Northeastern Himalayas. Kalimpong. The history of the estate Kruketi
The history of the Kruketi estate is connected with the history of the city of Kalimpong. Until the mid-19th century, the area around Kalimpong was ruled by the kings of Sikkim and the representatives of the royal family of Bhutan. Under the rule of the Sikkim kings, the region was called Dalingot. In 1706, the king of Bhutan received this territory and renamed it Kalimpong. The territory was very convenient for Bhutanese and in the 18th century was an important strategic and trading outpost in the Tista River valley. The area was sparsely populated. Here lived the tribes of the lepcha and emigrants from Tibet – bhutia. Later, in 1780, Kalimpong was conquered by the Nepalese gurkhas. As a result of a series of hostilities – the British-Gurkhas in the early 19th century and the Anglo-Bhutanese war in 1864, the area was divided between Bhutanese and the British East India Company.
At the beginning of the 18th century, Kalimpong was a small settlement with several large European-style houses and huts inhabited by local tribes. But the British by this time almost sixty years, they ruled in Bengal, and the foothills of the Himalayas were very comfortable for rest, both military and British officials.
A large European-style house “Kruketi” was built by Norman Oddling in the 30s of the 20th century. We, unfortunately, did not find detailed information about this person. Norman Oddling was the son-in-law of the Scottish missionary John Henderson Graham, who died in Kruketi in 1942. I must say that Dr. Graham was a well-known and respected person. He came to Kalimpong at the end of the 19th century as a missionary, and at the beginning of the 20th century he created a school for poor children of Anglo-Indian origin, which was called the House of Doctor Graham. Later, children from all ethnic communities began to be admitted to school. Until now, the school operates in Kalimpong and attracts a large number of students.
The owners of the house, after the departure of Dr. Graham, practically did not live in Kalimpong, and the house stood in desolation. In 1949, Helena Roerich and her eldest son, Yuriy Nikolayevich Roerich, rented this house. They moved from the Kullu valley to Kalimpong (via Delhi and the state of Maharashtra) in February 1949 and lived there until Helena Ivanovna left life on October 5, 1955.
Some materials say that the house of Kruket for some time belonged to the Bhutanese princess. Sikkim, which is located near Kalimpong, still has good connections with Bhutan, and more than once we have seen Bhutanese tourists, monks, and even a member of the Cabinet of Ministers of Bhutan, accompanied by a large delegation from Bhutan. After the Anglo-Bhutanese war of 1864, the British gave Kalimpong under the auspices of the influential Boutanian Dorji family, who were descendants of not only the royal family of Sikkim, but also members of the royal house of Bhutan. In Kalimpong, the House of Bhutan was built, where the Bhutanese administration and cultural center were located. The House of Bhutan was once the birthplace of Queen Mother Asha Kezang Choden Wangchuk, the grandmother of the current Bhutanese king, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk. We did not find any material on the belonging of the house of Kruketi to the Bhutanese princess, therefore we continue the further narration about the well-known and recent history of the house of Kruketi.
The house of Kruketi after Yury Nikolaevich Roerich left him in 1957, who had worked in Kalimpong for 8 years, led the Indo-Tibetan seminary, the courses of Tibetan and Chinese, and again fell into a peaceful sleep. When I visited him in 2001, the house looked like an old and untidy “beggar” who accidentally wandered into an overgrown garden. “What am I doing here alone? And why do I need to be here? – He asked with all his views. It was this year that I learned that the house was sold to a Tibetan, who soon intends to restore it and make either a hotel or a recreation area with a large swimming pool.
But something did not work out for a Tibetan … In 2000, representatives of the Italian Society for the Study of Living Ethics came to Kalimpong. They learned about the fate of the house Kruketi and decided to buy it. But it was not there! Indian laws prohibit foreigners from owning land in India. Began many years of negotiations on the sale. Italians managed to get permission to buy a house, and in 2003 its restoration began. In the process of restoration, it was decided to preserve as much as possible the initial both internal and external appearance of the house and the property. On December 5, 2005, in the presence of officials from India, Italy and Russia, as well as seventy invited guests, the grand opening of the house-museum dedicated to the Roerich family took place. The museum was opened by the Italian Society for the Study of Agni Yoga and Living Ethics, with the support of the Indian charitable organization Darjeeling Goodwill Animal Shelter Trust, as well as the International Agni Yoga Center.