Early in the 1990's, word got around that all steam trains were to be dismantled across India. This decision included the famous narrow-gauge railway, fondly referred to as "The Toy Train". Our past MD, Mr. Sherab Tenduf-La, valiantly tried to stop the sale. It was practically the night before the auction, when using his own money, he placed an injunction and the auction was cancelled. From this effort, the present Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society in the UK and other connections all over the world, started up their own associations after this decision. They continue to travel here to see this feat of engineering. Mr. Tenduf-La had it made into a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. He also turned a lovely hotel Raj bungalow into 'The DHR Club', where railway and mountaineering enthusiasts can meet. Sadly, Mr. Tenduf-La is no more, but we have memorialised his memory by a planting a plaque in front of the Club. Finally, children and adult enthusiasts alike ride The Toy Train every day. Bravo!
The Club has a library and provides facilities for viewing films. It is housed in a 19th century stone cottage that is one of Darjeeling’s oldest buildings and also best Oldest Colonial hotel in India.
The Lowell Thomas Room
The Heinrich Harrer Room
Patron HRH the Duke of York, CVO
2 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PJ, England
The Society was founded in 1901 to promote greater knowledge and understanding of Central Asia and the surrounding countries. It assimilated the Persia Society in 1929. With the passage of time, the area has since been extended to include the whole of Asia, from the Near and Middle East to the 'Pacific Rim'. The Society is an active and friendly organisation, which provides those interested in Asia with many ways of expanding these interests in a congenial framework. In pursuit of these aims, the Council of the society seeks to provide a balanced programme of activities which, though by no means neglecting the past, gives opportunities for keeping up to date with developments and for discussion on a wide variety of topics of common interest to Asia and the West.
The society's activities may be summarised as follows:-
Meetings, held about twice a month (except in August and September), at which lectures are given by, authoritative speakers. The programme includes lectures, video films and slides on current affairs, economics, finance, history, art, archaeology, sociology, culture, travel and other subjects of special interest connected with all parts of Asia.
Social functions, which normally include an annual dinner, an afternoon tea party in the summer, an anniversary meeting, and buffets at lunchtime and refreshment at evening lectures which give members and their guests an opportunity to meet the guest speaker and others with similar interests, Whenever a suitable opportunity offers special occasions are arranged to mark notable exhibitions or events, sometimes jointly with other like-minded bodies.
A Library and Reading Room, with a fine and easily accessible collection of well over 5,000 books on Asian subjects and an internet terminal and Society Website (www.rsaa.org.uk)
The Journal of the Society, Asian Affairs, is published three times a year and occupies a respected place in the current literature on Asia. It contains original articles, records of lectures and book reviews. Its worldwide circulation includes universities, institutes, companies, banks and governmental officials.
Educational activities undertaken by the Society to further its aim of increasing knowledge of Asia. The Society has a list of members prepared to give talks to appropriate groups, organisations such as schools and the media. A number of schools have Affiliate Membership of the Society.
Tours specially organised by the Society in most years, to enable a group of members to make detailed visits to particular countries. Recent destinations have included Lebanon/Syria/Jordan (2000), Iran (1999), Indochina (1998), southern Turkey (1997), Chitral (I995), Central Asia (1994), and in 2001 the centenary tour was to Tibet, via the Windamere Hotel in Darjeeling. A young Members’ Section (under 25) which has, its own programme of activities, including an annual meeting and challenging expeditions.
Registered as a charity No: 212152