Photographer's Note


In this photograph,you can see three men engaged in diligently reading a morning newspaper at a park in Darjeeling.

Some tidbits about the History of Darjeeling.

The History of Darjeeling covers the history of Darjeeling town and its adjoining hill areas in the Indian state of West Bengal, which is intertwined with the history of Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, Bengal and Great Britain, i.e. the East India Company. Originally part of the state of Sikkim, Darjeeling became part of an important buffer state between Nepal and Bhutan. The British, using the area as a sanitarium, found that the climate provided excellent tea-cultivating conditions and soon began to grow tea on the hills of Darjeeling. Darjeeling tea stands as a famous export from Darjeeling until this day.

The area of Darjeeling was inhabited by the Lepchas, Limbus and Bhutias as part of Sikkim from ancient times. In 1642, Phuntsog Namgyal became the first Chogyal ruler of Sikkim. Tensung Namgyal became the next Chogyal of Sikkim in 1670. It was during his rule that Sikkim lost the area of Kalimpong to Bhutan.

The Gorkha army from Nepal invaded Darjeeling in the 1780s, attacked the Sikkimese capital of Rabdentse, and annexed territories up to the Teesta River into Nepal. After the Anglo-Gorkha War, Nepal ceded one-third of it territories to the British as per the Sugauli Treaty in 1815, which included the land area between the rivers Mechi and Teesta. On 10 February 1817, the British reinstated the land area between rivers Mechi and Teesta to the Sikkimese Chogyal as per the Treaty of Titalia.

Disputes between Nepal and Sikkim arose regarding their borders (especially Ontoo Dara) and the then British Governor-General of India, Lord William Bentinck, sent two officers, Captain George Alymer Lloyd and Mr. J. W. Grant, to help resolve the dispute in February 1829. It was on the journey to Ontoo Dara that the two officers stayed at Darjeeling for 6 days at "the old Goorka station called Dorjeling" and were "much impressed with the possibility of the station as a sanatarium." On 18 June 1829, Lloyd communicated to the government regarding the possibility of Darjeeling serving as a sanatarium, while about the same time Grant also urged the government to possess the tract.

The rapid growth of Darjeeling led to jealousy from the Chogyal of Sikkim. There were also differences between the British Government and Sikkim over the status of people of Sikkim. Because of the increased importance of Darjeeling, many citizens of Sikkim, mostly of the labour class, started to settle in Darjeeling as British subjects. The migration disturbed the feudal lords in Sikkim who resorted to forcibly getting the migrants back to Sikkim.

The relation deteriorated to such an extent that when Dr. Campbell and the eminent explorer Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker were touring in Sikkim in 1849, they were suddenly captured and imprisoned. This detention continued for weeks. An expeditionary force was sent by the Company to Sikkim. However, there was no necessity for bloodshed and after the Company's troops had crossed the Rangeet River into Sikkim, hostilities ceased.

Consequent to this trouble, and further misconduct on the part of the Sikkim authorities a few years later, the mountain tracts now forming the district of Darjeeling became a part of the British Indian Empire, and the remainder of kingdom of Sikkim became a protected state.

The area of Kalimpong along with the Dooars became British property following the defeat of Bhutan in the Anglo-Bhutan war (Treaty of Sinchula – 11 November 1865). Kalimpong was first put under the Deputy Commissioner of Western Duars, but in 1866 it was transferred to the District of Darjeeling giving the district its final shape.

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Additional Photos by Farhat Abbas (fabbs99) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2124 W: 2 N: 4155] (17179)
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