British era landmark crumbling in Darjeeling

Kurseong (West Bengal): Chimney, a landmark during the British Raj for travellers en route to Darjeeling on the outskirts of this town in Darjeeling district, is gradually falling prey to time and neglect.

A quaint halt for travellers with a 27-foot-tall brick built chimney situated at 7000 feet above sea level it offered a warm hearth with a fire crackling on chilly nights for travellers when the temperature dipped below zero degree Celcius.

There was also a stable for horses at Chimney. As per accounts of villagers, the British used it as a place for rest at night and to cook food.

When the present Hill Cart Road had not been constructed, the one and only road used by the Britishers was the Old Military road via Chimney to Darjeeling on which horse-drawn and vintage vehicles ran.

The Old Military Road is today known by the name of Aryan Sarani Road. In the last few years, the premises of Chimney and its adjoining land have been taken over by local farmers.

Some local residents have also constructed a temporary toilet, close to the landmark, on the grounds. With the passage of time and no upkeep, two to three feet of the top portion of the chimney has tumbled down.

One resident, Dipesh Chetrri said that the authorities should take immediate measures to preserve the landmark as well as to include it among world heritage sites.

He said to protect it the authorities should declare Chimney as a tourist spot with the help of the forest and tourism department.

Councillor Vinod Sharma, who is the in-charge of the Conservancy Department, told PTI that a part of Chimney was within the limits of the municipality. Sharma said that steps for its maintenance would be raised at the next meeting of the municipality.