Friday, 4 May 2018

The Katherine Graham Memorial Chapel, Kalimpong, now a colonial heritage site

Kalimpong. The Katherine Graham Memorial ChapelTripAdvisor
Kalimpong is a well-known hill station  situated on a ridge connecting the two hills Durpin and Deolo. Deolo hill, in the NE of the town is 1,704 metres (5,590 feet) above msl and is the highest point of Kalimpong town.  Three water reservoirs atop the hill take care of the water needs of this small town. From here, one can view  Kalimpong, the surrounding villages of Relli valley, Teesta River and its valleys. There is park at the top of the hill  that has exotic flowering plants and it is a popular spot for the tourists. On clear days one can see snow-clad  mountains of West Sikkim from this hill. Kalimpong was added to district of Darjeeling in 1866 under the East India Company rule. Mount Kanchenjunga at 8,586 m (28,169 ft), the world's third tallest peak is clearly visible from Kalimpong.

Kalimpong town that can be accessed from Darjeeling by road was a famous hill station for the British during the colonial days. Besides, they also owned many tea estates in the near-by areas. Katherine Graham Memorial Chapel is an old structure built in European style.
Kalimpong.The Katherine Graham Memorial ChapeDarjeeling Tourism
Heritage Commission in the first week of February 2018 took a decision to  accord heritage status to this old  Chapel. The team from the government's Heritage Commission  already inspected the  Chapel presently located  in the precincts of Dr. Graham’s Homes School. The Chapel is in a dilapidated status and, it is believed, that  the renovation work would be completed by 18th of April, 2018.  The government had already sanctioned a sum of Rs. 5 Crore, 18 lakhs, 37 thousand and 500  for this project.  

The Chapel was inaugurated on the 24th of September 1925 and dedicated to the memory of Dr. Graham’s wife Katherine Graham. When the Chapel is restored back to old charm and grandeur, it will give a fillip to tourism and lots of people  will come here.

The architecture of this chapel in Scottish style with hills and trees around it gives the appearance of a Scottish village far removed from the town. It' s distinctly Scottish and all the School Houses built by Dr. Graham and others are named after different dignitaries.

Kalimpong has many attractions for the tourists.  A trip to the Graham’s Homes will  not only help you relax but also give you a chance  to  appreciate the social work  done by Dr. Graham and his co-workers in the colonial past. Dr. John Anderson Graham, Missionary of the Church of Scotland  who came to India in 1887 as part of Darjeeling Mission realized the necessity to open a Home for the orphaned, uncared- for children born to the British and the local people. He and his wife were instrumental in making them see the bright future in the midst of pangs of pain and dejection suffered by them in a conservative society.  Dr. Graham's Homes provided them an opportunity to look up for bright future, despite odds. In 1947 his schools, hostels, institutes,etc  were collectively called Dr. Graham's Homes. Dr. Graham was ably assisted by a young Scottish Missionary Aeneas Francon aged 24 (arrived in Kalimpong in 1910) and became  the Assistant Schoolmaster of Dr. Grahams' School. Later he took up the post of Bursar and remained in this post for 14 long years. 

Katherine Graham died in 1919 and Dr. Graham in 1942. Both are buried in the same Chapel  Cemetery. Incidentally,  Dr. Graham built the Chapel in memory of his beloved wife who never failed to lend her hands in his  relentless social activities for the cause of abandoned children. 

https://thehimalayanbeacon.com/heritage-status-to-be-bestowed-upon-katherine-graham-memorial-chapel-in-kalimpong/