Showing posts with label Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Show all posts

Heavy rainfall triggered landslides in NH55 and NH10, trees uprooted, toy train held up

12:02 PM
Darjeeling Siliguri, July 4: Heavy rainfall since last night triggered landslides and brought down trees along NH55 and NH10, disrupting a toy train and road traffic for hours.

Narendra Mohan, the area officer of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, said a tree had been uprooted and fallen on tracks and NH55, which run parallel, at Rongtong. A Darjeeling-bound toy train was held up at Rongtong for more than two hours after the tree fall.

"The diesel train with 35 passengers left NJP around 8.30am. However, it had to stop at Rongtong because of the tree uprooted in the heavy rainfall. It took almost two hours to remove the tree from the tracks and the toy train resumed its journey towards Darjeeling at 3.30pm," said Mohan.

Rongtong is 20km from here.

The uprooted tree also disrupted traffic on NH55 between Gayabari and Tindharia at one end and Siliguri at the other end.

Traffic on NH10 was disrupted for five hours as heavy rain had ripped out a tree and caused a landslide. The tree fell on the highway at Labarbotay, 55km from here, while the landslide hit the road further 20km away.
Heavy rainfall triggered landslides in NH55 and NH10, trees uprooted, toy train held up
Heavy rainfall triggered landslides in NH55 and NH10, trees uprooted, toy train held up 
"It has been raining continuously since last night and this led to landslips at several spots on NH10. The two major disruptions were at Labarbotay, where a tree had fallen on the highway, and another spot 20km further uphill. Vehicles had been stuck since noon and traffic resumed when the highway was cleared at the two spots around five hours later," said a source.

The Regional Meteorological Office in Jalpaiguri said the rainfall would continue throughout sub-Himalayan Bengal for the next few days.

"The southwest monsoon has set in and is strong over the region. This is leading to consistent rainfall in the sub-Himalayan Bengal. Heavy to very heavy rain, measuring 70mm to 200mm, has been forecast in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar districts in the next 48 hours," said a Met Office source.

In 24 hours till 8.30am today, it had rained around 70mm in Darjeeling. In other areas, the rainfall ranged between 20mm and 60mm, a Met Office source said.


Kalimpong, a centre of convergence: trade, town and people

1:06 AM

Writes: Diki Sherpa
[It was said that ,someday in 1940’s A wealthy man , to be specific the director of Rolex watches desired to know this place called “kalimpong” from where such an unusual high amount of Rolex watches is demanded. When the man finally arrived in Kalimpong he was rather stunned to find out the fact that kalimpong was no more than just a small chaotic trade village in the eastern Himalayas.]

In this article I had attempted to explore the distant past of kalimpong, when it was thriving under caravan trade across the Indo-Tibetan border. In this process it not only became a centre for economic enterprise but also emerged as an important converging point of people, ideas and legacies transcending their territories to produce kalimpong as a dynamic urban locale in the early twentieth century.

It all began in 1904, after the so called colonel Younghusband’s expedition to Lhasa. At this point, commerce across the Himalayas was just a mere political expression to safeguard the imperial interest. To facilitate the commerce in the region Jelepla was preferred as a principle route linking the British Empire directly with Lhasa, as the treacherous topography of Nathula did not allow the smooth mobility. Kalimpong located right in the middle of Indo-Tibetan trade route, was a point of transit- trade, replacing Kathmandu as an entrepot for the long distance trade. The goods were received in this entrepot until they were re-exported, primarily to breakdown the burden of long distance trade by single agency. Charles Bell, the British representative in Tibet notes that – “The most important of all the trade routes between India and Tibet takes off from the kalimpong in the dist. Of Darjeeling crossing south eastern Sikkim and enters the Chumbi valley by the Jelepla.” Places such as this witnessed the colossal political and economic changes over the period of time and also primarily owed their importance or rather existence to the caravan trade across the border. Trading practice and the growth of town is “incremental” and “symbiotic”, this processes cannot be seen in isolation. Kalimpong which acted as an entrepot for the Indo- Tibetan trade in the first half of the 20th century was one of such town, where trade was the very raison d’être for its growth. Commodities like woolen and cotton piece goods ,iron ,steel ,brass and copper sheets and wares, stationary ,sugar , gur, dried fruits ,dyes ,chemical ,kerosene ,candles ,lantern ,electronic torches and batteries ,brick tea , aluminum ware , porcelain ,cement ,leather goods ,cigarettes , leaf tobacco and pharmaceutical goods was sent to Tibet in exchange of musk, wool ,yaks tail, silver, gold. As often said by the locals, “almost everything” was carried to Tibet. From Tibet the raw wool constituted the 90 percent of the Tibet’s annual export to India, which in turn some of them find their way to the Indian mills and the remaining was re-exported to Liverpool and America.
Kalimpong, a centre of convergence: trade, town and people

Almost seven years since the trade started, the landscape of the area started to change. To increase the efficiency of the goods circulation, the overland traffic was mechanized, half way though. Teesta valley extension of the Darjeeling Himalayan railway was completed upto Gaillekhola (12 miles from kalimpong) and opened for traffic in 1915. The considerable effort was put to improve the cart road from Teesta bazaar to kalimpong. This “annihilation of space and time” to ensure the increased mobility of goods was directly set against the dire consequence of toiling lives of many. Considering the mountain ecologies, road construction across the asymmetrical hilly terrain presented various Ecological challenges and sometimes even cost lives. All these painstaking hard work of subalterns helped kalimpong at last to gradually glide towards urbanization. Thanks to their dreadful labor, it was no longer oblivion to the social economic and political development that was taking place beyond Teesta.

The rural setting of the was not a hindrance to the business minded individuals; it was trade all that matter. The rural setting began to get transfer and got a further impetus when Rev. J.A graham proposed to develop a Kalimpong into a town. Hence in 1916 it was declared as subdivision basically as a precondition to develop it as a town. While describing Kalimpong as a hill town, it is intriguing to point out that ,it did not presented a prototype of romantic English country home away from congestion of cities and politics of Indian plains. It certainly lacked the typical hill station characteristics like others in the eastern Himalayan or may be in the India. It did not offer a cool climate like that of neighboring

Darjeeling to develop it as a sanatorium or as a seasonal retreat with their colonial social life, gaiety and style. Moreover, even the educational institution that was established did not show any parity with the institution of neighboring hill station. The most prominent educational establishment in the region was St. Andrews colonial homes(1900) which was situated on an estate of 611 acres . The main object behind the establishment was to provide for children wholly or partly of British or other European descent, such an education and training based upon protestant principle, as many fit then for emigration to British colony or for suitable work elsewhere. Other institutions were primarily targeted to train and educate the natives of the region .In 1925 Himalayan hotel was built, the only European establishment of David McDonald to cater the European and British visitors. The total no. of European in 1941 was 529 out of total 11,958 people in town. Therefore it can certainly be said that kalimpong was not a so called favored resort of recreation. It was truly a place set aside for trade and commerce thriving with activity filled with seasonal bustling of the mule caravans to and from the Tibet.

Not so long, Kalimpong originally a hamlet, evolved as a vibrant “social space” in this process, where various individual encountered each other in the similar social and economic sphere. It became an ingress for the Tibetans to enter the outside world and gateway to enter Tibet for many foreign scholars, artists,

adventurers, missionaries. During the times of political instability, it became a major hub of information and working ground for Japanese spies, Tibetan revolutionaries, and British intelligence networks. Scholars argues that, this little town became a major gossip factory for news for the country across the border. Hence, Mr. Dorje Tharchin (Rdo rje mthar phyin) ,A Christian catechist from kinnaur , in 1925,found the location appropriate for the establishment of his press in kalimpong. It was happened to be the first long-lasting newspaper in the Tibetan language, entitled “Yul phyogs so so’i gsar ’gyur me long”, or “The Mirror of News from All Sides of the World”, and later known as “The Tibet Mirror”. It was a small publication but had a far reaching circulation and it found a wide readership in places like Assam, Darjeeling ,Bhutan ,Sikkim, Tibet, Kashmir, Almora ,Himachal and Nepal. Eventually, it became a vehicle for the dissemination of modern idea and information to the monastic land of far Tibet and adjoining areas.

However, the prosperous times were not to last forever. After 1950, with the formation of PLA and the occupation of Tibet, gradually all the wool was diverted to china and American buyers withdrew from the market. Soon after 12 years, boundary disputes and Sino- Indian war resulted into the closing of borders and the trade was brought to a complete halt. Responding to the changing political and Geo-economic transformation in the region, all the traders shifted their business to a more lucrative location and Kalimpong became a sleepy town. The reminiscences of trade still lingers among the locals, and they often temporally create the bygone years as a golden era that Kalimpong has once experienced.

This is just fragment of the whole picture that I have attempted to present, it is beyond the purview of thisarticle to compress and talk about the wider past events.

[Diki Sherpa, MPhil research scholar from the university of Delhi.]

Via DT

Darjeeling toy train cuts a man into halves near ‪Sonada‬

10:52 PM
Man Mowed Down by Train Near ‪Sonada‬

Reports: Tenzing Sangayla Bhutia

17 June 2016 Darjeeling Sonada: The World famous UNESCO's World Heritage Darjeeling toy train cuts an unidentified man in half and drags one half of the body all the way to Sonada while the other the half of his body was found near 8th Mile 4 km from Sonada.

People in Sonada were in for a shock when the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) also known toy train pulled in tonight. Along with the train came the dead body of a male which was stuck to the lower half of the train.

People would later find that the train had cut the man in half, with half of his body being found near 8th Mile, which is 4 kms away from Sonada town and the other half got pulled along with the train to the station.

The police have cordoned off the train and are currently trying to ascertain who the dead individual is.
Darjeeling toy train cuts a man into halves near ‪Sonada‬

The Railway authorities in collaboration with the pulled out the dead body from underneath the train.
Darjeeling toy train cuts an unidentified man in halves
Darjeeling toy train cuts an unidentified man in halves

Via The DC

Darjeeling Toy train long distance service put on hold

2:47 PM
DARJEELING 13 Jun 2016 The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway toy train service along the 87km route from Darjeeling to New Jalpaiguri station has been temporarily suspended  after three of its diesel engines broke down a few days ago and are presently under repairs.

The DHR has four diesel engines, but three being non-functional, with the latest breakdown happening on June 10, the Darjeeling-New Jalpaiguri long distance service was forced to be suspended. DHR  area manager Narendra Mohan today confirmed that the Darjeeling-NJP service has been put on hold till the diesel engines are repaired.

“Due to technical faults, three of our engines have broken down over the past few months forcing us to halt the 87km service. We hope to resume service from Wednesday but on alternative days, as we can get only one of the three engines repaired. However, we will try our utmost to have all the diesel engines up and running at the earliest,” he said.
Darjeeling Toy train
Darjeeling Toy train
The joy-rides on steam engines from Darjeeling to Ghoom and diesel services from Darjeeling to Kurseong and back are in operation though. Presently, there are about 14 steam engines  and four diesel engines for the DHR toy train.


Darjeeling toy train get glass walls for engine view

9:04 AM
Darjeeling June 8: The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has replaced the opaque walls at the rear and front ends of two first class coaches with glasses so that travellers can see the more than century-old steam engine pull the train.

Narendra Mohan, the area officer of DHR, said the refit compartments were being used for toy trains running between Darjeeling and Ghoom since May.

He said two more coaches were also being given glasses at either ends and they would be put to use in two weeks.

"Tourists around the world come to Darjeeling to take a ride on the Unesco World Heritage railway. In order to make their ride more enjoyable and fulfilling, we have renovated two first class coaches and added glass windows at the rear and front ends. Prior to this, the coaches had opaque walls and the passengers in each of them could not see what was happening in the other coaches. But now they can easily do so," said Mohan.
The DHR compartments with glasses at the rear and front ends - file photo
The new feature has been introduced mainly to enable travellers to see how the steam engine functions. "They will now be able to see the driver operating the engine and the fireman feeding coal into the furnace," said Mohan.

"Earlier passengers could see these sights only when the train negotiated a bend. But now, they can see it anytime without having to leave their seats and rush to the windows. These coaches will be exclusively used in steam-driven joy rides between Darjeeling and Ghoom. Apart from the view in front, the tourists will also get to see the scenery behind through the glass," he added.

The coaches were renovated at Tindharia workshop - the locomotive and carriage workshop of the toy train - and the Siliguri loco shed.

While two of the coaches have already been put into use since the beginning of May, the remaining two will be in service within next fortnight.

The DHR official said the size of side glass windows of the four coaches had been made bigger so that tourists got a full view of the sceneries.


Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia stands against Discrimination against Nepali Language

8:32 AM
Darjeeling Once again we are most thankful to Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia who has stepped up to protect the Nepali language. Following report on social media (The Darjeeling Chronicle) MP wrote to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu reminding him that not putting up signs in Nepali language is a violation of the Language Policy of India as well as a discrimination against the Gorkha community.

Here is the full text of the letter that our MP wrote

Shri. Suresh Prabhu
Minister of Railway
Government of India

Re: Discrimination Against Nepali Language and the people of Darjeeling

Suresh ji
I want to draw your attention to the fact that the signboards that Indian Railways has put up in my Constituency – Darjeeling – has continued to violate the Language Policy of India since 2011.

The standard official language policy of the Government of India clearly specifies that, importance to be given to official State Language (only those which are also included in the VIIIth Schedule of Constitution)/regional/national languages, signboards of Railway stations in regional language, use of language on Railway Information Boards, naming of Railway stations in regional languages etc.”

Nepali was recognised initially in 1961 as an official language of West Bengal, and on 22/8/1992 as one of the Official Languages of India under the VIIIth Schedule of Indian Constitution as one of the 22 National Languages of India. Nepali is also the 1st official language for Darjeeling and Dooars region in West Bengal. DHR is still discriminated against and not featured in any of the sign boards put up by Indian Railways in Darjeeling. Not putting Nepali in these sign boards is not only a violation of the language policy of India, but also is disrespectful towards the Nepali language and also the Gorkhali community of my constituency. What is more hurtful to my constituents is the fact that Bengali which 99% of the population do not speak or read, is used as the 1st language.

On behalf of my constituents, I request you to kindly instruct the local administrative unit of Indian Railways to remove the signs that do not feature Nepali language and to put up signs in Nepali which is a Recognised regional language in Darjeeling and Dooars as well as one of the National Languages of India.

I look forward to your prompt action.
Kindest regards

SS Ahluwalia
MP, Darjeeling.
Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia Writes to Railway Minister - Demands Signs to be Written in NEPALI
Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia Writes to Railway Minister - Demands Signs to be Written in NEPALI
Rule 3A of the Bengal Official Language Act, 1961 also specifically states
3A. Notwithstanding anything contained in section 3, with effect from such date-1 as the Slate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint in this behalf, the Nepali language may, in addition to the Bengali language be used for such— (a) rules, regulations and by-laws made by the State Government under the Constitution of India or under any law made by Parliament or the Legislature of West Bengal, and (b) notifications or orders issued by the Slate Government under the Constitution of lndia or under any law made by Parliament or the Legislature of West Bengal, as apply to the three hill subdivisions of the district of Darjeeling, namely, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong:

Provided that different dates may be appointed in respect of different matters referred to in clause (a) or (b). .

Explanation.—For the purposes of section 3 and this section the words "law made by Parliament or the Legislature of West Bengal" shall include any law made before or after the commencement of the Constitution of India by any legislature or other competent authority in the territory of India having power to make such a law.

Given this, we request the West Bengal government and all other administrative bodies to put up all the signs and instructions in NEPALI at the top.

Once again, we are grateful to our MP for stepping up to protect the dignity of Nepali language and Nepali speaking people... It is sad that none of our "intellectuals" and "sahityakkars" have so far bothered to highlight this issue.

Via The Darjeeling Chronicle

Darjeeling toy train resumes its daily train service between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling

9:48 AM
Siliguri, May 23: The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway will resume its daily train service between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling next week, more than five months after it had been rescheduled to thrice a week because of lack of diesel engines.

Narendra Mohan, the area officer of the DHR, said daily services between NJP and Darjeeling halted in January when one of the four diesel engines had developed problems.

"We had to run the services on alternate days, instead of everyday, because one of the diesel engines had developed a snag and was sent for repairs. We were short of engines and we had to reduce the number of trips on the route. Since January, we have been operating the trains on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays," Mohan said.

"But the engine has been restored and is back with the DHR. We will conduct trial runs to see if it is functioning properly and will commence regular services from NJP to Darjeeling by next week," he said.

Additional coaches have been attached to toy trains on the Darjeeling-Ghoom route since May 19 to cater to tourists.

"Normally, there are two first-class coaches but now there are four. The footfall of tourists has increased in the past one week. Two coaches were not enough," Mohan said. "We are planning to keep the additional coaches till June."

The four coaches can ferry around 120 passengers and the cost is Rs 630 per person.

UNESCO to Survey ‪‎Darjeeling‬ Himalayan Railway Next Month

7:43 AM
Writes: Mrinalini Sharma

A six-member Unesco team will visit the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway for five days next month to conduct a survey of the World Heritage Site.

The visit is part of formulating# a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan - a blue print on conservation, management and sustainable development of toy train.

Officials of the DHR said the team would be here from April 9 to 13 and visit different stations of the hill railway.

"A team of Unesco experts will visit the DHR for five days from April 9 to 13. We have been informed that this is a visit before work on formulating the CCMP begins. The team will visit all stations of the hill railway, including Tindharia workshop," said Narendra Mohan, the area officer of the DHR.

"This will be a field survey of the DHR to understand the landscape on which the heritage railway is, various components of the DHR and other important details about its conservation and management. The team will have three officials from the Unesco's New Delhi office and three Unesco experts from different countries. The preparation of the CCMP will take at least two years," he added.
Darjeeling‬ Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling‬ Himalayan Railway
The CCMP is mandatory for all Unesco World Heritage properties.

The master plan for the DHR will be formulated by the Unesco experts in collaboration with the Indian Railways that would provide the funds.

Unesco has said the plan should cover all aspects like institutional, legal and economic and ensure that the "Outstanding Universal Value" should be protected.

Paul Whittle, the vice-chairman of UK-based Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (DHRS), wrote an e-mail to The Telegraph about the visit.

"It is great news that work is about to start on this long-awaited DHR Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan, funded by Indian Railways and led by a UNESCO appointed panel of experts. This initial visit is the essential first step in a lengthy and wide-ranging study that will form the basis of a robust and lasting plan for the conservation and sensitive development of this World Heritage railway," he wrote.

"We know that UNESCO will be seeking input and recommendations from a wide body of local organizations and other bodies. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society will certainly be contributing to UNESCO's work," the e-mail read.

Established in 1881, the DHR was accorded the Unesco World Heritage status in 1999.

It is the second railway in the world to be given a heritage status after the Semmering Railway in Austria in 1998.


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