Darjeeling, known as the ‘Queen of the Hills’ is one of the prettiest hill stations in India located in northern part of West Bengal. It's all about magnificent views of snow-capped Kanchenjunga, torrents flowing down the mountain slopes, lovely tea gardens, landscapes with firs, pines & ferns, and all that combined with friendly people and modern yet colonial charm. A walk along the bustling streets that wind through the town will ensure a meeting with people from Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. When anyone arrives in the town, a cup of steaming Darjeeling brew is always high on the to-do list.
Darjeeling - Places to Visit
Darjeeling is known as the ‘Queen of the Hills’.Once a summer resort for the British Raj elite, Darjeeling remains the terminus of the narrow-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or “Toy Train,” completed in 1881. It's famed for the distinctive emerald-green tea plantations that dot its surrounding slopes. Its backdrop is Mt. Kanchenjunga, among the world’s highest peaks. The drive through Kurseong to the hill station provides surreal views to the nature enthusiast. The town is surrounded by emerald-green tea plantations and the mighty Khangchendzonga (8598m).
The origins of the hill station dates back to the Raj era, and is definitely West Bengal’s premier attraction. Tourists are assured of an interesting exploration. When one isn’t awed by the beauty of the Khangchendzonga, an exploration of the colonial-era architecture, Buddhist monasteries, snow leopards and red pandas at the zoo will leave tourists wanting to come back. A walk along the bustling streets that wind through the town will ensure a meeting with people from Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. When anyone arrives in the town, a cup of steaming Darjeeling brew is always high on the to-do list. Darjeeling is spread over a west-facing slope and is a maze of interconnecting roads and steep steps. If you arrive at the jeep stand or train station, one will be expected to make an uphill hike to the hotel. The two important squares in the town are Chowrasta, which is located near the top of town, and Clubside junction. They are linked by pedestrian-friendly Nehru Road (The Mall), which also serves as the shopping street. Hill Cart Road (Tenzing Norgay Rd) extends towards the bustling lower bazaar and is Darjeeling’s main thoroughfare for vehicles.
The Ghum junction, located about 7km southwest from Darjeeling, houses a slew of colourful Buddhist monasteries. Yiga Choling Gompa, among the popular monasteries, has old murals and houses close to 30 monks that belong to the Gelugpa school. The monastery also enshrines a 5m-high statue of Jampa (Future Buddha). A view of the magnificent Himalaya range is possible from Tiger Hill. The morning spectacle is a hit among tourists and one can find a number of jeeps making their way to Tiger Hill every morning at about 4am. One might even get caught in a traffic jam or two along the way. One should definitely pick their spot wisely if they want to get the best view of the Himalaya. A number of tourists choose to visit Darjeeling in the months of October and November. Also, one can plan a visit from mid-March to mid-May. This is the time when skies are dry and temperatures are favourable. Winters are especially cold.
If one is planning a visit in December or Janurary, it would be essential to carry and extra jumper. The monsoon months – from June to September- can be wet and should be avoided. There are a slew of quaint budget and premium OYO Rooms in the vicinity. One can always choose to stay near Mall Road to ensure proximity to the heart of the town. There are hotels near the railway station, Batasia Loop and Ghum. Some of the hotels have rooms with wooden floors and walls to insulate from the cold. Most of the hotels also offer amazing morning views.