The forgotten hotel in Darjeeling

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On my recent trip to Darjeeling, I noticed this hotel. This hotel is perched on a high ground, in a desolate spot, and with the tall gates and a suspicious looking security guard standing by the gates, this property is a no go-through for general folk, like me.

Actually, I have seen this property several times before, but always ignored it and walked on, just like all the other people. On this trip of mine, my curiosity was piqued, and I decided, along with the mister to go and try to have a peek at it. My curiosity paid off. Viewing this old hotel property from the outside and within was quite an experience, and especially with the mists and aura of the old world, I felt transported to another time.

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I wondered if there was a way to get into the hotel. The security guard didn’t look to be around. Mister and I were fiddling with the gate locks trying to loosen the old thing so we could let ourselves in. With our luck, the guard appeared out from the mists, ordering us to stay out from the property as it was Private. I looked at the security guard and somehow I was confident he could melt with a little bit of sweet talk and some smiles. The old charm worked. It wasn’t so difficult after all to enter the gates. The guard, after the initial ice was broken, happily showed us around the rooms of the hotel, talking to us of it’s history and what the future lay for it.

The hotel belonged to the Oberoi Group, one of the leading hotels in India. It was built in 1915, and was leased out to the Group in 1950. It ran successfuly for more than 20 years, and an indian movie by the name of Barsaat was even shot in this hotel.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/87/Barsaat_%281949%29_film_poster.jpg

And then there was a big mishap : a fire broke out so immense it burnt everything in it and the property is almost ravaged. Since that fire, the hotel has never been renovated due to insurance issues that have been dragging over 30 years..!

I asked the guard if there had been people injured in this accident. Apparently, the answer is no, there had been no casualties. However, I must add that walking through this big empty property with negligible electricity, dark corridors and spooky corners, this was the thought upmost in my mind if there were spirits around the place?! My heart was definitely somewhere near my mouth. I asked the guard if he lived in this property, and he replied in the affirmative. He lived here both day and night in one of the many empty rooms of the hotel. I asked him if he was scared of ghosts. He laughed and said no. I looked at him. No one could tempt me to stay overnight here even for a million bucks.

Here are some photos of the hotel. The first pic is of the entrance. It is interesting to note that the postbox survived the ravage. The beautiful balcony and the lonesome chimney in the room are what captured our imaginations..

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46 thoughts on “The forgotten hotel in Darjeeling

    • My husband and I stayed there in march 1973 . Wonderful staff . When we arrived they gave us a suite and lit fires in bathroom, living room and bedroom. There was a grand piano terribly out of tune my hubbie played. There was also a souvenir shop with gorgeous tibetan treasures such as jewellery. A really magic place

      • Wonderful pictures that brought back memories of the fantastic week I spent during February 1965 staying at the swanky Hotel Mount Everst Oberoi in Darjeeling. We had our Managing Director Council Meeting of the erstwhile great pharmaceutical company, Parke Davis ( India) Ltd. Bombay.

        There is no more Parke-Davis which has been swallowed up by Pfizer and , I understand, no more Hotel Mount Everest in Darjeeling. Thus the pictures brought back nostalgic memories of days when I was young and full of vitality!

  1. Here is an extract from my father’s last written memoirs – A LIGHT HEARTED LOOK AT WORLD WAR 2 TAKEN FROM THE DIARY OF A SOLDIER….Frank A. Latham

    Now that the Japanese War was over we were allowed leave for a longer length of time and two of us, me and Peter Finn, a staunch friend, decided we would see something of the Himalayas. This was in March 1946. Soon there would only be Indian officers but on the 30th March only a few British Officers, with a few Americans, set out on the Calcutta Mail Train to Howjah where we arrived on the 31st March. There we took a taxi to the Grand Hotel. Soon we got on a very small Darjeeling train which went at 10mph. Then we went into thick jungle although we did see Mount Everest. On our journey we saw bands of Tibetans in their long coats and many Gurkhas who were always laughing. I was lucky to have Gobadan with me as DARJEELING was his home town and he knew the language, he also brought the luggage. The temperature was very cold. From the station we got a rickshaw to the MOUNT EVEREST HOTEL. From 2nd April Pete Finn and I went shopping and bought a Tibet Horn and knife month the local items….
    My father died last January 2013. We still treasure both items and it was lovely to see your photos all these years later. I wish my father had been able to see them too. Thank you.

    • Wow, thank you so much Janet for having shared these wonderful lines from your father’s memoirs! They make for wonderful reading, I could well imagine the scenario, of how bitterly cold Darjeeling must have felt for him, especially those days when there was no heating systems to speak of..how happy he must have been to reach the Mount Everest Hotel, because it was beautiful at that time..! 1946…. that’s 68 years ago…! Thank you very much for sharing, and I am glad you have enjoyed my post and photos!

  2. This is amazing.As a child and even now I have been in total awe of this property.It never fails to transport me to a different era,always.Not only Barsaat a whole lot of movies have been shot here especially the Rajesh Khanna & Amitabh Bachchan starers of late 70’s & early 80’s i.e. Aradhana,Anurodh,Barsaat ki Ek Raat,Do Anjane,etc.

    • Thank you for stopping by and sharing the movies that have been shot in this property! I will personally try to watch these movies only to reach at the scene of this lovely hotel, it must have been such a stunner of a property in it’s hey-day! Have a lovely day!

  3. Hey! We visited Darjeeling this octoner and stayed at at a small hotel next to this. All 3 days I kept on wondering about this place and even tried amazing, enchanted place. I too was extremely intrigued and tried getting a closer look but my charm did not work on the security guard!
    Thanks for sharing the inside pictures and really hope that the property will be restored one day as it definitely has one of the best locations in town and the real old world charm.

    • Wow, I’m glad you visited Darjeeling, I miss the place and look forward to my next visit! 🙂 Yes, this old hotel had been a place full of intrigue to me for many years, and it was mostly thanks to my inquisitive husband that I finally decided to try and have a look in! Thanks for having dropped by!

  4. Just came across your article whilst browsing for pics of Darjeeling. I stayed at the Mount Everest in 1958. It was my first experience of Darj., and the treat that my parents had decided on before leaving me in the capable hands of the teachers at St Paul’s School up in Jalapahar. Sad to see the state of the building, and surprised to see that nothing has been done to the hotel over the intervening years since the fire.

    • Hello Tony! Sorry for the late reply! Am glad to hear that my post brought back old memories. Not many people have been as lucky as you to have experienced Everest Hotel. I wish I could have a glimpse of how it must have back at that age, I am sure it was beautiful! Thanks for having stopped by! 🙂

    • Sure it wasn’t ’57. We always stayed at the New Elgin – on the way to, and, more pleasantly, from, Jalapahar of course!

      • Hi Chris, I’m pretty sure it was ’58 but, after 50 or so years, one’s memory does tend to play tricks. We only stayed at the Everest once, after which we usually enjoyed the hospitality of the Windamere. I also have to admit that, once the initial shock of “abandonment” had worn off, on my first foray to SPS, I used to look forward to the return journey “up the hill”! When was it you made your final journey down?

      • You might be right. I know my first arrival in Darj was February 1957 but I can’t remember if you started in the middle of that year or a year later. Never stayed in the Mount Everest but on a parental visit we went to have tea there. And my last journey down. 15th May 1959 as a lone 9 year-old in a taxi to Bagdogra, plane to Cal and another taxi to that other, then magnificent, hotel, the Great Eastern. In the afternoon I went to the cinema to see War and Peace! When I got back to the hotel, my father arrived with all our worldly possessions in 16 trunks!

      • I think you were already in residence, and well settled in, when I arrived. Those first few days were pretty scary for a young boy who, up until then, had never set foot outside the UK. Once I settled in I loved it and, as I said in my previous post, I used to look forward to the return journey after the winter break. Full of admiration for your lone journey from Darj to Cal by the way!

      • So am I now I think about it. I was provided with 2 porters to carry my luggage, the standard trunk and bedding roll, down to the taxi in town somewhere. As they naturally wanted to be paid and I only had 4 rupees to my name I at least had the wit to send them back to the school. I wonder if I’ve been forgiven.

      • What’s the betting that the bursar added the cost, and a little extra by way of interest, to your end of term bill? Those guys never missed a trick!

  5. This is the hotel where George Mallory began his 2 month journey to summit Mt Everest in 1924. Thank you for these photos. I head for Darjeeling in 2 days and will seek out this place.

  6. Wonderful pictures that brought back memories of the fantastic week I spent during February 1965 staying at the swanky Hotel Mount Everst Oberoi in Darjeeling. We had our Managing Director Council Meeting of the erstwhile great pharmaceutical company, Parke Davis ( India) Ltd. Bombay. We watched the panaromic wonder of SunRise during the early crack of the winter morning in the nearby Tiger Hills and visited a couple of prosperous Tea plantations as well as Tensing’s School of Mountaineering. During the evening on day, I sneaked into a dandy and swanky night club where they were singing Beatles’ most popular songs.

    There is no more Parke-Davis which has been swallowed up by Pfizer and , I understand, no more Hotel Mount Everest in Darjeeling which was also totally destroyed in the fire ! Thus the pictures brought back nostalgic memories of days when I was young and full of vitality!

    If someone has old photographs of the Hotel and the beautiful red carpeted stairs etc etc please contact me at Christie.jj@gmail.com

  7. There was a report in todays ‘Telegraph’ reporting that the Oberoi hotels company has reported the sale of the old Darjeeling property to a Mr. Garg owner of a multiplex in Darjeeling for Eleven Crores Rupees. The report mentioned that the Oberoi group had acquired the hotel in the early 1950’s, this fuelled my curiosity even further because I remember reading somewhere that Mr.M.A. Jinnah (founder of Pakistan) had met his future Parsi wife at Mount Everest Hotel – this prompted me to search the internet for the history of the hotel. And I struck ‘gold’ as it were, here.

    My nostalgic connection with Mount Everest Hotel started in 1954 or thereabouts when I must have been 6 years old! I remember holidaying in Darjeeling and staying at MEH with an extended family that included my maternal grand parents, uncles, aunts as well as my parents.

    In 1958, when I was 9 years old, I had been sent to boarding school at St. Josephs College, North Point, Darjeeling, and during the year, my parents visited me at Darjeeling and each time stayed at MEH. !958 was also the year, when I saw ‘The Bridge on The River Kwai’ at Capitol Cinema, just down the hill from Mount Everest Hotel.

    • What a beautiful story, thank you so much for sharing your nostalgia with us. Trying to imagine Darjeeling and MEH in the 50’s, in it’s most vibrant form, must surely have been a memory to treasure! Thank you once again.

  8. Hello, this is Subhro Niyogi from TOI Kolkata. We would like to use your photographs along with an article on Mount Everest Hotel. If you grant permission, do let know at niyogisubhro@gmail.com and also kindly spell out your name so that I can attribute the photographs to you.

    • Thank you very much, Subhro, that is very kind of you. My name is Shalinee Ghosh Laval, my email is shalinee.laval@gmail.com . I would be very happy to see an article on this once magnificent hotel on TOI. If you would keep me informed on it’s publication, I would be grateful.

    • Hello Subhro Nyogi

      I am glad that someone has finally responded to my comments in the TOI article on the long forgotten Hotel Mount Everest Oberoi in Darjeeling.

      I did stay there in its heydays during 1964 or 1965 , participating in my Company meeting while I worked and lived in India. The Company was Parke, Davis & Company, the most prestigious American company , which also is out of business today !

      I live in Chesterfield, MO in America as a retired man of 75 years! I sent the pictures that appeared in these pages to my former colleagues living in India, requesting them to spare copies, if any, of photos taken during our enjoyable stay there.

      We visited Tiger Hills, Tensingh’ s School of Mountaineering as well as a well known Farm where they raised pigs! As well as a tea processing factory. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera of my own to shoot pictures

      I get very nostalgic when I walk down the memory lane in Darjeeling hotspots playing live music singing Beatles’ HELP and other songs

      Joseph Christie phone: 314-445-1436

    • Subhro..am watin fr the ‘follow up story’..in all probability the hotel has to be torn down..GTA & the rabble rousers are already being bought off..

  9. I spent 9 years at Darjeeling at a School just up the hill from This Hotel. Strangely enough i visited Oberoi Darj. only perhaps on my last night before i left! A film called ‘Mahel’ was being shot nearby and the crew we heard was staying here. So off we trooped to meet Dev Anand who was at the hieght of his popularity after “Johnny Mera Naam”. At the lobby they informed him and he very kindly invited us up to his room (Perhaps the reputation of the School helped! ). While walking up to his room we met Bindu who was wearing yellow trousers which back in 1972 was considered chic! She was waiting on top of the lobby where the staircases went up (You can see it in your photos) and was shy and reticient when the crowd of us gathered around her. Then suddenly funnyman something Johar? came and spoke to us very well. We met Dev Anand who was very polite and modest after his recent success. Hema Malini was at the Hotel too, but begged off meeting us. Lovely Hotel. Sad its closed for so long…

    • Oh, that is a wonderful story… I can almost imagine a young and handsome Dev Anand. Bindu was amongst my favourites, I found her very pretty. Your recollections of this Hotel are beautiful, thank you for sharing them with us.

    • I was taking a morning walk with my wife along this road in Darjeeling last week and took a few pics of this property. It enchanted me so much that I searched for more information about this forgotten hotel. I found this and relished reading the staff.

  10. The name of the movie was Joshila. Not Mahal. The comic was IS Johar. It wad the red carpeted staircase from ghe Lobby that gave the Hotel its class…I grow old i grow old…!!!!

  11. Even the ravages cannot hide the splendour of the Mount Everest Hotel…. undoubtedly an iconic hotel…..the ruins have a lot of stories ..both happy and sad…..the Onerous should be requested to restart the Hotel and add to the old world charm of Darjeeling..

  12. Pingback: Halloween Kitty, and inside haunted French castle | Shalinee Laval

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