Darjeeling was originally in Sikkim. It was in an area conquered by the Gurkha kingdom of Nepal. Britain went to war with Nepal in 1814, and restored the lost territories to Sikkim in 1817. In 1828 British visitors reported that it was a suitable site for a sanatorium, because of the cleanness of its climate, more than 2000 m high and facing Kanchenjunga. They negotiated with the ruler of Sikkim, and obtained the hill of Darjeeling for the East India Company in 1835.

Dr Campbell of the Indian Medical Service, named as superintendent of the district in 1839, attracted a large number of Nepalese labourers as settlers, and they began building the roads and the station. It was also Dr Campbell who in 1841 imported tea to Darjeeling.

As the hill was a small worthless bit of uninhabited jungle at that time, the Company paid the Rajah a double-barrelled gun, a rifle, 20 yards of red-broad cloth, and two shawls (one of superior quality). In 1841 the Rajah said very funny, now can I please have some money, so they gave him 3000 rupees per annum, later raised to 6000, but relations deteriorated, and a series of military expeditions between 1850 and 1866 annexed much additional Sikkimese territory to India.

From 1870 factories were built to process the tea, and in 1881 the famous scenic train route was inaugurated.

In modern times Darjeeling is a part of West Bengal state, in its small northern hook pinched between Bangladesh and Bhutan. There has been a campaign by Gorkha (ethnic Nepali) militants for a separate state.

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