Ministry of Defence

History of Jalapahar

History of Jalapahar

In the year 1844 Senchal was chosen for the sight of a Cantonment and it was occupied by troops for every 20 years. It was at last recognised that the sight was unsatisfactory owing to the excessive rainfall and depressing climate of this dismal ridge. Just above Senchal is a peak known as Tiger –hill rises to a height of 8563 and a further to the south-east is West Senchal at an elevation of 8,700 feet. The name Senchal means “The hill of damp and mist”. The barracks of Senchal were then demolished and nothing is now left except a few solitary chimneys, some deserted ruins and neglected paths over grown with jungles and grass. According to local traditions the cold mist and loneliness of the place drove many of the soldiers to commit suicide.However most of it have been exaggerated if we judge by the number of graves in a little cemetery on the road side leading along the eastern side of Jalapahar ridge to Ghoom.Here a large Irish cross of stone bears a tablet with an inscription saying that it was erected in memory of the Officeres and men who died at Senchal during the year 1844-1866.

Jalapahar Cantonment is bounded on the east by Calcutta road ,on the west by Auckland road,north by an artificial boundary indicated by boundary pillars and on the south by the Calcutta road leading from Jorebunglow to Jalapahar running above the Railway line. The cantonment was probably established between the year 1842 and 1948.The year 1848 is worth recording because the barracks were completed and the convalent Depot was established providing accommodation for 150 soldiers.It would seem advisiable to mention that Darjeeling Municipality came into existence in the year 1850 after the establishment of Hill Depot Darjeeling. During the year the permanent staff of the Depot consisted of :- 1. Commandant 2. Station staff officer 3. Assistant Sergeant 4. Sergeant major 5. Quarter Master Sergeant 6. Duty officer 7. 150 men attaché to depot.

The name Jalapahar according to General Lloyd means the Hill of the burnt forest. It is noticeable that in his account of one of the first visit over paid to Darjeeling mentions that the forest on the ridge had recently been entirely destroyed by a great fire and hence the name Jalapahar. According to some people the name Jalapahar is an allusion to bareness of the hill and its sloppiness, but according to local traditions the name (Julla-pahar) in reality means Jull-water a-come pahar-hill.This meaning is still further and strongly established by the fact that from local tradition it is understood that the present Jalapahar parade ground which is at present 7520 feet above sea level previously formed a deep lake which was filled up, levelled and transformed into parade ground for the use of soldiers.

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