1st Edition

The Ravaged Paradise Environmental History of Colonial Darjeeling Himalaya (1835–1947)

By Dipanwita Dasgupta Copyright 2023
    244 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book makes a systematic attempt to explore the environmental history of Darjeeling during the British colonial period (1835-1947), which profoundly transformed the environment of Darjeeling by intro­ducing commercial control over the natural resources. After the foundation of Darjeeling as the hill station for the low-income groups of British administration living in Bengal and Burma, the place was transformed into a social, recreational and commercial centre for the British authorities. The railway construction boom, introduction of tea plantation, the growth of a commercial market for timber and increasing demands for fuel and building materials depleted the forest cover. The less explored regions of Darjeeling attracted the adventure-thirsty Britons. A series of investigations were made on the marketable prod­ucts, the condition of roads, and quality of soil of these regions. The ethnographic, geological, botanical and zoological study of the Darjeeling was started by the colonial officials in the nineteenth century. In the early stage of expansion of colonialism in Asia, Africa, Australia and South America, the European colonizers faced numerous problems in dealing with the untouched nature. The accumulation of the knowledge of surrounding regions and proper management of the labour became essential for the colonial authority for transformation of the existing environment of the densely forested tropical colonies.

    Taylor and Francis does not sell or distribute the print editions of this book in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

    List of Illustrations and Maps

    List of Tables




    1. Introduction

    2. Tribes and the Natural Habitat

    3. Deadly Plain and Homely Hills

    4. Commercialization of Exotic Flora

    5. Communication, Deforestation and Conflict

    6. Climate, Landscape, and Nostalgia

    7. Forest and Wildlife

    8. The Violence of Nature



    Appendix I: Lepcha Medicinal Plant and their Usage

    Appendix II: The List of Earthquakes in Darjeeling (1842-1947)





    Dipanwita Dasgupta is Assistant Professor in Department of History, Cooch Behar Panchana Barma University. Her field of specialization include economic history of modern India. She takes particular interest in environmental history and comparative theology.