Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Colonial heritage clock tower of Darjeeling, West Bengal - a colonial legacy

colonial Clock tower, Darjeling, west bengal. alamy com.
Darjeeling location map. .discoversikkim.com
 There are many landmarks in Darjeeling town, West Bengal state that remind us of the past colonial period under the British.  There are historical schools, churches buildings, etc. You may find some of them on the Laden-La road, one being  the Darjeeling Municipality Building where an impressive and beautiful  Clock Tower  stands majestically in the front part. In 1850, the building came up and later  it was converted into a Town Hall as there was not a public building to host meetings, parties, ball, etc. The town hall  was declared a heritage site by the West Bengal Heritage Commission.
Clock tower, Darjeeling, WB Shutterstock.
Clock tower, Darjeeling, WB 123rf.com/
Its foundation stone was laid by Lord Ronaldshay in October 1917. The hall was built at an estimated cost of Rs 2.5 lakh and one half it was borne by the Maharajah of Cooch Behar. The  plan  consisted of a  big hall  for 600 people, a reading room, a square, and a 100-ft-high stone clock tower with an octagonal gable roof and flag-staff.  It was inaugurated by Ronaldshay in 1921.  Earlier, the municipality was set-up in 1850 to run th administration of the growing small town that had lots of visitors  from the plains and settlers. and business people. As for the clock, it was made by GT Gent and Company of  England. The clock, though survived a devastating fire mishap in 1996, went dead  and  was repaired in 2006 through  the efforts of the Darjeeling Rotary Club.
The huge  musical clock chimes a fine musical tone followed by  striking of the bell at every hour,  reminding the common people of the hour of the day.The area around the clock tower is called 'Chowrasta', meaning   Four Roads. Many iconic business firms are located near-by  and you may call this area ''Downtown''. Chowrasta  has taxi stands, etc for the visitors. The amazing thing is many colonial structures, despite time and vagaries of changing weather and climate, have never lost the old-world charm. Nor have they become weak and unstable structures. Their charm is just irresistible.  No doubt, these old structures  have formed part of Darjeeling and  become  heritage landmarks. that need to be preserved for the posterity.  The pictuesque  hills near-by are dotted with well-maintained  tea gardens that add more charm to this hill station.
The Municipal limit of Darjeeling  originally included  the area ceded by the Raja of Sikkim in 1835 and extended from the hills below Pankhabari to the borders of Sikkim on the north.





Tit-bits: 
The sporadic violence caused by the  Gorkhaland movement in mid-80s  in this part had a deep impact on the business and tourist industry. The Gorkhas of this land earned the wreath of the government agencies and the nearby states as  they caused heavy loss to the central government.  Subsequently after a long spell normalcy was restored in this part.
https://foodscapes.blog/2019/06/29/_
 http://www.famousplacesinindia.in/Famous/Darjeeling-Clock-Tower.aspx 
 https://www.flickr.com/photos/shankaronline/716874203
 https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/darjeeling-s-british-legacy-a-journey-in-time/story-7hPeYh3E6MvdCISrqNDUzM.html
 


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