Darjeeling is a town under the district of similar name in West Bengal. It is located in the lower hills and foothills of Eastern Himalaya and mostly famous for its tea gardens, toy-train and spectacular view of Mt Kanchenjunga. For a long time, Darjeeling has been favourite to the adventurers for extraordinary opportunity of hiking, trekking, paragliding, river rafting, mountain biking etc.
Darjeeling used to have over 100 tea-gardens once, but today only around 87 of them are operational, covering an area of 46,950 acres. Over 50,000 workers serve in the plantation and factories of these tea estates. Tea has been a very important part of making a great reputation of Darjeeling because of the world famous aromatic tea which is cultivated here.
About 3 km away from Chowk Bazaar area through a narrow winding downhill road, the Happy Valley Tea-Estate is a perfect place to witness the beautiful green tea cultivation fields and tea processing.
One of the early tea-estates of Darjeeling, Tukvar Tea Estate holds a good reputation in producing one of the finest brand tea of Darjeeling. It is also named as Puttabong Tea Estate.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway runs a mountain train between the railway stations of Ghum and NJP. It runs on a 2 gauge narrow track and is given heritage status by UNESCO in recent past. A visit to Darjeeling is incomplete without a ride in this toy-train.
The toy-train passes a spiral or loop-like track around the War Memorial, which was built dedicating the Gorkha soldiers, died in the freedom movement of India. The loop helps the trains to go uphill and is called the Batasia Loop. View of Darjeeling from here is just awesome.
Watching the sunrise from the top of Tiger Hill is one of the most popular attractions of Darjeeling. People gather here on a day when the sky is clear, to observe Mt Kanchenjunga and Mt Makalu, coloured with the first ray of the sun. Even Mt Everest can be seen peeping from behind Makalu.
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is a very prestigious part of Darjeeling’s history, pioneering the attempt to establish mountaineering as a respected sport. Tenzing Norgay was appointed as the first field instructor here. And the Everest Museum inside the institute complex has a great collection of all the equipments and images of great expeditions to scale Everest. It also has a good collection of flora and fauna.
Along with the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, there you can visit Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoo in the same complex. A wide collection of high-altitude birds and animals of regular and rare species, like red panda, snow leopard etc can be seen here. It is the only place in India preserving the Siberian Tiger. The zoo is famous for its snow leopard breeding programme.
A unique collection of Himalayan plants, flowers and orchids are found in the Lloyd Botanical Garden. It is located below the Darjeeling bus stand. The environment and landscape of the garden is so peaceful that you can feel the silence of nature.
The Yiga-Choling Monastery in Ghum attracts all type of tourists here. It is mainly famous for an image of Maitreya Buddha inside the monastery. Nearby there is the Ghum Railway Station, which is regarded as the highest altitude railway station of the world.
The Chowrasta of the Mall Road of Darjeeling is situated at the top of a ridge. Alongside it, many shops and restaurants can be seen, which is known as Darjeeling Mall. This is a perfect place to stroll around in a peaceful and serene atmosphere.
This centre in Darjeeling helps the Tibetan refugees to gain self-confidence and self-dependence through various art and craft-works. It is a major centre in this region producing Tibetan carpets, woodworks and leather goods.
The pagoda style Dhirdham temple, located near the Darjeeling Railway Station, was built in 1939 with gold and silver and shows a superb art and architecture. The statue of Lord Shiva outside the main temple reflects the Tibetan touch in the design.
The Shanti Stupa in Darjeeling is actually known as the Japanese Peace Pagoda. It is called so because Nichidatsu Fujii, a Buddhist Monk from Japan, built it in Japanese monastery style, to bring the people of all races under the shelter of peace.
Uphill the Mall, tourist visit the Observatory Hill to pay regard to Lord Shiva in the Mahakal Temple, located at the top of the hill, and to get a 360 degree view of Darjeeling and the peaks surrounding it. One can also visit the Bhutia Busty Monastery and Gompa and Jagdish Temple.
Who wouldn’t like to observe the ‘queen of hills’ from upside? To provide the tourist an aerial view of the town, tea gardens, rivers, jungle and surrounding hills of Darjeeling, a ropeway service is operated, which is known as Rangit Valley Passenger Cable Car.
The Barbotey Rock Garden is 10 km down from the valley of Darjeeling town. The garden is full of beautiful flowers and owns a pleasant ambience for picnics or a day’s out. There is a waterfall in the garden which turns to full gear during late summer. That is why it is named as Chunnu Summer Falls. This park is 3km further down from Rock Garden. Gangamaya Park is basically a valley surrounded by hills with a natural stream flowing through it.
This national park is located at the Singalila ridge of higher Darjeeling hills, covering an area of 78 sq km. Trekkers love to explore this place again and again because of the excellent opportunity to witness wildlife life red panda, Himalayan black bear and the exotic scenario of the Himalayas.
The ‘Moneky Rocks’ beside the Lebong Cart Road are actually named as Tenzing Rock and Gombu Rock. These two rocks are named after the great Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Nawang Gombu. Preliminary courses on climbing the rocks are conducted by HMI.
Mirik is a beautiful hill town of Darjeeling district and a frequently visited tourist hub of West Bengal. The town being pretty much accessible from nearby towns like Siliguri, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong, holds sightseeing locations like Sumendu or Mirik Lake, Rameetay Dara, Chokhor Ling Monastery, Devi Sthan, Rai Dhap, Don Bosco Church etc.