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5 Amazing Facts About Margherita That Show British India's Fascination With This Town

Brishti Sonowal
Intern, Bordoisila

5th May, 2016

Nestled by rolling hills and dotted by tea gardens, Margherita is located in the north-eastern corner of Assam, India. As one enters this pristine town, cool and misty air refreshes ones senses and the never-ending lush greenery pleases the eyes. Though it played a very significant role in the past history of Assam, little is known about the town which continues to make valuable contributions to the state's economy.

So, here, I bring to you some amazing facts that would shed light on the significance and grandness of this town.

1.The town was named after Queen Margherita, the then reigning Queen Consort of Italy.

The Italian Engineer, Chevalas Roberto Paganini named the town in honour of the 19th century queen - Queen Margherita of Italy. Paginini was the Chief engineer who supervised the construction of the rail section in Margherita.

2.Margherita is also known as the ‘Coal Queen of Assam’

Margherita is famous for its collieries which were developed by the British in the bygone era. The Margherita-Ledo mining story started in the year 1881 when British owned Assam Railways & Trading Company discovered the black diamond in the region. Now, Coal India Limited is the biggest industry here.

3.Assam’s second plywood factory was established in Margherita.

India’s fifth and Assam’s second plywood factory was established in 1925 in Margherita. It was established by a British company and was located in the Upper Dihing Reserve Forest area. Till today, the plywood products produced in Margherita are famous for their quality.

4.The first coal museum, the ‘Coal Heritage and Museum’ of North-East India is in Margherita.

The first coal museum of international standard was built in Margherita for preserving the 120 year old mining history of North-east India. All the materials and equipments like various types of machines, vehicles, camera projectors and antiques including important documents, photographs etc related to the Margherita-Ledo mining history have been displayed in the museum for public viewing in the Coal Heritage and Museum of Margherita.

5.The 20th General Hospital was built in Margherita during World War II to serve the wounded soldiers of the war.

The 20th General Hospital was formed in 1940 as an Army Hospital unit to care for the allied forces wounded in the Burma-India border. Beginning with a few shacks, the hospital ended up becoming the largest hospital in the China-India-Burma border with fully equipped modern facilities like laboratories, X-ray and blood storage facilities.

However, after the war ended, the hospital closed its medical services and was decommissioned on December 1945. Now one could only see the dilapidated brick walls in place of the once famous 20th General Hospital.

The brilliant topography and the beautiful scenery of Margherita surrounded by Burhi-dihing river and Patkai ranges is an experience, both heart-warming and rare. So come, visit this small coal town to experience its beauty and tranquillity and have a cup of chai, perhaps the best in the world, relaxing in the balcony of a British Era bungalow.

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