Called “the Eton of the East”, the students of this boarding school have fought in both the First and Second World Wars.
Situated at 7,800 feet above sea level, St. Paul’s School in Darjeeling is said to be the highest public school in the world. It was conceived in 1823 by an Anglo-Indian from Calcutta — John William Ricketts — to meet the educational needs of the growing British and Anglo-Indian community in Calcutta.
The first building was set up in Calcutta as The Parental Academic Institution by Ricketts. It’s been through several name changes since then — Grammar School, then The High School and was housed in various locations in Park Street and in Chowringhee, roughly where the Indian Museum now stands. The school moved to Darjeeling in 1863 and is currently situated in Jalapahar estate, which was purchased from a Mr Brian Hodgson for INR 45,000.
With the mighty Kanchenjunga as the backdrop, St Paul’s is said to be the second oldest educational institute in the country (and possibly the oldest residential school in Asia). It has a long and checkered history — the boys here have been sent to fight in both the first and second World Wars (there are plaques in the chapel with their names). The architecture and the location makes it stand out — probably the reason why it has been the location for many movie shoots, from the iconic Raj Kapoor film Mera Naam Joker to the more recent Main Hoon Naa and Barfi.
Since the runaway success of the film, Main Noon Na, we hear teenagers from as far as Mumbai have enquired about cut-off marks thinking this was a college as portrayed in the film. It’s a school, guys!