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  • The people of North Bengal are also a varied lot. The tea gardens brought in Tribals from Bengal and Bihar. The hill stations attracted people from neighboring Nepal, and the partition of 1947 brought in Hordes of Bengalis from Bangladesh.
  • The Hills, the jungles and the serene beauty of undulating tea gardens spread to the horizon.

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— 16th Sep 2014 at 1:25 PM

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Darjeeling

Darjeeling Town with Kanchenjunga in the Background

Darjeeling is one of the oldest hill stations of India and one of its most popular. The grand view of Kanchenjunga massif, Darjeeling mall – the famous promenade of town, UNESCO world heritage Toy Train, cool walking trails, mesmerising sunrise from Tiger Hill view point, the local people, their culture, treks and adventure.... Darjeeling is a brew that is much more than the famous tea it produces.

Orientation

Darjeeling town (population about 1,00,000 and elevation of about 2,100 mtr) is located on a spur with houses hugging the hillside.

The National Highway 55 also known as the Hill Cart Road that connects the plains of Bengal with the town, passes through the North South bound ridge on which the town is located before becoming Lebong Cart road and going down toward Sikkim border town of Jorethang. As the Hill Cart Road enters Darjeeling main town, you will first reach the Darjeeling Rail Station. A road to the right from here goes to Chowrasta or the Mall. This is a wide promenade atop a ridge lined with shops and restaurants. Mall Road, starting and finishing at Chowrasta is ideal for a leisurely stroll amidst peaceful surroundings and splendid views. About a km below the Chowrasta is the Chauk Bazar which is the main local market. From Chawrasta a north bound road with restriction for vehicle movement will take you to Governers house, Gymkhana Club, Gorkha Rangmanch and to the Darjeeling Zoo and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and others.

To See and Do

Chowrasta and Around – the Darjeeling chowrasta or the mall is the popular promenade for the locals as well as tourists. It is a large open area surrounded by rows of chairs to relax on, some nice vintage coffee shop, book store and antique store. The area is out of bound for vehicles but ponies with young attendants abound looking for young tourist riders.

Just North of the Chowrasta is the Observatory Hill, it is home to highly revered Mahakal Temple. Even if you are not much inclined to religion, the views of Kanchenjunga from the hill is worth the steep uphill walk.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – the popular Toy Train and the Joy Ride : A visit to Darjeeling is incomplete without a ride in the toy-train of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR). The miniature train of Darjeeling, given heritage status by UNESCO, covers the distance of 80 km between New Jalpaiguri station and Darjeeling. The route is landslide prone and it is not unusual for the toy train to remain operational for only part of the route.

Most tourists do not travel the entire route by DHR as the travel time is significant and it takes better part of the day to travel the distance of 80 kms. Small cars take just about 3 hours to reach Darjeeling from Siliguri. As a result most tourists prefer to take the Joy ride that originates and ends at Darjeeling Railway Station. The Joy ride takes you to Batasia loop, a 360 degree loop which is used by the train to gain elevation. The Batasia loop is also a great viewpoint for Darjeeling town and Kanchenjunga and there is a war memorial for the Gorkha soldiers. From here the Joy ride returns back to Darjeeling Rail Station.

Some of the joy rides use original steam engine which is more than hundred years old. Some rides use the more powerful and recent diesel engine which does not have the same fun and hence the cost of the ride is cheaper.

Batasia Loop war memorial

Tiger Hill : Standing at a height of 2590m, Tiger Hill is 11 km from Darjeeling. The place is famous for its magnificent view of Kanchenjunga, Mt. Everest and other eastern Himalayan peaks especially at the time of sunrise.

Tiger hill can be visited any time of the day, but the best time to visit it is at the dawn. Tourist vehicles start from Darjeeling early morning about an hour before dawn and reach Tiger hill in a short 30 minutes drive. During peak season the hill top is full of thousands of tourists. Quite often cloud and fog play the spoilsport and the early morning effort is not rewarded. But on a clear morning, the splendid view of the Kanchenjunga with the first ray of Sun on it is one of the most beautiful natural views you would ever see.

On the way back from Tiger hill, the typical tourist vehicles will take you to Batasia Loop and Ghum monastery and will bring you back to your hotel just at the time of breakfast. If you are in good health, you may try walking down from Tiger Hill, the couple of hours hike through the Senchal forest can be a great experience for nature lovers.

Ghoom Monastery: The most famous monastery around Darjeeling, also known as Yogachoeling Gompa, enshrines an image of Maitrey Buddha (the coming Buddha), it is about 10 km from Darjeeling town. Most tourists visit the monastery early morning as part of the three point, Tiger Hill, Batasia Loop, Ghoom Monastery tour.

Zoological Park : About 2 km. from the Darjeeling town, The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park houses a wide collection of high-altitude birds and animals, India's only collection of Siberian tigers and some rare species such as the red panda. The Darjeeling zoo is famous for its success in the snow leopard breeding program and red panda breeding program apart from other conservation efforts.

Darjeeling Himalayan Mountaineering Institute – Popularly called the HMI, this is the training center for mountaineers with many a great mountaineers of India being a trainer or a student here. Tenzing Norgay, Nowang Gombu, Dorjee Lhatoo are some of the luminary Sherpa mountaineers who have worked here in different capacities.

HMI has a mountaineering museum containing mountaineering gears and the specimens of Himalayan flora & fauna. The Everest Museum at Darjeeling HMI exhibits the history of attempts on the great peak. The museum also exhibits equipments used by Tenzing Norgay (who lived in Darjeeling) and Edmund Hillary on their way to Mt. Everest and a letter written by George Mallory, the British climber who was lost while climbing Mt. Everest and whose body was found just a few years back.

Lloyd Botanical Garden: The garden, located below the Darjeeling bus stand, is worth a dekko for its representative collection of Himalayan plants, flowers and orchids. The serenity of the sylvan atmosphere that the garden offers is another reason for its attraction.

Tourists also may find a visit to the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Center worthwhile which is a major centre for production of Tibetan carpets, woodwork and leather goods. The Buddhist monasteries of Bhutia Busty, Thupten Sangag Choling (Dali) and Yiga-Choling (Ghoom); Batasia Loop, a marvelous feat of railway engineering; Japanese Peace Pagoda, established by the Japanese Buddhist order, Nipponzan Myohoji.

Toy Train of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

To Eat and Drink

Glenary’s is the all time favourite among upmarket tourists. It is primarily a bakery that also has a restaurant. It serves great western delicacies apart from bakery items. Nathmul’s near the Mall offers wide variety of Tea. Joeys pub close to the post office is a British styled pub that is a favourite for the regulars. Kaventers rooftop is a great location, and is sure to remind you of some Bollywood blockbusters that were shot here. Serves great continental dishes. Hasty tasty is a popular vegetarian joint for the locals, a little chaotic but serves good Indian food.

Those who want to experiment with local food, momo is a must. Try the small staircases connecting roads at different elevations and follow the most non-descript looking joints. Inside you may find locals jostling for space and their share of momo. These shops mostly sale vegetarian momo and these are mostly exclusive momo joints. You may also ask for thukpa, another Tibetan item that mixes boiled vegetables and noodles to create a soup.

Where to Stay

Darjeeling town offers innumerable choice of accommodation for different style, taste and budget. The list of hotels including their photograph, description and other details can be found in the Darjeeling Hotels Page.

Travel Plan

If you are planning a tour of Darjeeling, we can suggest you some itineraries. Visit our Darjeeling Tour Packages Section for many a choices. If you are looking for a customised tour for yourself, you can easily contact us by filling the form below.


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