Darjeeling Tourism And Travel Guide

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Best Time To visit Climate How To Reach Places To Visit Things To Do Top Restaurants Best Places To Stay Shopping Travel Agents

Darjeeling hill town is located at an altitude of 6,710ft in north east India and is part of the state of West Bengal. This scenic hill station is the perfect getaway for a romantic honeymoon and is just around 700 kilometres away from Kolkata. Darjeeling is famous throughout the world for the tea it grows and the great view of Kanchenjunga range of mountains that it offers. It is also known for its richness in cultural & natural heritage and the famous toy train that has been declared a UN heritage. The district covering about 1144 sq km, attracts millions of tourists every year for the variety of attractions it offers. This place is the epitome of natural beauty making it popularly known as the ‘Queen of the hills’.


Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Darjeeling is during summer time. It rains heavily during July and September. Weather conditions in Darjeeling hill town do not follow the typical temperate climate of the plains. In fact it varies quite widely across the district of Darjeeling. Winter season begins in full swing and it is during the months of mid-November to January, when the average temperature ranges between 7 and 5 degree Celsius. It might not be the best time to visit the place during the monsoons as you can come across some roadblocks. However, if you love the rains, don’t miss the lush-green environ drenched in rain water which calls for great photographic shots as well. That said, September is a good time to visit the place as there’s less rainfall and the greenery remains intact.

If you are a tea lover, you can buy some fresh tea directly from the plantations in the summer time itself. In Darjeeling heavy rains fall from July until September. The Second Flush has to be harvested before these rains start. After the rains stop, the tea plants start growing again, producing harvestable leaves that some gardens process as green teas to meet the growing demand.


Climate

Darjeeling experiences five distinct seasons: summer which prevails from April to June, monsoons from July to August, autumn from September to November, winter from December to January, and spring from February to March. The average annual maximum temperature is 14.9° Celsius, while the average minimum temperature is 8.9° Celsius.

The summer in Darjeeling is quite comfortable with the temperature never crossing 25° Celsius. The mild weather attracts a lot of tourists to Darjeeling who throng the town to escape the summer heat.
The short monsoon that Darjeeling experiences is characterized by intense downpour which often leads to landslides and road blocks. The average annual rainfall here is about 3092 mm.

Autumn in Darjeeling is quite beautiful, though it is marked by the occasional showers.

Darjeeling experiences cold winters with the average temperature remaining within 5° Celsius to 7° Celsius, and an average minimum temperature of -2° Celsius. Snowfall is rare nowadays, but there it does get the occasional winter showers which further dips the temperature and also causes landslides.

Springtime in Darjeeling is beautiful with greenery and flowers all around. During this time the temperature remains between 10° Celsius to 20° Celsius and the weather is ideal for exploring the town.


How To Reach

By Air:
The nearest airport to Darjeeling is Bagdogra Airport. The Bagdogra international airport (IXB) has regular domestic flight connection with limited international flights. Major flights in Darjeeling are from Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati while internationally from Bangkok, Bhutan and Nepal. From the airport, the town lies around 95 km away. Hire taxis to reach to Darjeeling though the scenic route through the mountains.

By road:
Darjeeling has good road connectivity with cities like Gangtok (96 km) and Kalimpong (50 km). Regular buses are available for Darjeeling from nearby towns like Siliguri, Gangtok, Kalimpong and Kurseong. Though the buses are an economical option, these are quite time consuming and it is recommended to take a cab instead of travelling in buses. Buses for Darjeeling are also available from Kolkata, however they are quite time taking so it is advisable to take your own vehicle if you are travelling by road.

By train:
The railhead closest to Darjeeling is located at New Jalpaiguri. This station offers good connectivity with the rest of the country. A number of trains are available from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kochi. Once you reach the railway station, you can hire cabs to reach the beautiful hill station of Darjeeling.


Best Places To Visit

1. Tiger Hill

Darjeeling Tiger Hills trek is just apt for extreme adventure adrenaline junkies. It is most famous for its sun-rising site. The site has an observatory where you can sit and enjoy the awe-inspiring Himalayas. Popular for the panoramic vistas you can enjoy from up here, Tiger Hill is one of the must visit tourist places in Darjeeling. Tiger Hill is located 11 kms (6.8 miles) from Darjeeling town and above Ghum. It’s the highest point in Darjeeling hills at an altitude of 8482 feet (or 2590 meters). The best season to see the dazzling snow covered peaks as the sun rises is between Mid October to December. March to April is also a good time.

While at Tiger Hill, one can also visit Senchel sanctuary, which has many interesting picnic spots. One can also look at its two artificial lakes serve as a reservoir for supply of water to Darjeeling town.

2. Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary

Located at a distance of about 20 km from the Gorumara National Park, this Wildlife Sanctuary is another spectacle of nature’s magnificence. With Kanchanjungha and other Himalayan peaks painted across its backdrop, tourists can see a wide diversity of animals like elephants, gaur, leopards in their natural habitat. It has a forest bungalow on the bank of river Murti with two room; each room has two bed. You can also manage four cottages of W.B.F.D.C.Ltd. which are located at Murti and Chapramari Camp of Panjhora. Each cottage has two bed. Every type of food also available from there with a reasonable price. Beside this many private lodge, hotel and resorts are available at Lataguri and Chalsa.

Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary has covered mostly with Dry Mixed Forest. You can find out some rare plants in this Sanctuary that are hard to find somewhere else. Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary is mostly cover with wooden tree like Sal, Teak, Shishu, Shirish, etc. You can see a number of Orchids belonging to the genus Acampe, Bulbophyllum, Chiloschista, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Eria, Gastrochilus, Luisia and Oberonia are very common.

3. Happy Valley Tea Estate

Spread over an area of 177 hectares, Happy Valley Tea Garden was established by Mr. David Wilson in the year 1854, which was then known as Wilson Tea Estate. In 1903, the estate was taken over by an Indian, Tarapada Banerjee, an aristocrat from Hooghly. Later Banerjee bought the Windsor Tea Estate nearby in 1929 and merged the two estates under the name of Happy Valley Tea Estate. Since 2008, the tea estate has been under the ownership of Sanjay Bansal. Today, over 1500 people worked in the tea estate.

Located in the vicinity of Darjeeling town, it is one of the major tourist attractions in Darjeeling. It also has a museum and has a factory. Situated at an altitude of 2,100 m, Happy Valley is considered as one of highest tea factories in the world. Being a tourist spot, the Tea Estate offers a chance to witness the intricate process of tea production. Walking through a tea garden on the gentle hill slopes of Darjeeling and seeing the tea processing is always a special experience. There are guides who will offer to take the visitors inside and show the entire production process of tea. They are usually the employees of the factory acting as guides during their off time and charge small fees.

Happy Valley is known to produce some of the finest quality of tea in India, which goes by the name ‘Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe’. This gets further categorized into Green tea, White tea and Black tea. The plantations here are as old as 150 years. There are seasons for different types of tea. Green and little bit of White Tea are plucked during March to May. June to August is the season for Black Tea. September to November is again the season for Green and White Tea. During the other months (December to February), teas are not plucked and the machines do not operate.

4. Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park 

Spread over an area of 67.56 acre, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is the only specialized Zoo in the country and is the first recipient of the International award of ‘The Earth Heroes 2014’. This zoo park is internationally recognized for its conservation breeding programs of Red Panda, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and other highly endangered animal species of Eastern Himalayas. It serves as the central hub for Central Zoo Authority of India’s red panda program and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The zoo attracts about 300,000 visitors every year.

The Zoo is renowned for some of the rarely seen species in the whole world including Red Panda, Siberian Tiger, Tibetan Wolf, Black Bear and Snow Leopard. In addition to these rarer species, the zoo is also enriched with Asiatic Black Bear, Barking Deer, Leopards, Blue and Yellow Macaw, Eastern Pangolin, Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Himalayan Wolf, Lady Amherst, Red Jungle Fowl, Royal Bengal Tiger, Sambar Deer, Temminck’s Tragopan, Yak, and many more.

5. Ghum Monastery

At a grand elevation of 8,000 feet, the Yiga Choeling or old Ghoom Monastery is the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery of Darjeeling. Established in 1850 by Lama Sherab Gyatso, this shrine is part of the Yellow Hat sect known as Gelupka who worship the ‘Coming Buddha’ or ‘Maitreyi Buddha’. A 15-foot high statue of Maitreyi Buddha is seen in the central hall, made entirely of clay brought from Tibet. This statue was installed during the tenure of the second head of the monastery Lama Domo Geshe Rinpoche. One can also find many rare Buddhist manuscripts within the premises. Visitors are treated to a beautiful view of the majestic Kanchenjunga outside the monastery. Prayer flags are flown by the resident monks in typical Tibetan tradition.

Within Yiga Choeling, one can view images of many Buddha deities and lamas such as the Chenrezig, Buddha of compassion, and Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelupka sect. In front of the Maitreya Buddha statue hang two huge oil lamps which keep burning throughout the year. The walls of the monastery are elaborately painted with depictions and art of Tibetan Buddhism, with different images of bodhisattvas. These beautiful paintings are placed in a symmetrical manner, facilitating the ease of understanding the basics of Buddhist philosophy to visitors of the monastery. The hilltop above the monastery holds the Ma Kali temple, where devotees come to offer prayer every full moon day and on the fifteenth of every month of the Tibetan calendar.

6. Chowrasta Or Darjeeling Mall

At a distance of 1 km from Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Station, Darjeeling Mall or Chowrasta is located at the heart of Darjeeling town. It is considered as the hub for all type of activities in Darjeeling and also among the best places to visit in Darjeeling. The word ‘Chow’ means four and ‘Rasta’ stands for roads, essentially means that the Mall is where four roads meet. Located on top of Nehru Road, This flat piece of circular land is the major shopping area and center for commercial activities. In olden days, this was the place where the Europeans came for their evening walks. Today, the locals as well as the tourists come here to lounge and relax. In a clear day, one can also have a magnificent view of the Kanchenjunga from here.

There are benches all along the Mall Road for people to sit and enjoy the views over a cup of Darjeeling tea. Also, there are some of the old and heritage stores lined up and countless vendors selling artifacts, woollens and various figurines along the street. Besides shopping one can also go for a pony ride here. There is also a small open space auditorium here, where local rock bands often host performances. The temple of Mahakal is located on the hill top right at the center of the Mall and Chowrasta.

7. Lloyd’s Botanical Garden

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.

Located at an altitude of almost 1800 meters, the Lloyd Botanical Gardens houses many rare species of flora. The collection of flora gives a clear picture of the vegetation that is dominant in the Himalayan region, especially Sikkim and other neighbouring places.

Lloyd Botanical Gardens is known for its collection of orchids (in the Orchid House) and different herbs. There is a separate conservatory for cactus and some succulent species of plants as well as about 150 floral species.

8. Mirik

Mirik is a small hill town located in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Situated at an altitude of 4,905 feet, Mirik is one of the popular tourist destinations in West Bengal and among the best places to visit near Darjeeling.

Nestled in the serene hills of Darjeeling district, Mirik is known for its pleasant climate, natural beauty and easy accessibility. The name Mirik comes from two Lepcha words Mir-Yok which means ‘place burnt by fire’. The town is dominated by the large Sumendu Lake or Mirik Lake. The southern part of the lake is the tourist town where almost all the hotels are located while the northern part of the lake is more local and in the Northernmost fringe is the crowded Mirik market.

9. Sandakhphu 

Sandakfu or Sandakhphu is the highest peak of West Bengal situated on the border of West Bengal of India and Nepal at an altitude of around 12,000 ft and in the area of Singalila National Park. Sandakphu means “Height of the Poison Plant” derives its name from the poisonous plants that grow near the top.

From Sandakphu the best view of the mountain Kanchendzonga is possible, which is known as the Sleeping Buddha or the Sleeping Shiva. On any clear day trekkers, travellers gets mesmerized by the awesome view of Mt. Kanchenjunga (3rd Highest peak in the world), Mt. Everest (The highest Peak in the world), Lhotse and Makalu.

You can reach the peak either by car or trekking. The trek is a beautiful 51 km long way up the hill, starting from Manebhanjan. Since this is an arduous trek, it is advisable to undertake it only after ensuring your complete fitness.The trek to the summit is quite exhilarating passing through several distinct terrains, from challenging valleys to the lush green of the lands dotted with rhododendrons, magnolias, primulas and vibrant wild flowers. The place is a paradise for nature lover with about 600 varieties of orchids alone.

10. Bengal Natural History Museum

Bengal Natural History Museum, displaying one of the finest collections of natural artefacts and fossils, was incorporated into the West Bengal Zoo Authority in 2015 to allow for better upkeep and maintenance.

Today, it boasts a huge collection of skins, bones, antlers and other anatomical parts of a number of species of birds, mammals, insects, fish and reptiles. The museum also houses some real birds and animals, housed in a simulated natural environment.

You will find such beauties as the Himalayan brown wood owl, northern spotted owlet, northern brown fish owl, pheasants, fly catchers, myna, night jar, thrush, warbler, flycatcher, kingfisher, snipe, woodpecker, swift, niltava, water bird, barbet, hornbill, cuckoo, and even some large birds of prey housed here. There are as many as 820 specimen of birds that belong to more than 400 species along with 110 species of eggs, 35 species of snakes and 57 species of fish. The museum also houses a Botanical Garden for displaying butterflies and birds of the area.

11. Dheerdham Shivalay

The beautiful city of Darjeeling is also known for its cultural diversity. People of almost all religions live here, amidst peace and harmony. Hinduism is the most popularly followed religion, followed by Buddhism. The hill resort is full of several Buddhist monasteries and Hindu shrines. Dhirdham Temple is one of the most popular Hindu temples in Darjeeling. Located besides the Darjeeling railway station, the temple has Lord Shiva as its presiding deity

Dhirdham Temple is regarded as one of the most sought-after tourist attractions in this city. The temple was built in the year 1939, making it one of the oldest Hindu shrines in the city of Darjeeling. It was constructed by Rai Saheb Purna Bahadur Pradhan. The temple has been designed by a Gorkha architect, named Beg Raj Sakya, who was inspired by the architecture of the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The roof of Dhirdham Temple shows influences by the Tibetan style of architecture. There is an idol of Lord Shiva outside the premises of the main temple. It depicts the third eye of Lord Shiva, along with His five different facial expressions, representing Him in different moods. The idol is known as “Pancha Bakram Tri Netram”. Every day, an aarti is held at Dhirdham temple, at 8 in the morning and 6 in the evening.

12. St. Andrew’s Church

An old Anglican church with colonial architecture, St.Andrew’s church sure impresses every visitor. The church was built under the supervision of Captain Bishop in the year 1843.Many Scottish soldiers, Britishers and tea planters living in the Darjeeling area were the early worshipers of this church.

Though the church was badly damaged by an earthquake, it was rebuilt in the year 1873. Inside the church there are many inlaid marble tablets and brass plaques that glorify some of the oldest residents of Darjeeling. One of them belongs to Lt. General Lloyd who was known as the ’Discoverer’ of Darjeeling. You can also find another small brass plaque in memory of Charlotte Countess Canning, wife of Lord Canning, who was the Governor General during the First War of Independence.

13. Magdhog Monastery

The monastery is also known as “Aloobari” monastery after the locality it is located in. The monastery was built under the supervision of Sri Sangay Lama, a highly revered religious head of the Yolmo people – a small ethnic group hailing from north-east of Nepal and who later settled in Darjeeling. The construction of the monastery started in 1914, the year World War I started. The name Mag-Dhog means warding off the war and the monastery was dedicated for world peace.

The monastery contains several images of Gautama Buddha and Padmasambhava and varied paintings on the wall which are said to be done with grass and herbs. The monastery also preserves several ancient Buddhist manuscripts. Tourists and devotees are attracted by the serenity and peacefulness of this beautiful complex. It also provides training and refuge to approximately 250 monks.

14. Barbotey Rock Garden 

Barbotey Rock Garden which is surrounded by beautiful hill stream along with the slope covered with fascinating flower gardens and sitting arrangements is an exquisite picnic spot. It is considered one of the most preferred visiting destinations for nature lovers travelling to Darjeeling.

Apart from the place itself, the route to Darjeeling Rock Garden also offers a delightful sight where one has to go through a scenic journey filled with rocky hills and greenery shared by sharp hairpins and extremely steep roads before one reaches the phenomenal sight of Rock Garden which is positioned between the clouds with the soothing sound of Chunnu Summer-fall. The tourist attraction is also surrounded by tea gardens and flower gardens terraced with a peaceful lake on the top where visitors can spend a beautiful time and relax after a long and tiring journey.

15. Darjeeling Ropeway

One of Asia’s greatest Traveler Ropeways and India’s earliest and first Traveler Ropeway is the ‘Darjeeling ropeway’  at an elevation of 7000 legs above sea stage. Darjeeling Ropeway or cable car station is located at Singamari which is 3km away from the Chowk Bazaar (the main market center of Darjeeling at the lower level). You will get cabs or shared jeeps from Chowk Bazaar that takes about 15 minutes to reach unless there is a traffic jam in the market area which is often the case.

Ropeway is the perfect way to see the valley of Darjeeling from the bird’s eye view. And it can quite adventurous. Darjeeling Ropeway is also called as the Rangeet Valley Cable Car because of the spectacular view of the valley around the river Little Rangeet. This ropeway, which is 5 kilometers long, connects Darjeeling with Singla Bazaar on the Rangeet River at the bottom of the valley. Breathtaking view of the valley below, see the spread of lush green tea gardens on the hill slopes, flowing rivers, forests, waterfalls and to top it all the magnificent view of the Eastern Himalayan range including the snow capped peaks of the Kanchenjunga. Panoramic view of tea gardens makes you feel like a flying bird when you take this gondola ride. Time taken is almost 30mins downhill and 45mins uphill. Fare Rs. 150 per head. You can enjoy a cup of refreshing Darjeeling tea at the tea garden downhill.

16. Batasia Loop

Batasia Loop is one of India’s inspiring engineering architectural feats. Lying en-route while travelling by the Darjeeling Toy Train or walking back from the Tiger Hill, the loop is vital in the mountain railway network and is a beautiful landmark in the state.

Batasia means airy space. The Loop serves a vital purpose for the toy train but is also an attraction in itself. The loop goes around a garden. The mountain garden is beautified with fresh green grass, seasonal and perennial flowers and shrubs. Enjoy the smells and sights of beautiful flowers like Rhododendrons, Silver Firs, rare Gingko biloba and even tea plants. There are seating areas where one can view the train chugging down the slope. Located right in the centre of the gardens is a War Memorial dedicated to the Gorkha Soldiers. The place was opened in the year 1995 to commemorate the valour and courage of these soldiers who lost their lives in struggles post Indian independence. The Cenotaph and the statue of a soldier here is particularly notable. It is a serene location with incredible views.

17. Shrubbery Nightingale Park

The Shrubbery Nightingale Park in Darjeeling is a beautiful public area which is great for relaxing and enjoying the superb view of the snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas. From the Mall area, which is one of the major tourist destinations of Darjeeling, the park is around a 10 minutes’ walk. While taking a walk around the park one can see beautiful pine trees on one side while on the other they have the view of the beautiful snow covered mountains.

When the British were ruling India it was the private courtyard of Sir Thomas Tartan’s bungalow. In the year 1934 when it was completely destroyed by an earthquake it was revamped and opened for the public again. After the re-designing of the park the walkways around the park crisscrossed each other in the park. It looks beautiful at the outset.

There is the provision for sitting arrangement around the park near the boundary wall. The benches are all shaded with a hood so that people can sit there comfortably either during extreme heat or during the rains. The shades are of different colours which adds to the beauty of the place.There is a circular stage in the middle of the park which is used for cultural programmes. The people stand around the stage to view the programmes. A bullet proof glass covered lounge is also present where the various dignitaries sit and view the events when they happen.

18. Teesta Valley Tea Estate

Teesta Valley Tea Estate derives its name from mighty river Teesta. Established in the year 1841, it is one of the oldest tea gardens in Darjeeling and one of the gold medal winner for the production of the world’s finest tea. Spread over an area of 850 hectare, the tea garden is situated in the cold sunny slopes with a widened stretching of almost 2500 to 6500 feet above from the sea level, with selected China tea bushes highly planted with infinite care. These fertile slopes are blessed by cool mists, bright sunshine and crisp winds of the Kanchenjunga, where the legendary flavor of pure Darjeeling tea was conceived.

This beautiful tea garden is capable to amuse the visitors by its magnificent scenery around. There is also a view point at Teesta from where one can get the mesmerizing views. One could easily be fascinated by the panoramic sight of the hills, mountains, forests and enchanting river Teesta in its serpentine form. On a clear day one can see some parts of Sikkim, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and the Siliguri.

You can also visit the estate factory and watch the tea processing (in winters the factories usually remain closed). Teesta Valley Tea Company Limited can be synonymously defined as the largest brand producing & exporting best quality tea leaves & tea accessories to its customers countrywide. They produced different types of tea like classic teas, organic teas, black teas, and green teas. The Teesta group is currently catering to customers from Japan, Russia, Germany, Holland, France, UK, USA, Singapore, Hawaii and other East European countries.

19. Jhandi Dara Sunrise Point

At a distance of 31 km from Kalimpong, 52 km from Lava and 70 km from Darjeeling, Jhandi Dara is a beautiful viewpoint located at Lolegaon near Kalimpong. Known for its spectacular view of Sunrise, it is one of the best places to visit in Darjeeling.

Jhandi Dara Sunrise Point offers beautiful vistas of the sun rising behind the snowcapped mountain peaks. Watching the sky lighting up, changing colors from dark blue to fiery orange is memorable from here. Tourists can also enjoy the views of dense green Sal and Pine Trees spread all over the hilltop with the Kanchenjunga as a majestic backdrop. Boasting of lush and mountainous environs, the Jhandi Dara Sunrise Point offers ample opportunities for capturing really amazing photographs, especially at the time of sunrise. Besides, the viewpoint is a perfect retreat for nature lovers and birdwatchers.

The location of Jhandi Dara Viewpoint is very unique as one can see the Plains of Dooars, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kanchenjunga and Nathula from a single viewpoint. Tourists can also visit other destinations like Samabeong organic tea Garden, Sunrise point and Sunset Point, Lava Buddhist Monastery, Beautiful Green Pine trees, Changey Falls, Indira Gandhi National Park and Lolegaon while on a trip to Jhandi Dara.

20. Dali Monastery

A Drukpa Kagyud Monastery belonging to the Kagyupa Order of Tibetan Buddhism is the Dali Monastery at Dali – on the route between Ghoom and Darjeeling at an altitude of 7000 ft above sea level. The Dali Gompa is perched atop a hillock between Darjeeling Railway Station and Ghoom Railway Station of Darjeeling City. Dali Gompa was Built by Kyabje Thuksey Rimpoche in 1971. This Monastery is the largest in the area – in terms of headcount of resident Monks. 210 Tibetan Buddhists of the Drukchen sect stay at the Dali Gompa. This Gompa also had the good fortune of having his Highness Dalai Lama spend three days in 1993 at the Gompa teaching about the various facets of Tibetan Buddhism and Culture.

The Prayers at dawn and at dusk are worth participating in which are held in the Gompa Main Hall. The Dali Monastery is a big building coloured in red yellow and white with many windows and an impressive and colourful arched entrance and a sloping driveway with beautiful and colourful paintings on the walls of the driveway. The inner walls of the building have been painted with the depictions of Lord Buddha’s life and journey. The Dali Monastery building just stands out in Darjeeling cityscape with its typical Tibetan Architecture and colours.

The Monastery also houses a vast collection of books on Buddhism and Philosophy in its Library. The most popular part of this Monastery which draws huge crowds is the Hall of big, cylindrical 6 ft high golden Tibetan Prayer Wheels which the Monks keep turning while offering their Prayers.


Best Things To Do

1. The Toy Train – Take A Joy Ride

The Toy Train ride is an absolute must. You can start your ride from Ghoom and get down at Kurseong, to eat at the many food joints, for Darjeeling sightseeing wherein you get a breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding hills that transport you into a world of romance. It is one of the most fun activities in Darjeeling which cannot be missed.

Location: Ghoom, Darjeeling
Cost: INR 100 – INR 1300

2. Teesta – Go River Rafting

Make your vacation a happening one of the most adventurous white water rafting in Teesta. Start this amazing activity once you reach the tour locality and begin your adventure for the day. River Teesta is a haven for the thrill seekers where you will indulge in this adventure. You will be accompanied by an experienced guide during the activity.

Cost: INR 900 – INR 1500
Best Time: December – June

3. Peace Pagoda – Calm Your Mind

This is a wonderful Japanese temple located at a 10 minutes driving distance from the Darjeeling town center. The temple is also known as the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple. The two storied white building was built in a traditional Japanese style in the year 1972. Close to the temple is the Peace Pagoda that showcases four avatars of Lord Buddha. From the top of the Pagoda, you get a panoramic views of Darjeeling landscape including the Kanchenjunga range.
As you enter the temple, there is picture of the founder Fujii Guruji. There is also a model of Buddha suggesting that it’s a Buddhist religious temple. Fujii Guruji was the founder and preceptor of ‘Nipponzan Myohoji’, a Buddhist order for world peace. He was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi and had seen the tragedy of atom bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

4. Take a tea trail at Happy Valley Tea Estate

Located at an impressive altitude of over 6500 feet, this tea valley is spread over 450 acres of property and boasts of growing some of the finest teas. This is the second oldest tea estate in this lush hill station and we recommend you take a guided tour through the tea estate to understand about the different blends and varieties.
The plantation shows off the best nature has to offer and, of course, don’t forget to sample the tea grown here. There is also a shop on the estate where you can pick up your favourites teas and take them home as gifts. Make sure you book your tour at least a day in advance.

5. Himalayan Mountaineering Institute – Learn Rock Climbing

The lovely hill station of Darjeeling has a number of attractions that tourists just love and one such place is The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, one of the leading institutions
in its field. If you’re interested in mountaineering, this place offers a great insight to the equipment and skills needed to conquer some of the highest peaks in the world.
They have trained over 50,000 students, so it is the best place to get certified.
This is also a must-see for the fantastic view of the Kanchenjunga amongst other interesting activities.

6. Kalimpong – Visit The Monastery

The Kalimpong Sakya Monastery, located among the Himalayan mountain ridges of West Bengal, is the only Sakya monastery in the region and, as such, is a project of preeminent importance.

One of the primary aims is to offer education to the Buddhist children who can’t afford to go to school. With this goal as inspiration, and under the direct guidance of Khondung Ratna Vajra, the effort towards making Kalimpong Monastery a reality has borne fruit in a well-planned monastic community-in-progress, with buildings under construction and a balanced curriculum of study, for the 150 young monks who are here now, and for the eventual several hundreds monastic students from India, Nepal and Bhutan in the future.

7. A Visit To Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park Darjeeling

Acquiring an area of about 68 acres, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is situated in Darjeeling, West Bengal. The Zoo is renowned for some of the rarely seen species in the whole world including Red Panda, Siberian Tiger, Tibetan Wolf, Black Bear and Snow Leopard. Other species are Himalayan Tahr, Blue sheep, Himalayan sheep, Himalayan Monal and Grey Peacock Pheasant. Tourists from all parts of the globe come and visit this park to get the glimpse of these rarely found animals.

Settled at a height of up to 2133.5 m, Padmaja Naidu is one of famous and highest Zoo in India. The main idea behind the formation of the park was to conserve the endangered species of fauna.

Apart from rarely seen species, the park has an amazing scenic beauty of green jungles.

8. Watch The Sunrise At Tiger Hills

Your trip is unsuccessful until you have witnessed the sunrise at Tiger Hill. The way the sunlight falls on those snowcapped peaks of Kanchenjunga and illuminate it in gorgeous colours, that view is simply breathtaking. Hiking is one of the best things to do in Darjeeling. You will have the time of your life and will not be disappointed by the avenues of adventure and entertainment this place opens up for you.

The sunrise usually begins around 5 am and hence most tour directors insist that you reach the spot by around 4:15. This means that you are required to leave your homes by 3:30 or so in order to make it here on time. The observation deck is located at the top of the hill and the large tourist populations make for lack of parking spots, causing the need for a short trek to the observation tower from the warmth of your cars.

9. Visit The Observatory Hill & Mahakal Temple

As the name suggests, this place on a hill top is one of the greatest spots in Darjeeling to observe the panoramic views of the mountains and it also has a temple at the summit called the Mahakal Temple. The Observatory Hill is located at the Mall area and is encircled at its bottom by the Mall Road. As you walk along the Mall road, you will see this steep hill rising on one side.
However, it’s not too high. It takes about 15 minutes of uphill walk to reach to the top. While the walk may be tiring, the rewards are awesome. As you take the Mall road from the right side of Chowrasta Mall, about 100 yards away you will find flights of stairs that lead towards the Observatory Hill and the Mahakal Temple. There is a large signboard indicating the pathway.

10. Exploring The Himalayan Tibet Museum

This well-thought-out museum (one large room) is a good, colourful introduction to Tibet and its culture. The attractive displays introduce the Dalai Lama, stupas, and Tibetan religion, script, medicine, history and geography with just the right amount of information to avoid overload. Exhibits include fine thangka (Tibetan cloth paintings), a 3D map of Tibet and a sand mandala (a visual meditation aid symbolising the universe).

Exhibits at the museum related with Himalayan culture are various musical instruments found in the Himalayas like rahebera (Kashmiri violin), Dra-yen (Tibetan guitar), saranagi and madal. Traditional attire of the people in the Himalayas and their utensils are also on display.

Best Places To Eat

1. Glenarys

Glenarys is all about freshly baked cakes, pastries, pies, brownies and bread along with a pot of the best Darjeeling tea. The ground floor is the quaint looking café where you can sit tight with your tea and cakes. The place is best for afternoon and evening teas. There is an open terrace where you can sit and enjoy the views. But again, most of the views are obstructed by the ugly buildings.

The first floor is the restaurant where they serve Chinese, Indian and continental fares. The food is good and this is a good place for having your dinner. For us, the beauty of the Glenarys lies in its old fashioned cafeteria in the groundfloor and the special Glenarys liquor chocolates. Also, the red telephone booth in the middle of the floor is simply classic.

2. Gatty’s Cafe

This cafe is known for having a pub-like feel. This is an ideal sort of place to sit back with a drink in hand and some snack while enjoying the amazing view the city has to offer. The cafe also serves comfort food, mostly Continental. You’ll find some of your most favourite dishes here like Ravioli or Falafel. They even have board games available, for customers to play and enjoy during their time. This cafe can be easily located near the TV Tower.

3. Ara By Bellevue

Ara is located just at the Chowrasta square. We happen to visit Ara on our anniversary day and we were not disappointed. The ambience is cool and soothing. The bar menu is also satisfactory serving cocktails, mocktails and drinks of your choice. The food menu is also quite impressive with continental fares. The names were something that I had a hard time understanding. So we simply asked for the chef’s choice. To our delight, the food was quite good. It was an anniversary well spent!

4. The Park Restaurant

The Park Restaurant is another old restaurant in the city that is indeed quite famous. This restaurant located opposite the SBI building is known for serving amazing Thai delicacies in the cities. But other than the obvious, they also serve North Indian and Chinese dishes also. The restaurant also offers a great range of alcohol, a private dining space as well as a great view.

5. Shangri-La Restaurant

Located in an ages old heritage building, Shangri-La restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Darjeeling. The restaurant has wooden flooring and a nice decor that will impress you. This is the place you should be while visiting Darjeeling with your friends. It offers a great ambience, friendly service and good food.

6. Kunga Restaurant

This family-run restaurant is famous among locals as well as foreign tourists. It is petite and cozy, and can occupy about 20 patrons. The wooden interiors are warm and welcoming and put you in a state of relaxation instantly. This restaurant does not offer a very long menu, but the extremely delicious culinary creations, generous servings, and pocket-friendly prices leave you totally satisfied. Relish the Chinese and Tibetan delicacies which include fresh and hot soups, fried rice, noodles, spring rolls and much more. Some of their specialities include chicken thenthuk soup, chicken wanton soup, and beef bhakthuk. The staff is extremely courteous and serves you with a smile.

7. Lunar Restaurant

Offering amazing views of the mountains, this is one of the top restaurants in Darjeeling. It is nicely decorated and is an airy restaurant. So, if you are looking for that chill vibes to enjoy with your friends or partner, then this is the place to be. This is also one of the veg restaurants in Darjeeling offering quite a long menu of vegetarian dishes.


Best Places To Stay

1. Mayfair Darjeeling

Mayfair is the undisputed winner among best resorts in Darjeeling. It is a comfortable hideout that flaunts awe-inspiring views of the snow-clad peaks. It also offers a myriad of activities & amenities and is perfect for a complete family vacation.

The resort features movie library, rejuvenating spa, game room, kids playroom, 3 dining areas, meeting room, banquet hall and more.

What’s special: The amazing in-house spa that offers massages and spa.

Tariff: INR 12,000 – 20,000 per night

2. Cedar Inn

Cedar Inn was built in 1999 and is owned by a company dealing in lands and estates. Zakir Hussain Road from the Mall leads up to the Jalapahar Road where the hotel is located. There is a large iron gate at the entrance to this attractive property. From the outside, the main hotel building has a Victorian look with all the rooms having large bay windows. Inside there are extensive wood work and paneling done giving a charming and warm ambience.

What’s special: The Terrace Cafe is acclaimed for its authentic Darjeeling tea, and scenic views.

Tariff: INR 9,300 – 18,500 per night

3. Singtom Tea Estate And Resort

A part of Darjeeling’s oldest tea estate (Singtom Tea Estate), this is a property built way back in 1862. Carpeting 1600 acres of land, Singtom Resort entices the eyes with its decor and lures the senses with the aroma of the world’s best tea leaves.

Perfect for honeymooners, the resort arranges for candlelit dinners and special dining amidst the lush tea gardens of Darjeeling. Do we need more reasons to consider this among best tea estate resorts in Darjeeling!

What’s special: Tea tasting tour, tea plucking tour, Darjeeling sightseeing, tea factory tour, 360 point picnic, trekking tour.

Tariff: INR 6,700 – 7,500 per night

4. Windamere Hotel

Windamere is the original Heritage House of the Himalayas. It is situated on Observatory Hill, a well-known landmark. Featuring free WiFi throughout the property, Windamere Hotel offers accommodation in Darjeeling. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Free private parking is available on site.

Each room comes with cable TV and a seating are with sofa. Rooms have a private bathroom. The rooms overlook the garden.

There is a lush green garden at the property. A well-equipped meeting/banqueting space is available.

Tariff: INR 9,000 – 12,500 per night

5. The Retreat

This hotel is located right below the best public viewing point on Mall road. In fact the floor of the public viewing point forms part of its roof, and so you can imagine the vantage position this hotel has. The open terrace in front (right after the entry) and the lounge area both have fantastic views of the Himalayan Range including that of Kanchenjunga. Several rooms particularly the Executive and Super Deluxe ones have magnificent views.
Executive rooms have private balconies with great views of the mountains and snow peaks. It requires a 3-4 minutes walk from Bhanu Bhawan on Mall road as cars are not allowed here. Hotels staff will help with the luggage. The Mall, i.e. town center is only 4-5 minutes walk.
Tariff: INR 3,500 – 4,500 per night

6. Dolphin Hotel Darjeeling

 

Situated in the heart of Darjeeling’s tourist district, Treebo Dekeling Hotel offers spacious rooms with view of the mountain. The hotel has a restaurant, a tour desk and offers laundry services on request.

Treebo Dekeling Hotel has a common living room and a library corner where guests can relax. Views of Darjeeling Town and the Kanchenjunga mountain range can be enjoyed from the hotel. The rooms are simple, featuring a desk, a fan and satellite TV. It also has a seating area and an en suite bathroom.

The hotel is just 1 km from Darjeeling Bus Stand. Bagdogra Airport is about 98 km away, while the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station is situated 100 km from the hotel.

Tariff: INR 3,000 – 5,000 per night

7. Dekeling Resort at Hawk’s Nest

Situated near the Chowrasta square, in the heart of Darjeeling’s tourist district, Dekeling Resort at Hawk’s Nest – Darjeeling is a 127 Years Old Heritage Resort. Hawk’s Nest Resort combines every comfort and convenience with a unique experience of British and Tibetan history. The mansion is typical of those built by British of the Raj period who favoured Darjeeling as a summer retreat from the heat of the Indian plains. Hawk’s Nest is now available for discerning vacationers and honeymooners looking for a very special experience.

There are four luxury suites include two large rooms cable television plus a large private bath with adequate supply of hot and cold water. The authentic wood and glass work in each room is complemented by original tiled fireplaces which have been carefully restored to working order. Each suite enjoys a view of the floral gardens and the Darjeeling hills, crowned by the spectacular Kanchenjunga range.

Tariff: INR 4,000 – 5,000 per night

8. Sinclairs Darjeeling

Set in Darjeeling, Sinclairs Darjeeling is a five-minute walk from Suntalekhola and offers an outdoor pool. It provides free Wi-Fi, a coffee bar and an express check-in and check-out feature. Rooms at Sinclairs Darjeeling are well-appointed and offer bottled water, tea and coffee making facilities and a seating area. All provide wireless internet access and an in-room safe. On-site dining options include a restaurant, which is a convenient spot to enjoy a meal. In the evening, guests can enjoy a drink in the comfortable lounge bar. Places of interest close to Sinclairs Darjeeling include the Lloyd’s Botanical Garden and Southfield College. Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park and Ghum Monastery are within an easy drive from the hotel.

Tariff: INR 5,000 – 7,000 per night

9. Viceroy Hotel

Viceroy Hotel Darjeeling provides luxury 4-star accommodation in Darjeeling. It has a fitness centre, as well as a sauna, free Wi-Fi and meeting rooms. The rooms at Viceroy Hotel Darjeeling are air-conditioned and offer wireless internet access, an in-room safe and a seating area. They come with newspapers and a ceiling fan. Those staying at Viceroy Hotel Darjeeling can sit down to a unique dining experience at the on-site restaurant, ideally based for those who want to stay close by when looking for a bite to eat. Bagdogra Airport is a 90-minute drive from the hotel. Southfield College, the Lloyd’s Botanical Garden and Suntalekhola are a short stroll away.
Tariff: INR 5,000 – 7,000 per night

10. Central Nirvana Resort

Located in Darjeeling, Central Nirvana Resort is a short drive from Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park and Ghum Monastery. It has a day spa, as well as massage services, meeting rooms and a tour desk. The rooms at Central Nirvana Resort feature a telephone, a coffee maker and bottled water. Central Nirvana Resort features a restaurant and a bar where guests can unwind at the end of the day. The hotel has easy access to Raj Bhavan. The Lloyd’s Botanical Garden and Suntalekhola are a short stroll away.
Tariff: INR 2,500 – 3,500 per night

Shopping In

1. Nehru Road

Located on the Hill Cart Road, this market has small shops which have been set up by the local population of Darjeeling. A must-visit shopping destination, Nehru Road, offers a delightful street shopping experience for shopaholics. The market stretches on an uphill road. In recent years, several branded stores have also opened their outlets. The State Government added a Handicrafts Emporium recently. For those who love arts and crafts, make sure that you pick up some stunning paintings for your home. The art specimens contributed by skilled Bengali craftsmen and artisans can also be seen at the Art Gallery in the locality. It is advisable to keep cash in handy because most of the shops do not accept cards here.

What you can buy from here: Darjeeling tea variants, exclusively designed woollen clothes, small souvenirs, exotic handicrafts, leather handbags, books, exquisite paintings, Khukree or Gorkha knives, Buddha statues and Pashmina shawls

Timings – 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM

2. Ghoom Monastery Market

It is said that one must not miss the sunset views from Ghoom Monastery and therefore the perfect time to visit this market would be early mornings or evenings. Take a bite of the sweets that vendors have in the display or choose from a wide range of prayer wheels, wall paintings, bags and singing bowls for your home. The market timings include 9 AM to 7 PM for all visitors.

What you can buy from here: Tibetan artefacts including singing bowls, prayer wheels, prayer flags, Thangkas (a form of Tibetan wall paintings), bags for women

Timings – 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

3. The Mall Road

The Chowrasta or the Mall is the heart of Darjeeling town. Located on top of Nehru Road. Mall is like the town center or the social center of Darjeeling. This is where some of the old and heritage stores are lined up on one side, and there is open view on the other with many pine trees all around. You will lose track of time with the endless tempting options at The Mall Road.

What you can buy from here: Fancy jewellery items, woollen cloths ranging from shawls, jackets, scarves and sweaters, Tibetan masks and other handmade souvenirs.

Timings – 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM

4. Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre

Established in the year 1959, with an aim to offer support refugees of Tibetan origin in the area, this centre portrays the talent of Tibetan artisans. You will see Tibetan men and women making exquisite hand crafted items like woolen shawls & carpets, carved wooden crafts, leather jackets, coats and lots of other items. They have a training center that imparts skills to the new workers.
Production of handcrafted items is the main activity of the center and its earning source. They export the items to as many as 36 countries all over the world. If you like to buy some items, you can get them at the Show Room, which is an outlet located in the premises.

What you can buy from here: Tibetan carpets, woollen clothes, opulent woodwork décor, stylish footwear, wood carved items, paintings.

Timings – 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

5. Pashupati Nagar Market

You will find this market on your way to Mirik Lake. Situated right at the Nepal border, this is the place to buy cheap cosmetics and clothes imported from Thailand. The prices are reasonable and theres a high scope for a bargain too. The happy list doesnt end here as the panoramic scenery in the backdrop of this market will surely woo your senses and you can buy books, Darjeeling tea, and knives from here besides the usual woolen collection.One can also get electronic items at very affordable rates here. The vast range of cosmetic items on sale here is a treat for fashionistas.

What you can buy from here: Small souvenirs, woollen jackets, shawls and sweaters, Gorkha knives, books and Darjeeling Tea

Timings – 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

6. Batasia Loop Market

Located on the loop line of Ghum and Darjeeling, Batasia Loop is one of the Darjeeling famous markets and has more than apparel and food items to offer. The reasonable prices at which the products are made available here makes it the perfect kind of spot to shop from without stepping out of your budget. The toy-train line starting from this point will add more charm to your overall shopping experience in Darjeeling.

What you can buy from here: House décor items, Woollen wear, accessories for women

Timings – 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

7. Teesta Bazaar

Flanked along the bank of Roaring River Teesta is a quaint settlement called Teesta Bazaar or commonly known as 10th mile. It is located at a distance of 53km from Siliguri. Teesta Bazaar is famous amongst the travelers for offering a vast collection of handcrafted goods. Teesta Bazaar has become a hub for the shoppers and adventurers traveling towards Siliguri from Sikkim and Kalimpong or vice versa. Tourists can ride upon the white tides of river Teesta while visiting Teesta Bazaar.

What you can buy from here: Hunting equipment, footwear, wall paintings called ‘Thangkas’, copper wares, crockery, silver wares and lanterns

Timings – 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM


Travel Agents

1. Culture Holidays India Pvt. Ltd.

Address: 306, Namdhari Chambers, D.B.Gupta Road, Karol Bagh, New Delhi 110005 (INDIA)
Phone: + 91 11 45 08 08 08
E-mail : info@cultureholidays.com
Website: www.cultureholidays.com/darjeeling-tours1.htm

2. Himalaya Journey’s

Address: 411, 4th floor, Jaina Tower – I District Centre, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058
Ph. No. (91)-(11)- 25590701, 25590703, 25611456
E-Mail:- club@vsnl.net
Website: www.incrediblehimalayas.com/tour-package-darjeeling.html

3. Minar Travels (India) Pvt. Ltd.

Address: 29 Regal Building, Parliament Street, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001 (INDIA)
Tel.: +(91)-(11)-23368732/38(Multilines)
Email: minar@del2.vsnl.net.in, inbound@minartravels.com
Website: www.minartravels.net/darjeeling-west-bengal.html

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