Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre
At a distance of 5 km from Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Station, Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre is a rehabilitation center for the Tibetan refugees in the beautiful hill town of Darjeeling, West Bengal. It is one of the prominent landmarks of Darjeeling and also one of the best places to visit in Darjeeling.
The center was setup by Tibetan refugees on 2nd October 1959 AD. It serves as a residence of several Tibetan refugees who fled from their homeland following the footsteps of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Located on the picturesque hilltop, it is spread over an area of 4 acres of land. A committee was formed with 10 members that were responsible for the development and management of the center. Ms Gaylo Thondup was the first President of the center. Initially, they started raising funds through donations, subscriptions, charity shows and even through exhibition soccer match. Later, they received funds from domestic and international voluntary organizations as well.
The center was registered as charitable organization under the act of Government of India. It was started with only four workers but now it is home to 650 refugees. The center has been a part of different activities which ranges from handicrafts, training of artisans, and craftsmen. Visitors can see Tibetan craftsmen at work and making exquisite handicraft items here. At one end of the complex is the Show Room or the retail outlet where one can buy all hand crafted items like carpets, woollen coats and blankets, which are also exported to over 36 countries across the world.
Opposite to the Show Room is the Photographic Exhibition Hall. Here visitors can see black & white photographs of early group of Tibetan refugees, children receiving donated clothes, pictures of aid distribution like blankets, early pictures of Tailoring & Leather section etc. There is also a photograph of former Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi who visited the center along with Sonia Gandhi after their marriage. Visitors will also see pictures of Royal Greek Visitors of 1966 like that of the Queen and the Princess. Apart from these, the center also has a small nursery school for kids, X-Ray clinic, pathology laboratory and dental clinic.
Timings: 9 AM to 4.30 PM, Closed on Sundays