Shimla’s iconic church bell will ring after 38 years this ChristmasUpdated: Dec 23, 2019 13:27 IST
After 38 years, the bell atop Shimla’s landmark Christ Church on the Ridge will ring in Christmas.
“We had been listening to the bell and the chimes since childhood but they stopped ringing 38 years ago. The church did not have adequate funds for repair,” says Victor Den, 62, a mechanical engineer who retired from the technical wing of the information and public relations department of Himachal Pradesh four years ago. So he took it upon himself to restore the bell and the chimes.
“Many original parts of the chimes were missing and the basic structure was in bad shape. I got some parts made locally and a few were brought from Chandigarh,” says Den. He took 15 days to get it repaired. A trial run was carried out on Saturday.
With festivity in the air, priest Sohan Lal of the historic church expressed happiness that the chimes will ring in Christmas this time. “We lacked funds but are happy that now on the chimes will ring three times every Sunday too when the community gathers for service at 8am, 11am and 5pm,” he says.
Christ Church is the second oldest church in North India after St John’s Church in Meerut. It was built in 1857 for the British in Shimla town and is one of the enduring legacies of the Raj. Designed by Colonel JT Boileau in 1844, it was completed in 1857 at an estimated cost of Rs 50,000. The porch was added in 1873.
The church management also plans to pool in funds and repair the three clocks atop the porch that have not been functioning for seven years.
The Shimla district administration had given Rs 3 lakh for their repair but they stopped working soon after. Digital batteries were installed for all three clocks but now the management plans to give it another shot.
“As soon as we are able to gather adequate funds, we will get them repaired,” says Sohan Lal.