Darjeeling also spelled Darjiling, Tibetan Dorje-ling, with ‘dorje’ meaning thunderbolt and ‘ling’ meaning place or land, thus ‘the land of the thunderbolt,’ is a city in the extreme northern West Bengal state of north-eastern India. It is located approximately 305 miles (490 kilometres) north of Kolkata, at an elevation of approximately 7,000 feet (2,100 metres) above sea level.
Darjeeling is located on a long, narrow mountain ridge in the Sikkim Himalayas that drops abruptly to the Great Rangit River’s bed. On a clear day, the city offers a spectacular view of Kanchenjunga, and Mount Everest can be seen from a nearby vantage point. Darjeeling is a hill resort, and the city’s economy is largely based on tourism; peak visitor seasons are from April to June and September to November. The city is well-connected by road, rail, and air to Kolkata.
Darjeeling was ceded to the British by the Raja of Sikkim in 1835 and developed as a sanatorium for British troops. The Chaurastha (“Four Roads”) district includes the Mall, which serves as the city’s main shopping centre and most attractive promenade. Observatory Hill, Darjeeling’s highest point (7,137 feet [2,175 metres]), is crowned by the Hindu and Buddhist-honouredMahakal Temple. Birch Hill is home to a natural park as well as the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. The Lloyd Botanic Gardens, famous for their Himalayan flora varieties, were established in 1865. Darjeeling also has a zoo, a natural history museum, and a racecourse in addition to these attractions.
History of Darjeeling
Darjeeling was a part of Sikkim (which was an independent kingdom at the time) and Nepal for a short time before being purchased by the British East India Company in 1835. In 1827, there was another dispute between Sikkim and Nepal, and the Sikkimese King requested assistance from the British Governor-General in India in accordance with the Treaty of Titalia signed in 1817. The British then dispatched two officers, Captain Lloyd and Mr Grant, to resolve the dispute.
Caption Llyod spent a few days in Darjeeling during this time in February 1829. The area was known as the “Old Gorkha Station of Darjeeling” at the time. The place was nothing like it is now. It was a desolate landscape with dense forests and mountains. Caption Llyod saw Darjeeling as a great sanatorium or health resort for British officers.
A proposal was quickly sent to the British Governor-General, and it was quickly approved as well. Caption Llyod, who had been promoted to the rank of General by this time, was sent back to Sikkim to negotiate the handover of Darjeeling to them. General Llyod was successful in his mission, and in 1835, the Chogyal was persuaded to hand over Darjeeling as a friendly gesture to the East India Company.
Dr Archibald Campbell, a British resident in Nepal, was brought to Darjeeling and given administrative duties in 1839. Because of Campbell’s efforts, an excellent sanatorium was built by 1852, and a Hill Corps was established to maintain order and communication. Finally, after 1866, Darjeeling became much more peaceful, resulting in the hill station’s overall development. Farming and communication were both improved. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways, which connected the hills to the plains in a convenient manner, was established in 1881. Darjeeling was finally growing and flourishing.
So 1866 marks an epoch in Darjeeling history; peace was established on all fronts, and the march to progress and civilization began.