The Chowrasta Mall in Darjeeling
If there is any place in Darjeeling, which every tourist is bound to visit, it is the Chowrasta Mall or simply the Mall. This flat piece of circular land on top of Nehru Road can safely be termed as the central point of the town. In olden days, this was the place where the Europeans came for their walks. Today, the locals as well as the tourists come here to lounge and relax. In a good day, one can also have a magnificent view of the Kanchenjunga or the Sewa Lungma as is known in Limbu language.
The Chowrasta Mall is indeed a unique place. As the name suggests, it is actually located at the conjunction of four roads; namely, the Nehru road, The Zakir Hussain Road, the Mall Road and the C. R. Road. Consequently, it is easily approachable from all parts of the town. However, its main attraction is rooted in its ambiance. Indeed, if anybody wants to imbibe the spirit of Darjeeling, he/she ought to spend some time alone on the Mall and it is not at all difficult to do that either. There is always a lot to see and absorb.
The Roads Leading to the Chowrasta Mall
Attractions at the Chowrasta Mall
Police Assistance Booth and The Hawa Ghar:Now, let us look towards our left towards the spot where the Nehru Road as well as the Zakir Hussain Road enters the Mall. A fountain is located in between these two roads. Number of hotels such as the Bellevue and Holiday home is located there. One will also find a Police Assistance Booth manned by the Darjeeling Police located in the vicinity.
There are also quite a few small shops selling mementos in the same line as the Police Booth. There is also a Coffee Café Day with both indoor and outdoor sittingfacilities. However, the most important building located in this line is the Hawa Ghar. It is an actually an open air elevated stage. The audience is expected to watch the program sitting or standing on the Mall. Sometimes, however, it is used by the political leaders to convey their messages to the people of the town.
On left of the Hawa Ghar are series of benches. However, if we look carefully, we will find a narrow road adjacent to the Coffee Cafe Day going down hill. It is the C R Road and Step Aside is just a few minutes’ walk from there.
The C R Road and The Step Aside:
The Mall Road and The Statue of Bhanubhakta:
Now, it is time to look towards the right and if we do that we will find the Mall Road. It is actually a circular road with both ends culminating into the Mall. It is indeed a lovely road, which encircles the Observatory Hill. In between the two ends of the road lies a lovely park. At the foot of the park, one finds a golden colored statue of Bhanubhakta Acharya (1814 – 1868). He was a great Nepalese poet, who translated the Ramayana and is much revered by the Nepalese.
Heritage Shops on the Chowrasta Mall
Photo Source: Flickr
The Mall has numerous benches located around its periphery; one just has to take up a suitable seat and watch. Let us take up a seat facing heritage shops such as Nathmullas, Oxford Book Store, Habeeb Mullik & Sons etc. However, in such a case, we will have the Kanchenjunga behind us; but that is one price we will have to pay.
The Heritage Stores on The Chowrasta Mall
It is now time to examine what lay ahead of us. These stores will be on our right if we stand with our back to the Observatory Hill. The first shop that comes to our notice is the Tibet Art. As the name suggest, it is the shop to go, if one is looking for Tibetan artwork.
Nathmullas Tea Store & Sunset LoungeNext is the Nathmullas Tea Store & Sunset Lounge. It is however, fair to mention that this outlet has been opened recently. Nonetheless, their main branch, located on Laden La Road opposite to the State Bank Of India has been selling Darjeeling tea since 1931. If anyone is interested in good quality tea, this is the place to visit.
Next to the Nathmullas are Amigo Tours & Travel and Golden Tips. The later is a tea lounge offering tea and snacks. Next to it is the famous Oxford Book Store & Stationery. The store has been selling books for almost seventy years. They have all sorts of books, but specialize on the Himalayan states such as Darjeeling, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.
Oxford Book Store and Stationery
Oxford Store at Chowrasta (Photo Source : Flickr)
Habeeb Mullik and SonsNext to the Oxford Book Store is the Habeeb Mullik & Sons. This curio shop has been in business since 1890. However, it has now divided into two sections, each of which is owned by two scions of the family. Everything from Tibetan ornaments and masks to woolen carpets are readily available here.
Next to Habeeb Mullik is a wine shop selling alcohol and after that is a restaurant called Fiesta and this takes us back to the entry point of the Nehru Road.