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25 August 2017

Asia’s Oldest Natural Ice Rink Set to Receive Extensive Redevelopment

As part of the ongoing Shimla Smart City Mission, a thorough rejuvenation project orchestrated by local authorities with the aim of bringing the city firmly into the modern era, the historic ice skating rink located within the Lakkar Bazaar of Shimla, India is due a major facelift. As the oldest natural ice rink in all of Asia and the only natural rink of its kind in the Southern reaches of the continent, the project is seen as one of great importance by locals and authorities alike.

Since the Shimla Club ice rink was first established by Blessington back in 1920, it has played host to countless skating activities, events, and competitions right up to the international level. However warmer winters, poor maintenance and the removal of surrounding forest cover have had a negative effect upon the rink, preventing the proper formation of ice during winter.

The degraded state of the rink in recent years has forced the cancelation or relocation of numerous prestigious ice skating events, with the National Ice Skating Championship of 2017 perhaps being the most notable example of late. Approximately 200 ice skaters arrived in Shimla in January only to be massively disappointed by the news that the rink was in no condition to serve as the venue for the event. The championships were subsequently relocated to Delhi.

Local resident Peter Ta Tung, a former international ice skating champion and life-long member of the rink, recalled in a recent conversation with Times of India fond memories of his time on the rink, before the removal of the surrounding trees began to have a negative effect upon its condition. Back then the ice formed well and the rink was a delight to skate upon, but he asserts that this is simply no longer the case.

Tung told the publication, “When the trees were chopped down and authorities tried to disturb the ground without doing much research, the rink started degrading. The area needs to be preserved with proper research so that it does not lose its existence.”

According to a recently obtained Smart City Mission document, Rs 50-crore will be spent on the rejuvenation of the Shimla Club ice rink, with Rs 44-crore being spent under public private partnership (PPP) mode and the remaining Rs 6-crore being drawn from urban sports infrastructure funds.

Once works are completed the ice rink will stand as a fully-modernised facility, covered by a glass and concrete structure which will facilitate the premises’ use as a year-round artificially-maintained rink for use by tourists, locals, and official sporting bodies and competitions.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for the written word. Currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor, his time at many UK festivals has taught him the importance of keeping warm.