"The one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once-by even a glimpse would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the world combined" - Mark Twain.
Nestled among the rolling mountains with the glistening Mt Kanchenjunga towering over the azure sky, Darjeeling fondly called "Queen of the Hills", provides a perfect gateway for those seeking to be in harmony with nature.
This is the land of the muscatel flavored Darjeeling tea revered by connoisseurs across the globe. This is the land of the world heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway where the century old miniature steam engine still chugs uphill vying for space with the fast disappearing Land Rovers.
Darjeeling - Perched at a height of 2134 metres with a backdrop of the mighty Himalayan peaks, Darjeeling has attracted generations of visitors to sample the joys of cool, healthy, gracious and adventurous living. Surrounded by some of the highest peaks of the Himalayas on one side, and thousands of acres of Tea gardens on the other, Darjeeling holds a special interest for the botanist, ornithologist, trekker, photographer and artist, apart from the holiday-seeker. Places to visit in Darjeeling include the Tiger Hill, for it’s wonderful views of the Everest and the Kanchenjunga, the Himalayan Moutaineering Institute, that still houses, the equipment used by Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing on their Everest expedition, and the Himalayan Zoological Park.
How to reach ?
- Very well connected to Siliguri which is a Junction city. A fleet of luxury Car or bus run overnight to Siliguri from Calcutta. From Siliguri, a 2 hour scenic drive through tea gardens and forests either by taxi or bus which operate throughout the day, takes you to Darjeeling.
- All express trains from all over the country operate on daily basis to the nearest railhead at New Jalpaiguri (NJP/Siliguri). Change over at New Jalpaiguri to the world renowned Toy Train which winds its way up the hills to Darjeeling( at this moment Toy train is not running from Njp to Darjeeling).
- Well connected by Air from all parts of the country to Bagdogra (Siliguri), which is the nearest Airport and is a mere 3 hours drive from Darjeeling.
Places to Visit
Visit early morning when the first rays of the sun kiss the Mt. Kanchenjunga and give it a golden color. To visit the hill, wake up at 3AM in the morning. You can taste some excellent tea on your way to the hill, which will provide much needed warmth on cold Darjeeling mornings. Tiger Hill is located 16kms. from Darjeeling town and above Ghoom. It's the highest point in the Darjeeling area at an altitude of 8482 feet (or 2590 meters). The best season to see the dazzling snow covered peaks as the sun rises. From Tiger Hill you will get almost 360 degree view of the Darjeeling area including that of the entire Eastern Himalayan range. If you look towards north, you will see the landscape of Darjeeling Town. And in the background is the stupendous snowy range. Just before the sun comes up, the peaks begin to emerge. On a clear day if the mist doesn't play foul, you can even see the world's highest peak Mount Everest 29,029 ft (8,848 meters) which lies in Nepal and also the Mount Makalu 27,769 ft (8,464 meters). in the Tibet's Chomol Hari Mountain which is said to be world's most beautiful peak.
Ghoom Monastery is also known as Yogachoeling Gompa. It is located in a place called Ghoom in Darjeeling, hence the name Ghoom Gompa. It was in the year 1875 that a Mongolian astrologer cum monk established the Ghoom Gompa. At the entry of the monastery, there is a huge giant size image of seated 'Maitreya Buddha' (prospective Buddha) inside. There are bells, ornate thanka scrolls and drums inside the monastery. Like many other monasteries in and around Darjeeling, this gompa is also a storehouse of some rare Buddhist manuscripts. Located at a distance of about 8 km south from the main town of Darjeeling, this gompa has become a destination for people seeking peace and serenity. The gompa is located nearby Ghoom station. One can also reach the gompa from Hill Cart Road as it is situated just below the road.
Batasia Loop, a massive railway loop around 5 km from Darjeeling is a great place to enjoy a 360 degree view of the beautiful landscapes of Darjeeling and the majestic Kanchenjunga range. Commissioned in the year 1919, Batasia Loop commands wonderful view of the serene surroundings with snowcapped mountains of the Eastern Himalayas. There is also a memorial to the Gorkha soldiers of the Indian Army who sacrificed their lives after the Indian Independence in 1947.
Batasia loop gives a fabulous experience to all of its visitors, as one stand on one side of the garden and see the toy train making a complete loop while hooting its whistle along the way and trying to negotiate the spiral track with a double loop.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoo
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoo is a unique Zoo. zoo in the town of Darjeeling in theIndian state of West Bengal. It is situated at an altitude of 2133mt. the largest high altitude zoo in India. against the glorious back ground of the Mount Kanchenjunga. The zoo was opened in 1958, The park is named after Padmaja Naidu 1900–1975, the governor of West Bengal 1956–1967 and the daughter of Sarojini Naidu the nationalist leader, poet.
The Zoo specializes in breeding animals adapted to alpine conditions, and has successful captive breeding programs for the Snow leopard, the critically endangered Himalayan wolf, and the Red panda. The zoo attracts about 450,000 – 500,000 visitors every year.
The high altitude wild life is home to the Siberian Tiger, Himalayan black Bear, Goral, Blue ship, and Dear, Panther, and variety of endangered birds.
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 Edmund Hillary on 28 May 1953. The institute has an interesting Everest Museum and also offers some mountaineering and adventure courses. Situated on the Jawahar Parvat, the institute is famous for its unique collection of mountaineering equipment and findings. 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 Ministry of Defence, Government of India and its museum is worth a visit.
Lloyds Botanical Garden
Contains a representative collection of Himalayan plants, flowers, orchids etc. Lloyd's Botanical Garden displays a fine collection of Himalayan fauna for those with an interest. The highlight of this botanical garden is the two famous living fossils called the Phantom. It is actually a home to a variety of Himalayan plants, flowers and orchids.
Dhirdham Temple is built in the style of Kathmandu's Pashupatinath temple adds to the varied religious architectural styles of Darjeeling. This temple is also very famous for its unique architectural structure and blend of attractive styles. For those people who love to worship God visit this temple.