|st. Andrews church, Darjeeling. West Bengal,, .trawell.in/|
|old Anglican Church, Darjeeling,WB, blog.sterling.holidays.com|
|St. Andrew's. Darjeeling, WB. miles2smile.wordpress.com|
Connected (with stations in the plains) by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the state of West Bengal, its history began in the early 19th century when the colonial administration under the British Raj set up a sanatorium and a military depot in the region. Consequently there arose a need for a church for Christian worship here as there were numerous British patients and employees in the sanatorium. Besides, many British families moved in to this hill station to reside and develop extensive tea plantations as the soil, altitude and climate were quite suitable for the growth of tea plants. Here, they established tea estates and tea growers developed innovative hybrids of black tea and created new fermentation techniques. The resultant unique Darjeeling tea now ranks among the most popular black teas in the world.
Between 1843 CE and t844, the church was established by the British. The foundation stone of this old Anglican church was laid on November 30, 1843, the day dedicated to St.Andrew. The cost of construction of the structure was Rs 9000 - a whooping sum back in those olden days. Named after the patron saint of Scotland St. Andrew, the church was badly damaged by an earthquake and later in 1873, it was rebuilt to cater to the spiritual needs of many Scottish soldiers and tea planters living in the Darjeeling Hill area as they happened to be early worshipers at this church on the hill. The church can accommodate about 200 person during services and obviously, it is not a big one. This being due to the fact this area, geologically speaking, is prone to earth tremors or earthquakes. The impressive clock tower was built in 1883 and the north and south transepts with porches were added in 1897.
|Darjeeling map, India. discoversikkim.com|
Inside this old church you will be wonder-struck by inlaid superb marble tablets and brass plaques, a sort of memorial to some of the oldest residents/pioneers of Darjeeling. A major attraction is a small brass plaque in memory of Charlotte Countess Canning, wife of the Governor General of that time. Lady Charlotte was on a visit to Darjeeling in 1861 to sketch the landscapes around this place. On her way back, she halted at Terai where she , unfortunately contracted malaria, a dreaded disease in those days, and died in Calcutta. It was during Gov. Gen. Canning's tenure the famous rebellion of 1857 - the First War of Independence against the arrogant and oppressive EIC officials took place - a dark chapter in British -India history.
An interesting feature of this church is every year it conducts a special Christmas Carol Service with religious fervor- a tradition that has been around since the colonial time. The service is quite popular among the residents who cut across religion, etc and attend the church function.