The history of Darjeeling is closely intertwined with that of Bengal, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Great Britain. Once a part of Sikkim and home to several aboriginal tribal communities, much of the history of Darjeeling is soused in combats with neighboring ethnic groups. Darjeeling has always been a soft target for the powerful forces of Bhutan and Nepal. In 1780, Nepal army seized a major portion of Sikkim's boundaries and established their dominance over the land. The victory of the British in the Anglo-Nepal played a significant role in shaping the history of Darjeeling and driving out the Gorkhas from the land. Under the British rule, a major part of Sikkim's lost precincts were recaptured and reinstated. Over the years, Darjeeling developed with the establishment of medical centers and tea plantations. During this time, the region served as the summer capital to several British officials, high ranking administers, princely dignitaries, rich merchants, and landlords. Read the article to know more about the history of Darjeeling.
Prior to the rule of the royal leaders of Sikkim, the place was inhabited by Lepchas, Limbus, and Bhutias who are considered to be the original settlers in the region. It was only in 1642 that Darjeeling came under the governance of Phuntsog Namgyal, who is said to be the descendent of Guru Tashi. Guru Tashi is believed to be a member of the royal Minyak house. After the death of Phuntsog Namgyal, the province came under the rule of his son Tensung Namgyal who failed to protect the region from the invasion of Bhutan army. Towards 1780, the Gorkha regiment annexed the hilly terrain. The Gorkha army seized a huge chunk of Sikkim's landmass. Despite constant efforts by the Chogyal leaders to recapture the place, the leaders of Sikkim remained unsuccessful until they availed the help of British.
East India Company Rule
With the combined efforts of the colonial rulers and Sikkim's chief, Nepal army was defeated in the Anglo-Gorkha war and the Nepal regiment was forced to sign the treaty of Sugauli in the year 1815. According to the treaty, Nepal had to relinquish almost one-third of the land, which they had occupied. After the treaty, the British officially commanded a politically higher position in the region. Two years later, in the year 1817, the East Indian Company signed another treaty with the Sikkim rulers known as the Treaty of Titalia. As per this treaty, the Sikkim rulers were given the right to rule the lands, which the British had acquired in return of trading rights. In 1835, the British entered into a lease contract with them in order to commence trading activity. Over the years, Darjeeling progressed at a fast pace with improved medical services and profitable tea estates that were most sought after in Europe. During this period, the Chogyal leaders were unhappy with the growing migrant population that entered the place due to the potential growth in Darjeeling's economy. This caused uproar among the reigning rulers of the hill-station. With deteriorating relationships between the two parties, the district of Darjeeling soon fell into the hands of the English rule. In the following years, Darjeeling saw a major development in the educational sector, infrastructure, and tourism.
After India gained its independence, the district of Darjeeling was merged with the state of West Bengal. In 1980, differences between numerous ethnic communities gave rise to the internal disturbance in the region. This in turn led to several protest and claim for a separate Gorkhaland. The formation of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council reduced political pressures in the province. Today, however, the DGHC enjoys semi-autonomous powers to administer the district.