Iconic noodle factory in Kalimpong goes up in flames
Darjeeling: Kalimpong lost a slice of history with a noodle factory razed to the ground in a fire on Saturday night. This was no ordinary noodle factory but the factory that had featured in the bestseller book The Noodle Maker Of Kalimpong: the Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet, an autobiography of Gyalo Thondup, the elder brother of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.
Thondup was a known face in Kalimpong but it was only after the year 2009 that people came to know that he was the elder brother of the Dalai Lama. Thondup had crafted the Dalai Lama's escape from Tibet along with being granted political asylum in India. He occupies an important position in Tibetan history.
Thondup was born in 1928 at Amdo in Tibet. He was the Dalai Lama's special envoy and an interlocutor between Tibet, China and India. Later, he continued the freedom struggle for Tibet on a diplomatic level.
In 1999, he retired and settled in Kalimpong looking after his noodle factory. On Saturday night, the noodle factory located on 8th Mile adjacent to St. Philomena School caught fire. "Around 9pm we got information of the fire and rushed to the location. The fire was blazing then. It took 3 fire engines to battle the flames. Around 11 pm the fire was doused. The factory is totally gutted except for some machinery partially damaged. The cause of the fire is not known," said Mani Tamang, fire officer.
However, "Takster House" the house in which Thondup lives in the same compound escaped the flames. "I had bought this 3 acre property in 1962 for Rs 7,200. In 1967 we started the factory," said the 91-year-old to media persons.
The factory had 20 employees. Kalimpong noodles is sold in different parts of the country including Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and even exported to Nepal and Bhutan.