Accessible Tourism 3 The British left in 1947 for UK and left uncountable legacies behind in India, for Indians. One of them is the Hill Stations with traffic free roads. This idea of high street, like in United Kingdom, was introduced here as well. During the summer months most of the British gentry would move up to the hills and for more than six months the British India was ruled form Shimla. The High Street of Shimla named as Mall Road was open for the high society and was only for the pedestrians. After the Indian Independence, the British left and the local governments continued with the rules of maintaining traffic less road and the promenades. Shimla earned fame as a tourism place but for the disabled tourists or physically challenged visitors it was impossible to access the Mall – The High Street.

The idea of Pram on Hire

Devi Ram Negi a porter from district Sirmaur, the the south of Shimla arrived here to find a survival. one day in 1995 he, when carrying a child of a tourist family form Delhi up to Jakhu Hill, received a fantastic idea of providing Prams for the children from one of the elderly member of the tourist family. The wise old man, the grandfather of the child, saw Devi Ram, with the child on his back, stopping after every few hundred meters to breath and rest. He suggested him to buy one Pram to start with and if the idea works he could buy more. The family left after a few days but the idea remained alive in Devi Ram’s mind. Money was a problem, that time Rs. five hundred only, but somehow he collected – beg, borrow but do not steal and he took the night bus to Delhi to bring his first Pram. When returned, he suddenly became the talk of the town. People saw him moving around at the Mall road and the Ridge with his pram with a chit on it – Pram on Hire. It was a blessing for the Indian tourists arriving Shimla with infants. Prem Negi

Prem – his nephew joins in

Devi Ram’s business flourished soon. In two years, he planned to have another Pram as one was not enough to meet the demand. Devi Ram purchased another pram and called his nephew Prem Singh to join him. Both, uncle and nephew provided the best service to their customers and became famous among the tourist. Some other persons from the surrounding villages of Shimla copied them and also followed their footsteps. A team got formed and all of them together became a part of the business. The competition began and to fight this competition a new idea popped up to Prem’s mind. He suggested his uncle to buy some wheel chairs for disabled tourists. The idea worked very well but soon it made them the eyesore for their competitors. The trouble arrived for all of them when the authorities intervened. They were asked to stop their business as, as per the rules no vehicular traffic could be permitted on the Mall Road. It was not only Prem Singh and Devi Ram who were going to face this problem but the other pram owners as well. This was not the time to fight but to get together and against this problem. So on the suggestions of Devi Ram all of them got together and went to the Mayor and the Commissioner of Shimla. After a log argument their appeal was granted and they were allowed to park their prams and Wheelchairs near the lift, where most of the Indian tourists arrive.

The Association Formed

Today, it is almost more than twenty years when a groups of enthusiasts form the surrounding villagers of Shimla, has been providing this service to the tourists. Their most favorite clients are either infants of the elderly tourists. Both keep them busy round the year. With the boom in Indian economy, tourism has flourished and so their business. They have formed and association named as PAWON : “Prams and Wheelchairs on Hire” Prem Sigh Negi heads the association and is the president of it. Very proudly he tells me that he is thankful to the British who introduced this idea of hill stations with traffic less roads. They left this country nearly seventy years ago but even today he and his associates are earning their bread & butter due to them. With his politeness and prompt service today Prem Negi has earned many clients who call him before they arrive Shimla and ask him to be ready with his Prams or Wheelchairs. Some unknowns also surprise him by giving him a call as they receive his number from their friends or relative who have been here. Prem went to school only till eighth standards but understands a few words of English and is capable of handling foreign tourists as well, with his slight vocabulary of English language. In case you are planing to visit Shimla and seek his services he can be contacted at 8988441277. [hr] IMG_9593 - CopySumit Raj Vashisht, better known as Summit is the founder of Shimla Walks and a qualified tourism professional from Delhi University. Summit is a published author with four books to his credit. Summit loves Himalaya and says that ‘Mountains travel in his veins with blood’. His latest book that he wrote on Kalka Shimla Railway, named as A Journey to Shimla – by Toy Train can be read on Kindle.  

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