Wellington – What’s In A Hill Name?


Wellington Ooty
Image – neelesharti

What’s in a name? Plenty, apparently, if you are in Wellington cantonment. Set in the cool climes of the Nilgiri Hills (near Ooty), Wellington is primarily home to the Defence Services Staff College, and also, has the quaintest of names. For my civilian readers, I would like to make a few introductory notes about the different postings in the armed forces. There are tough postings on the border posts and then there are postings in places like Wellington. This particular posting at the DSSC is much sought after by most army officers – not only due to its cool climes, but also due to its role in furthering their career prospects.

In the armed forces, where career progression becomes steeper with each graduating rank, entry into such colleges means sitting through the toughest competitive exams, and greater patience on the part of the officer’s family. Having just returned from such a course undertaken by my husband, which I enjoyed in full rigour, my life is now overcast with the ‘Wellington hangover’. I am afflicted with all the typical symptoms here – recurring dreams of the never ending walks that would start right after breakfast, the pot lucks, looking forward to the husband’s tours, late night dumb charade sessions – oh, those painful memories!

Take a walk through scenic Wellington and you will be greeted by interesting names: Rose Bank, Cyclesmere, Craven Lodge, Crinken, amongst many others. One small detail: we’re talking about names of homes, not people!

Wellington hill landscapeImage – neelesharti

While Wellington is all about leisurely walks that never end, there is another luxury on offer: indulging your imagination about these names. Student officers and their families have little scope to take a peek inside most of these homes. Tiled sloping roofs sitting atop aging walls, windows that wink back as you try to peek past them; and lush landscaped lawns that make any home impregnable – the names on the modest wooden plaques outside the gate are almost like an icing on these hill homes.

Take for example the name, Race View. It instantly makes you think of a winding driveway that comes to a screeching halt at a wooded porch and solid looking brass lamps hanging overhead. Or try Crinken – the image is of puffs of smoke escaping into the freedom of the blue sky even as the home seemingly lets loose a sneeze with a crease of its nose. How about Craven Lodge? Robust yet homely dogs sitting around the family room fireplace, while the owners read their books and sip chocolate – that’s what I get!

If you’re a fan of the whimsical, Cyclesmere just might get you going with an image of the home bouncing with the energy of a large family of hapless parents watching over their four playful children! For the diehard romantic, there is always Rose Bank, with illusions of a heartbroken lover planting roses after years of roses for his beloved.

Wellington military school

Hill Top could be a cosy retreat with a sweeping view, and a tea party in the veranda to enjoy the same! Cremonie instantly gives the feel of fanfare all the way, with etiquette and Olive Green rituals all in the right places; while Glencoe seems filled with whispering trees, with secrets going back and forth between them and the home they surround. Then there is Wood Bine. Set in the midst of tall trees and lush gardens, it helps the onlooker conjure an image of birds making more music than any radio station would in a day.

Another interesting name I found was Vrindavan. In a station filled with English names, this one came like a breath of fresh air, inviting wisps of incense and light music in the background. And of course, towering over all these, is the Pines – tall, statuesque and silent, with an omnipresent quality befitting its occupancy: the officer at the very helm of the Defence Services Staff College.

The Harry Potterish walks through Wellington can go on and on, yet the names will never cease to leave a mark on one’s mind. I need to get my fresh air and fresh dose of names every now and then – don’t you? Do leave me examples of interesting names for homes – would love to swap notes!

This article is part of the ‘Married to the Olive Green!’ series. Devangini vividly narrates her experiences as an army wife in different cantonments across India.

– Factfile –

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  1. Brings back nostalgic memories of my young days in Wellington 1956-1959, when my father was posted at the DSSC—–we stayed in Castle, Rosie A & finally Craven Lodge !

  2. Thank you for reminding me of our blissful tenures first at 38A Gorkha Hill, then later at 8 New Neelambar and finally at Panchawati, few more Indian names which bring back beautiful memories!!


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