The iconic Planters’ Club, established by British Army officials and planters in 1868, will remain out of bounds for tourists for a year for renovation. It will be back in a modern, new form with an addition of 31 rooms, a kitchen, a bar and a lounge. This will be a major revamp for the club that has not seen any major change in its appearance since its birth, barring the setting up of a quarter deck that was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1934.
The club continues to be one of the most sought after accommodation for tourists for the charming scenic beauty it offers and its hallowed history. The new avatar will offer a fusion of modern facilities and the club’s innate old-world charm. Major (retd.) J.S. Rana, one of the longest serving secretary of the club, said, “Nothing much has been done to the old structure. The place was in dire need for repairs.”
According to its members, the club will get bigger rooms and a lot of other facilities. Originally called Darjeeling Club, it used to function from a place called Thorn Cottage.
In 1907, it became Darjeeling Club Ltd and shifted to the building from where it runs now. Presently, the building has two storeys with 21 rooms while the new structure will have 52 rooms in three floors. Previously, every room had a fireplace and the 21 rooms will continue to have it. The new veranda will be a closed structure with a bar and lounge and every room will have a tea and coffee machine.
A new board room will also be set up along with a gallery to house heritage items.
The land on which the club was built was donated by the Maharaja of Cooch Behar, Nripendra Narayan Bhoop Bahadur. A.N. Banerjee, the proprietor of Happy Valley tea garden, was the first Indian to be elected as the president of the club in 1971 and Eudon Lhamu, a retired Indian Foreign Service officer, was the first woman to get a membership in 1992.