A view of old Darjeeling town
Darjeeling town : at present
The name Darjeeling is a composition of 'dorje' meaning 'thunderbolt'
and 'ling' meaning 'place' ... 'the Land of Thunderbolt'.
The Nepalese had marched till the east of Sikkim in 1780 as far as Tista river. Due to a
disagreement with Nepal, the British declared war against Nepal at the end of 1813. In
1816 by a treaty signed at Seagoulie, Nepal ceded 4000 sq. miles of territory and by
the treaty of Titalya in 1817 the Rajah (king) of Sikkim was reinstated.
An old but comfortable mode of transport
In 1828 two British officers, Capt. C. A. Lloyd and Mr. J. W.
Grant, after settling the internal factions between Nepal and Sikkim, found their way to a
place called Chungtong to the west of Darjeeling and were very impressed with what they
saw and thought of making this place a sanitarium. Other British officers also reported
favourably on the situation of the hill of Darjeeling.
The East India Company then directed its officers to start a negotiation with
the Rajah of Sikkim for the cessation of the hill either for an equivalent in money or
land. This transfer was successfully done in 1835 for an allowance of
per annum. The Rajah of Sikkim's revenue from this tract of land had never exceeded
20/- per annum. Later this allowance was raised to Rs. 6000/- per annum. In 1849 the
relation of the British and Sikkim worsened with the imprisonment of two British officers
by Sikkim authorities. Eventually they were released but as a punishment the British
stopped the annual allowance and annexed this territory.
Tea Plantations started developing all around Darjeeling.
During this time immigrants flooded in to work in construction sites, the Tea Gardens and
other agricultural works. The population of Darjeeling was barely 100 in 1835 and
was about 94,712 in 1871-72, 155,179 in 1881 and 249,117 in 1901.
By 1860s peace was restored in the borders and the march of
progress began. Roads and important construction were done, Loreto Convent in 1847, St.
Paul's School in 1864, Planters' Club in 1868, Lloyd's Botanical Garden in 1878, St.
Joseph's School in 1888, Railway Station in 1891, Town Hall (present Municipality
Building) in 1921.
Old Darjeeling goods train
With India attaining independence on 15th August 1947,
the district of Darjeeling remained in the partitioned section of Bengal (West Bengal) and
therefore in the Indian union. With the district's sub-Himalayan and geographical
condition, it occupied an unique status in the state. The only remaining industry, that is
the Tea industry, continued to play a major role in the economy of the area and the
country as well. The other natural wealth forests have been adversely affected by
the ever growing population, now estimated to be around 1,200,000. In the years since
independence, much has been done for the area's education, communication, attention to
cash crops like orange, potato, cardamom, ginger, etc.
An old bamboo bridge over Rangeet river
On 29th May 1953 two
men set foot on Mount Everest for the first time in history and one of them was Tenzing
Norgay, from Darjeeling. Subsequently, this historical event led to the formation of the
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. Of the old heritage the Toy Train
(Darjeeling Himalayan Railway) is now listed under UNESCO's world heritage.
Since the formation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill
Council in 1988 the hill areas fall under its jurisdiction. It has elected Councillors and
they have the authority in managing certain affairs of the hill like education, tourism,