Darjeeling District (Bengali : ;) is the northernmost district of the state of West Bengal in eastern India in the foothills of the Himalayas. The district is famous for its beautiful hill stations (and is often referred to as the Queen of the Hills) and Darjeeling tea. Darjeeling is the district headquarters. Kalimpong, Kurseong and Siliguri, three other major towns in the district, are the subdivisional headquarters of the district. Mirik, another town of the district, has been developed as a lake resort since the late 1970s.
Geographically, the district can be divided into two broad divisions, the hills and the plains. The entire hilly region of the district comes under the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, a semi-autonomous administrative body under the state government of West Bengal. The council covers the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. The foothills of Darjeeling Himalayas, which comes under the Siliguri subdivision, is known as the Terai. The Terai is bounded on the north by the mountains, on the south by Kishanganj district of Bihar state, on the east by Jalpaiguri district and on the west by Nepal. It has a length from north to south of , and a breadth from east to west of . As of 2011 it is the second least populous district of West Bengal (out of 19), after Dakshin Dinajpur.
The name Darjeeling comes from the Tibetan words, Dorje (thunderbolt) and Ling (place or land), meaning the land of the thunderbolt. In 1835, Darjeeling was annexed by the East India Company from Sikkim. Prior to that, Darjeeling formed a part of Sikkim and for a brief period of Nepal.
Previously, Darjeeling formed a part of dominions of the Chogyal of Sikkim, who had been engaged in an unsuccessful warfare against the Gorkhas. From 1780, the Gorkhas made several attempts to capture the entire region of Darjeeling. By the beginning of 19th century, they had overrun Sikkim as far eastward as the Teesta River and had conquered and annexed the Terai.
In the meantime, the British were engaged in preventing the Gorkhas from overrunning the whole of the northern frontier. The Anglo-Gorkha war broke out in 1814, which resulted in the defeat of the Gorkhas and subsequently led to the signing of the Sugauli Treaty in 1815. According to the treaty, Nepal had to cede all those territories which the Gorkhas had annexed from the Chogyal of Sikkim to the British East India Company (i.e. the area between Mechi River and Teesta river).
Later in 1817, through the Treaty of Titalia, the British East India Company reinstated the Chogyal of Sikkim, restored all the tracts of land between the Mechi River and the Teesta river to the Chogyal of Sikkim and guaranteed his sovereignty.
The controversy did not end there. Later, in 1835, the hill of Darjeeling, including an enclave of , was gifted to the British East India Company. In November 1864, the Treaty of Sinchula was executed in which the Bhutan Dooars with the passes leading into the hills and Kalimpong were ceded to the British by Bhutan. The Darjeeling district can be said to have assumed its present shape and size in 1866 with an area of 1234 sq. miles.
The GNLF flag.
During the 1980s, the Gorkha National Liberation Front led an intensive and often violent campaign for the creation of a separate Gorkhaland state within India, across the Nepali-speaking areas in northern West Bengal. The movement reached its peak around 1985-1986 but ended with the establishment of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 1988.
Though Darjeeling is now peaceful, the issue of a separate state still lingers on, now supported by some political parties such as Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
The hill areas of Darjeeling enjoy some measure of autonomy under the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. However, the aspirations of the people of Darjeeling and the surrounding areas were not fulfilled and the demand for full statehood within India has emerged once again, with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha as its chief proponent.
The Darjeeling hill area is formed of comparatively recent rock structure that has a direct bearing on landslides. However, heavy monsoon precipitation is however a very common cause of the landslides. Soils of Darjeeling hill areas are extremely varied, depending on elevation, degree of slope, vegetative cover and geolithology.A tea garden in Darjeeling.
The Himalayas serve as the source of natural resources for the population residing in the hills as well as in the plains. As human population expands in the hills, forests are being depleted for the extension of agricultural lands, introduction of new settlements, roadways, etc. The growing changes coming in the wake of urbanization and industrialization leave deep impressions on the hill ecosystem.
The economy of Darjeeling hill area depends on tea production, horticulture, agriculture, forestry and tourism. The major portions of the forests are today found at elevations of 2000 meters and above. The area located in between 1000 2000 meters is cleared either for tea plantation or cultivation. About 30 percent of the forest covers found in the lower hills are deciduous. Evergreen forest constitutes only about 6 percent of the total forest coverage. Shorea robusta remains the most prominent species of tropical moist deciduous forest along with heavy under growth.
Teesta, Rangeet, Mechi, Balason, Mahananda, Lish, Gish, Chel, Ramman, Murti and Jaldhaka are the important rivers of the district.
The district comprises four subdivisions: Darjeeling Sadar, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Siliguri. Darjeeling is the district headquarter. There are 17 police stations, 12 community development blocks, 4 municipalities, 1 municipal corporation and 134 gram panchayats in this district.
Darjeeling and Kalimpong contain one municipality each and Kurseong has two. Siliguri has a municipal corporation instead. The community development blocks are divided into rural areas with gram panchayats. and census towns. In total there are 9 urban units: 4 municipalities, 1 municipal corporation and 4 census towns. Also, Darjeeling city and Pattabong Tea Garden are part of a urban agglomeration.
Darjeeling Sadar Subdivision
Darjeeling Municipal Area
- Darjeeling Pulbazar (Community development block) consists of rural areas with 23 gram panchayats and one census town: Pattabong Tea Garden.
- Rangli Rangliot (Community development block) consists of rural areas only with 11 gram panchayats.
- Jorebunglow Sukhiapokhri (Community development block) consists of rural areas only with 16 gram panchayats.
- Kalimpong I (Community development block) consists of rural areas only with 18 gram panchayats.
- Kalimpong II (Community development block) consists of rural areas only with 13 gram panchayats.
- Gorubathan (Community development block) consists of rural areas only with 11 gram panchayats.
Kurseong Station, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
- Mirik municipality
- Mirik (Community development block) consists of rural areas only with 6 gram panchayats.
- Kurseong (Community development block) consists of rural areas with 14 gram panchayats and one census town: Cart Road.
- Siliguri municipal corporation
- Matigara (Community development block) consists of rural areas with 5 gram panchayats and one census town: Bairatisal.
- Naxalbari (Community development block) consists of rural areas with 6 gram panchayats and one census town: Uttar Bagdogra.
- Phansidewa (Community development block) consists of rural areas only with 7 gram panchayats.
- Kharibari (Community development block) consists of rural areas only with 4 gram panchayats.
The district was previously divided into 5 assembly constituencies. As per order of the Delimitation Commission in respect of the delimitation of constituencies in West Bengal, the district has been divided into 6 assembly constituencies:
- Kalimpong (assembly constituency no. 22),
- Darjeeling (assembly constituency no. 23),
- Kurseong (assembly constituency no. 24),
- Matigara-Naxalbari (SC) (assembly constituency no. 25),
- Siliguri (assembly constituency no. 26) and
- Phansidewa (ST) (assembly constituency no. 27).
Phansidewa constituency will continue to be reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) candidates. Matigara-Naxalbari constituency will be reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) candidates. Along with one assembly constituency from North Dinajpur district, the six assembly constituencies of this district will form the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency.
According to the 2011 census Darjeeling district has a population of 1,842,034, roughly equal to the nation of Kosovo or the US state of West Virginia. This gives it a ranking of 257th in India (out of a total of 640). The district has a population density of . Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 14.47 %. Darjiling has a sex ratio of 971 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 79.92 %.
In 2001, the total population of the district was 1,609,172. The total rural population was 1,088,740 and total urban population was 520,432. Total males were 830,644 and total females were 778,528. The density of population was 511 per km2. The decennial population growth rate (1991 2001) was 23.79%.
The original inhabitants of the Darjeeling Hills were the Lepchas or Rongpa (the ravine folks) as they prefer themselves to be known as. They are decidedly Mongolian in physical features. The Limbus are another ancient inhabitants of this district. The greater bulk of the people in the hills today are the Gorkhas. They are industrious and enterprising as a race and speak Nepali and various other dialects. Among the population are the Sherpas. They are well known for their contributions to mountaineering. Also much in evidence in the hills are the Bhutias. There is also a sizable population of Tibetans who arrived from Tibet since the 1950s. In the plains, one will find several communities like the Gorkhas, the adivasi people originally from Chotanagpur and Santhal Parganas, and a greater bulk of Bengali people.
The major languages spoken in Darjeeling district are Nepali, Bengali, Hindi and English. Other languages spoken are Lepcha, Tibetan, Limbu, Rai (Kulung, Bantawa, etc.), Tamang, Bhutia, Rajbonshi, Bijori (a Munda language distantly related to Khmer and Vietnamese).
Flora and fauna
In 1986, Darjeeling district became home to Neora Valley National Park, which has an area of . It is also home to Singalila National Park, which was set up in 1986 as a wildlife sanctuary and converted to a national park in 1992. It has an area of .
Darjeeling district also has three wildlife sanctuaries: Jorepokhri, Mahananda, and Senchal.
- Gorkha Janmukti Morcha
- Gorkha National Liberation Front
bn: ca:Districte de Darjeeling de:Darjeeling (Distrikt) es:Distrito de Darjeeling fr:District de Darjeeling it:Distretto di Darjeeling mr: nl:Darjeeling (district) ne: no:Darjeeling (distrikt) pt:Darjeeling (distrito) ru: ( ) sv:Darjeeling (distrikt) uk: ( ) zh: