Darjeeling, A Tourist Paradise
About Darjeeling Tourism
Darjeeling is a popular hill station in the state of West Bengal. At an average elevation of 2050 meters, it is located in the Lesser Himalayan range and provides beautiful views of the mighty Himalayas, especially Kanchenjunga – the world’s third highest mountain peak. Known for its scenic beauty, snow-clad Himalayas, and tea gardens, Darjeeling is frequented by tourists from all over the country as well as from around the world. Especially during the summers, the place is a preferred destination due to its pleasant weather.
History of Darjeeling
The history of modern Darjeeling dates back to the 19th century. Till then, the town was under the reign of the kings of the kingdom of Sikkim. During the British Raj, Darjeeling was a favoured destination due to its cool and temperate climate. It soon became popular among the British, who later, established schools and built buildings in the region. It became the summer capital of the Bengal Presidency in 1864. Tea was introduced in Darjeeling in 1856 and due to this, many British people settled here.
People & Culture of Darjeeling
Darjeeling tea, which is known all over the world for its unique flavour, is one of the main contributors to the town’s economy along with tourism. The scenic tea gardens add to the beauty and popularity of the quaint town. Tourists can choose to stay at some of the tea estates for a unique experience and to see how tea is manufactured.
The population of Darjeeling is quite diverse. The town is home to people from different communities like Gorkhas, Tibetans, Bengali, Chinese, Anglo-Indians, Biharis, and many indigenous ethnic groups. Darjeeling enjoys a languid lifestyle, which is why it attracts many tourists.
Things to do in Darjeeling
The Toy Train is famous in Darjeeling and carries travellers from New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri to Darjeeling across the scenic landscape. A popular tourist attraction in Darjeeling is a jeep ride up to Tiger Hill to view the sun rising from the mighty Himalayas. The Ghoom Monastery, dating back to 1875, is the oldest monastery in Darjeeling and houses many rare and well preserved books. The Tibetan Refugee Centre set up by the Dalai Lama is ideal for purchasing Tibetan handicrafts. Hiking and trekking in Darjeeling are also popular attractions among tourists, which are also covered in Darjeeling holiday packages, which can be bought by tourists visiting the hill station.
The Japanese Peace Pagoda, which is part of a grid of around 30 pagodas, is known for its unique architecture. There are many old colonial buildings in Darjeeling, which add to the charm of the hill town. This, with the pagoda style architecture that defines Buddhist monasteries, gives Darjeeling a completely unique look.
Food & Shopping
The diversity of the locals has had quite an influence on the cuisine of the city. Darjeeling is famous for offering steamed dumplings called momos and Tibetan noodles known as thukpa. The diverse demography also leads to the celebration of various festivals feted by different communities living here.
Darjeeling is also known for its bakeries that serve freshly baked biscuits and a variety of breads. Visitors can try some delicacies and shop for more to take them back home. For more shopping tourists can visit hotspots such as Mall Road and Chowrasta to buy Tibetan woolens, local handicrafts, books, jewellery and tea.
Travelling to Darjeeling
Darjeeling is well connected to Siliguri, 96 km away, by air, rail and road. Tourists can also reach Darjeeling by booking private taxis or jeeps, which is one of the fasted ways to reach the town.
Travelling within Darjeeling
The best way to get around Darjeeling is on foot. Tourists can take leisurely walks in the bazaars and experience the vibrant street life and also savour some local food and tea. Taxis are also available that can take tourists around Darjeeling.
Accommodation options in Darjeeling
Many hotels in Darjeeling, for instance the ones located on Mall Road or near the Governor’s House, provide great views of the mountains, especially of the Kanchenjunga Peak. Many of these are affordable staying options. For all those tourists who want to spend a little more, there are a few hotels located near the tea plantations, which were colonial buildings and have been converted into hotels.
The best time to visit Darjeeling is between March to May and from September to November.