Top 20 Things to Do in Darjeeling
Darjeeling, the popular hill station of West Bengal is the best introduction to the North Eastern Himalayas. Perfect for families, honeymoon couples, nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts, the hill town offers some of the best experiences to be cherished for a lifetime.
To help you have the best time of your life, here are the top 20 Things to do in Darjeeling when you visit this picturesque hill town.
Stay at a Tea Garden
Tea tours is not a new concept in Darjeeling. The hill station is blessed with numerous sprawling tea gardens. The ‘Mecca of tea’, Darjeeling has 80 odd operational tea gardens. The tea gardens are one of the popular tourist attractions of Darjeeling. The lush gardens span across thousands of acres of land. Also, the Darjeeling tea is a brand that has made a great name for itself in the world.
Don’t just visit the tea gardens in Darjeeling, plan to stay in the tea gardens. The tea estates have designed various comfy lodgings. Choose from option of a British Era Colonial mansion or a simply budget lodging, the experience is a cherished memory. Away from chaos of cities spend few days in the blissful environs.
Drive up to Tiger Hill
The Tiger Hill in Darjeeling is a popular tourist attraction. The beautiful lookout at an altitude of 8482 feet offers blessed views of the sun rising over the majestic snow covered mountains of Himalayas. Especially the peak of Mt. Kanchenjunga shines like a beauty beyond words.
Do not miss an early morning outing to Tiger Hill at any cost. Every tourist visiting Darjeeling comes here to catch the sun’s first rays as they hit the distant snow covered peaks of the Kanchenjunga peak. On a really clear day you may even see the breathtaking view of Mt Everest. Not just known for great views during sunrise; it’s the perfect place to soak in the Himalayan bliss anytime during the day. Read More
Visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is a pilgrimage for all climbing enthusiasts. Adventure lovers from all over the world, wishing to scale the heights of Mt Kanchenjunga cannot miss a visit. The institute in essence is an inspiration to trek some of the highest mountain peaks in the world. Be it the nature lovers, adventure junkies or any visitor, this is a popular tourist attraction of Darjeeling.
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was established to honor the feat of two famous mountaineers, Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary after they climbed the Everest in 1953. Moreover, the well-stocked museum awes the visitors with mountaineering displays and many expedition artifacts. Your love for the mountains multiplies here. Read More
Explore colonial connections
The Britishers residing in India had fallen in love with the scenic charm of Darjeeling. While tracing the colonial roots in Darjeeling, sample the elegant 19th century lifestyle at the Windamere Hotel or the Glenburn Tea estate.
These beautiful building are full of colonial memorabilia. Enjoy a luxury stay here. Packed full with old photos, works of art and antique furniture, you can get lost in memories. Enjoy the remembrance of the bygone era, staying in the languid comforts of a colonial style accommodation.
All aboard the Joy Ride ‘Toy Train’
Darjeeling is known all over the world for its scenic beauty and the impressive mountain railway. A marvel of engineering and architecture, the narrow gauge line runs the “Toy Train” named as a UNESCO World heritage site. Although the train ride is more of a way to arrive to the hill town, to summarize it is an experience of a lifetime. The Toy Train Ride definitely rates as one of the top things to do in Darjeeling.
The Darjeeling railway is recognized by UNESCO to be “the most outstanding example of a hill passenger railway” in the world. You certainly should not miss a ride. As you aboard the Toy Train, experience a languid ride enjoying wonderful views. The ancient steam train hoots, hisses and chug-a-lugs its way round the mountain. The train takes for a half day return journey from Darjeeling to Ghum. Tickets cost 360 INR and include entry to the railway museum in Ghum. The ride on the toy Train is one of the favorite activities in Darjeeling. Read More
Discover roots of Tibet
Darjeeling has an intriguing connection with Tibet. In 1959, after the self-exile of Dalai Lama and the mass exodus of co-patriots, India became an important center for Tibet. Since then, the Tibetan Self Help Refugee Center in Darjeeling has evolved into one of the most important hub of the Tibetan community. Learn about the amiable folk, their struggles along with their charming arts and crafts.
Buddhist monasteries, in this part of the Himalayas are also worth exploring. The must see Tibetan relic in Darjeeling is the beautiful Bhutia Busty Gompa. It is also home to the original copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Snuggled under the watchful eye of Kanchenjunga, the monastery is a treasure waiting to be unrevealed. The Ghum Monastery is also magnificent. Spend a day in the blessed spiritual ambiance.
Where the wild things are at the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
Darjeeling houses a beautiful treasure known as the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park. This zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered Himalayan species. Visitors are left in awe of the inhabitants of the zoo.
Built on the mountainside, the hilly landscapes copy the inhabitants’ natural habitat. Look for red pandas, Tibetan wolves, Himalayan black bears, the beautiful clouded leopard and other big cats. The natural setting helps the species of north eastern Himalayas survive without difficulty.
Set within the same premises of the zoo, there is a Mountain Institute. It is a training center for mountaineering. It also houses a museum. One admission ticket covers both attractions. Both remain open daily from 8am to 4pm. Read More
Trek the Darjeeling Observatory Hill & Mahakal Temple
Darjeeling hosts a multitude of lookouts opening to the north east Himalayas. The Darjeeling Observatory hill is a scenic location to enjoy the blissful views of the valleys. It is a short trek from the town. Get away for few hours, to enjoy the serene views and ambiance.
A little further, originally where the Bhutia Busty Gompa stood, stands a revered Hindu Mahakal temple. The area holds significance to both religions. As the mystical hill rings with the sound of temple bells, feel the connection with divine. Sit in the midst of the fluttering prayer flags, but watch out for groups of disorderly monkeys who have made it their home.
A thrilling ride on Darjeeling Ropeway
The spectacular views of Darjeeling have spellbound you but for a further delightful experience, try out a ride of Darjeeling Ropeway. The Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car is one of the best ways to experience the panoramic views that the hill station of North East India is so famous for.
The ropeway, also called the Rangeet Valley Cable Car offers spectacular view of the valley around the river Rangeet. Board the cable car from Singamari. The last station of the cable car is at the Singla Bazar. As you ride the cable car, you will travel from an altitude of about 7,000 ft. (or 2134m) down to 800 ft. (or 244m) in about 45 minutes. Read More
Sit on Darjeeling Chowrasta
Darjeeling Chowrasta is the centre of the town. Located on top of Nehru Road, it is a nice hangout. Tourists and locals to come to lounge in the sun, watch people, and watch wonderful views of mountain peaks and valleys.
Walk towards the Darjeeling Chowrasta as the sun sets. The Chowrasta is surrounded with quaint shops and brightly lit restaurants. Also, savor the regional delicacies in local food joints and restaurants. In adddition, enjoy the horse (pony) rides. You can also pick up attractive artifacts and colorful souvenirs. After a busy day, spend a relaxing evening here. In spite of how weary you are, you will refreshed. In fact it will be your favorite thing to do in Darjeeling.
Visit the Peace Pagoda
Darjeeling hosts a Peace Pagoda. One of only 30 shrines of its kind in the world, the pagoda is a must visit site in the town. Not only is the monument spectacular, the views are beyond words. Built under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii, a Japanese Buddhist monk, the Peace Pagoda oozes of spirituality which steps perfectly in the serene ambiance of the hill station.
The Peace Pagoda’s was built for the purpose to promote peace. The divine site allows a uniting space in the search for world peace. It is perfect place to escape the busy schedules and experience a spiritual connection. Read More
Shopping in Darjeeling
Darjeeling never runs out of things to do. Even shopping here is real fun. From the local-favorite Chowk Bazaar to the tourist haunt of Mall Road, there are many places where you can go shopping. Moreover, a delight for every kind of shopper, these markets are also dotted with small eateries to satisfy your hunger while shopping. Also, check out some treasures from artificial jewellery, handicrafts, woolen clothing, and kitchenware to all kind of knick-knacks. The Handicrafts, prayer flags and the tea, especially can be brought home as fond remembrances of the hill town.
Fresh air of mountains at the Batasia Loop
A short distance from Darjeeling, lying en-route of the Toy Train, the Batasia Loop is one of the must-visit attractions to check out. Enjoy the breathtaking panorama of mountains from all angles. Savor the majestic views of Mt Kanchendzonga and Eastern Himalayas.
The Loop was built to navigate the steep descend of the mountain railway. Marvel at the engineering feat which has also has a mountain garden. Enjoy the view of toy train chugging down the slope making a 360 degree loop here. Right in the center of the gardens, rests a War Memorial dedicated to the Gorkha Soldiers. The serene location with incredible views is a good place to check out in the hill station.
Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center
The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center in Darjeeling is one of the places to check out for those interested in the lives of the Tibetans in exile. At the Tibetan center explore some treasures made by skillful artisans.
From handicrafts, metal-making, jewelry designing, thangkas (Tibetan cloth paintings), there are many skills the artisans present. The most well-known is the carpet weaving. For gorgeous Tibetan carpets, this is the best place in the hill station. You can order one rare piece to warm your homes. The exquisite skill is worth praise. Put one to your name, if you don’t mind waiting six months for one to be made. If not for purchase, the skill of the carpet weaves must be seen person. Read More
River Rafting in the Teesta River
The Queen of Hills, Darjeeling is getting increasingly popular for several sports. Particularly, the White Water Rafting in the Teesta River is becoming a thrilling adventure to be tried. Gushing down the mountains, the foaming white water stretches with varying rapids. It is excellent for rafting for both beginners and also seasoned rafters. Combine rafting with camping beside the Teesta River for the best experience.
The River Teesta offers exciting river rafting opportunity all around the year. Avoid the monsoon season, roughly months from July to September. The best time is between December to June. But during winter, the water can be ice cold. Meanwhile, March to June is the peak season.
Happy Valley Tea Estate
Want to know what really goes into your cup of tea? With this in mind, visit Darjeeling’s second oldest tea estate, Happy Valley Tea Estate. The scenic tea garden spread over 437 acres of land, is one of the world’s highest tea factories. A massive workforce of more than 1,500 employees work here. Positioned at 6,800 feet above sea level, 3 km from the town it is an experience you must not miss out on. The serene location grows not just the finest tea but offers a treat truly remarkable sights of The North East Himalayas.
Plan a full day outing and enhance your knowledge on the tea industry. The Happy valley tea estate produces some of the finest quality of luxurious hand-rolled tea. Moreover, for this reason, Darjeeling is and internationally famous its organic farming. When in Darjeeling you cannot miss a visit. Sample the tea and don’t forget to bring home some. Read More
Treat yourself to Hasty Tasty
Darjeeling has many lavish eateries, restaurants and food-joints. However, Hasty Tasty is treat for all the foodies visiting the hill station. Packed from the minute it opens, this strictly vegetarian cafeteria by all means delivers fast, delicious food. The specialties of the hill town feature on the menu. The highlight of grabbing a seat here is to view uninterruptedly gaze across the valley at Kanchendzonga.
In addition, the charming ambiance simply captures your heart.
Support the women
Darjeeling is full of hardworking women folk. While holidaying in the hill station, take the initiative to help the women out. Visit the Hayden Hall with the intention of helping women. You can volunteer few hours for education and training. In addition, you can see them at work. These amiable folks have some interesting stories to tell.
Also, lend your support by buying something from the shop. The hand-woven carpets and bags, or knitted hats and socks are beautiful, and your money goes into empowering the women.
Get a Tattoo
Wondering why we have this in our list of things to do in Darjeeling? Well, getting a Tattoo in Darjeeling is a experience unlike another. Unlike other places in India, the body art here is crafted uniquely. A hippie essence coupled with Buddhism imagery being a significant part, the creation is in fact inimitable. Get yourself inked with some inspirational quotes or some inspiring image of Lord Buddha meditating.
Gateway to the North Eastern Himalayas
The secret pleasures of the North Eastern Himalayas, in fact are only explored with a leisurely holiday in Darjeeling. The hill station can be put up as a base while you plan out tours to the breathtaking north eastern states. Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura have many unexplored treasures. Set your base at Darjeeling and go exploring. In other words, the mountain shall ensnare your hearts. Go wander lusting in the mountains!