

What was the experience that had Amandeep so interested after 40 years? Was Ranjit comfortable in sharing it?

I enjoyed reading this story though i think it could be told in a better way. Right now, Ranjit Singh is telling it to Amandeep long after the incident actually happened. This dilutes the effect of the story. I think it would have had more impact if author had written the story in such a way the reader could see the story actually happening instead of  seeing two guys talking about it.

The Grave of An English lady(2.5/5)
First Sentence:
"This is the bifurcation," Kalpana said pointing to the right.

Kalpna and Rohit were coming back to himachal after two years. Two years ago when they had come back their marriage was on the rocks. But now everything is all right. They come across a bifurcation during that travel which makes them remember their visit to Dagshai.

What had happened in Dagshai? Why were they going there?

I liked the story but i think the ending could have been better. As a reader we are not shown their experience when they reached the place that they had intended to go. Did they feel something different? Did they had some kind of weird encounter? We know the result but don't get to know what did Kalpna and Rohan thought of it. I think this story had many possibilities which could have been explored but were not. How did their marriage changed after the visit?  What were the changes in their lives or lives of people closer to them? I personally feel that if this story would have been novella then it would have been a lot more satisfying. Right now it just leaves lots of questions that remain unanswered.

The Prince with the Red Rose (3.5/5)
First Sentence:
Maria was very excited.

Maria is very happy. She has finally been admitted to her dream school. She has come to Shimla from Rajasthan and everything looks beautiful to her. She believes she would be happy here.

But there is something which every one in the hostel is keeping from her. She wants to know the secret but since she is new, no body is willing to share with her.

Were the girls hiding something from Maria or it was just Maria's imagination? 

Prince with the red rose was an entertaining read. If you have lived in hostel you would relate to what was being done here.  I have lived in hostel and know the environment that exists there. We too used to create some creepy stories with which we used to scare the juniors or new comers. Every hostel has a store of creepy stories which are used by children there to entertain and scare themselves. Reading this story reminded me of my hostel days.

I liked the way the story is written. The story is tightly knit and the mystery is maintained till the end. You want to know what would happen next. The only thing that i thought off was the ending. It doesn't  makes it clear whether the girls were speaking the truth or were playing prank on the new girl. Thus it leaves it on the reader to guess what the truth was.

The Lady on the Rickshaw(3.5/5)

First Sentence:
The woman adjusted herself on the rickshaw.

A woman is travelling on a rickshaw on the streets of Shimla. She is sad. She doesn't like what the people have done to her beautiful town. It may seem progress to them but to her they look like ugly wounds.

Who is this woman? Why is she travelling in the middle of the night? 

I liked the way this last story is written. We get to see the things in a different light and from a perspective of a different thing. We get to learn a concise history of Shimla and i enjoyed reading it. I would say more but then it would be marring your experience of reading the story. So, i would just say that i agree with the woman. I too sometimes feel that we have destroyed our hill stations. In name of progress we have converted them into concrete jungle and thus these beautiful place has lost the very nature which used to give them their charm. I enjoyed reading this story.

Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills is a collection of anecdotes that Minakshi Chaudhry has collected during her stay in Shimla. If you have heard anecdotes about supernatural phenomenon then you must be aware that they are not as dramatic as their reel counterparts.

These stories are like that only. Most of the stories are simple and reminded me of the stories that i have heard during my childhood. I enjoyed reading them.

I would say if you want to read anecdotal experiences then this book would be for you. They are interesting stories and i enjoyed reading them. Yes, some of them are mere anecdotes but they have their own charm.

Though, if you are looking for something to scare you then you may not find this collection up to the mark. But if you want to read stories about Ghosts than do give it a shot.

If you have read this collection then what did you felt about it? Do share your thoughts about The Ghost stories of Shimla hills in the comment section.

Rating: 3/5

You can get the book from the following link:

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