McleodGanj.Dharamsala.Kangra valley

"Close to Heaven"



Nowrojee's "the first in town"

"Oldest General store in town"

In the mid 1800's Dharamsala saw the British influx. It became more popular among the British as a lovely hill station, a destination to relax and unwind, and soon became the Kangra district's headquarters.
The famous McLeodgunj is named after the Lt. Governor of Punjab (1865-70), Sir Donald Friell McLeod.

The first general store that was opened in Dharamsala was by the Nowrojee family in 1860. This store has been run by five generations of the family and has provided its customers with medicines, usual grocery and household items. It also has been selling the popular pickles, jams and butter made by the Gaddi tribals. In the early days it even stocked wine and petrol.
The most notable entrepreneur from the Nowrojee family was Nauzer Nowrojee, whose great-grandfather established 'Nowrojee and Son' general store in 1860.
Under him the business flourished and Nauzer was popular among all the customers in both pre and post independence days.
Even today the board outside the shop reads 'Nowrojee & Son. Wine and General Merchants' and inside has advertisements of the products that were sold decades earlier and reflects the range of items that were made available to the customers at this small hill station. Outside the store was an open area where once upon a time the native Gaddi tribals used to hold an annual fair that was an event that everyone in this region looked forward to.

The image on the top left is of the very first letter box that this town had. It was right opposite the Nowrojee & Son store.It was taken somewhere in the early first half of the 20th century during winters, standing proudly in an open area covered with snow and surrounded by beautiful snow clad trees.The photograph is taken from the album of the Nowrojee family.

Today this letterbox is not like the way it used to be and has lost the presence it commanded. It was broken, the stone lying by the side of the road for many years, then put back, and now it is lost in the unplanned growth of concrete structures and a bus and taxi stand in front of the store.

The five generations of the Nowrojee family have seen the destiny of Dharamsala take shape.
Their shop 'Nowrojee and Son. Wine and General Merchants' was founded in 1860, which was the first shop of its kind in McLeodganj that serviced the need of the British Army Cantonment as well as of the Indians (mostly Gaddi tribals).

In the year 1905, a strong earthquake in the Kangra region caused heavy destruction that made most of the local inhabitants move to Lower Dharamsala and other nearby safer areas, but the Nowrojee family continued to live in the same area and ran the store with more hope and enthusiasm.

Out of the five sons of Nadir Shaw Nowrojee, the eldest-Nauzer Nowrojee took over the shop at the age of 23. Nauzer was born on September 11, 1915. He died on October 25, 2002. He shared a good friendship with His Holiness. Incidentally, a day before Nauzer died, he met His Holiness while taking a walk in the nearby forest, from where His Holiness was passing in his car. His Holiness saw him and stopped his car to greet his old time friend for the last time.





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