Darjeeling Museums, Monuments and Memorials
There aren't too many museums and memorials in Darjeeling. However the ones that exist are unique to this part of the world and have their own history of establishment. If you love museums, monuments and memorials, and take keen interest in the history of a place and its people, flora and fauna, then Darjeeling can offer you a great quality platter.
For example, Bengal Natural History Museum is all about the fauna of Himalayan region and West Bengal where hundreds of real specimens are preserved and displayed.
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and its museum is known as the Mecca for the mountaineering enthusiasts and a favorite of tourists who want to know about the human beings' brave attempts on the Himalayan range including the Everest. The names of the local heroes of Darjeeling Hills (the Gorkhas) are captured at the War Memorial.
The graves of many early settlers of British India lie at the Old Cemetery. Darjeeling is the place where the great Indian patriot and freedom fighter Deshbandhu Chittarajan Das lived his last few days of life.
And there are many other great stories of Darjeeling that are captured in the various museums, monuments and memorials around the hill town. Here are the ones that are our favorites because they offer a wealth of knowledge and insight into Darjeeling and its history. Fortunately, all of them are within short distances from the town center. Check out the links for details.
Located at a walking distance from the Chowrasta Mall, the Bengal Natural History Museum is a place to go if you are looking to know about the animal and bird life in Darjeeling Hills as well in the region. The museum has a huge collection of mammals, birds, insects, fishes and more. What's most interesting is that although the specimens look like artificial models, they are not. They are of real creatures who had been captured and preserved with stuffing.
Located at the Birch Hill (now known as the Jawahar Parvat after erstwhile Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru laid the foundation stone), HMI has an excellent mountaineering museum. The museum has two sections. The main section or the main museum has a collection of many mountaineering artifacts and displays. There is a huge table top model of the entire Himalayan mountain range showing all the major peaks.
The upper section is for mount Everest and Makalu. This is where you can see the chronological history of all the Everest expeditions that have taken place over the years. It also showcases Tenzing Norgay's personal gears and equipment that he used when he climbed the Everest in 1953 along with Sir Edmund Hillary.
This museum opened in July 2015 and showcases the history and culture of Tibet. It has many priceless articles and artifacts that were gifted by Dalai Lama. It's located on Gandhi Road and at the ground floor of the building which houses Manjushree Center of Tibetan Culture. Only a minutes walk from the center of the town.
This is the house where Sister Nivedita breathed her last on 13th October 1911. She lived here occasionally starting from 1903 until her death. The building is now under Ramkrisha Mission. It's located on Lebong Cart Road and about 3kms from Darjeeling town center. Several original artifacts have been restored including Sister Nivedita's original writing desk & chair, alarm clock, type writer etc. The mission runs several social projects from here.
Located about 5 minutes walk from the Mall, Step Aside is the house where the great leader from Bengal Deshbandhu Chitta Ranjan Das lived the last few days of his life. He passed away here on June 16, 1925. The first floor is now a museum showcasing his personal belongings and the ground floor is used as a maternity clinic and child welfare center.
Located at the Ghoom Station premises, the museum showcases many rare artifacts and photographs Darjeeling Himalayan Railway including its oldest Toy Train engine the Baby Sevok. This is one of the three such DHR museums and was set up in 2000. The other two are located in Sukna and Kurseong.
The large room in the station premises is full of original archives, exhibits and artifacts of Darjeeling Himalayan Railways. Exhibits include parts of original rails laid by DHR, accessories, many black & white pictures of the loops and toy trains, and articles.
This is the third of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway museums located at Sukna station. It has great collections of original photographs related to DHR.
Located at the center of the Batasia Loop, the War Memorial commemorates the brave soldiers of Darjeeling Hills who lost their lives during the various wars after India's independence. There is a cenotaph with Roll of Honor inscribed on it. The panoramic view of the mountain range and Darjeeling's landscape is spectacular.
If you take the Heritage Walking Tour in Darjeeling, you are likely to stop at this place which was declared as the site of "National Importance" by the Archeological Survey of India, the Calcutta Chapter. You will see graves dating back to early 1940s that includes the grave of Lloyd, known as the discoverer of Darjeeling and also of the great Hungarian linguist Koros who created the first Tibetan dictionary and grammar.
It's a great place to recall the memories of British Raj days. The upper section of the cemetery offers great views of the tea gardens, valleys and the towering Himalayan mountain range including the Kanchenjunga.
The institute specializes in High Altitude Research & Science. Recently it has become a National Facility for research in Astroparticle Physics & Space Science. This was also the home of the founder of the Institute Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, a famous scientist. His house is now a museum showcasing many exhibits including some of his personal belongings.
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