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Darjeeling

About: Darjeeling often mentioned as ‘The Queen of Hills’ located amidst the Eastern Himalaya of West Bengal (India) surrounded by lush green tea gardens. Spectacular view of the world’s third tallest mountain peak Mt. Kanchenjunga (28,170 ft) is one of the major attractions of Darjeeling. Elevation of this place is around 6,750 ft from sea level. Darjeeling is also very easy accessible from the gateway city of North Bengal, Siliguri by road (average journey time 3 hours).

‘Dorje Ling’ that means ‘Thunder Bolt’ is believed to be the origin of the name Darjeeling. Though there is couple of other stories behind the name of this beautiful hill station. This place is already well known to the tourists from this country as well as from abroad. On an average Darjeeling receives around 600,000 domestic and 35,000 foreign tourists per year. This mesmerizing travel destination never fails to satisfy its visitors. Darjeeling is also famous for its 6 ‘T’s. These T’s are Tourism, Tea, Toy train, Tiger hill, Trekking routes and Teak.  

 

Brief History: During earlier phase of 19th century Darjeeling for the first time drew attention of the then British East India Company. Immediately after visiting this place they realized the strategic importance of this place and set up a military depot. A sanatorium for British soldiers also built over this place. Later on the Chogyal (religious king) of Sikkim leased this land to the British. Subsequently tea plantation was started extensively around the hills of Darjeeling. Later on for transportation purpose Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or DHR (presently UNESCO listed World Heritage Site) was set up to connect plains with the hills apart from the roadways.

 

Climate: Darjeeling receives an annual average rainfall of 3,000 mm and sees a temperate climate. Summers are mostly wet due to monsoon rainfall. Average lowest temperature dips down to 1.8 degree Celsius (during January) while the highest average temperature recorded around 19.6 degrees during the month of August. Darjeeling receives maximum rainfall during the month of June, July, August and September. Often this hill station experience snowfall for a day or two during December and January.     

 

How to reach: Darjeeling can be reached by five major deferent routes. 1) Siliguri – Sukna – Rohini – Kurseong – Ghum. 2) Siliguri – Sukna – Rangtong – Tindharia – Kurseong. 3) Siliguri – Sukna – Pankhabari – Kurseong. 4) Siliguri – Mirik – Ghum. 5) Siliguri – Sevoke – Teesta Bazar – Ghum. There are few more minor routes to reach Darjeeling. Route number 1 is the best option to reach there. The route length is around 70 kilometers. This route can be directly approached (without touching Siliguri & Sukna) from the Bagdogra Airport via Matigara.

The main airport to reach Darjeeling is Bagdogra International Airport (IXB). The road distance from the airport is around 65 kilometers. The main railway station (Broad Gauge) is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) around 76 kilometers from Darjeeling. NJP connects all the major cities of India through its railway network. The famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway’s Toy Train (Narrow Gauge) also connects NJP and Darjeeling via Siliguri Jn, Kurseong and Ghum. (Please do not forget to check the timings and if it’s operative or not, prior to your journey). Journey by toy train takes around 8 hours. From airport you will find only private taxis to reach Darjeeling, whereas from NJP both private and share taxis are available. Private and government undertaken bus services are available from Tenjing Norgay Bus Terminus in Siliguri. Distance from NJP to bus terminus is around 6 kilometers, city auto services are available outside the station premises to reach bus terminus. One can hire Toto (Battery powered three wheel carts) or Rickshaws to reach Siliguri from NJP. The distance from Bagdogra airport to Siliguri bus terminus is around 15 kilometers. There are several private taxi (share) stands around the Tenjing Norgay bus terminus. One can get a share taxi to reach Darjeeling at an interval of 20 to 30 minutes.  

 

Places of Interest: Darjeeling has plenty to offer like majestic view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, rolling tea gardens, monasteries, churches, temples, parks, museum, zoo etc.

                                                         

 

10 Places you shouldn’t miss to visit while your stay in Darjeeling.               

Mall- Darjeeling Mall or locally known as Chowrasta is an ideal place to stroll around with breathtaking views of rolling mountains and Mt. Kanchenjunga (visible from almost every corner of the mall). Gift shops, eateries along with the shops those sells famous Darjeeling teas, banks and tourist information center are located around the Mall area. Pony ride is also available here. Mall is a must visit place of Darjeeling.

Tiger Hill- The highest point of Darjeeling is Tiger Hill located at an altitude of around 8,500 ft amidst Sinchel wildlife sanctuary. This place is around 11 kilometers away from the main town of Darjeeling. It is famous for the panoramic view of snowcapped mountains and the breathtaking view of Mt. Kanchenjunga especially during sunrise. On a clear day world’s tallest mountain peak Mt Everest (29,028ft) is also clearly visible.

Ghum- Ghum also spelled as Ghoom is another exciting place to visit. It is located around 6 kilometers from Darjeeling and one of the most important points on the way to Darjeeling. This place is worth visit for its 2 monasteries among which the famous one is Tibetan Yiga Choeling Monastery that is also popularly known as Ghoom Monastery. This monastery belongs to the Gelukpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and built in the year 1850. It is famous for the statue of Maitreya Buddha (15 ft tall) and the collection of Thangkas. Another exciting monastery to visit at Ghum is the Samten Choeling Monastery. This monastery is also often mentioned as Ghum monastery by the locals. You can locate this monastery on your right just before crossing the Ghum station on your way from Darjeeling. The statute of Lord Buddha (26 ft tall) is the main attraction here. The collections of Buddhist manuscripts and books might attract you as well.

Batasia Loop- Batasia loop is located 5 kilometers away from Darjeeling towards Ghum station. A joy ride by toy train from Darjeeling to Ghum will give you one of the most exciting experiences of your life, especially while crossing Batasia Loop. To negotiate steep fall of 140 ft (from Ghum towards Darjeeling) British Engineers created this magnificent loop (1919) for toy train. 360 degree panoramic view of mountains (that includes the snow capped range as well) from Batasia loop will leave you spell bound. Amidst the beautifully decorated garden you will find a memorial for Gorkha soldiers those who sacrificed their live during post independent era while serving for Indian army.

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI)- Himalayan Mountaineering institute or HMI is the oldest mountaineering institute of the country, established in the year of 1954 to commemorate the success of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay’s conquest of Mt. Everest (world’s highest mountain peak) along with Edmund Hillary in the year 1953. HMI is located around 10 minutes walking distance (2.2 kilometers) from Darjeeling mall. Apart from the scenic beauties while you walk the collections inside the museum will mesmerize you. Here you can see various equipments used by the mountaineers (that includes some of the equipments used by Norgay himself), clothing, variety of pictures, paintings, models, manuscripts and sculptures. You can visit this place anytime between 9:00am to 5:00pm from Wednesday to Monday. The museum remains closed on Tuesdays. To know about the mountaineering courses and other details visit official website of HMI, Darjeeling.

Zoological Park- Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is another must visit attraction of Darjeeling. Like HMI this place is too located at a distance of around 10 minutes walk (2.1 kilometers) from Darjeeling Mall. Internationally recognized and only specialized zoo in India for breeding programs of critically endangered species like Red Panda, Tibetan Wolf, Himalayan Newt (Salamander), Snow Leopards etc. This zoo is the largest high altitude zoo (7000 ft) in India and was established in 1958. The opening time is 8:00am and the closing time is 4:30pm during summer and 4:00pm during winter. The zoo remains closed on Thursday. Entry fees for the Indian nationals and citizens from different SAARC countries are Rs. 30 and for other foreign nationals is Rs. 100. Camera charge is Rs. 10. Please remember that feeding and teasing the wild animals in the zoo is punishable offence. Here you can see a wide range of mammals that include Royal Bengal Tiger, Red Panda, Snow Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Black Leopard, Leopard cat, Tibetan Wolf, Asiatic Black Bear etc. This place is home for various birds, reptiles and amphibians also. Among the birds you will find various kinds of pheasants, parakeets, fowls etc.  

Botanical Garden- The botanical garden in Darjeeling is known as Lloyd’s botanical garden located around 2 kilometers downwards from the Mall. One of Asia’s finest botanical garden can be divided into 3 sections upper, middle and lower. The first section showcases mainly floras from the Eastern Himalayan region that includes rhododendrons. The second section showcases near about 2,500 species of orchids, around 150 species of cactus, Alpine collections and ferns. The third section consist exotic plants from different parts of the world that includes weeping willows, plums, cherries, silver oak etc. The botanical garden remains open from 6:00am to 5:00pm and the entry fee is Rs. 20 per visitor. However on producing their id card only student can enter against a fee of Rs. 5.

Ropeway- Ropeway or the cable car is an exciting way to bespectacled the breathtaking views of rolling tea gardens, valleys and the Himalayan mountain range. This ropeway service is also known as Rangeet Valley Cable car Service. The cable car station is located at a distance of around 3 kilometers from the mall. You can either walk down to the place or else can visit as a part of your Darjeeling sightseeing package by car. It is operational 7 days a week from 9:30am to 4:00pm. Entry fee for adults is Rs.200 per person and Rs. 100 for a child.

Tibetan Refugee Self Help center- This place was established in 1959 and located on a hill top at a distance of around 4 kilometers from the mall at the place known as Hill Side (also known as Naya Basti). If you wish to trek you can do that but taking a car is more convenient option. It comes under Darjeeling sightseeing package also. Here you can witness artisans are creating all sort of staffs like knitting, painting, wood carving, carpentry, tailoring etc. Carpet, jackets, woolens, carved wooden items, small idols of Lord Buddha and paintings are some of the famous products of this self help center. They export their products to more than 30 countries around the world. You can purchase item from their showroom located at the premises. You can visit this place from Monday to Saturday between 9:00am to 4:30pm.

Rock garden- The Barbotey Rock Garden is located at a distance of around 9 kilometers downwards from the mall. On the way towards rock garden it is a feast for eyes with mesmerizing beauties of Darjeeling Himalayas. This place is being created by cutting rocks in various shapes thus the name is Rock Garden. The waterfall at the rock garden is another spectacular view. You can enjoy nature from a very close proximity in this place. Do not forget to visit the Ganga Maya Park that is located further 3 kilometers downwards. This attraction is newly added. Both this place remains open throughout the week from 10:00am to 04:00pm. The entry fee is Rs. 10 for Indian nationals and Rs. 50 for foreigners.       

 

Points to remember: As a responsible tour guide and operator here are few tips from our side to help while you visit Darjeeling.

Darjeeling is a plastic free zone please abides by the law

Most of the public places around Darjeeling are smoking free too (especially the mall area)

All the above mentioned timings and charges are subject to change

Feel free to contact us to design a tailor made tour package for Darjeeling and other places around North Bengal, Sikkim and Bhutan

Saha Tourism is always there to make your travel experience beautiful.

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