Darjeeling had taken the trouble to make the main tourist drag as interesting as possible. Not content with the charm of the old colonial buildings around the pedestrian section of Mall Road, the town had commissioned local artists to make public art. We stopped at the musical frieze on the large square called Chowrasta. “Is this place known for jazz?” The Family asked. Perhaps not exactly known, but we saw a poster for a jazz festival just past later in the day. And in the evening when we walked into Glenary’s for a drink we heard some live music. It is hard to make a living on music anywhere in the world (the number of concert pianists in the world is perhaps smaller than the number of living Nobel laureates), and Darjeeling is much too small to support a lively local music scene. It is clear from the frieze that bars are the main places which support music here.
The wall with the mural of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways marks the other end of the pedestrian zone. This mural crowds in all the high points of the town, including a portrait of Tenzing Norgay. We were told that the school of mountaineering he set up was worth a visit. But when we called, we found it was open to visitors only once a week and, sadly, not on a day when we were in town. The mural could be better maintained, we thought.
The fountain in the middle of Chowrasta was in much better condition, and we were happy that it was not gushing water in the cold. It had all the signs of being a late colonial structure. “Late 19th century?” The Family guessed. “Quite likely,” I responded, “Either that or early 20th century. Depends on when they built this square.” The Family looked around and said “More oblong than square.”