Days after Allahabad was officially renamed Prayagraj, Shimla could be next in line to get its name changed. The BJP-led government in Himachal Pradesh is considering a proposal to rename the popular hill station to ‘Shyamala’, according to news agency PTI. The city purportedly derives its name from Shyamala Devi, an avatar of goddess Kali, but was changed by the Britishers to Shimla.
The state’s health minister Vipin Singh Parmar said that many cities across the country which had historic names were renamed and that there is no harm in going back to using their old names again. “If the people want Shimla to be rechristened as Shyamala, the proposal can be considered,” Parmar told PTI.
A campaign has been launched by some right-wing Hindu groups demanding a change of name. This has generated a lot of buzz on the social media with people clearly divided on the issue. A senior leader of the state Congress Harbhajan Singh Bhajji questioned the intention of renaming the city and asked that if this move will ensure development of the state. He argued “What is the justification (for changing Shimla’s name). This is a historical city and if you change its name, it will lose its character.” He added, “What’s wrong with the name Shimla? Will the renaming ensure development? The state government should focus on ensuring that the state progresses instead of indulging in such frivolous antics.”
Shimla, often referred to as the queen of hills, was declared the summer capital by the Britishers in 1864 and remained that way till India got its Independence in 1947.