Darjeeling is the legendary British hill station perched in the foothills of the Himalayas. Located in the northern extreme of the Indian state of West Bengal, Darjeeling is just east of Nepal, just south of Sikkim, and a bit west and south of Bhutan. It is most famous for its once magnificent tea estates. Despite a steady and inexorable decline since independence, roughly a half century ago, these estates still produce a substantial portion of the world's tea.
Darjeeling is a fascinating place, where the tourist can see Buddhist monasteries, visit a tea plantation, see how the tea is processed, go for a ride on the chairlift, go shopping in the colourful markets or go trekking to high altitude spots, near the border with Sikkim. Darjeeling has the unique feature of a toy train, which takes you from Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling through the steep mountainsides
Shop for Himalayan curios like thangkas, brass statues, jewellery, woodcarvings, woven fabrics, carpets and the famous Darjeeling tea.
Darjeeling's traditional promenade, the Chow Rasta, bustles with the increasing tourist influx and is the throbbing heart of Darjeeling with restaurants and shops lining the way. It has famous eating joints, known especially for milk shakes, pastries and scrumptious patties. At certain studios one can buy the most fascinating photographs of the snow capped mountains that surround Darjeeling, and portraits of locals in traditional attire are souvenirs worth buying. Walking down a countless flight of steps, past colorful vendors, one will come to the lower bazaar. It is a more traditional and lively bazaar filled with a jostling melee of people.
The best time to visit this hill station is between April and June and September and December. The summer temperature hovers between 14° C and 8° Celsius and the winter temperatures fall to a freezing 6°C to 1° Celsius. So be sure carry woollens when you visit.
KALIMPONG: Across the river, Teesta lies lush Kalimpong. The road weaves lazily up a steep incline to suddenly open up to an unexpected panorama. The first sight to greet the eye is the steeple of the Mac Farlane Church. Once the headquarters of a Bhutanese Governor, the word kalim means king's minister and pong, the stronghold. The locals also call it Kalimpong or the black spur. However, the meaning that is popularly accepted is the Lepcha translation of the name which is "the ridge where we play" as the local tribesmen used to organize field sports here. At an altitude of 1250 meters, it has an area odd just 3.5 square miles with an approximate population of 40,000. Its rolling meadows are as yet untouched by tourism.
Darjeeling Tea Garden
Darjeeling Queen of Hill Station
MIRIK: Set in idyllic surroundings, Mirik is the place for those seeking peace and tranquility. At an altitude of 1967 meters, the climate is cool and temperate. The Sumendu Lake at the bottom of Mirik Spur is the most dominating feature reflecting the magnificence of the eastern Himalayas. The lake is 1.2 kilometers long and is fed by perennial streams. Riding on the colorful boats or crossing the lake over an artistic bridge, leads one to a charming path through forests on the other side. Fishing is a popular past time here.
Attractions and Places to Visit in Darjeeling
Situated at an altitude of 2590 metres (8482 ft.) and 13 kms from the town, this spot has earned international fame for the magnificent view of the sunrise over "Kanchenjunga" and the great Eastern Himalayan Mountains. Even Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is visible from here.
About 5 kms from Darjeeling, this Railway Loop is a marvellous feat of engineering. It is fascinating to watch the toy train wind its way round the loop. The War Memorial constructed in the memory of brave sons of Darjeeling who died in different action since 1947, is worth a visit. A glorious view of snowy peak and town can be seen from this place. Entrance fee: Rs. 2/- Timings: sunrise till two hours after sunset.
Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum has a collection of over 4300 specimen . Established in 1903, this natural history museum packs in its folds a rich collection of fauna found in the Himalayas and in Bengal. Among the attractions are included the estuarine crocodiles. This unique museum also has a good collection of butterflies. The mineral forms of various stones are displayed in a very attractive manner in the museum.
Senchal Lake a scenic place near the tiger hills. This place has popularly come up as a picnic spot among the tourists. The lake supplies drinking water to the town of Darjeeling.
Kanchenjunga View from Darjeeling one can have the best, uninterrupted view of the worlds third highest peak. Bhan Bhakta Sarani provides one of the enthralling views of these snow capped peaks. The Chowrasta also gives you a good sight to the Kanchenjunga peak.
Darjeeling Himalayan Train:
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) is one of the most well known mountain railways in the world. It was built in 1881 and is over a hundred years old today. It connects the plains of West Bengal at New Jalpaiguri with the popular hill station of Darjeeling (6812 ft), a distance of 88km.
How to Reach Darjeeling
The nearest airport to Darjeeling is the Bagdogra airport. Bagdogra is 10 kms from Darjeeling and is an important military installation. From Bagdogra one can take a bus or taxi to Darjeeling. Darjeeling has a railway station but only the toy train from Jalpaiguri and New Jalpaiguri comes here. The major trains connecting the place with all the major places in India come to Jalpaiguri or New Jalpaiguri. From here again you have to take the toy train or a bus or taxi to Darjeeling. The place is well connected by roads. The state transports run buses from Calcutta and other nearby places. The private operators also have their buses and the fair does not vary much in the state or in the private buses.