Darjeeling, an Amazing Himalayan Town - Traveller's Review
Darjeeling is a beautiful hill station tucked away amidst the vast Himalayan ranges in the north of West Bengal. It is a great destination for mountain lovers and summer trips, at a reasonable price. Read more on how to make the best of your Darjeeling trip.
For those who are not familiar, Darjeeling is a beautiful little town located in the lower Himalayan region of North Bengal. Standing at a height of nearly 7000 feet, this scenic hill-station is a very popular tourist spot for summer travellers.
Best Time to Visit DarjeelingFebruary to May is the best time to visit Darjeeling. The sky is relatively clear and fog is not so heavy during these months. So you will get a better view of the Mount Kanchenjunga. Heavy rain starts from June and continues till September.
How to Reach There
The journey uphill is quite thrilling. Like any other mountain road, the roads here are also steep and narrow. But one thing is unique. There is no railing or fencing along the edges. Three hours of unguarded sharp bends with clear view of the valley few hundred feet below can do wonders to your nerves :) Hats off to all the drivers who transport the tourists on a daily basis.
Travel tip: Try to avoid auto-rickshaw because the chilling mountain winds may not be very comfortable.
The Main Attractions
Toy train rideDo not miss the toy train ride that runs from Darjeeling to Ghum and back.
The train travels through the Batasia loop, a vast winding mountainous loop that will give you a wide angle view of the entire Himalayan valley. The scenery during journey is breathtakingly beautiful. Of course, the museum isn't all that fascinating unless you are a history fan.
NOTE: The famous toy train ride between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling is no longer functional.
The Batasia Loop (photo credit - self)
MonasteryThere is a wonderful Japanese monastery with gardens around it. A huge flight of steps lead to the large Buddhist "stupa" that has its walls carved with stories from Lord Buddha's life. The entire campus is surrounded by colossally tall rhododendrons and fur trees, with one of the sides fenced and overlooking the majestic Himalayan range in the far distance. It is a true experience of peace and beauty.
Buddhist Stupa (photo credit - self)
Himalayan Zoological ParkThe zoo here boasts of the rare Red Panda, an extremely rare species that I witnessed for the first time. It looks like a mix of a red-coloured raccoon, a mongoose and a bear. The ticket to the zoo also gets you a free pass to the Tenzing Norgay museum and training centre of mountaineering.
Red Panda taking a nap (photo credit - self)
Adventure ActivitiesThere are numerous adventure sports organized here, right from Himalayan trekking to hot air balloon, paragliding, river rafting, etc. The trek on Tiger Hills is a must for all adventure lovers. It is one of the best sunrise point near Mount Kanchenjunga. The trek starts at midnight 3 PM from the base-camp and is a 3 hour climb. You can catch a midnight shuttle to the base-camp.
Tea GardensDarjeeling has many lush green tea gardens. These can be covered on the same day along with other activities, as exploring the tea gardens really don't take that long, as there isn't much to do once you have finished your photo shoot :)
Tea Plantations (photo credit - self)
Eating and ShoppingThere's one long road that runs across town on which no vehicles are allowed. It's only meant for walking or riding on horse/pony. The town centre, also known as the Mall Road, has a huge number of shops, hotels and eateries surrounding it on all sides. This is the most busy place in this town and is famous for its dragon-based oriental artefacts.
Make sure to visit the Frank Ross Cafe for delicious breakfast or tea. Glenary's restaurant is great for a quiet and up-scale lunch. They also have a huge bakery counter with immense choices of freshly made, delicious pastries, cookies, chocolates and cakes - a paradise for food lovers.
A very detailed article about this famous hill station.
Nowadays people are visiting such places even in winters. Only thing is one should have sufficient woollen garments and muffler and cap etc to protect from the cold. The season just after the rains that is in October and November is very clean and dust free and one can really enjoy Darjeeling at that time.