DarjeelingÂ Â is a town in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalaya at an average elevation of 6,710 ft (2,045.2 m). It is noted for its tea industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Darjeeling is the headquarters of Darjeeling district which has a partially autonomous status within the state of West Bengal.
The development of the town dates back to the mid-19th century, when the colonial British administration set up a sanatorium and a military depot. Subsequently, extensive tea plantations were established in the region, and tea growers developed hybrids of black tea and created new fermentation techniques.One of the most captivating tourist places near Sikkim with popular toy train ride to famous Darjeeling tea plantations. There are lots of tourist attractions at this place.
HOW TO REACH
The nearest airport to Darjeeling is Bagdogra which is approximately 95 km away from the city. There are some direct flights from the cities like Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati to Darjeeling. From the airport, one can reach the city by hiring taxis. It will take almost 3 hours to reach Darjeeling from the airport. Flights are available from all major cities.
Darjeeling is well connected to some of the major cities closeby such as Gangtok and Kalimpong which are located at a distance of 100 km and 51 km respectively. The city is also connected with Kolkata which is 651 km away and it takes around 14 hours to reach here. The capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu is just 310 KM away from this beautiful place. From the airport, one can reach the city by Bus or Cab.
The nearest railway station to Darjeeling is New Jalpaiguri which connects the city with all the major parts of the country. There are a number of trains from cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati, Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar and Kochi. People can hire private cabs from the station to reach Darjeeling.
WHAT TO SEE
The official name of the Darjeeling Toy Train is the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the few hill railways which are still operational in the country. Diesel trains run to and from New Jalpaiguri and steam engines run to and from Kurseong. During peak seasons one can take a ride to Ghoom and back on a steam engine driven toy train. Tickets are available at the station at Hill Cart Road in Darjeeling.
Tiger Hill is the best point in Darjeeling for watching sunrise. Located at a height of 7,407 feet above sea level, the hilly trails through the mountains lead to the hill top. On a clear day, the entire Himalayan range can be seen. It is at a distance of 11 km from the main city of Darjeeling.Â Sunrise tours to Tiger Hill are arranged by hotels. Normally, the pickup time from the hotel is around 4 am. It is better to reach a little early in order to secure a place. There are tea stalls selling flavoured Darjeeling tea along with snacks.
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.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoo:-
Located adjacent to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoo is a unique Zoo. It is situated at an altitude of 2133.5 meters against the glorious background of the majestic Kanchenjunga.Â The zoo specializes in breeding animals adapted to alpine conditions, and has successfully bred the Snow leopard, the critically endangered Himalayan wolf and Red Panda while in captivity. Spread over an area of 44 hectares, the zoo attracts over 3 lakh visitors every year.
The oldest site in Darjeeling is the Observatory Hill, locally called as Makal-Babu-Ko-Thaan. The Hill has a fascinating story to it. According to legend, Lord Indra’s scepter (Dorje), emblematic of his thunderbolt, is believed to have fallen at the place (ling) where the Observatory Hill now stands. Darjeeling thus derives its name from the Tibetan words ‘Dorje’ and ‘ling’.
Happy Valley tea garden:-
One of the nicest things to do while in Darjeeling is to pull over at one of the tiny tea shacks that dot the hillside and wrap your chill hands around a hot cup of tea as you survey the spectacular rolling hills with its beautiful tea gardens.
Lloyd Botanical Gardens:-
Lloyd Botanical Gardens is also known as Darjeeling Botanical Garden. This garden was planned and established in 1878. The person behind this huge garden is Mr William Lloyd, after whom the botanical garden is named. The garden is spread across an area of almost 40 acres. It was built in reference to the Calcutta Botanical Garden and is told to be a branch of the same.
DarjeelingÂ abounds in shopping delights.Â Souvenirs in DarjeelingÂ reflect the town’s culture, which is an amalgam of Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. The town is especially a treasure trove for local crafts and artefacts, and most tourists find that they have plenty of choices while shopping for their loves ones back at home.
A popular food item in Darjeeling is the Tibetan momo, a steamed dumpling containing meat cooked in a doughy wrapping and served with soup and achar.Â A form of Tibetan noodle called thukpa, served in soup form, is also popular. Another commonly eaten dish is shaphalay, Tibetan bread stuffed with meat.
Fermented foods and beverages are consumed by a large percentage of the population. It includes preparations of soyabean, bamboo shoots, milk and Shol roti, which is made from rice.
Tea is the most popular beverage. Alcoholic beverages include Tongba, Jnaard and Chhaang.
These are variations of a local beer made by fermenting finger millet.