Monday, 30th October 2017

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Coronavirus leaves void at Chowrasta

Benches removed from Darjeeling’s promenade

By Vivek Chhetri in Darjeeling
  • Published 20.05.20, 4:19 AM
  • Updated 20.05.20, 4:19 AM
  • a min read
Chowrasta without benches in Darjeeling Telegraph picture

The novel coronavirus has changed Chowrasta.

The most famous square in Darjeeling wore a new look on Tuesday morning after the administration decided to remove all benches.

Chowrasta without benches was unthinkable even a few months ago though politicians had on and off disturbed the unique ambience of the promenade by erecting ugly structures much to the chagrin of local people.

However, the unthinkable became a reality on Tuesday morning and none is complaining.

“This is a temporary measure. The administration informed us that people would crowd (by sitting on the benches) the Mall right from the morning and at times, violate social distancing norms. It was difficult to man the place all through the day,” said C.P. Subba, secretary, Darjeeling municipality.

Around 30 concrete and wooden benches were removed from Chowrasta on Monday evening.

It would be hard to find any traveller to Darjeeling who has not sat on these benches to enjoy the sights and sounds of this hill town.

For the locals, sitting on the benches is part of life’s routine.

The sentiment attached to the benches was captured in a Nepali song “Chowrasta ko benchi haru (Benches of Chowrasta)” which was written and composed by Prasanna Singh and sung by Sanjay Mangrati some years ago.

“It might have been a first but it was the need of the hour as social gathering has to be discouraged at all cost,” said a morning walker who did not wish to be named.

In another first, Sangay Tshering and another hotelier here have offered rooms for free to the Darjeeling district administration to house inbound travellers until their swab reports arrive.

“This is my contribution to Darjeeling. We as a family decided to let out the hotel so that people, some of whom are coming following medical treatment, can have a comfortable stay,” said Tshering who is also the president of the Darjeeling Hotel Owners’ Association.

Tshering, however, said he had taken the decision in his individual capacity.

Tshering’s hotel, Sanderling, has 40 rooms. The other hotel has 38 rooms.