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Jaw-dropping locales, mesmerising sunrises, the untouched beauty of the hills, the old-world charm of the past, and the welcoming smiles of the local people all add up to make Darjeeling one of the most beautiful hill stations in Eastern part of India. Spread over a steep mountain ridge, nestled amidst acres of lush green tea plantations, Darjeeling stands at the height of 2,050 meters above sea level, thus boasting of cool climes all year round. This scenic hill station is the perfect getaway for a romantic honeymoon and is just around 700 kilometres away from Kolkata.
A respite from the hot and humid summers of India, Darjeeling is a popular tourist destination in North-East India. Providing a heady mixture of splendid tea gardens on rolling mountain slopes, meandering toy train rides through the picturesque city, and delectable traditional Tibetan cuisine, Darjeeling works wonders to cater to the gorgeous panorama of the Himalayas.
There is a reason the city is known as the 'Queen of the Himalayas'. The lush green slopes dotted with women plucking tea leaves is a sight as mesmerising as no other. There are over 86 tea estates in Darjeeling that are responsible for producing the worldwide famous 'Darjeeling Tea'. Have a cup of locally brewed chai at the tea estate, or get down amidst the plantations to pluck a few tea leaves yourself, you are free to take your pick!
A previous summer capital of India under the British Raj, Darjeeling has come off age as one of the most sought after hill stations in India. Famous for its beautiful tea plantations and the quality of Darjeeling tea, Darjeeling is a delight for all kind of tourists. The toy train established back in 1881, still runs in this part and is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Beautiful colonial architecture including mansions and churches dot this little beautiful town. Filled with people from Tibet, Nepal, nearby Indian states and the Gorkhas, Darjeeling is brimming with cultural diversity. The third highest peak in the world and the highest in India, the Kanchenjunga peak is clearly visible from here and you can enjoy a panoramic view of the peak. Some of Darjeeling's most popular attractions include monasteries, botanical gardens, a zoo, and the Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway cable car which happens to be the longest Asian cable car. Darjeeling is a wonderful place to walk around and explore the tea estates, villages, and markets.
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Darjeeling sure is a small scenic town, but it is more than just hill views. My visit to Darjeeling was a really memorable one. Within small distances only, you can access a lot of great places. I spent a lot of time in the Chowrasta Mall, which is a big open area with souvenir shops and eateries all around. Sometimes, live shows are organized here. You can try out the various cafes in this area. I loved the momos and thupkas that I had on the food stalls set up in there. Since I took a point tour, the places I visited are the Ropeway which gives you a view of the Tea gardens, Happy Valley Tea estate where you can walk across and explore the Tea garden, Himalayan Zoo, Batasia loop and the Japanese Peace Pagoda. If you are lucky enough, you get to join the prayers at the Japanese temple. There are some amazing view points, but Tagore Hill is the best among them and must be visited for watching the sunrise.
The weather is often pleasant there so picking an appropriate time for a trip will be easy. You can watch the sunrise and sunset from behind snow-capped mountains. I recommend finding appropriate drinks to keep you warm if you are a teetotaler; and using the Toy Train for sight seeing for the quintessential hillstation experience.
Darjeeling is a backpacker's delight, an unembellished canvas of natural beauty. Once I visited this place, it only took me seconds to fall in love with the "Queen of the Hills." The first thing I did was that I woke up before the crack of dawn and made my way to Tiger Hill to witness the most spectacular sunrise ever. Next up was Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, aptly nicknamed the "toy train," which is no less than a fairytale ride covering 13 stations. Do visit the Darjeeling Zoo which houses many endangered species seldom seen anywhere else in the country. I also enjoyed touring the Glenburn, Makabari and Happy Valley tea factories wherein I got to taste the Darjeeling tea often called the "champagne of teas."
Close to Siliguri which is well connected by rail and air. Excellent view of Kanchenjunga. Colonial heritage. Good food.
Slightly congested and traffic jams. Gets crowded in peak seasons.