Darjeeling unlimited: What keeps the Gorkhaland cauldron simmering

The demand for a separate Gorkhaland state intensified in the mid-1980s. Photo: PTI

Every time the snow-capped Kanchenjunga dazzles against the azure autumn sky, the Darjeeling hills beckons the travel-loving Bengalis.

Darjeeling’s unmistakable Bong connection is soaked in romantic nostalgia. So much so that the place dotted with emerald green tea gardens, bejewelled by breath-taking mountains and nurtured by cascading waterfalls and meandering brooks, keeps propping up in Bengali literature and movies.

In real life too, catching a glimpse of the majestic Kanchenjunga while sipping a pot of the Darjeeling tea with freshly baked cakes or pastries at the hill station’s iconic century-old restaurant-cum bar Glenary’s or ambling along the Mall Road overlooking remnants of colonial-era architecture are part of many a romantic rendezvous of Bengalis spanning generations.

This romanticism with the hills, however, did not translate into development of the region comprising Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong that currently constitutes Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, a semi-autonomous administrative body under the West Bengal government. It also did not lead to socio-political integration of the Nepali-speaking population of the hills with their Bengali-speaking counterparts from the plains.

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