Darjeeling is an hour’s flight from Calcutta and a three hour winding drive up through the hills at the base of the Himalaya’s. Though it couldn’t be farther removed from the smog and heat and humanity of Calcutta, it does share with that city a preponderance of relics from its days as an British colony, and the Windamere, opened in the 1920s as a boarding house for expat bachelor’s working on the area tea plantations, might just be the most perfectly preserved speciman of its kind in all of Asia.
Each of the suites consists of two single beds for a fully pyjama clad mom and dad and a small bedroom by the bathroom for offspring, mothers-in-law, traveling companions, or, in our case, suitcases. Evernight at five o’clock, hotel staff light the room’s fireplace, and whilst guests dine (the hotel is full board- more on that below), place a hotwater bottle in the bed.
Though it was too cloudy to see Mt. Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak during our visit, plenty of time was spent in front of the fireplace studying this lovely painting of it and the all of the surrounding peaks that we also could not see.
There were many helpful notes posted around the premises explaining the hotel’s quirks and foibles.
For some reason, I really fell in love with this wooden toliet roll dispenser and I’ll never understand why mankind ever opted to our current, far less aesthetically appealing apparatus.
Did I mention that full board includes afternoon tea, served with victorian sandwiches and scones in yet another lovely, toasty old parlor.
The shelves are filled with photo albums from hotel parties going back to the 1940s; and the walls of the hotels are hung with pictures of guests enjoying British hospitality as it is only done in India.
I love natural history museums, and while the Indian Museum in Calcutta is not, strictly speaking, a natural history museum, its dusty wooden cabinets cataloging with Victorian fastidiousness the rocks, fossils, beasts, insects and vegetable life of India might be the city’s attraction. Wonderfully evocative, as so much of Kolkata is, the museum was founded as the Asiatic Society in 1814, and very little besides the name has changed in the subsequent 200 years.
Current home of the museum, completed by the architect W.L. Granvil in 1878.
Amazing gallery of animal skeletons and taxidermy.
One of the many closed galleries- one wonders how many years since the curiosities inside have seen the light of day.
Gallery of Indian rocks and minerals.
The geologist’s kit.
The gallery of vegetable life, with wonderful color prints.