DARJEELING – the colonial paradise
The features of Darjeeling
Darjeeling is a small tuft of a town nestled at an altitude of 2,042m. The most appealing, bona fide feature of Darjeeling is the pristine, uninterrupted view it offers of the majestic Himalayan profile. Almost every turn, every alley, every restaurant window & hotel balcony in Darjeeling lands you a glimpse of the breathtaking Kanchenjunga. A day in this town would be incomplete without witnessing the vintage Toy Train chuff past the locals picking on the first flush from the manicured tea estates. Come here to meet the friendly locals, to explore the colonial buildings, institutions & hotels, hop through colorful monasteries, view the sunrise like never before and of course, to enjoy the world renowned "Champagne of Teas" with buttered corn and English scones.
Things to do
Then definitely book an exclusive joy ride on the Toy Train. It snakes through the tea estates and tiny settlements, offering brilliant visual aesthetics throughout the slow-paced journey, touring you through the Batasia Loop erected in memory of the brave soldiers. Explore the Himalayan flora and fauna via a jeep safari to the Singalila National Park. Being ecologically blessed, the region offers a great variety of orchids, junipers, cypresses, and rhododendrons to gaze at. You can also get to witness the long-tailed pangolins, yellow-throated martens, snow leopards and red pandas. Glide from Singamari to Singla Bazaar at an elevation of 7,000ft through the Rangit Valley Ropeway. Admire the rich hand painted thankas & Tibetan architecture of the Bhutia Busty Gompa built by the Chogyal od Sikkim. Take back home a pouch of the fragrant Darjeeling leaves handpicked by you from the Happy Valley Tea Estate.
Places to Explore
- Observatory Hill
- Tiger Hill
- Batasia Loop
- Dhirdham Temple
- Ghoom Monastery
- Tibetan Self-Help Refugee Centre
- Peace Pagoda
- Llyod Gardens
- Senchal Lake
- Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park
The cuisine of Darjeeling
Darjeeling is famous for its red hot variety of jalapeños known as "Dalley". They’re spicier than regular chilies and have a savory pungency to it. They are plucked and preserved in the saltwater brine or a dry spice marinade, left under the sun in clear glass bottles. The locals also dry out regular leafy vegetables in the sun until they ferment and shrivel into brown strips, imparting a pungent aroma to the dried leaves. They’re then added to regular meat & vegetable stews for that extra flavor. The locals are also fond of yak cheese, both in soft and solidified forms, that are generally chewed as milk toffees called Churpee. The roadside stalls and the restaurants serve you delicious momos, Tibetan noodles called Thukpa, traditional Naga & Nepali platters, and more. You can also dine on sausages, sandwiches, milkshakes, scones, pizzas & pastries in outlets like Keventer's & Glenary's.
March to April is Spring.
June to August witnesses Monsoon.
September to November entails Autumn.
December to February experiences Winter.
The nearest airport to Darjeeling is Bagdogra, which is well connected with the international airport of Kolkata. From Bagdogra, Darjeeling is a three-hour scenic ride.
North Jalpaiguri Railway Station is the nearest railhead that connects all the major cities of India. From NJP, it’s a three-hour ride on public/reserved vehicles to Darjeeling again.