The British Government needed a transporter to move to the hills. The Gurkha British war had just come to an end in the Shimla hills and the Imperial Government had conceived an idea of setting up some army cantonments here. During that time a boy born in a village called Agwahi, 15 kilometers southwest of Shyamala or Shumla, now famous as Shimla, was named as Hukami Ram. When grew up, Hukami Ram turned out to be a man with a great sense of enterprise. His family members were worried about his future but the bright days were not very far as the white race had entered the hills. By the time Hukami Ram reached pubic age, the white population in Shimla had grown considerably. They had already taken various steps for the improvement of the town.

His Rapport with the King

With his great intelligence, Hukami Ram managed to build a good rapport with his King, the King of Junga, nearly 40 kilometers from Agwahi, and found a job in his palace. The King was so pleased with Hukami’s sincerity and commitment, that he allowed Hukami to pick up as many logs of cedar as he could in one day and take them to his native village to build a house for himself. Hukami Ram brought all the family members with him and they carried enough wood to Agwahi. After this Hukami Ram became a favorite of all and was titled with a nickname as Chaudhary – the head of the community. Although he belonged to a Brahmin family for many years he remained famous as Hukami Ram Chaudhary.

His Enterprise

In 1856 they opened the present Kalka Shimla Road for vehicular traffic. A new idea burst in Hukami’s mind. He decided to become a transporter. He purchased a few pairs of bullocks and carts and began to provide transport to the British officers. That was the requirement of the hour and his enterprise was accepted with open arms. In the next five years, his business widened. In 1864 when the British Government declared officially that would be the Summer Capital, Hukami Ram got his firm registered with the Government. He became the first registered transport from in the hills. He was required to provide bullock carts between Kalka and Shimla and help the government shift the entire paraphernalia to the Summer capital. With time Hukami Ram became a proud owner of eighty bullock carts with 160 bullocks and a driver for each cart.

Awards from the British Government

He also recruited some more staff to help the passengers. After every few miles, he created changing spots on Kalka Shimla Road. Here the bullocks were given water, food, and time to rest. From here onwards they would keep another cart ready to proceed towards the next destination. The cart that brought the passengers and their luggage was to move back to Kalka for the next trip. On its return, it would carry hay. Also at every spot, there were repairers, in case of any fault in the vehicle. Hukami Ram’s dedication to his work earned him many awards from the government. Unfortunately, his present descendants have failed to keep any of those coupons of appreciation.

His House during the British Government

The house erected by Hukami Ram in 1840 still stands. Presently one of his descendants Mr. Om Prakash Sharma, retired from the secretariat owns it. But the family has spoilt the actual appearance of the house by erecting a wall covering its front with an extension. They have also added some more rooms which have detracted from the beauty of the building. A plate installed at the time of construction in 1840 is still there, bearing Hukami Ram’s name on it. The wood carving on the door frame and the wooden pillars creating the front veranda can attract anyone’s attention.

His Descendants

The enterprise started by Hukami Ram was continued by many of his descendants. Even after independence, they continued providing bullock carts for the celebration of Republic Day and Independence Day at the Ridge of Shimla town. Two of his offspring, Mr. Chandermani Sharma and Mr. Madan Sharma proudly tell me that once their family was awarded by the Governor of the State for maintaining the health of their bullocks. Chandermani belongs to the family that runs a famous restaurant called Diamond, near Bishop Cotton School. He also remains associated with some theatrical activities at the Gaiety Theater whereas Madan Sharma works for the state Government.

By . . . . . . . .  Sumit Raj

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