Every evening, come the twilight hour, dressed in crisp white kurta pyjamas, the boys assemble in the amphitheatre called Astachal, the spiritual watering hole of our school.
The Astachal has interesting origins. It was conceived in the troubled times in India of the 1940s, as a common spiritual space, by the then Principal Mr. FG Pearce and his senior colleague and a future Principal, Mr. KC Shukla. Mr. Thakar, a teacher, produced the clay model based upon which the construction was completed in 1943. The space was christened ‘Astachal’, meaning the hill at sunset, at the suggestion of Mrs. Pearce and Mr. Shukla. The statue of the Mahatma, symbolising the eternal seeker, was sculpted by Mr. Rudrappa of Gwalior, and added in 1948.
Astachal is inarguably a defining feature of The Scindia School. Easy to say so; much harder to explain. Is it the incredible beauty of the sun setting behind the ranges with the valley below? Is it the delicate background cadence of the violin or the flute ? Is it the beautiful lines that are read from the Speaking Tree? Or the calming silhouette of the Mahatma ? Maybe it is just the five minutes of quiet prayer or introspection. Perhaps a bit of this and a bit of that. Pines Manik Mahajan, class of 1992, " I so miss the Astachal, those few minutes would transport us to a surreal realm, something we miss in the bustling cities with our hectic schedules. " Why try to explain? Some things in life are best left unexplained! The experience of Astachal remains etched in the consciousness of every Scindian, and this memory survives long after the school years are done and dusted.