Darjeeling

Why To Go

Enveloped in lush greeneries and tea gardens, Darjeeling, a quaint little hill town in the state of West Bengal is popular for its Darjeeling tea. Though developed by the British during the 19th century, currently the place is the home of Sikkimese, Tibetan, Nepalese and even Bengalees. Darjeeling is an ideal place to experience the majestic Himalayas, especially the Kanchenjunga and to sip in some of the best aromatic Darjeeling tea.

Darjeeling is synonymous with large, green and picturesque tea-estates. Tea production in Darjeeling is a legacy of the British, who developed the place as a hill station to escape the summer heat. Located in the ‘lesser’ Himalayan area, it plays host to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Lovingly called as ‘Queen of the Hills’, Darjeeling is nestled at an altitude of around 6700 feet above the sea level provides a perfect gateway for the nature lovers who also love cool climate round the year.

The majestic view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, mesmerizing sunrises, and the virgin beauty of the snow clad mountains…all make Darjeeling as one of the popular hill stations of West Bengal.

In its formative years, like most Raj getaways, Darjeeling was simply a scattered village of English cottages, mainly confined to the Birch Hill and Jalapahar areas.

Come here to savour some delicious Sikkimese and Tibetan cuisines, experience the Tibetan Buddhist culture and take home the beautiful handicrafts that you’ll find hard to part with. Plus, don’t forget to hire a jeep to maneuver across the steep and narrow roads and envelop you in the refreshing, moist air and awe-inspiring views. Monasteries, Zoo garden, botanical garden, educational institutes and the thrilling toy train ride make Darjeeling a wonderful place to spend your holidays.

The land of aromatic and world famous Darjeeling Tea, Darjeeling is situated at the lesser Himalaya surrounded by emerald tea gardens. The lush tea gardens on the sides of the road are breath-taking for all the visiting tourists.

This former Gorkha capital is one of the popular holiday destinations for domestic and international tourists due to the spectacular view of third highest peak of the world, Kanchenjunga available from the town.

Darjeeling is favoured among the trekkers also. This was introduced a century ago in this region. Singalila range trek route was the first trekking route of India. All along the route to Sandakphu, one can find trekker’s huts maintained by Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Tourism Department. The trekking routes are crisscrossed from the densely populated evergreen trees like oak, chestnut, ferns, magnolia and etc. Trekkers are welcomed with the colourful rhododendron, orchid and wild flowers at all their paths. Red Panda, pangolins, barking deer can be seen on the path of Sandakphu trek. One can also take the enjoyment of Phalut, Maneybhanj, and Singalila for trekking.

People must take the joy of riding toy train which stands at Batasia loop for the view of Kanchenjunga.

Travel Tips

The summer time that is the months of April to June is the best time to visit this hilly town. The weather remains cool and pleasant with natural beauty and blossoms spreading their joy all across and Kanchenjunga can be viewed clearly. You may also visit in the months of September and October, as the climate is moderately pleasant. But avoid the monsoon season as there can be landslides due to heavy showers and this may disrupt your journey. Winter is quite chilly and temperature dips down to 5 degree Celsius. Travellers need to do a lot of walking as not all destinations can be reached by a vehicle. So, one should have a sports shoe or any walking shoe. For children, have ear mufflers as ear blockage is common in children when you reach higher altitude. Get a guide from your hotel or hire a reputed one. Do not miss the Darjeeling tea. Keep emergency medicines with you. The mountaineering institute and the zoological park are closed on Thursdays. Also, it is better to pre-book tickets for the toy train ride.

Things To Do

The spectacular view of sunrise at Tiger Hills that produce no less than 15 hues of colours, get reflected with brilliance on the Kanchenjunga is a view that would be etched ever in your heart. A scenic beauty that never gets outdated, no matter how many times you behold it. Visit the Old Ghoom Monasteries, Batasia Loop in the morning only. Do not miss the toy train ride that starts from Darjeeling. Book the toy train tickets in advance Within the town, there is the Peace Pagoda, a Buddhist pagoda that, true to its name, oozes serenity. It is adjacent to a Japanese temple that can be visited along with the pagoda. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute has a museum that is very informative and displays a lot of mountain climbing equipment. The Llyod’s Botanical Garden preserves many rare species of plants and trees and is a must visit for the tourists. Visit the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, the largest high altitude zoo in India. One can see Black Panther, Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Bengal Tiger, Himalayan Wolves and bear, all in one place. There are few small places around Darjeeling like Mirik, Kalimpung, Simana etc. that you may visit. From Tibetan, Sikkimese and Thai cuisine to old North Indian and Bengali dishes, you have the option to tickle your taste buds with lip smacking delicacies. You must try Momo, Thukpa, Tongba, Channg, Sael Roti etc. and do not forget to refresh your soul with the aromatic Darjeeling Tea.

Getting Around

Darjeeling is a town of rough mountainous roads and therefore, a four wheeler like land-rover, jeep or a sumo is a good option to get around. You may also get around by walking experiencing the beautiful nature of the surrounding.

How To Reach

FLIGHT

Darjeeling is connected through Bagdogra airport in Siliguri, which is 80 kms away from the place. Most of the top domestic carriers are plying people on daily basis. International tourists can take a flight from capital, New Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata from where the domestic flights are available. After that, it is a 3hrs. journey from the airport to reach Darjeeling via jeep or private taxi.

TRAIN

New Jalpaiguri is the main railhead of this area which is connected well with all over India. It is at a distance of around 70 km. There is a toy train which goes up to Darjeeling (Ghoom) railway station which is 62kms only. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways' famous toy train service starts at New Jalpaiguri and will get you to Darjeeling in about 7 hours. Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and all other metro cities are connected by rail.

ROAD

It is an overnight journey from Kolkata to Siliguri via National Highway. Siliguri is 80kms away from Darjeeling. Shared taxis, buses along with private cars are available for covering this path. The Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway connects Darjeeling to Kalimpong and Ghum. Bus services and hired vehicles connect Darjeeling with Siliguri; and Darjeeling has road connections with Bagdogra, Gangtok and Kathmandu and the neighbouring towns like Kurseong and Kalimpong.

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Surrounding Attractions

Jore Pokhri Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Darjeeling District, West Bengal. It is the habitat of some high-altitude animals like Himalayan Salamander, locally known as ‘Gora’. The forest is artificially decorated and offers some amazing views. The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary comes under Darjeeling Wildlife division and can be reached from Siliguri in 30 minutes. Sukna, the gateway to the sanctuary, is only 13 kilometres from Siliguri and 52 kilometers from Darjeeling. The sanctuary sprawls over 159 square kilometers of reserve forest and was started as a game sanctuary in 1955. In 1959, it got the status of a sanctuary mainly to protect the Indian bison and Royal Bengal Tiger, which were facing the threat of extinction. The Rock Garden at Chunnu Summer Falls and Ganga Maya Park, near it, are recently added tourist attractions. It is about two hours from Darjeeling. An hour away from Darjeeling is Mirik which has in its list of appeals the magnificent Mirik Lake. Darjeeling is sitting proudly in between the beautiful places which can be reached easily within a day’s journey only. Several places of interests are scattered around this scenic town. Lava, Rishop, Rishikhola, Lolegaon, Suntalekhola, Neora Valley National Park, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Pedong, Mirik and Jorapokhri are the top attractions around the queen hill. The mighty Kanchenjunga can be seen from the Tiger Hill if the sun is blissful. Ghoom railway station of Darjeeling is the highest altitude station in Asia. Temi Tea garden along with other lesser known tea gardens are there to soothe your eyes and heart. Peace Pagoda, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Padmaja Naidu National Park, Botanical garden, Mahakal Temple, Ghoom Monastery, Everest Museum, Jhandidara view point are other attractions of Darjeeling.
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