The three week long “Ghum Festival” in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) started on November 13, 2021 with festivities. The festival was inaugurated by Shri Anshul Gupta, GM/NFR in presence of senior railway officials and local people.
The festival is being organised by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway at Ghum (the highest railway station in India) and Darjeeling Railway Stations in order to rejuvenate the tourism industry of Darjeeling, at the core of which lies the 150-Year old world heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR). The festival starts from 13th November and will conclude on 05thDecember (DHR day); the day DHR got its UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1999. The fest also aims to attract the pandemic-tired population of the entire country and the world, lift up the status of Darjeeling as a premium tourist destination and thus boost the earnings of Indian Railways through DHR. The DHR is running numerous Toy-trains rides namely Joy Rides, Jungle Tea Safari, Red Panda, Him Kanya, New Jalpaiguri – Darjeeling Passenger Train as per need of tourists.
This Ghum Festival fest will simultaneously provide a huge platform for the artists, performers, craftsmen, engineers and workers in the district as well as Indian Railways to showcase their creativity to the world and increase their earnings. All in all, it is a huge step by DHR in the direction of preservation of the local culture of the region and justification of its UNESCO World Heritage status.
The fest will run along 3 verticals, namely: Culture, Adventure and Tourism.The cultural aspect includes several events that will be hosted in the stations and the famous Chaurasta stage in Darjeeling such as folk dances, folk music, singing, music and dance performances, Stand-up comedy, plays and talent shows. Local performers as well as internal talents from Indian Railways are coming together to make it a reality. The cultural pillar will be a reflection of the ecstatic mood of the tourists in this festivity.
The Adventurous aspect includes early morning Heritage Walks to be organized every day, Mountain Biking and Trackathon events to be hosted on weekends and specific days. Organizations such as Darjeeling Walks, Vikrun Foundation, Mountain Biking Club of Darjeeling, Runners Club have partnered with DHR to host these events.
Local vendors/sellers and franchises have been provided spaces in Darjeeling and Ghum Railway Stations to showcase handicrafts, art works, clothing etc. and sell food and drinks to the tourists for the entire period.
Several organizations that are integrated with the tourism industry are joining hands to make this festival a success – namely Darjeeling Kalimpong Himalayan Tourism Association, Darjeeling Hotel Owner Association, Darjeeling Home stay Association, Darjeeling Hill Runners Association etc.