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 completely justice its other name, "Queen of hill stations" as it serves one with lush green hills, beautiful serene monasteries, tea plantations and amazing toy train running in between the hills. Having the Cuppa Tea in Darjeeling is priceless. Famous cafes to visit are the Gatty?s cafe, Sonam?s kitchen and Foodsteps.
Household name because of its varieties of teas, Darjeeling is a hill station with vast expanses of tea estates and Tibetan influence in their craft, culture and cuisine.
- Avoid going to Darjeeling during monsoon season so you can get clear views of the magnificient viewpoints.
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.
Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, with the snow-clad peak of Kanchenjunga overlooking the vast expanse of picture-perfect tea estates and lush green vistas, Darjeeling is one tourist destination that draws travellers all year round. From curling up in layers of blankets inside cosy cottages to making your way around bustling marketplaces and serene monasteries, Darjeeling is a paradise for those seeking a tranquil vacation.
Tiger Hill, the most famous tourist site in Darjeeling, is a fantastic spot to see the sunrise over the mountains in all its fiery glory. The way the snow-capped peaks of Kanchenjunga change colours from pure white to blazing reds and oranges is a view that cannot be described as anything less than breathtaking.
As you would expect from a hill station situated in the North East of the country, Darjeeling is replete with monasteries and temples. The Ghoom Monastery is located at a distance of 7-8 kilometres from Darjeeling and is a must-visit for anyone wanting to get an essence of what tranquillity feels like. With exotic views of the rolling slopes, and interiors that make you want to sit and meditate for hours, a visit to this monastery will leave you with an innate sense of peace and calm.
Another such famous attraction of Darjeeling is the Peace Pagoda and Japanese Temple, located at the top of a hill, a thirty-minute walk from the heart of the city. With intricate artworks showcasing moments from Buddha's life, and the sound of drums reverberating throughout the premises, this is one place that no trip to Darjeeling can be complete without.
Bollywood has always had a thing for shooting in Darjeeling's beautiful locales, and if you have watched Barfi, then you most definitely have seen the toy train that the leads of the movie take a ride on. This toy train is no other than the toy train operated by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Conferred the title of World Heritage Status by UNESCO, the train begins its journey from the plains, and rises to over 2000 metres above sea level, offering breathtaking views of the mountains as it chugs along.
Darjeeling has something to offer for everyone, so the Lloyds Botanical Garden is the perfect place to visit for all flora and fauna lovers. Greeting its visitors with a vibrant burst of colours, this popular tourist attraction houses a vast collection of indigenous plants as well as many rare plant species. Taking a stroll through the paved slopes of the garden is a perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon in the city.
Darjeeling is all about nature and peace and serenity, but it has options to cater to the adrenaline junkies too. Anyone looking for one of the best river rafting experiences ever can head over to the Teesta river to get the thrill of actual white water rafting, under the guidance of trained supervisors, of course.
Darjeeling is a street shoppers' paradise, where you can find everything from handmade trinkets to plush scarves and shawls to Tibetan artefacts like flags, prayer wheels and wall paintings. Street shopping at Mall Road (more popularly known as Chowrasta) is a busy affair, and you will find hundreds of people sifting through the goods displayed to see what they like at any given hour of the day.
Darjeeling has a unique and diverse culture. The city is a home to mix immigrants from Nepal, Sikkim, Tibet, Bhutan and even Europe, due to work opportunities in tea plantations in the bygone era. Hinduism and Vajyarana Buddhism are the main religions of the people. One of the major festivals of Darjeeling is Losar, primarily their new year, which is celebrated in January or February depending on the position of the moon (lunar calendar). Darjeeling Carnival is another major festival held annually. The fair involves a display of folk dance and arts. Local rock bands participate in the same. Other important festivals are Makar Sankranti, Chotrul Duchen (Buddhist festival commemorating the four events in the life of Gautam Buddha), Tendong Lho Rumfaat (Prayer of the Tendong mountain) etc.
The name Darjeeling means the "the land of the thunderbolt", derived from the Tibet word "Dorje" meaning "thunder" and "ling" meaning ?piece of land?. Prior to its acquisition by East India Company, Darjeeling used to be a part of Sikkim and even before that, a part of Nepal. In February 1829, a dispute broke out between Nepal and Sikkim about their borders and hence, Lord William Bentinck- Governor General of India at the time, set out to resolve the situation. In the process, he realised that the quaint hill town had strategic advantages for trade and military outpost. Later, it was also realised that the land was ideal for tea plantations. The district underwent major development and became a major tourist attraction visited by the British officials. It, therefore, earned itself the title of "Queen of hills". After independence, the district was merged with West Bengal and since then is one of the most popular hill stations in India.
Popularly known as the "Mecca of Tea", Darjeeling is leading in the area of tea tourism. With 80 operational tea gardens, sprawling across acres of land, Darjeeling produces what is known as the "Champagne of tea". This place is all about spending a few days in a sprawling tea garden, in a Bungalow that was typically the residence of a former British tea planter. Located on top of the hills amidst cool winds and misty weather, Darjeeling gives you an experience like no other. Imagine waking up in the middle of lush tea gardens, sipping a cup of finest aromatic tea, taking a stroll through the gardens and talking to the garden workers learning about their life. Ultimate, isn't it? That's Darjeeling tea tourism for you. Darjeeling has numerous places to learn about tea production. The busiest time is from March to May, but occasional plucking occurs from June to November. Also, there is no plucking on Sunday. You can go for a homestay with a tea pickers family and you'll get to join your hosts for the morning work in the tea bushes. You can return home with a batch of your very own hand-plucked Darjeeling tea.
In terms of flora and fauna, Darjeeling houses over four thousand species of plants, three hundred varieties of ferns, six hundred species of birds, and loads of mammals and wild animals. You can find trees such as chestnut, cherry, sal, birch, oak, elm, a lot of wet alpine tress and fine rare orchids. Rhododendron also grows on the hills. It is also home to myriad birds including woodpeckers, orioles, sunbirds, flycatchers, finches, Bengal florican and herons etc. A large number of animals can be found too like tiger, leopard, hog deer, one-horned rhinoceros etc.
Day 1 - Arrive in Darjeeling. Check into your hotel and freshen up. Later, you can head over to the Chowrasta Mall. Sit on a bench, enjoy the ambience and watch the activities going on. Take a stroll along the scenic Mall road. You can visit old heritage shops and buy some curios or souvenirs.
Day 2 - Go for the early morning tour covering the sunrise from the Tiger Hill, followed by Old Ghoom Monastery and Batasia Loop. You can be back to your hotel by 8:00 AM. Relax for a while. Later head off for the 7-point local tour which takes about 4 hours and covers Zoological Park, Ropeway, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Lebong Race Course, Happy Valley Tea Estate and Tibetan Self Help Refugee Centre.
Day 3 - Take the two hour Toy Train joy ride from Darjeeling station. There is a high demand for this, so book your tickets a day in advance. You will enjoy the breath-taking vistas from this heritage train while observing the colourful local culture. In the second half, you can visit the Rock Garden and Maya Park.
There are lots of options for foodies as well in Darjeeling ? from traditional Tibetan and Sikkimese cuisine to Thai delicacies to good old North Indian dishes, Darjeeling has plenty of options to cater to the taste buds of food lovers, spoiling them with scrumptious food and lip-smacking delicacies amidst the ambience of gorgeous views. Essentially the food here has distinct traces of Bengali, Nepali and Tibetan elements, styles and dishes, all together.
In spite of such wide choices, one of the first items on the cuisine here includes the finest and freshest qualities of tea found in the area which you must try. The popular items that you must indulge in include Momos, Thukpa, Aloo Dum, Sael Roti, Naga Platter, Nepali thali, Tongba, Channg and many more. Not to mention, tea is a popular beverage consumed by all.
During May, the weather is quite pleasant in Darjeeling, with bright sunlight, nice breeze and moderate temperatures. This is quite nice weather for sightseeing and visiting the tea gardens. You can find a details on visiting in different seasons in the Best Time to Visit Tab above.