Nainital Landslide 1880
"Naini Tal, Landslip in 1880" Macnabb Collection (Col James Henry Erskine Reid): Album of views of 'Naini Tal' From "Oriental and India Office Collection," British Library. This photograph was taken in 1880 & is more than 125 years old. The photographer died over 100 years ago.

In September 1880 a landslide (the Landslip of 1880) occurred at the north end of the town, burying 151 people. The first known landslide had occurred in 1866, and in 1879 there was a larger one at the same spot, Alma Hill, but "the great slip occurred in the following year, on Saturday 18th September 1880."[3] "Two days preceding the slip there was heavy rain, ... 20 to 25 inches fell during the 40 hours ending on Saturday morning, and the downpour still lasted and continued for hours after the slip. This heavy fall naturally brought down streams of water from the hill side, some endangering the Victoria Hotel, ... (which) was not the only building threatened ... Bell's shop, the Volunteer Orderly Room and the Hindu (Naina Devi) temple were scenes of labour with a view to diverting streams. At a quarter to two the landslip occurred burying those in and around the buildings mentioned above." The total number of dead and missing were 108 Indian and 43 British nationals. (See poem by #Hannah Battersby below.) The Assembly Rooms and the Naina Devi Temple were both destroyed in the disaster. A recreation area known as 'The Flats' was later built on the site and a new temple was also erected. To prevent further disasters, storm water drains were constructed and building byelaws were made stricter.


Hannah S. Battersby

1887. Hannah S. Battersby. From the book: Home Lyrics, Toronto : Hunter, Rose & Co.
(In the public domain. Available on Project Gutenberg [8].)

The Naini Tal Catastrophe of 18th September 1880

... And though the sky hung like a sable pall
Over the fair oasis, nestling calm
Beneath the trusted shelter of the hills,
And o'er the broad lake-outlet of the floods,
What cause had they to fear? 'Twas often thus,
And the long wished-for rains would bring forth joy
So reasoned they who, peaceful, viewed unmoved
Th' outpouring of that sullen ocean cloud,
When suddenly, they who had calmly felt
So safe one little span of time before,
Discovered in dismay the swollen floods
Meant danger--that the safety of their homes.
Was menaced, walls were tottering, waters rose, ...

For scarcely had they timely refuge found,
Than a huge limb of the great mountain fell,
Sweeping the fair hill-side of house and land,
And burying dozens of their fellow men
In one uncompromising, living tomb! ...

Strong men in the proud glory of life's prime,
Women in joyful trustfulness of love
With little children in full bloom of life;
All in the twinkling of an eye cut down,
In that rude harvest of the tyrant Death! ...

Now the late lovely valley, Naini Tal
Stands as a witness of the frailty
Of human strength 'gainst the o'erwhelming might ...

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--------------------   Photo Courtesy: British Library   --------------------

These images are in the public domain because its copyright has expired in the United States and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.

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