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General view, Darjeeling

General view, Darjeeling

Photographer: Bourne and Shepherd

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1885

Shelfmark: Photo 752/15(53)

Item number: 7521553

Genre: Photograph

Photograph from the Macnabb Collection of a view of Darjeeling in West Bengal, India, taken by Bourne & Shepherd in the 1880s. The hill station of Darjeeling is situated high in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas at an altitude of 2,200 m (7218 feet). It was built by the British on land acquired from the Raja of Sikkim in 1835. Its temperate summer climate and beautiful views of some of the most spectacular Himalayan peaks led to its development in the 19th century first as a sanatorium and later a colonial resort, becoming the official summer capital of the Bengal Government in 1860. It is also the centre of a celebrated tea-growing district. This is a general view of the town, which stands on a narrow spur of the Senchal-Singalila range and descends in a series of terraces scattered with Victorian bungalows, against a backdrop of the Himalayas in the distance. Darjeeling, as described by the Imperial Gazetteer of India: “The scenery is of a magnificent character. The spectator in Darjeeling town stands on the stage of a vast amphitheatre of mountains, which in the spring form a continuous snowy barrier extending over 150 degrees of the horizon from Gipmochi on his right to Sandakphu on his left...The rising sun sheds a golden radiance on the eastern slopes, which turns to dazzling whiteness as the day wears on. At evening the western flanks catch all the rosy glow of sunset, and as the sun sinks behind the hills the crimson hues fade away only to reappear in a delicate afterglow. At last even this disappears; but if the moon be near the full, its light streams down upon the snows, outlining their contours with an awful purity.”

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