Darjeeling protests against Mount Everest Hotel demolition
EIH Limited, under the Oberoi and Trident brands, has sold the heritage Mount Everest Hotel for Rs 11 crores to a group of local businessmen led by Brij Mohan Garg. Plan is to check if the existing structure is fit for restoration, else a new hotel would come up in the place, which is being opposed by Darjeeling.Updated: Aug 11, 2015 11:35 IST
The residents of Darjeeling have initiated an e-petition to the Governor, director general, central public works department and the chairman of Darjeeling municipality urging that demolition of Hotel Mount Everest, a heritage structure, should not be allowed.
In another development, a release from Bimal Gurung, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) chief said, “We are going to oppose dismantling of the heritage structure. The new venture that is being proposed must be in tune with the existing structure. Former employees of Hotel Mount Everest who were laid off must be absorbed by the new company.”
EIH Limited, which runs hotels under the Oberoi and Trident brands, has sold the heritage Mount Everest Hotel for Rs 11 crores to a group of local businessmen led by Brij Mohan Garg.
The present owners had earlier stated that they would bring in architects and structural engineers to survey the condition of the existing structure which had been damaged in a major fire in 1978. If the existing structure is deemed unfit for restoration then the present owners would dismantle it. A new hotel structure would come up with modern amenities along with a housing complex in this 5 acre land.
Plans of a new hotel structure along with a housing complex had invited flak from the town populace demanding that the heritage structure be preserved. An e-petition to the governor, titled “Stop demolition of Hotel Mount Everest Darjeeling, a heritage structure”, states, “The Mt Everest Hotel in Darjeeling is a 100 year old iconic heritage building. Today, it is under threat as the property has been sold to a building consortium which wants to demolish it and build a mall and/or aparment complex. Are we going to lose our heritage structures, one by one, to so called ‘development’ and ‘modernisation’? We are indeed losing our soul, our character, our identity, our history and heritage in the name of ruthless developments and expansions.”
Playing down all such apprehensions, Brij Mohan Garg, a representative of the consortium of businessmen who are the present owners, said, “The building, including the main pillar, ceilings and walls are badly damaged. We have engaged local architects, who have a wealth of knowledge about Hills architecture, and structural engineers to survey the present structure. Only additions and alterations will be made. We’ll maintain the heritage aesthetics of this age-old structure and the name will also remain Hotel Mount Everest, as it is a brand in itself.”
Garg further assured that along with the Hotel, the housing complex, which is to come up in the vicinity, would also be in line with the present structure of Hotel Mount Everest.
“As we have plans to upgrade the Hotel to a five-star facility, the size of the rooms has to be increased. At present, the rooms are 120 to 140 sq feet. To live up to the billing of a five-star hotel, the rooms need ot have a floor length of at least 400 sq feet, including the bathroom” Garg said.
The new hotel would have around 50 rooms. “We have engaged Pravin Mukhia, a local architect who has thorough knowledge of Hills architecture. It will take at least 3 to 4 months before any concrete plan for this property could be implemented,” Garg said.
Hotel Mount Everest, is one of the oldest and most prestigious in this hill town. It finds mention in EC Dozey’s “Concise History of Darjeeling District since 1835.” The hotel, owned by A Stephen, became operational from October 12, 1915.