Darjeeling's velvety green hills abound in tea plantations, orchids and immense natural beauty. With its proximity to the snow clad peaks, every morning as the sun rises Dearjeeling offers bird's eye views of the grand mountains of the Himalayas. On clear days one can even see the Mt. Everest all the way across Nepal. As the fog lifts up and the sun rises upwards, the town gradually comes alive, amidst brewing of tea, the sing-song Gorkhali which is the local dialect, rises and falls like music.
Darjeeling is also famous for some of the best teas in the world, in fact connoisseurs know that the name Darjeeling is now synonymous with `Orange Pekoe' tea itself. Another historical landmark here is the little toy train that comes chugging up all the way from Siliguri, a relic of times gone by this train was built by the Britishers and still runs on the same route and at the same rate at which it did then, covering a journey of 82 kms in 6 hours it offers tremendously panoramic vistas on route as it hugs the hillside and winds its way up passing through forests, waterfalls, over deep valleys and through the mountains and tunnels.
The warm and friendly locals of Darjeeling consist of the Gurungs from Western Nepal, other Gurkhas races from eastern Nepal, Bhutias and Lepchas from Sikkim and Dukpas from Bhutan. The local fare is rice and meat, curry and momos, which are steamed dumplings, and of course, chow, the locally made noodles. This is generally accompanied by chhang, a locally brewed wine made from millet or the jaad, which is made from fermented rice. The Gurkhas are staunch Hindus and celebrate all Hindu festivals with equal dedication. Dussehra surprisingly is the most popular Gurkha festival here.
Sightseeing tour in Darjeeling
Tiger Hill - Tiger hill is the highest point in the area which provides the most exotic view of the Kanchenjunga peaks. From this place the other peaks of the Eastern Himalayas can be seen. On a clear day the sight of Mt. Everest is just enthralling.
Dhoom Gompa - About 8 kms from Darjeeling is the Dhoom Gompa. Here a very beautiful statue of the Maitrayie Buddha ( prospective Buddha) is established. The Monastery has also preserved some of the rare handwritten Buddhist manuscripts.
Batasia Loop - This railway loop is an interesting example of engineering. At this loop the toy train takes a very unique turn.
Happy ValleyTea Estate – Very close to Darjeeling, this is a Tea Garden, where you can see tea leaves being grown, plucked and processed.
Kanchenjunga Views - From Darjeeling one can have the best, uninterrupted views of the worlds third highest peak
Observatory Hills - This point provides one of the breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga peaks. This place is also very sacred for the Hindus and the Buddhists as there are temples and the monasteries at this place.
Bhutia Busty Gompa - With the back drop of the Kanchenjunga range stands a monastery called the Bhutia Busty Gompa. This monastery was shifted from the observatory hills to the present place. The Gompa is a branch of the Nyingmapa sect's Phodang Monastery in Sikkim. The monastery is not far from the chowrasta and is very tastefully decorated. It also has a library which has a copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Botanical Gardens -This place is worth a visit for its exotic and exclusive collection of a variety of Himalayan plants, flowers and orchids.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute - Established in the 1950’s to encourage mountaineering as a sport, the Museum here is worth visiting, since it holds many momentos of Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay’s first successful expedition to the Mt. Everest.
Himalayan Zoological Garden – This is the largest high altitude Zoological garden in India, and what also makes it special, is that, it is successfully breeding animals adapted to alpine conditions, like the Snow leopard, the critically endangered Himalayan wolf and the Red panda
By Air –The nearest airport is at Bagdogra, 90 km away from Darjeeling. Bagdogra is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati and Kolkatta.
By Rail - New Jalpaiguri, about 100 kms away, is the nearest mainline railhead for Darjeeling. From here, the toy train starts its picturesque journey to Darjeeling.
By Road - 90 kms from Bagdogra, and a little over a 100 kms each from Gangtok and Kalimpong, Darjeeling is well connected to the other Eastern Hill-stations.