– By Bill Aitken

The limestone composition of the Mussoorie hills is claimed to be amongst the purest on our planet and is of curious provenance in having been pushed up  from the ocean floor. In the 1970s reckless mining of the mineral by both private and government licensees threatened to destroy both the beauty of the town’s slopes and minimise its water sources. Thanks to public spirited voices led by Princess Sita  of Kapurthala and Maisie Gantzer  the Supreme Court intervened to ban quarrying and save  the Doon’s environmental  health and the right to an unpolluted life for its citizens.

However few except rock climbing friends remark on the aesthetic potential of limestone to reflect through aeons  of  monsoon fashioning nature’s sculpting hand. The originality of their design  can resemble anything between primeval temple architecture and  modern abstract art.  It is a pity no one recognizes nor seeks to protect the stunning presence of  these casually inspired rock masterpieces  that we pass  without notice let alone shout our wonder.   What could be the ultimate snob collector’s  show-stopping natural sculptures valued at lakhs, these unique  Mussoorie  outcrops instead are being  mindlessly whittled away before the  builder’s hammer.

Presented here are a few   diverse limestone outcrops  photographed  in December 2015, all found within the space of a  ten square metre patch of near vertical slope on a soon to be  developed  privately owned  hillside  falling immediately below the western boundary of  Wynberg Allen Senior school  and above the Mussoorie bypass. So steep is the terrain I had to be rescued by a passerby on the upper road who helped  winch me up by means of a proffered walking stick.

Initially I  was intrigued whether  some of their craggy outlines  might not resemble tree fossils such is the wizardry of the wind and weather.  Closer investigation yielded a variety of shapes each boasting rugged character softened by warm natural colouring.