Himachal’s Prini village mourns Vajpayee, its resident poet

During his tenure as PM, Vajpayee would visit the village every summer but the last time he was here was in June 2006.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2018 11:25 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Prini,Atal Bihari Vajpayee’,Manali
Gloom descended on this quaint yet picturesque village, 4 km from the hill resort of Manali in Himachal Pradesh, which the former prime minister made his summer retreat.(HT Photo)

Prayers gave way to mourning at Prini as news of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s death was announced on Thursday evening. Gloom descended on this quaint yet picturesque village, 4 km from the hill resort of Manali in Himachal Pradesh, which the former prime minister made his summer retreat.

“We had been praying for his well-being after learning that his health was critical. It is a sad day for our village,” said Prini panchayat pradhan Shiv Dayal.

During his tenure as PM, Vajpayee would visit the village every summer but the last time he was here was in June 2006. “Due to his failing health, he was not able to come again,” Dayal said. His week-long stays led to the village being called Atal ji ka gaon.

Known for his flair for poetry, his love for Prini inspired the BJP leader to write a poem, Manali Tumhe Bulati in his book, Meri Ekyavan Kavitayen. He would stay at his cottage, nestled in the serene hills overlooking the Beas river, and return rejuvenated to the rough and tumble of politics in the plains.

“During his last visit in 2006, Vajpayeeji planted a sapling of a deodar, which is a full-grown tree and well looked after by villagers. We rejoiced when Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, was conferred on him in 2014,” he said.

The former PM’s daughter, Namita Bhattacharya, visited the village in June this year.

As PM, Vajpayee asked the state government to upgrade the middle school in Prini to a high school. The school today boasts of a well-stocked library and personal computers provided by him during his visits.

Himachal gained by his repeated visits. The industrial package for the state was announced during his tenure. The strategic tunnel being built under the 13,050-ft high Rohtang Pass is his biggest gift to the state. The pass is a gateway to the tribal Lahaul and Spiti valley, which remains snow-bound for six months a year.

First Published: Aug 17, 2018 11:23 IST