Darjeeling is paradise on earth. The city has been a major place for tea plantations since the last 150 years. Its scenic landscape, enthralling mountain ranges and vast tea gardens entice scores of tourists each year. Located in the cozy and inviting lap of the Kanchan Junga, Darjeeling is thought to be derived from Dorjeeling, which literally means ‘the place of Dorjee’ the majestic thunderbolt. Some believe that the thunderbolt belongs to the Lamaist religion and some believe that it belongs to Lord Indra. Darjeeling is 3000 meters above sea level and plays an important role in the economy of the area due its tea gardens and cash crops like orange, potato, cardamom, ginger, etc.
Travelling in Darjeeling is like walking along the memory lanes during the time of the British Raj. Ever since the colonial days of the British empire, the hill station is designed on a scale of modern architecture and formal planning. Darjeeling is retreat for trekkers, every year thousands of people come here to enjoy the trekking challanges. Sandakphu / Phalut trek are the famous trekking routes.
Darjeeling the dramatic land is amazingly blessed with the superb beauty of the nature, fantastic sightseeing places, ornamental monasteries, mystic hill, alluring tea gardens, refreshing and healthy climatic condition and warm hospitality. Darjeeling is truly a gem in the crown of the Himalayas that invites the foot falls of thousands and thousands of tourists from across the globe.
Darjeeling in true sense is a paradise on earth as the showers of blessing from the heaven in poured in Darjeeling in the form of the natural beauty, blissful ambiance and the cool weather conditions that keeps this scenic hill town pure and pristine all the year round. So due to the copious natural beauty, cool climatic condition, tempting culture and friendly hospitality, tourist throngs the year round to for holidays in Darjeeling.
The most popular and ubiquitous mode of transport is a four-wheel drive. Land rovers, especially, are the choice of tourists. They can easily serpentine through the steep and sometimes narrow roads of the hill.
Come and Experience the marvelous beauty of Darjeeling tourism and make your vacation an ultimate experience of lifetime.
What to See
Chowrasta and Mall
Chowrasta, a wide promenade atop a ridge lined with shops and restaurants is taken to be the heart of the town. Here people gather to chat, spend time basking in the sun or just to snatch a moment of peace. The Brabourne Park is attached to the Chowrasta and now features a musical fountain. This place is an open place and free from vehicular movements from where one can watch the scenic beauty of the mountain range and take charm of walking at the Darjeeling Mall. It features Tibetan hand-knitted sweaters and souvenir shops, Himalayan artifacts, antiques.
The Mall Road originates and culminates at the Chowrasta. This is the heart of Victorian Darjeeling.
Darjeeling Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway
At North Point about 3-km from the town, this is the first passenger ropeway in India. Regular share taxi service is available from Market Motor and Taxi Stand is to the Ropeway Station.
Tiger Hill (2,555 m), the highest point in this area, is about 14 km from Darjeeling, near the Ghoom Monastery. It is famous for its magnificent dawn views over the Khangchendzonga and other eastern Himalayan peaks. On a clear day, Mount Everest is watchable from here.
Batasia Loop and the War Memorial
The Batasia loop situated almost 5 km away from the town is a gigantic railway loop where the Toy Train makes a 360 Degree turn. It was basically built to make it possible for the Toy Train to cut the deep ascend. Strategically located the Batasia Loop offers a panoramic view of the Kanchanjunga Range. A War Memorial constructed in the memory of the brave sons of the soil who laid down their lives in the different wars since the independence of the nation adds to its attraction. There is also a well furbished market where visitors can buy locally made purses, bags and other decorative items.
Ava Art Gallery
Situated about 4 km from the Market Square and on the National Highway, Ava.Art Gallery was established in 1965 by the Late. Bhopal Rao Sett and Ava Devi. A collection of 60 pieces of art work in water, oil and thread paintings are displayed in the Gallery.
Rock Garden and Ganga Maya Park
Situated 10 km from town, Rock Garden and Ganga Maya Park is a attractive picnic spot. It is a multi-level picnic ground terraced around a natural waterfall, its attraction is in it being a sort of road-side facility but with a little too much concrete. The garden offers a beautiful view of a hill stream cascading over rocks along the slope, done up with flower gardens and sitting spaces at different levels.
There also is a small lake. Which offer boating facilities and is endowed with great scenic beauty. Ample eateries are available for visitors to indulge in local delicacies and one can even buy souvenirs. Visitors are however, required to make arrangements for transportation.
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. It also showcases the four avatars of the Buddha.
Lloyd Botanical Garden is a colorful garden Situated just below the market motor stand, this garden is laid out by Mr. W. Lloyd in 1878. It contains a vast collection of rare Himalayan plants, flowers, orchids and many more flora species. The Orchid collection of this botanical garden is very fascinating. Darjeeling Lloyd Botanical Garden opens every day except Sunday. The garden opens at 6.00 in the morning to 5.00pm in the evening.
If you want to see more magic of nature then Victoria Falls, lying at a distance of half an hour walk from the garden, is waiting to greet you by its exotic beauty.
Darjeeling-Rangit Valley Passenger Cable Car
At North Point, about 3 km from town, this is India’s first passenger ropeway. The 5-km long ropeway connects Darjeeling with Singla Bazaar on the Ranjit River at the bottom of the valley.
Observatory Hill & Mahakal Temple
Also known to the locals as the “Holy Hill”, it is just a few minutes walk from the Chowrasta and is situated on the highest ridge of the town. The Mahakal temple atop the hill is a revered place for the locals . Visitors will be surprised to find a Hindu priest and a Buddhist monk sharing a common altar.
Dhirdham temple is modelled on the lines of the famous Pashupatinath temple of Kathmandu and was built in 1939. It is a minute’s walk from the Darjeeling Railway Station.
Happy Valley Tea Garden
Happy Valley tea garden is located just a kilometer away from the main town and is situated along 18 Lebong Cart Road (very near to the District Magistrate’s Office) and offers tourist a refreshing ambience far from the otherwise noisy town. One can soak in the ambience of the tea garden and take a walk through the carpeted garden. You can take a pony from the Chowrasta or merely walk down the hill to reach the factory.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
Established on the 14th of August, 1958, the zoo was dedicated to the memory of Padmaja Naidu, former Governor of West Bengal on the 21st November, 1975. It is the only centre that breeds the tibetan wolf in captivity. Breeding programmes for the endangered red panda, snow leopard and the siberian tiger are also carried out here. The zoo is open on all days except on Thursdays and other national holidays.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was set up following the successful ascent of the Mount Everest-the highest peak in the world by the local hero Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir EdEdumund Hillary on 28 May 1953. The oldest mountaineering institute in the country carries out various mountaineering courses every year. Apart from Tenzing, legendary mountaineers like Nawang Gombu(the first man to climb Everest twice) and Lattoo Dorjee Sherpa have helped build the reputation of this pioneering institute. The institute is presently under the purview of the Minstry of Defence, Government of India and its museum is worth a visit.
Raj Bhawan is the summer residence of the Governor of West Bengal. The fantastically developed mansion with perfect manicured lawns, lush gardens, surrounding forests and British Bungalows overlooks the Darjeeling Lebong spur and commands a magnificent close-up view of the snow capped Kanchanjunga Range. A walk around it through the dense forest is , most charming.
On the way down to Bhutia Busty, via the C.R. Das Road, and a few minutes walk from the Chowrasta is Step Aside, the house in which the great Indian patriot Deshbandhu Chittranjan Das passed away on June the 16th, 1925. On the first floor are preserved a few articles of his personal use. The ground floor is a maternity clinic named after him, for the poor of the town.
Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre
After His Holiness escaped from Tibet, thousands of Tibetan refugees came to reside in India. Darjeeling too became a home away from home for the Tibetans in exile. The centre was established on October 1, 1959 and the residents of the centre are today known for their handicrafts. The centre makes excellent carpets, woolen goods, woodwork, etc, which are famous across the globe.
Monasteries of Darjeeling
The Mag-Dhog Yolmowa Buddhist Monastery(Aloobari Monastery)
Situated on the Old Military Road commonly known as the Aloobari road, the Mag-Dhog Yolmowa Buddhist Monastery was founded by its, Ven. Sangay Lama. The construction of the monastery, coincided with the beginning of the First World War in 1914. The statues of Lord Buddha depicting different forms and the statue of Padma Sambhave at this religious place are stunning. The painting on the wall are said to be done with the help of herbs and are an amazing work of art. Other interesting features of the monastery are the valuaable ancient scriptures lying inside the monastery .
Druk Thupten Sangag Choling Monastery(Dali Monastery)
This monastery is situated at Dali, about 4 kms from Darjeeling town. This is one of the most famous monasteries belonging to the Kargyupa sect. The pioneer of this monastery was Thuksay Rimpoche, who died in 1983 and his incarnate is reported to have been born in 1986 at Ladakh.
Built in 1875 by Lama Sherab Gyatso, this ancient monastery is said to have been blessed by the renowned Tomo Geshe Rimpoche of Tibet. The specialty of this monastery is that it contains the statue of the ‘Future Coming Buddha’ known as Maitreye Buddha. The Monastery has also preserved some of the rare handwritten Buddhist manuscripts. You could visit the monastery on your return journey to Darjeeling from Tiger Hill.
Tashi Dargyalingh Monastery or the Tamang Ghumba
The Tamangs are a sub community of the Gorkha/Nepali and mostly belongs to the Nyingmapa sect. Established in 1926 this is one of the oldest monasteries of the community
Ghoom is about 6 km south of the city centre. The 4.57-m high statue of a seated Maitreya Buddha is the main attraction here.
When to Visit
Best time to visit Darjeeling is mid September to mid December and resumes from mid March to mid June.
How to reach
By Air – Bagdorga is the nearest airport i.e. 100 kms from Darjeeling. It is well connected to the other major cities.
By Rail – The toy train is best way to see the real beauty of Darjeeling, it runs to Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri. weather and landslides permitting, but takes an angst inducing nine hours. Railway reservations for selected mainline trains out of NJP can be made at Darjeeling’s station a couple of days before departure. They have tourist quotas for trains to Delhi, Kolkataa, Bangalore, Cochin and Thiruvananthapuram.
By Road – There are frequent buses to Siliguri in every half an hour. Buses leave for Mirik every thirty minutes.