Darjeeling heritage Lost and yet to lose

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.

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

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