Darjeeling bids tearful adieu to renowned architect

Darjeeling bids tearful adieu to renowned architect
Darjeeling: The Queen of Hills bid a tearful farewell to the Saab with a "Darjeeling" heart, the last of the British passport holders who had made Darjeeling his home. 82-year-old Austen Plant, a renowned architect, passed away in the early hours of Thursday morning. He was also the honorary representative of the British High Commissioner in Darjeeling. Plant had designed the Swiss cottages in Mirik; The Trekkers' huts in Sandakphua and the tourist lodge and other buildings in his signature English style. "During the Second World War in the 1940s, his family had migrated from Burma with the help of Jesuit priests. They were evacuated when Burma was being bombed. His father was in the Army and so he had to stay back, but later joined the family in Darjeeling.

"Austin Plant's father was a civil engineer and had helped to put up many a residential and school buildings in Darjeeling. Austin showed a keen interest in his father's trade and later took up the trade as a profession," stated Lorraine Banerjei Sibal, a family member. Austin Plant did his schooling from St. Joseph's in Darjeeling and went on to study at the Architectural College British Institute, Mumbai. His school friends remember him as most cheerful person who could ignite smiles. "He had a voice like Pat Boone and was an excellent ballroom dancer. He played good cricket in school and was a boxer too. But above all, he was a great human being spreading smiles everywhere," stated Manuel Coutinho, a classmate.

To Darjeeling, he was Uncle Austen, walking around town with a cheerful smile. "He would lead by example and had a way with children and youth. He left a deep impact on them. Another interesting thing was his love for Darjeeling, the people and the local cuisine," stated Sunirmal Chakrabarty, educationist. He is survived by his wife, son, daughter and grandchildren. Plant had been shifted to Kolkata for treatment where he passed away peacefully in his sleep at a private nursing home. He was cremated on Thursday. His ashes will be brought back to Darjeeling, the place he loved so much.

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The Queen of Hills bid a tearful farewell to the Saab with a "Darjeeling" heart, the last of the British passport holders who had made Darjeeling his

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