Darjeeling's Roy Villa turns into pilgrimage spot on Sister Nivedita's birth anniversary
Darjeeling: It was a long cherished wish for Sukriti Banerjee of Kolkata to visit the iconic Roy Villa — the house where Sister Nivedita had breathed her last in Darjeeling. She and many like her visited the Roy Villa on Sunday, the day that marked the 151st birth anniversary of Sister Nivedita.
The spiritual daughter of Swami Vivekananda, Sister Nivedita was born on October 28, 1867 in a small Dongainan in Northern Ireland.
"Since childhood, I have been hearing about Sister Nivedita. Later when I grew up, I read that she had passed away in a house called Roy Villa. Though I had visited Darjeeling a number of times, I never got the opportunity to visit the place. This time when we prepared the tour itinerary, Roy Villa topped the charts. What could be a better day than to visit on Sister's birth anniversary. It is more of a pilgrimage for me," stated Banerjee.
The Roy Villa, located on Lebong Cart Road, in the outskirts of Darjeeling town now houses the Ramakrishna Mission Nivedita Educational and Cultural Centre (RKMNECC). It is in this house that Sister Nivedita had breathed her last on October 13, 1911.
An ailing Sister Nivedita accompanied by Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose and his wife Abala Bose had arrived at the Roy Villa on Lebong Cart Road, Darjeeling in October 1911 to spend the Puja vacation. Many eminent personalities had visited her at the Villa at that time.
On October 13, she passed away in this house. She was then cremated at the Darjeeling crematorium.
Roy Villa was built by Dr Dwaraka Nath Roy, brother-in-law of Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose. On May 17, 2013, an agreement had been signed between West Bengal Information and Cultural Affairs Department; Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and Swami Suhitanandaji, the then General Secretary, Ramkrishna Mission, in the presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the Roy Villa paving way for the Nivedita Centre.
On July 10, 2013, the state government handed over Roy Villa to the Ramakrishna Mission. Items used by Sister Nivedita along with a few of her personal belongings are displayed in this Villa. "I frequent Belur Math in Howrah. On the occasion of Sister's birth anniversary, I could not miss the opportunity of visiting the mission in Darjeeling. This has been my best ever visit to Darjeeling," stated Bina Bhattacharjee, a tourist from Kolkata.
From early morning, tourists vehicles made a beeline for Roy Villa. "Till afternoon we had more than 75 tourist vehicles making a stopover at Roy Villa and it is continuing," stated Swami Nityasatyananda, Centre Head.
Along with the tourists, local residents also visited the Centre on Sunday. "We also visited the Darjeeling crematorium where Sister Nivedita had been cremated. We will soon repair the road leading to the crematorium and also undertake a beautification project of the place," stated Prativa Rai, chairperson, Darjeeling Municipality.
The project would include beautification of the area around Sister's memorial at the crematorium; construction of pathways; benches; toilets and installing solar lights.
Sister Nivedita's memorial at the Darjeeling crematorium reads "Here repose the ashes of Sister Nivedita (Margaret E. Nobel,) who gave her all to India."