Showing posts with label heritage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heritage. Show all posts

Bimal Gurung Supports Protecting the Heritage Structure of Hotel Mount Everest

3:48 PM
The GTA chief Bimal Gurung has extended his support to protect the 100 years old heritage structure of Hotel Mount Everest in Darjeeling. He said that the new venture that is being proposed must be inline with the existing structure and should not be dismantled. He has also demanded that the ex-employees who were forced to quit the job following the fire be reemployed in the upcoming hotel.
Bimal Gurung Supports Protecting the Heritage Structure of Hotel Mount Everest
Bimal Gurung Supports Protecting the Heritage Structure of Hotel Mount Everest
GJM chief released his statement on the issue of dismantling of the Hotel Mount Everest taday and said "I have just come to learn from news reports regarding the purchase of the Heritage Mount Everest Hotel. I am happy that the purchase by a private company has materialised. After a period of 30 years of remaining as an eyesore, it is a welcome sign.

However, The Hotel is so deeply integral to the lives of the people of Darjeeling that the dismantling of the place would not be the right solution. It has a History of it's own which is woven with the History of Darjeeling.

The people of Darjeeling always fondly remember the Hotel even though they may not have had the resources to take advantage of the facilities it offered.
It has been a part of the folk lore of the Hills. It has provided livelihood to thousands of people. It has been the place associated with famous people and locals have happy memories attached with this hotel.
As a young boy from the gardens I used to stand in awe and admire the place from the road.
The GTA will oppose any form of dismantling of the Iconic Heritage architectural structure. The new venture that is being proposed must be inline with the existing structure and construction must be undertaken without dismantling the aesthetic value of the place. Those ex-employees of Hotel Mount Everest who were laid off must be absorved as workers by the new company.

दार्जीलिङको ऐतिहासिक धरोहरको रूपमा विख्यात माउण्ट एभरेष्ट होटेल बिक्री भएको विभिन्न समाचार माध्यमहरूमार्फत हालैमा मात्रै मैले थाह पाए। उक्त होटेललाई एउटा निजी कम्पनीले पुन: निर्माणको उद्धेश्यले नै किनेको थाह लागेपछि मलाई धेरै खुशी लागेको छ। लगभग तीस वर्षको दुरावस्थापछि उक्त ऐतिहासिक होटेलले नयॉं रूप लिनु स्वागतयोग्य विषय हो।
यद्यपि दार्जीलिङवासीको जनजीवन अनि इतिहाससित पनि गहिरो सम्बन्ध रहेको तथा दार्जीलिङवासीको गहिरो प्रेम रहेको यस होटेललाई होटेललाई पूर्णरूपले ध्वस्त गरी नयॉं निर्माण गर्नु सही समाधान हुनेछैन। दार्जीलिङ पहाड़को इतिहासमा यस होटेलको आफ्नै गरिमामय इतिहास समाहित रहेको छ। यस होटेलबाट प्रदान गर्ने संशाधन अनि सुविधाहरूको राम्रो प्रकारले उपभोग गर्न नसकेतापनि दार्जीलिङवासीले यस होटेललाई सदैव आफ्नो ह्रदयपटमा सम्हालेर राखेका छन्। दार्जीलिङ पहाड़को मुटुमा यो होटेल दार्जीलिङ पहाड़को लोक- संस्कृतिको एक अभिन्न अंग भएर पनि बसेका छन्। हजारौं मानिसहरूको जीविका आर्जनको माध्यम पनि बनिसकेको छ यो होटेल। भारत देशसितै विश्वभरिकै प्रसिद्ध व्यक्तिहरूको सु:खद सम्झनाहरू पनि यस होटेलसित जोड़िएको छ। दार्जीलिङ पहाड़को विभिन्न ऐतिहासिक घटनाहरूसितै यहॉंको सामाजिक, सांस्कृतिक अनि आर्थिक जीवनशैलीको साक्षी भएर पनि यो होटेल वर्षौदेखि दार्जीलिङ पहाड़को काखमा बसिरहेको छ।
चियाबगानको एक युवा केटा छदॉं सड़कमा उभेर मैले पनि यस होटेललाई अचम्भित बनेर धेरैबेर सम्म नियाल्ने गर्थे। यसको सौन्दर्य अनि शान देखेर म आफै अचम्भित बन्ने गर्थे त्यसबेला।

माउण्ट एभरेष्ट होटेल दार्जीलिङ पहाड़को ऐतिहासिक धरोहरको रूपमा रहिआएको हुनाले गोरखाल्याण्ड क्षेत्रीय प्रशासन उक्त होटेलको उदाहरणीय ऐतिहासिक सरचंनालाई पूर्णरूपले ध्वसं गर्ने विषयमा प्रतिवाद जनाउँदछ। यस होटेलमा रहिआएको पुरानो ऐतिहासिक सरंचनाको कलाकारिताको मूल्याङ्कन गरेर यसलाई नष्ट नगरी यस होटेलको नयॉं सरचंना गरिइयोस्। यसबाहेक माउण्ट एभरेष्ट होटेलका पुराना कर्मचारीहरूलाई पनि नयॉं कम्पनीले नोकरी प्रदान गर्नुपर्ने पनि कम्पनीपक्षलाई म निवेदन गर्दछु।"

Source - Bimal Gurung Official

Darjeeling - Hotel Mount Everest Was Once “The Grandest Hotel In The Orients”

9:32 AM
When Hotel Mount Everest was inaugurated on the 12th of October, 1915 the proprietor Mr. A. Stephen gave a grand opening dinner to the who’s who of the town. The hotel designed by Mr. Stephen Wilkinson – Architect was hands down the most imposing architectural marvel in town, and was described as potentially being “The Grandest Hotels in the Orients” by Mr. E. C Dozey

Here is an excerpt from Chapter – III of the book “Concise History of the Darjeeling District Since 1835” by E.C. Dozey which was published in the year 1922.
Clearing of the land behind the Hotel Mount Everest  has already started
Clearing of the land behind the Hotel Mount Everest  has already started
The Evolution of Hotels.

The evolution of hotels in Darjeeling began in 1839, when 'The Darjeeling Family Hotel, ' which contained but I 3 rooms, was followed by 'Wilson's Hotel' which was established (by the proprietor of the hotel of the same name in Calcutta, now known as 'The Great Eastern Hotel') in a two-storied house containing 8 rooms. A large one-storied building of the same name (Castleton, in which the District Engineer's Office is now located) now stands on the same spot on Hooker Road. Then Woodlands" came into being, to be followed shortly after by Drum Druid, Rockville, Bellevue, and the Central Hotel, which can accommodate 40 boarders and is situated at the junction of the Post Office and Mount Pleasant Roads; the transition eventually evolving 'Hotel Mount Everest .'

This hotel, which was completed on the 12th October, 1915, was the scene of a fashionable gathering the evening following when a dinner was given by the proprietor, Mr. A. Stephen, to commemorate the opening of this up-to-date hotel built on the latest principles adopted in all continental hotels.

To say that this palatial structure is unique is but to repeat a truism, for it is unsurpassed by any building of a similar nature in the East.

The hotel' which commands a view of over IOO miles of the snowy range, and stands well above the town on the Auckland Road, was designed by Mr. Stephen Wilkinson, the architect. At present the building consists of a central block, with a north or right wing attached thereto, and contains 120 rooms furnished: with all appliances which go toward making life comfortable. But when the existing annex is demolished and the left wing added the number of dwelling rooms will be increased to 170. On the ground floor is a large lounge, which is 85 x 50 feet, luxuriously fitted up with arm chairs upholstered in dark green leather and small tables arranged on a highly polished wooden floor which is covered with handsome rugs.

From the east of this hall the ascent to the dining room above is made by the grand staircase, which is one of the features of this building being 16 feet in width until midway when it branches off to right and left. The dining hall has a rich panelled plaster ceiling, while from the centre of each panel hangs an electroclier of
beautiful design ; the walls are panelled up to a height of 7 feet in highly polished wood which gives the room a pleasing and warm effect.

Four fire-places serve to heat the room, while four concealed passages behind curved and mirrored sideboards enable the servants in attendance to appear as if by magic.

Seated round such a table one can truly say with 'Punch' :-

"How good to sit at twilight's close
In a warm Inn and feel
That marvellous smell caress the nose
With promise of a meal!
How good when bell for breakfast rings
To pause, while tripping down,
And snuff and snuff till Fancy brings
All Arcady to Town."

This building already possesses a most imposing frontage, but when the scheme has been given full effect to and the left wing added Darjeeling might well be proud of possessing one of the grandest and most up-to-date hotels in the Orient.

Today, clearing of the land behind the hotel has already started, and unless something is done collectively, chances are that this HERITAGE of ours will be forever lost.

If you want to help save this monument,

Please join:

To sign an online petition please visit:

Source - TheDC

Stop Demolition of Hotel Mt Everest Darjeeling

9:06 AM

Upendra for TheDC

When the Brits designed Darjeeling, the town was meant to cater to a population of around 20,000 to 30,000 people. According to 2011 census currently 132,016 people live in the Darjeeling Urban area. This makes Darjeeling the most crowded mountain towns in the world, with a population density of roughly around 13500 people per square kilometer, Darjeeling is literally busting at the seams.

When the Brits developed Darjeeling, they did so as the climate and temperature here were perfect to help soldiers recuperate from their tiring military services. Even after the Brits left, Darjeeling retained its claim as the “Queen of the Hills.”

Sadly 68 years after the independence, the Queen is in tatters and no one cares.

Today, Darjeeling is like the drunkard wayward scion of a rich and illustrious family, selling off family heritage to continue financing its wayward ways.

100 years old Hotel Mt Everest Darjeeling
100 years old Hotel Mt Everest Darjeeling
While the rest of the world takes pains to protect its heritage, we seem to be in a rush to break down our rich legacy and build multiplexes. Since Independence not ONE building of repute (outstanding architecture) has been built in Darjeeling, but hundreds of beautiful buildings that the Brits built have been demolished to make room for shoe-box structures. Stop Demolition of Hotel Mt Everest Darjeeling

Mr. B M Garg and his business partners who bought the iconic Mt. Everest Hotel have expressed their plans to break the building apart and build a housing complex and hotel in its place. That is another heritage which we are set to lose. Hotel Mt. Everest was inaugurated on the 12th of October, 1915 and the proprietor was Mr. A. Stephen and designed by Mr. Stephen Wilkinson – Architect. But what’s 100 years when you can make 100 crores by developing it?

The Development Argument
While many care about the Heritage of our place, most don’t. I was shocked recently when someone wrote, “time to remove the toy train from Darjeeling, takes up too much space and the smoke pollutes our place,” so I asked him how about removing thousands of vehicles that pollute 1000 times as much? He didn’t reply.

Some people have argued that when a housing complex and a new hotel is built, it will allow for employment opportunities for the locals.

I don’t disagree…

But at the same time, I also cannot help but point out a simple fact that employment can also be generated by declaring the property a Heritage Hotel and renovating it, instead of completely taking it apart.

Moreover in the name of “development” Bengal has already ruined our rivers Teesta and Rangeet, in the name of Development earlier DGHC and now GTA have already ruined each and every part of our hills… how long will we continue to let this happen?

Fact of the Matter
Fact of the matter is that the land on which Mt. Everest Hotel stands did not belong to the EHI Group which recently sold the hotel, so this whole deal is murky and chances that those in power will get lots of money to mutate the land in favour of Mr. B M Garg is very high.

When recently we raised the issue of Red Cross chopping down trees in its premises, Mr. Bharat Prakash Rai of the FOSEP (whose office is in Red Cross building) questioned our sincerity. He asked us where were those people (Us and those concerned with the chopping down of trees) when trees in Chowrasta was being cut. Earlier Mr. Enos Das Pradhan had also questioned our sincerity when we coordinated the ‪#‎SaveChowrasta‬ protests, even he had wondered where were we when trees in Chowrasta were being cut. To both the gentlemen here is our answer – TheDC was yet to be formed, however you guys were there, so no thanks for not preventing the cutting down of trees in Chowrasta…

However, here is a chance to redeem ourselves – can we all work together, united to save one of the most iconic heritages of Darjeeling from being razed to the ground?

Rootless People
Any community which does not care for his history is bound to suffer in the future. Our ancestors never bothered to record our history, because of which today we are called “foreigners” in our own land, by those who actually came to India after 1971. The fault is not theirs, its ours, we never bothered to contest their claims.

100 years from today when our future generations will want to assert their connection to these lands, chances are that, they will be called “foreigners” and asked to either prove their connection or leave – don’t think its farfetched in Assam and Manipur it is happening already – when that time comes, our people won’t have anything to show that belongs to them… for our heritage and historical connection to the land would have been razed to the grounds by those with money, ably supported by morons who are currently in power.

Who Needs to Act
I am not sure if we can stop this madness, however here are the people/authorities who can do so
1. Darjeeling Municipality
2. Darjeeling land and land reforms department
3. District Magistrate
4. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration

Please write to the people who occupy important positions in these organizations, tell them to protect our heritage.

May be, just may be if we all speak out together someone may listen.

A community of activists have veen formed to try and save Darjeeling Heritage... please join the page and extend your support:

To sign an online petition please visit:

All pics showing closeup and interior of the hotel taken from: The Forgotten Hotel in Darjeeling

Source- TheDC

100-year-old Hotel Mount Everest to be dismantled in Darjeeling

10:09 AM
Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling- Hotel Mount Everest that in its hey day had hosted Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Amitabh Bachchan will soon be dismantled and a housing complex and a new hotel will come up in its place.
A vintage postcard of the Mount Everest Hotel in Darjeeling, India.
A vintage postcard of the Mount Everest Hotel in Darjeeling, India.
East India Hotels (EIH) Limited, which owns the Oberoi and Trident brand of hotels, has announced that it has sold the property to a consortium of businessmen led by B.M. Garg, a Darjeeling-based multiplex owner, for Rs 11 crore.

Today, Garg said: “The property has been bought by a consortium of businessmen. We plan to dismantle the hotel as it is a 100-year-old structure. The property was ravaged by fire and it has been closed for 30 years now.”

Garg said they had not yet finalised the details of the housing complex and the hotel that would come up.

“We have not yet given any name to our business consortium or to the project. We will soon hire an architect to work out the details of the housing complex — given its demand in Darjeeling — and a high-end modern hotel.

We plan to start work after the winter.”

The land on which the hotel stands now and two residential buildings near it — Rutland House and Newstead House — were owned by Darjeeling resident Nemy Chandra Bose.

The property, which stands on a plot measuring around 5 acres, is along Gandhi Road.The stretch was earlier known as Auckland Road.

It is hardly a kilometre away from Chowrasta and is close to the Circuit House.

Bose leased out the property to Arathon Stephen for 99 years, which was to end on December 31, 2013.

Stephen turned the property into a hotel and named it Hotel Mount Everest.

In 1925, Stephen transferred the hotel to Everest Hotels Limited.

In 1963, it was transferred to a firm called Hotel 1938 Private Limited.

In September 9, 1968, the property was transferred to East India Hotels Limited.

According to author Sanjay Biswas, who wrote the book Pahar Theke Hariye Jaowa Padachinhaguli, Jinnah had stayed at Hotel Mount Everest in 1917.

Actors like Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Sunil Dutt, Rajesh Khanna and Rekha had also stayed at the hotel.

Suresh Periwal, the owner of Clubside Tours and Travel, the oldest travel agency in Darjeeling that was set up in 1948, said: “It is sad that an international chain of hotels is leaving Darjeeling. Their presence in Darjeeling would have meant lot of publicity for the place.”

Periwal was one of the first residents of Darjeeling to hold his marriage reception at Hotel Mount Everest.

“The hotel was devastated by a fire on October 19, 1978, and my marriage was on November 22, 1978. The hotel authorities ensured that the reception was held there. They closed down a section of the hotel with 30 rooms and opened the remaining 40 rooms for the marriage,” Periwal said.

Hotel Mount Everest was finally shut in June 1984.

Periwal said in 1969, a double room in the hotel would cost Rs 115 a day, while a single room came for Rs 85.

Today, Garg said they were hopeful that they would be able to start the construction soon.

Asked if the land mutation was under the name of EIH Limited, he said: “As of now, no. But we are confident that all issues would be resolved soon.”

Source: Telegraph

Darjeeling heritage Lost and yet to lose

10:30 PM
Sanjog Chamling for IG

Darjeeling, once The Queen of the Hills, is today tattered in rags. The natural gift and beauty lost in the jungle of concrete, spreading like wildfire day by day. Demolition of heritage buildings and replacing them with awfully ugly structures have become increasingly common these days in Darjeeling. When will we understand that ‘We need to keep our inheritance not fritter it away’.

Dismantling of 160 year old heritage Park
Brabourne Park better known as JB Thapa Park in Chowrasta in Darjeeling, the architectural heritage dating back to 1897 and the structure older than the famous Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, dismantled against peoples' wish. Despite letters from the citizens, who love Darjeeling, to West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan and chief minister Mamata Banerjee a historical one of a kind structure replaced by an open-air theater. Imagine building an open-air theater by dismantling Victoria Memorial in Kolkata.
Brabourne Park Darjeeling
Brabourne Park Darjeeling
The Rink Cinema - Paradise Lost ...
The old Rink was heritage. Its gone and lost forever. Bunch of congenital imbeciles permitted its demolition. There are lakhs of Big Bazaars all over the country but not a single "Darjeeling Rink".
Rink Cinema Darjeeling
Rink Cinema Darjeeling - Pic Mohan Flora‎
There is no comparison... Rink was beautiful and Big Bazaar is crap and ugly as hell. Rink added to the beauty of Darjeeling and Big Bazaar adds ugliness. So, good people of Darjeeling.. wake up and don't let any more heritage buildings be destroyed. Heritage buildings should be repaired, restored and reused.

Endangered Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Built between 1879 and 1881, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in fact the only Indian railway with the UNESCO world heritage tag  has already been warned by UNESCO that it could lose its status as a world heritage site. With the fresh landslides the famous Darjeeling “toy train” that every one of us take pride in is already in danger.
Endangered Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
THE AMAZING LOOP at Chambatta, on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway-
 pic via railwaywondersoftheworld
Victoria Park
Victoria Park or Mahatma Gandhi Park was demolished for Rabindra Bhawan which was later renamed as Bhanu Bhawan and now the giant Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan stands tall blocking the view of Kanchenjunga. Victoria Park with bandstand, swings, merry-go-rounds and huge open spaces must have been great . Thanks to Satyajit Ray who had shot extensively in the park for his film Kanchenjunga (1962) you might be able to catch a glimpse of it if you watch the film very carefully.
Victoria Park Darjeeling now Gorkha Rangamanch Bhawan
Victoria Park Darjeeling now Place where Gorkha Rangamanch Bhawan stands
The park was torn apart to set up the Rabindra Bhawan. Later, it was renamed Bhanu Bhawan, which housed the paramilitary forces during the mid-80s before the entire structure was dismantled by the DGHC to come up with the seven-storied Gorkha Rangamanch Bhawan.

Donovan Park
Donovan Park with a well-laid tennis court and manicured lawns was the pride of the town till the late 60s. Today, along the busy NH55, the only remnant of the park is a concrete portico, which seems to be constantly fighting for space with the mushrooming shops, many of which open right into the pavement, much to the chagrin of the pedestrians. Today a concrete portico is the only part of the Donovan Park that still remains.
Donovan Park in Darjeeling
Concrete portico is the only part of the Donovan Park in Darjeeling that still remains.
Darjeeling Natural History Museum
The Transfer of Darjeeling Natural History Museum from its current premise situated in a historical building. Established in the year 1903 Museum was situated in the Darjeeling botanical garden, and was moved to the current location, Old Secretariat Building, in 1914-15.

GTA pulled down Sailabash / Girivilash 
The GTA (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration) has pulled down Sailabash, the over-a-century-old summer retreat of the raja of Digapatia, to set up a modern hotel management institute and guesthouse in one of the last few available green spaces in Darjeeling. In his book, A Concise History of The Darjeeling District Since 1835, which was published in 1922, E.C. Dozey, a writer and historian, said the building had been set up on land that was once owned by Capt J. Masson, the superintendent of Tukvar tea estate, by the "Digapatia Rajah". The retreat was earlier called Girivilash and the name was changed to Sailabash after Independence.

The Late Nayan Subba's book, Heritage buildings of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong, says Raja Pramatha Nath Rai Bahadur had founded Girivilash whose garden was laid out by a German floriculturist and horticulturist, Morgenstern, and was looked after by 12 gardeners.

"Girivilash was a favourite place for the British governors of Bengal....The British army took over the palace in 1942. Later on, it was acquired by the government. It also served as a Tibetan school for a while. The palace has lost the historical grandeur of Girivilash," writes Subba.
GTA pulled down Sailabash / Girivilash
An undated photo of Sailabash: Courtesy Das Studio in Darjeeling
Why we should preserve our Heritage ?
Heritage can give us a sense of belonging and provide us with insight on where we come from. A keen sense of your heritage will help you to understand, in part, just who you are, your identity. "Our Gift to Future Generations" we can give a rich heritage to them even if we cant give all that we would like to give them.

In the process of so called development have we lost the race of keeping our heritage intact? Of what we have left can an effort be made to save the rest?

References from Telegraph, images from flickers, Facebook and various sources in the internet

Help Save Darjeeling Museum says FOSEP

9:40 AM
"Don't Let Them Ruin Our Heritage - Help Save Darjeeling Museum" says FOSEP

Taking exception to the proposed transfer of Darjeeling Museum from its current premise, near Alice Villa hotel to the Darjeeling Zoo premise, the Federation of Societies for Environmental Protection (FOSEP) has requested people to help save our heritage.
Darjeeling Museum
Darjeeling Museum
Speaking to the press Mr. Bharat Prakash Rai the coordinator for FOSEP said, "the Bengal Natural History Museum is situated in a historical building and when it will be moved, the entire essence of the museum, which is to project and protect the natural heritage of Darjeeling will be lost."

He alleged that the former Darjeeling Zoo Director A K Jha had arbitrarily decided to move the Museum to the Zoo campus, without understanding the significance of the current location.

Mr. Rai further accused that " A K Jha had indulged in massive corruption of Crores of rupees in building a new museum premise within the Zoo campus, and we have filed a CBI case against him, because of which he has been suspended from work right now."

The Darjeeling museum was originally established in the year 1903 and was situated in the Darjeeling botanical garden, and was moved to the current location, Old Secretariat Building, in 1914-15.

Mr Rai requested all the local people, conservationists, political parties and civil society groups to help FOSEP to prevent the shifting of the Museum.

Source: TheDC
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