If you are feeling cold, a cup of tea can warm you!! Feeling too exhausted, a cup of tea can cool down things!! Feeling depressed, a cup of tea can cheer you up!! Too much excited, a cup of tea can calm things!!
Now, you might be wondering why the hell I am putting quotes on tea!!Darjeeling is one of the most famous tea producers in the world. In fact, Tea is like ‘love in the air’ of Darjeeling. And I am not joking, actually you don’t need to drink tea to freshen up, just breathe and it’s done. Ha-ha!!!
Clouds are low everywhere in Darjeeling
A few decades ago, Darjeeling was just a cluster of villages which was administered jointly by Nepal and Sikkim. Looking at its favorable climatic conditions for tea plantation, British established a hill station after leasing it from the Chogyal of Sikkim. Subsequently, Darjeeling became a well-known new British settlement and trading point for tea.
How to Reach?
New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is the nearest railhead to Darjeeling which connects the city with all the major parts of the country. There are a number of trains from cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Guwahati, Chennai, Kochi and Bengaluru. On reaching NJP station the best way to reach Darjeeling is to take a shared taxi which you will get just outside the station and charges will be around 150-200.
Note: Do buy an extra seat if you don’t want to be squeezed for a 3-4 hours journey.
If you prefer to take a flight then the nearest airport is Bagdogra (about 70 km from Darjeeling).
Most of the must see places are easily accessible on foot. For visiting the Himalayan Zoo and the Mountaineering Institute, you can either take a taxi or it takes about 35 minutes if you walk. Tiger Hill is about 20 km from the main city and you can get a shared taxi from Chowrastha.
View of Darjeeling Town
A town in lesser Himalayas, Darjeeling stands proud as its gateway. To a backpacker’s delight, nature lover, mountaineer’s wish, honeymooner’s dream, photographer’s shot – Darjeeling has something to offer for everyone. Powerfully attracting visitors with its green tea fields on one side against the white majestic snow-capped peaks on the other, Darjeeling’s panoramas are simply breathtaking.
Now to end all your anxiety about what actually the hill station has on offer for you, let me put some light on must visit places if you are in this majestic city.
Darjeeling city views
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute:
This was the foremost reason why I always wanted to visit Darjeeling. Tenzing Norgay along with Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first to conquer Mount Everest founded this institute in 1953. At HMI you will find mountaineering records of major expeditions undertaken and a nearby museum displays few historical facts and equipment used for trekking. Hopefully one day I would be back here at HMI, but this time as a student for pursuing mountaineering course.
Known in full as Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, it shares the premises of HMI. It is the largest high altitude zoo in India and the main attraction includes a white snow leopard and the famous red panda.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway:
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the "Toy Train", is a 2 feet narrow-gauge railway and was established in 1881. You might be wondering why I didn’t talk about Darjeeling Himalayan Railway when I was writing about ways to reach Darjeeling from New Jalpaiguri. You can never be sure that the train service is currently available or not, due to frequent landslides and bad weather conditions. Once you reach Darjeeling, you can enquire about various joy rides.
Steam train at Darjeeling Railway Station
Located at the highest point in Darjeeling area, Tiger Hill enriches us with some dazzling sunrise view of the Kanchenjunga and the snow covered peaks of the entire eastern Himalayan range. Tiger Hill is one of the two points in India from where you can capture the entire panorama between Mount Everest and Kanchendzonga along with other peaks like the Rathong, Kabru and Kokhtang.
Breathtaking views of Himalayan range from Tiger Hill
The Batasia Loop is a spiral railway created to minimize the elevation of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. The place is famous for housing a Gorkha war memorial and while in the toy train you can witness a 360 degrees view of Darjeeling.
Happy Valley Tea Estate:
Happy Valley is the most accessible Tea Estate, as it is only about 3-4 kilometers from town. It is Darjeeling’s oldest tea estate which is spread across 437 acres. The scenic charm of this tea garden is heartwarming.
Happy Valley Tea Estate
Darjeeling has so much to offer and to avoid making this post long, I am not going into details of few other tourist attractions but would definitely list them with clicks of few.
- Nightingale Park
- Japanese Peace Pagoda
- Passenger Ropeway
- Rock garden
- Ghoom Monastery
- Mahakal temple
- Observatory Hill
- Dali Monastery
Japanese Peace Pagoda
Best Time to Visit:
For tourists, there are two best seasons to visit Darjeeling, one between March to May (i.e. spring & summer), and the other between October to November (i.e. autumn). Fog or mist, cloud, and rain are all integral part of Darjeeling's weather. If you are planning to visit Darjeeling to capture spectacular views of the snow-capped mountains like the majestic Kanchenjunga, then you will need to avoid these factors.
Places to Stay:
Being a very popular tourist destination, Darjeeling has quite a stay options. What if you wake up, open your window and you are enriched with breathtaking views of snow covered Mt Kanchenjunga. There are few hotels which provide such views. Cedar Inn, Darjeeling Tourist Lodge - Main Building, The Hermitage, Highlanders' Inn, and Hotel Dolphin are the few I know.
For a backpacker like me who looks for cheap stays, I would suggest you look for The Diocesan Guest House which is run by the church. You can choose from dormitories or double or single rooms. I was charged 100 INR per day for the dormitory.
It’s not all about the above tourist spots that Darjeeling offers, it is the nature beauty of Darjeeling which will surely make you fall in love with this amazing Hill City. Darjeeling has all the great ingredients to provide you a perfect break from your daily life. Hey!! Hey!!What are you waiting for!!! Just take a break from your daily life. Pack your bags and just leave. It’s all about the memories that you can take away with you and nothing else. Guess you know what I mean by nothing else.
For those of you considering going to Darjeeling, I hope this post has inspired you to visit and provided you with the adequate information required. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
You can also check Abhishek's blog on www.onacheaptrip.com