The West Bengal government will develop a international tourist centre around Roy Villa - the century old heritage house in the picturesque Darjeeling where Sister Nivedita breathed her last, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Wednesday.
"We are developing an international tourist centre around 'Roy Villa' so that tourists from all parts of the world can come here and enjoy its pristine serenity," said Banerjee inaugurating the "Nivedita Educational & Cultural Centre".
Banerjee May last year had announced that the 102-year-old heritage building that was in possession of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) will be handed over to the Swami Vivekananda-founded Ramkrishna Mission.
"When I came here last year, I saw animals loitering here; the place was in complete disarray. I talked to GTA, got the house transferred to Ramakrishna Mission, and within a record six months, it was renovated," she said.
With a view to promote tourism and to generate employment, Banerjee suggested local boys and girls can act as guides and look after the tourists coming from outside and assured that her government will give full support to Ramakrishna Mission in the upkeep and maintenance of the place.
She also said there were plans to connect Roy Villa with Darjeeling Mall through a road building cottages for tourists to spend nights here.
Banerjee, who has vowed to turn Darjeeling into Switzerland, iterated: "Darjeeling needs to be developed as an international hub - from the point of view of education, tourism and culture.
The chief minister also used the occasion to lay emphasis on educating women.
"It is a woman-dominated society in the hills here. Besides working outside, they run their homes efficiently. To promote the trend, let us build women's organisations here. We need to provide them higher education, so that they can come up with all the qualities.
"There is a popular saying that if you educate a woman, you are actually educating a billion people. We must educate them and utilise their services for good image and good governance," she said.