Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history on Mall road

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Darjeeling Heritage walk completion was on my list today. After a long & tiring trip to Sandakphu and Phalut, I decided to keep it light today. However, my aunt wanted to go shopping; hence, I decided to pick up my partially explored Darjeeling history. Last night was cold after a rain shower. But the daybreak brought glimmers of warmth where the sun’s golden light softly caressed the land and ignited the birds into a chorus of melodies. However, it was still raining on & off. Still, I had also planned for a ponderous brunch at Keventors, hence lazed around.

Darjeeling has been paramount in Bengali art and culture since the British era! Some of them lingered forever in their culture! But I wanted some detailed information about Darjeeling’s heritage; hence I caught hold of Prashant, the Manager of Rani Kothi. Over a cup of tea, he took me through the history of Darjeeling.

The snow-capped mountains of Darjeeling

He started with the meaning of Darjeeling, which finds root in Tibetan words “Dorje”, thunderbolt, and “ling”, meaning land! But Darjeeling is home to the Gorkha community. Though Lepcha, Bihari (primarily workers at the tea gardens), few Tibetans and other ethnic Nepalese communities are part of this population. However, Darjeeling’s politics have been intertwined with Sikkim’s since Sikkim was established the kingdom. 

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
Gorkha Lady

But t, the Gorkha and other hill tribe communities had a different lifestyle and were exceptionally brave in warfare. However, they succumbed when the king of Sikkim “Gifted” Darjeeling to the East India Company through legal deeds. TCompanyitics and history found their numerous course to evolve over the past century.

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
The beautiful valley of Darjeeling

Another fact that Prashant did not deny is that these colonists were the sole reason for urban development in Darjeeling. Little did Archibald Campbell know back in 1841 that his endeavour to start tea planting on the spiralling slopes of Daoneeling hill will give way to a new era of Tea connoisseurs around the globe! Tea tourism is one aspect where Darjeeling possesses immense opportunity, especially the y from discerning travellers. Prashant suggested to me some places to cover & took his leave.

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
Tea plantation

I took a quick shower & ready to explore Darjeeling again, although I covered 10% on the first day of my arrival. As usual, our driver Hari was on time at the hotel, & we took off to Mall road again. It was 10 am, and there was a massive queue in front of Keventers. The British colonial day restaurant has completed 100 yrs, serving English breakfast, tea & snacks in the hill town. 

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road

We took the queue and waited for an hour before a table was allotted. As I entered, I saw that the section was the bakery, with an ice cream parlour mainly for takeaways. I had to climb the narrow wooden stairway to the upper floor. There was notable in the indoor area, & rest settled on the open terrace. We took ton open terrace seating, as the weather was good, clouds floating in & out like a wave. 

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
Baked beans & Darjeeling tea

Keventer is famDarjeelings traditional English breakfast and varieties of sandwiches, burgers, hotdogs, and baked beans. But pork hotdogs and salami, sausages, meatloaf and eggs are unique. You even gespecialverages. It’s Delicious! I ordered chicken sausages & cheese omelette, along with a cup of coffee. Others order hotdogs, baked beans, meatloaf, traditional English breakfast, and tea & hot chocolate. Please note the portion served are pretty significant, so order carefully. After a hearttypench, we walked out of Keventer.

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
Chicken Sausages with cheese & mushroom Omelette

I started to walk up towards Observatory Hill & Mahakal Temple. It took 20 min of an uphill walk to reach the top, with a few flights of stairs. On the way, there are a few benches to relax if you are e out of breath. As I walked along, drag saw a few beautiful cottages with an open patio lounge for sunbathing. Monkeys started to be more promin as we approached the temple. 

Old Library

Mahakal temple has a deeply rooted history. It is said where the temple stood now used to be the origistandslace of Dorjeling Monastery, also known as Bhutia mastery. Gorkha destroyed the original monastery in 1815, ideally built in 1765 by Lama Dorje It Rebuilt, rebuilt a year later & shifted to a lower level of Darjeeling. In its place, the Mahakal temple was built.

Waythe  to Mahkal Temple

As I approached, the temple smell of heavily scented incense sticks filled the air & I could stick the chanting of prayers. It was fascinating to see the rhythmic chants of priests & monks reading their posts script. Both harmoniously co-exist. This is the unique Darjeeling heritage. The fluttering Buddhist prayer flag caught my attention as it was all over. I asked one of the monks about the importance of these flags since I could not hold my curiosity. He smiling replied to me Buddhists believe the prayer reBuddhistsaven from these flags. Along with the changing season, the colour of the flag and prayers, flags and blessings fade with the passing time; sin Wilson will also wash out with the passing time.

Mahakal Temple

Well, Finally, I entered the temple. It is said that the temple with three Shiva lingams was self-manifested in 17wase. Three gold-plated icons stand for Brgold-plated & Maheswar. I saw many devotees doing parikrama of the temple as they offered their prayers. However, I provided rang the bell & offered my prayers too. 

The Shrine

I walked ahead of the temple to find a Tibetan memorial shrine, though there were many small temples & shrines in & around the ttemplesple complex. I walked along the pathway; and saw many shaded seating places made. While standing near the seating places, I saw the mesmerising Kanchenjunga. It stood solemn and majestic amidst the fog. I sat for a while before moving towards my next destination.

toward the area in the temple

As I climbed the temple rose bend, I saw a cave. However, climbing down a few steep stairs to each hem would be best. It is said tstairsve reach the old temple, and you must crawl to enter. 

The cave, which was the original temple

Well, I skipped the d this adventure & moved on towards St. Andrew Church, a towardlican church built-in 1843. The exterior of the church construction is simple, as it was built for only Rs 9000. But as I entered the church, the interior walls were inlaid with alabaster tables that held the memories of the great residents of Darjeeling.   One of them was of Lt. General A. Lloyd, the discoverer of Darjeeling. I sat in the church as I loved the silence there. 

St Unloved Church

Later I walk past the Darjeeling Gymkhana, which is fully operational even after 100 years of showcasing Darjeeling heritage.

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road

 Further down the mall road is Raj Bhawan, though we could not enter due to COVID protocols. I could gather a little information from the cousomelike established in 1840 by the Britisher. Later, Maharaja of Cooch Bihar was bought but was finally taken over by the government of India in 1877. Hence I took a few pictures before proceeding ahead. The building holds the gloriest Darjeeling heritage.

Raj Bhawan

After a long walk, I was thirsty, so I headed to Fiesta, a cafe on mall road. And ordered a cup of coffee and a sandwich before heading towards the Himalayan mountaintowardInstitute.  

Fiesta Cafe

We all know Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who conquested Mount Everest. And HMI, a Darjeeling heritage, was built to commemorate his success. HMI comprises a residential school for mountaineering students and Swiss-style house fostudentsa trainers. Along with a well-stocked museum with all mountaineering artefacts & loads of expeditions on display. I skippexpeditions to avoid the crowd amidst the COVID hazard. Instead walked directly towards the main gate of HMI. I bought a combined Rs 60 ticket for Zoo &HMI.

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
Gate to Zoo & HMI

Upon entering the gate, I saw a few curio & souvenir shops on my left. However, as I walked forward, I could see the Insitute whose walls had an impression of a mountaineer with a quote-“May you climb from peak to peak”. Interesting! I also noticed the founder stone, laid on 4th Nov 1854. And all along the wall were multiple knot hanging. Quite Amazing!

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
The mountaineering engraving

It would be best if you walked the roaYoue to reach the museum, but it’s worth it. The museum has two sections- The main museum on cells- The main museum on the ground floor, and Mount Everest & Mount Makalu oldest mountaineering museums in the country, set up in 1957, serve as a vital resource to many researchers & students. Since photography is prohibited inside the museum, I could not click any pictures.

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
HMI Institute

I walked inside and took a walk of the museum. I noticed therein many sections like- Equipment in vogue displaying various accessories. Another area shows badges of different mountaineering clubs & associations. A vast relief model of the Himalayas is placed in the centre, showcasing the entire range & principal peaks. Further ahead, the sections highlight clothes, boots, lamps, wireless sets, compasses etc., used during mountaineering. However, a Buddha statue (Vairo Chana) caught my attention; he is regarded as the first Thayanu Buddha by Nepalese Buddhists. Interesting! 

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
HMI Buddhists

I climbed up to the upper section, where I was astounded by a life-size model of a mountaineer showing a crevasse crossing. Mount Makala you section has all the mountain mules used by Edmund Hilary and mulesrge in 1953 during the British Everest expedition. At the same time, the Everest section consists of the chronological account of an attempt made at Everest in 1852. I also saw the perin gear & clothing of Tenzing Norgay used during the climb. While moving out of the museum, I stopped by the information centre & collected a few pamphlets for reading. Outside the museum, you have the HMI Restaurant & tea parlour right in front, where we had a cup of tea. Be, side it is an ice cream parlour & photo studio too.

Tea parlour

Another interesting article that HMI owns is about a powerful telescope that views the entire range of views. Adolf Holter gifted it to Maharaja Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana of Nepal. The Maharaja of Nepal later gave the telescope to HMgaves! I could not get a chance to use it because of the long queue; instead, I clicked the picture range through clickedlens. 

View of the Himalayas from the HMI campus

It was time to head towards my next destination, the Old cemetery; I walked down the hill to Lebon carter road. Although cemeteries are not a place to visit, I recall the British Raj memories of Darjeeling heritage I dropped by. Upon reaching the cemetery, I got an idea that the area was understood. But looking around, I saw some graves still intact and dated to the early 1840s. I guessed there would be more than 100 graves since the cemetery was divided into two sections. 

Old Cemetery

The oldest grave I found was oI found the oldest gravest, Alexandar Csoma de Kros, who compiled the first dictionary and grammar in the Tibetian language. Damn Interesting! This was the only grave beautifully decorated with a flower bed and fenced. Another one I found was of Lt. General George W. Aylmer Llyod, whose crave has the inscription in high Victorian style. Though I enjoyed the quietness around me, wrapping me like a blanket. But I couldn’t stay for long as I had my ropeway trip already. My ropeway trip always arrived just in time.

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
Alexandar Csoma de Kros Grave

Upon reaching, we had to take a few steep steps to get to the entrance gate of the ropeway. Omg! There was a large queue; trust me, I was leaving, but my aunt was adamant about taking the ride. Hence we had to stand in line for an hour till we got the cable. The ropeway is called the Rangeet avenger cable car. The reason is the spectacular view of the valley around the river- Little Rangeet. The ride was 45min, and we travelled at an altitude of about 7000 ft. This ropeway is an integral part of my Darjeean Integrale walk.

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
The ropeway

Darjeeling ropeway started in 1968, though it was built to cater for the tea gardens at the valley below. But now it is more for tourist as 16 cable car operates, each having a capacity of six people. The cable ride gives a breathtaking view of the valley, the spread of lush tea gardens on hill slopes, flowing rivers, dense forest, & a picture of the eastern Himalayas. The ropeway route is from Singmari and Singla Bazar, the tea estate. We di much time to spend at the Singla Bazar; it was evening already, hence we returned.

The rest evening was spent on Mall road, shopping. Before heading to our hotel, we had dinner at Kunga, a tiny budget restaurant run by a family for over two decades. It is a part of the Darjeeling heritage. The restaurant serves Tibetan & Chinese dishes and has a Tibetanating capacity of 20 people. Generally, the restaurant is packed & you need to wait in a queue to get a seat, but we were lucky today.

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
Kunga Restaurant

 I tried the ChickenRestaurant soup, a delicious Tibetan noodle soup, as suggesTibetanhe the lady owner. It’s a complete meal as the soup has eight pieces of momos dipped in it. It was just Yum! My mom and aunt ordered their veg delicacies in a lesser quantity as they served in large portions—the remaining evening portions with good food in a relaxed, comfy atmosphere. 

Darjeeling Heritage walk exploring history in Mall road
Chicken Thenthuk soup

How to Reach

By Air: 

The nearest airport is Bagdogra, approximately 95 km away from the city. From the airport, hire taxis to reach the city.

By Rail:

 New Jalpaiguri is the nearest railway station to Darjeeling. New Jalpaiguri connects the city in India. You need to hire private cabs from the station to reach Darjeeling.

By Road:

Darjeeling is well-connected via road with Kolkata city & other closeby cities such as Gangtok and Kalimpong. Buses, private cabs, and shared taxis ply to Darjeeling and from these places.



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