Darjeeling conjures visions of snow peaks, serenity of vibrant green hills steeped in splendor, a land of breathtaking beauty crowned by the majestic Himalayas. Darjeeling is one of the most magnificent hill resorts in the world. This heavenly retreat is bathed in hues of every shade. Flaming red rhododendrons, sparkling white magnolias, miles of undulating hillsides covered with emerald green tea bushes, the exotic forests of silver fir – all under the blanket of a brilliant azure sky dappled with specks of clouds, compellingly confounds Darjeeling as the queen of hill stations. The crest of Kanchenjunga shining in the first dawn light truly supports the title. Darjeeling is famous for its tea production and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Darjeeling beckons thousands today for a leisurely respite from the bustle of the madding crowd. The traveler – whether a tourist or a trekker, an ornithologist or a photographer, a botanist or an artist – will find in Darjeeling an experience which will remain etched in the memory – forever.
Main Attractions of Darjeeling
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) and Darjeeling Zoo
HMI is a destination by itself and a said to be a pilgrimage for all climbing enthusiasts of the world. It was established in honor of Tenzing Norgay after he and Sir Edmund Hillary climbed the Everest in 1953. A display of equipment used on the climb is one of the highlights. It has a well stocked museum with mountaineering displays and many expedition artifacts, a boarding school for mountaineering students, houses for the trainers, a restaurant, a souvenir shop and more.
A zoological garden nearby has an assortment of wildlife such as yaks, Siberian tigers ,Red Pandas, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and lot more.
Located at the highest point (8482 ft.) in the Darjeeling area, Tiger Hill is best known for the dazzling sunrise view of the Kanchenjunga and the snow covered peaks of the entire eastern Himalayan range. On a clear day you can even see the mount Everest from here. Tiger Hill is located 11km from the Darjeeling Town .
Located 5km from Darjeeling Town and just below Ghoom, Batasia Loop as the name suggests, is a loop or a spiral of a narrow gauge railway track where the Toy Train negotiates a sudden sharp descent from Ghoom. It’s a wonderful viewing place with manicured gardens, streams and falls, from where you can get a wide range view of the Darjeeling’s landscape, Kanchenjunga and the other Eastern Himalayan peaks.
Timings: sunrise till two hours after sunset.
At North Point about 3-km from the town, this is the first passenger ropeway in India. You can be part of special diverse offerings from the nature and all in one place. From the ropeway of Darjeeling which is also known as the Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car, you can have mind blowing view of the valley below, see the spread of lush tea gardens, dense forests, mountain streams in their full flow, waterfalls, and the awesome snow peaks at the background. Get off at a lower station and enjoy the tea estates, walk through the tea gardens, or just relax and enjoy the view around. It’s hard to find all these together in one place.
Darjeeling Mall & Chowrasta
The Chowrasta or the Mall is the town center in Darjeeling. It is Darjeeling’s popular commercial street. It is lined with Tibetans selling hand-knitted sweaters and souvenir shops chock-full of Himalayan artifacts and both real and imitation antiques. Photo shops carry turn-of-the-century photos as well as specializing in hand-painted black and white prints with glowing oil colors. The Mall leads to Chaurasta.
Chaurasta is the heart of Victorian Darjeeling. Here hotels, restaurants and shops brush against each other. The shops and stalls are a veritable paradise for souvenir collectors. The Bhutanese sellers display their wares. Woolen garments, tribal ornaments, Thankas, rosaries, brass statuettes and Gorkha daggers are kept on display for sale. The Mall, a square, which doubles as a bandstand, a pony riding arena for children and a haven for lovers.
Rock Garden & Ganga Maya Park
These two are scenic parks in wonderful settings located a few miles away from the Darjeeling town. Rock garden is about 10km and Ganga Maya is another 3km from there. Rock Garden is all about terraced gardens at different levels that have been cut through the rocks having waterfalls with nice seating arrangements. Ganga Maya is more spread out and has a beautiful stream flowing through it on a valley, has flower gardens, fountains and more.
Japanese Temple & Peace Pagoda
Located in the Jalapahar hill, is a wonderful area that is symbolic of peace and tranquility. The Japanese Temple is built in traditional Japanese style where you can join the prayers and feel the spiritual peace amongst humming and chants. Close to it is the Peace Pagoda where there are four large avatars of Lord Buddha. The view from the top is magnificent. You can see the snow peak range from here including the Kanchenjunga.
The Japanese Peace Pagoda was established by Nipponzan Myohoji, a Japanese Buddhist order. Situated on the slopes of the Jalapahar Hill the pagoda can be reached by foot or on taxi. The pagoda is the highest free structure in the town. It also showcases the four avatars of the Buddha.
Rising from behind the Mall, Observatory Hill is an ideal place to get a 360 degree view of Darjeeling and the peaks surrounding it.
How to Reach Darjeeling
- The nearest airport to Darjeeling is Bagdogra about 94-96 kms away from Darjeeling. There are direct flight connections with Delhi, Calcutta and Guwahati.
- Apart from Darjeeling Railway Station the two closest railway stations are Siliguri (80 kms) and New Jalpaiguri (88 kms) from Darjeeling. These railway stations have direct railway connections with Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati, Varanasi and other major cities of India.
- The major access to Darjeeling by road is via Siliguri, which is connected to all the major cities. Darjeeling is also very well connected to Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan and its surrounding hills.
- Taxis of different models are available for sightseeing in and around Darjeeling at fixed rates. Ponies can also be availed at Chowrasta for local sightseeing.
Things to do
Darjeeling Himalayan RailwayDarjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), popularly known as the ‘Toy Train’ is one of the main attractions of the region.. The size of the train is commensurate giving it the name `Toy Train`. Narrow Gauge trains are used to through the gorgeous terrain to Darjeeling from Siliguri. UNESCO has declared the DHR as a World Heritage Site.
TrekkingTrekking begins in Darjeeling and proceeds through Maneybhanjyang, Tonglu, Sandakphu and ends in Phalut.
White Water RaftingWhite Water Rafting on the river Teesta & Rangeet (Triveni)
Bird WatchingEastern India is home to more than 850 species of birds and is considered as being the richest birding area in the country
ButterflyingEastern India is home to more than 1200 species of butterflies and is considered as being the richest butterflying area, not only in our country but in the entire oriental region.