A beautiful Himalayan city in West Bengal, Darjeeling is a famous tourist destination well known for its tea industry, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and scenic beauty. It is a honeymoon hotspot and excellent weekend getaway from parts of Sikkim, Kolkata and Jalpaiguri. The flora and fauna of Darjeeling also makes it a popular destination for nature lovers. A distinct variety of tea is grown on the hills here and the tea plantations are major tourist draws as well. It is accessible via Kalimpong and Kurseong.
Being at an elevation of around 2,050 meters above sea level, Darjeeling has cold winters and temperate summers. Winters last until the first week of March and spring sets in only by the midweek. Tourists enjoy the beauty of spring until May beginning. Darjeeling offers excellent trekking, picnic and sightseeing opportunities during spring when the climate is pleasant. You can survive without woolen wear during daytime.
When to go
July-August is the time one should avoid visiting Darjeeling. It is the rainy season with occurrence of landslides and road blockades. March to October is the best time to visit though winter lovers tour this hilly retreat between November to February.
What to Visit
Part of the Lesser Himalayan range, Darjeeling offers a list of places to visit, some are man-made attractions while others are scenic spots.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – An UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is also referred to as “Toy Train”. The distance the train covers is around 87 km from Jalpaiguri at an elevation of 100 meters higher than Darjeeling (2,200 meters). There is a daily service between Kurseong and Darjeeling and tourist trains also arrive from Ghum to Darjeeling. Ghoom is the highest railway station in the country and journey via the toy train will be a memorable one.
Tiger Hill – Another top attraction of Darjeeling, the beautiful sight of Kanchenjunga Mountain will make your trip here a worthy one. In spring, the sky is clear and the panorama of the Kanchenjunga remains unforgettable. The best way to reach the Tiger Hill is via the toy train that stops at Ghoom, the summit of Tiger Hill. The Tiger Hill is the highest hill in the region with a height of 2,600 meters above sea level.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park – A habitat for Himalayan wild animals and bird species, the Himalayan or Darjeeling Zoo is worth visiting in spring season when the animals are out from their dens and soaking in the sun during the afternoon.Established in the year 1958, this zoo covers 67 acres and houses the snow leopard, red panda and Himalayan wolf among the other species.
Darjeeling Mall and Chowrasta – You simply cannot miss the fun at the bustling commercial streets of Darjeeling, especially its Mall Road. Famous for being the shopping hub, the Mall Road also has several hotels, restaurants and pubs bordering it. A lovely sunset view, horse and pony rides and shopping for handicrafts makes this place an important one in your tour agenda.
Tea plantations in Darjeeling – The green slopes dotted with women plucking leaves is a mesmerizing sight from April.Alubari is the oldest plantation while Happy Valley is one of the largest in Darjeeling.
Places to stay
There are heavenly resorts, well-maintained guesthouses, cottages and bungalows on rent besides hotels in Darjeeling that you can choose for accommodation. Some of the popular places to stay are Hotel Fortune, New Elgin Hotel, Alice Villa and Cedar Inn.
Trekking and mountaineering is an all-time entertainment option in Darjeeling. Trekking leads to Tiger Hill, Mirik Hills, Batasia Loop and the Ghoom Monastery.
Shopping is a delight in Darjeeling as there is a variety of products, handicrafts, Tibetan artifacts, Buddha idols and garments available in the local markets. Woodcraft and hand embroidery are also important buys here. The Mall Road shops are the best places to buy chocolate, sweets, garments and shawls.
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