Darjeeling, ‘The Queen of Hills’ is truly a jewelled crown destination for tourists. Darjeeling situated at the elevation of 6,700 ft is worldwide famous for its flavoured tea, stunning view of the world’s 3rd highest peak Mt. Kanchenjungha (28,169 ft) and Darjeeling Himalayan Railways narrow gauge Train which is popularly known as ‘Toy Train’.Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or DHR is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. The name Darjeeling is derived from two Tibetan words ‘Dorje’ and ‘Ling’ that means the land of the Thunderbolt God. Darjeeling is well connected with roads and railway routes leading towards Siliguri which has become the boon for Darjeeling’s tourism. Bagdogra Airport is only 67 km away from Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri railway station is 74 km away.
Darjeeling's temperature and its beautiful climate led to its development as a hill station during British rule. Surgeon Arthur Campbell of The East India Company played a key role in establishing a sanatorium and health resort here. Since then Darjeeling started growing as a tourism destination.
The best time to visit Darjeeling is April to May when the weather is soothing and Kanchenjungha can be seen most of the time. October is also a favourable time to visit Darjeeling when the sky remains clear and valley is glazed with the golden hue of blooming marigold. There are many places of tourist’s interest in Darjeeling.
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Batasia loop Located in between Darjeeling and Ghoom is a spiral railway track to negotiate a fall of 140 ft. From here a 360 degree view of Darjeeling’s landscape always mesmerise visitors. Breathtaking view of Eastern Himalayan snow-capped ranges including Mt. Kanchenjungha will surely astound you for a while. Amidst the well manicured garden of Batasia lays the War Memorial of brave Gorkha soldiers who died after the battle of Independence. The awe-inspiring beauty and serenity of Batasia Loop never ceases to amaze the travellers visiting Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is also playing a very important role in conserving wildlife. 3 km from Chowrasta is Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park or commonly known as Darjeeling Zoo. Situated at an altitude of 7000ft. Darjeeling Zoo is opened in 1958 and is one of the highest altitude zoos in the country. It is internationally renowned for its conservative breeding program for the endangered species of Eastern Himalayan region likes snow leopard, red panda, Tibetan Wolf and many more. Darjeeling zoo houses a vast collection of wildlife species which are kept in their semi natural habitat. From small reptiles like tortoise and salamander to large predatory animals like Royal Bengal Tiger and snow leopard. Darjeeling Zoo is the safe haven for many astounding and exquisite creation of Mother Nature.
Located at a distance of 2 km from Chowrasta is HMI, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute of Darjeeling. HMI was established in 4th November 1954 to encourage mountaineering as an organized sport in India. In 1953 after the first ascent of Mt. Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary interests were sparked for mountaineering. Apart from providing mountaineering training courses for aspiring mountaineers, Darjeeling HMI also has the country's oldest mountaineering museum. The HMI museum of Darjeeling houses many historical artefacts which includes the mountaineering gears used during the first Mt Everest expedition. Sharing its ground with Darjeeling Zoo, HMI is one of the places to catch the impeccable view of Kanchenjungha range. Learn more about the history of mountaineering while tasting some of the mouth watering Darjeeling delicacy in Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.
Situated in the heart of Darjeeling is Chowrasta or the junction of four roads. Chowrasta is popularly known as Darjeeling Mall. Darjeeling trip will remain incomplete without a visit to this famous Chowrasta or Mall. Surrounded with heritage restaurants and cafés serving the famous Darjeeling tea, Chowrasta with its amphitheatre, free wifi and breathtaking view of Kanchenjungha has become a hub for the travellers and locals. Dotted with green colour sitting benches Chowrasta is the one place to get a pony ride in Darjeeling. Chowrasta or the Mall road is at 10mins walking distance from the Darjeeling Taxi stand and being a vehicle and smoking free zone it is perfect place to relish the scenic beauty of Darjeeling. Chowrasta has its own charm although bustling with life yet a place to find solace. While taking a leisurely walk around the famous well paved Mall road through the lush green alpine forest one can make a short visit to the nearby Shrubbery Nightingale Park if they fancy seeing well manicured garden around the stony pathway.
Sprawled across a verdant land is a nature blessed place called Lloyd's Botanical Garden. Located below the Taxi Stand of Darjeeling at a downhill 5-10mins walking distance Lloyd's Botanical Garden has stayed out of the radar of many travellers. It is the oldest botanical garden of Darjeeling which has showcased the finest collection of Himalayan flora since 1878. Lloyd's Botanical Garden preserves and displays some rare and exquisite plants species of orchid and rhododendron. Lloyd Botanical Garden was named after William Lloyd when he gifted 40 acres of land to build the finest botanical garden of country. Lloyd Botanical Garden is one of the favoured destinations of the area. Witness the vibrant flora of Eastern Himalayan region in Lloyd's Botanical Garden while travelling to Darjeeling.
At an altitude of 8,497 ft above Ghoom is Tiger hill which is become a must visit destination to witness worlds one of the best sunrise. Tiger hill is located at a distance of 11km from Darjeeling. Tiger hill is famous amongst the travellers for offering the panoramic view of Mt .Kanchenjungha, Mt. Makalu and as well as on perfect clear day Mt. Everest the world’s highest mountain peak. To witness the sun slowly rise above the horizon to reveal the glistening peak of Kanchenjungha range while glazing it with an changing red to orange hue can be an everlasting memory which can be seen from Tiger hill. Tourists have travelled towards Darjeeling from around the globe to experience the astounding feel of witnessing the sunrise from Tiger hill. Tiger hill with its alluring vista of Kanchenjunga and dense forested area of alpine trees has become a must visit place while travelling to Darjeeling.
At an altitude of 7,887 ft amidst the lush green alpine forest of Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary is a serene eco friendly village named Chatakpur. It is situated above a quaint hamlet name Sonada at a distance of 26 km from Darjeeling. Forest department’s initiative to stop the timber trafficking the possibility of eco tourism as alternate way of source of income pave the way of Chatakpur to grow as a tourism destination. With its mesmerising natural beauty quickly Chatakpur is making place as tourism destination in the heart of nature lovers. The watch tower situated at 10 minutes walking distance from the forest cottages of Chatakpur offers the most breathtaking sunrise over the snow clad Himalayan mountain range. Offering the impeccable vista of Kanchenjunga, Chatakpur is a hidden jewel of Darjeeling tourism. Chatakpur is full of astounding forest trails one of which leads towards Pokhari. Pokhari or Pond is located at 10 minutes walking distance. Pokhari acts as a host for numerous Himalayan birds which has made Chatakpur a favoured birding spot for avid bird watchers. Far from the madding crowd, Chatakpur with its vivid greenery and pictorial trekking routes has become the sojourn for all the travellers who want to find solitude amidst the nature.
Nestled on a valley deep below Darjeeling is a scenically blessed place called Barbotey Rock Garden or commonly known as Rock Garden. Rock Garden is one of the places in Darjeeling where tourist can see the perfect blend between nature and human being. The terraced garden built on the base of a water fall creates an excellent sight which has allured many nature lovers visiting Darjeeling towards Barbotey Rock Garden. Barbotey Rock Garden is situated at a distance of 10 km from Darjeeling. Being located in a gorge the downhill journey towards Rock Garden from Darjeeling is an added charm which can be quite scary yet adventurous for the first timer. The hair pin bends can be petrifying while the scenario of lofty mountains sketched with alpine forest is the saving grace throughout the road trip towards Rock Garden. The first sight of water cascading down the valley has a mesmerizing effect. Below the terraced garden of Rock Garden is another park called Gangamaya where traveller can enjoy the view of luxuriant tea gardens sprawled across the valley while boating in a clam lake. The sound of waterfall creates a serene ambiance while the view of cascading water leaves the bystander into a state of trance. The scenic beauty and tranquil ambiance of Rock Garden has made it a must visit destination of Darjeeling.
Situated on the way to Darjeeling on NH 55 is a beautiful town called Kurseong which has inspired many artistic mind over the last few decades. Surrounded with luxuriant Tea Estates Kurseong is located at a distance of 31 km from Darjeeling and 37 km from Siliguri. Earlier Kurseong was a small settlement which came under the limelight after DHR extended its railways routes towards Kurseong. The vibrant Kurseong town is also known as The Place of White Orchids. Comparatively situated at a lower elevation then Darjeeling, Kurseong is blessed with temperate weather throughout the year. Kurseong is dotted with many pictorial destinations which has hyped the interest of traveller visiting Darjeeling. There are many world renowned tea estates which encloses the scenically blessed town of Kurseong like Castleton Tea Estate, Makaibari Tea Estate and Ambootia Tea Garden. Apart from tea gardens there are few viewpoints in Kurseong the famous one being Eagle's Craig which shows a panoramic vista of Siliguri and Balason River. From viewpoints showing astounding sight to decade old museum and pilgrim centre, travellers can visit them all in one single trip to Kurseong.
Located on the foothills of Eastern Himalaya is a sleepy hamlet named Mirik. It is situated amidst the luxuriant forest of Cryptomeria Japonica trees. Perched at an altitude of 4905 ft Mirik is blessed with a temperate weather. The scenically blessed hamlet Mirik is located at a distance of 51 km from Darjeeling and 47 km from Siliguri. The valley is dotted with many pictorial sites. The main attraction of Mirik is Lake Sumendu or commonly known as Mirik Jhill. The beautiful Mirik Lake offers boating facility to the visitors. If the tourists are up for a long leisurely walk the 3 km route around Lake Sumendu can be the best way to relish the serenity of Mirik and they can even opt for a pony ride. Other tourist interest points of Mirik are Tingling viewpoint, Thurbo Tea Estate, Orange Orchard and Sunrise view point. Mirik with its lively spirit has become a favoured destination of the travellers visiting Darjeeling. Far from the rambunctious city life into the serene lap of Mother Nature, Mirik has become the safe haven for the travellers who longs to find solitude.