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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dara Singh's connection with Hill Queen Mussoorie

Wrestler visited town 20 times
Residents mourn death of Rustam-e-Hind
Dara Singh (in black suit) with the participants of the National Roller Skating Championship held in Mussoorie in 1969.
Dara Singh (in black suit) with the participants of the National
Roller Skating Championship held in Mussoorie in 1969.
Mussoorie, July 12
With the news of the death of Bollywood action hero Dara Singh, wrestler, and best known for his TV portrayal of Lord Hanuman reaching Mussoorie, a pall of gloom set in the town today.
Dara Singh died at his Mumbai home on Thursday, days after suffering a heart attack. He was 84.
Dara Singh had a close connection with the hill town of Mussoorie, and that was evident from his nearly 20 trips to the town since 1960 on different occasions.
Local historian Gopal Bhardwaj, paying rich tributes to the great wrestler and actor who had given action films altogether a different dimension, said that Dara Singh first visited the town during Commonwealth International Wrestling Championship in 1959. It was in this championship Dara Singh defeated the great wrestler of his times King Kong in a free style wrestling bout held at the Rink Hall, considered to be the biggest in Asia then.
Gopal Bhardwaj reminisced that the championship held at Mussoorie created a flutter among the kids like him, who, on hearing about the great bout between the two rivals, rushed to towards Rink Hall to catch a glimpse of Dara Singh. The great Indian wrestler defeated King Kong in this bout handsomely, much to the delight of the residents and the tourists alike here.
Bhardwaj further said that the win over King Kong here raised him immediately to international fame and it was after this bout he never looked back and won around 500 fights consecutively.
“The whole area around the Rink was energised and the crowd swelled with every passing minute, such was the craze for the Indian wrestler back then,” added Bhardwaj.
Dara Singh, on the invitation from the National Roller Skating Association, once again visited the town in 1969 as chief guest where he distributed the awards to the participants from around the country. Beena Bhardwaj, the national champion in roller skating, said that Dara Singh was impressed with the talent displayed by the roller skaters. He mentioned to some officials that skating was the sport that he could never take to in his life, as it required balancing on the wheels, added Beena.
Dara Singh visited the town on a number of occasions after that and also shot his film titled “Veeru Ustad” in 1976 in Mussoorie.
Vinay, now aged 42, remembering the shooting of an action sequence on the roof of the cable car for the film “Veeru Ustaad” at Gun Hill, said that it was an unforgettable moment for him to watch the iconic figure up close thrashing out the villain in the scene.
Ashish Verma, remembering his close encounter with Dara Singh in 1991, said that Dara Singh had come for some function to Mussoorie, and during his stay at the hotel, met him and invited him to dinner.
“Dara Singh was the most lively person he had ever met in his life, who always advised young men like him not to lose hope and keep struggling without complaining,” added Ashish.
With the death of the Dara Singh, India has lost not only a good wrestler and actor but a human being who lived life to the fullest.
Dara Singh also enthralled the people of Dehradun with his wrestling prowess at Pavilion Ground in the mid-sixties and played an important role in motivating youth towards wrestling.
They said that Dara Singh will always have a special place in their hearts for his immense contribution to society through his work in films and wrestling.

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