Remembering the British Raj - Penned by David Lytton Cobbold

David Lytton Cobbold

We fell in love with your hotel on arrival - the warm welcome, the decor of the rooms, the coal fire in the grate and the the atmosphere of an age gone by. It must surely be one of the best hotels in the world - at least in our experience it is. But that is not all.

The reason for this our first visit to Darjeeling is to follow in the footsteps of our forbears. I am travelling with my wife, Christine, my sister, Susan, and a first cousin, Rosanagh. Three of us are grandchildren of Victor, 2nd Earl of Lytton, and his wife, Pamela. Victor was born in Simla in 1877, when his father, Robert, 1st Earl of Lytton, was Viceroy. Before he left India in 1880, Robert inaugurated the as yet uncompleted Darjeeling Himalayan Mountain Railway.


Earl and Countess of Lytton - 1922

In 1922 Victor, with his family, returned to India as Governor of Bengal. During his five years of service, Darjeeling was home for six months of the year. All the family loved the mountains and they made frequent expeditions from here into the surrounding country and to Sikkim and Tibet. Of their four children, Antony, Hermione, Davina and John, only Hermione, my mother, survives aged 96. Reading her memoirs and diaries and looking at the albums of photographs of those years, I noted that a regular companion on their holiday expeditions was Mr. Laden La.

Imagine therefore the amazement and joy when we discovered that this unique and magnificent hotel is owned by his daughter, aged 98, and managed by his grandson and great grandson. It was pure magic to meet with Mrs. Tenduf La and all the family. She remembers my mother , Hermione, and I am sure that my mother will remember her when we tell her of our adventures.
The ride on the Toy Train up to Darjeeling was an unforgettable experience but our stay at the Windamere has been as from a dream.

On behalf of my wife, Christine, and my sister, Susan Blount, and of my cousin, Rosanagh Raben, daughter of Davina, I thank you all most heartily.

David Lytton Cobbold
Knebwoth House