It is difficult to conceive how the imagination of Sir Henry Lawrence may have first perceived that Sanawar was to be the place for his new School. On a rural hilltop at 5,600 ft, forested with pine and evergreens, Sanawar has developed over some 139 acres and is now an historical landmark in its own right. With its characteristic red roofs, visible on the horizon for miles in all directions, the estate is a veritable wonderland of rambling paths, trees, flowers and exotic birdlife. To the north, on a clear sparkling morning, the panoramic view of the snowclad peaks of the Himalayas can be seen, while to the south are rolling hills leading down to the plains. Away from distractions of city life, Sanawarian's interests are concentrated within this idyllic environment.
Walking around the campus, the visitor can see a mixture of colonial buildings, many of which are over a century old, nestling side by side with more modern facilities which have been added to enhance both the practical needs of the school as well as the existing physical environment. One of the oldest buildings is the 149 year old School Chapel with its exquisite stained glass windows. Whilst the school has no specific religious affiliation, the Chapel is the spiritual centre of the community, and regular assemblies are held in which all students and staff take part. It is the focus of memories for all Sanawarians past and present; the daily routine includes a silent march past the War Memorials beside the Chapel, connecting the pupils of today with those of the past who have played their part in the nation's call.
Amongst the new buildings is the Central Dining Hall, where staff provides over 3,000 meals a day, and an indoor sports complex with solar heated swimming pool and squash court. The School is constantly upgrading its facilities, most recently, Parker Hall, now the School's Learning Resource Centre, provides easy access to archival memorabilia, up to date library resources for enhancing learning and teaching, and computer and internet facilities for study and research. In this building alone over thirty new computers have been installed and the first ISDN line in Himachal; additional lines, currently being installed, will ensure that every student has their own e-mail address,
thus allowing easy communication with family and friends.
There are many other buildings and facilities of interest, supporting both academic and non-academic activities. Particularly worthy of mention is the main teaching block, the 'Birdwood', which also contains the Barne Hall, where plays, shows, films and lectures are regularly held. Around the campus are numerous playing fields, the newest being a basketball court.
But the oldest and perhaps most famous is the main cricket and football ground, Barnes, to which the descent and ascent alone will exhaust, leaving the fittest of players and spectators!
In the early days, and due to its relative isolation, Sanawar established itself in a self sufficient manner with its own hospital, press, kitchens, laundry and shops. Today, communication is much easier, through e-mail and fax. Provisions are brought daily from Chandigarh, which, being only an hour and a half drive away, provides an easily accessible centre for cultural and educational activities. Improved rail links with Delhi also mean that the School now enjoys the best of worlds, privacy and peace combined with modern links.
Sitting on a hill as it does, physical activity is the daily bread of life for all Sanawarians. While the breadth and scope of its buildings provides for every possible need, academic, sporting and pastoral, Sanawar still has magical spaces for repose and quiet, where students are free to sit and reflect.