Darjeeling, West Bengal
Location: West Bengal
Tourist Attractions: Batasia Loop, Bhutia Busty Gompa, Chowrasta
Local Tongue: English, Nepali, Hindi, Tibetan, Bengali
STD Code : (91) – 354
Best time to Visit: March-May & September – November
Snuggled amidst the lush mountains of West Bengal, Darjeeling is a quaint hill town known for its velvet green hills and lush tea plantations. A place of immense natural beauty, its proximity to the snow-clad mountains of the Himalayas blesses Darjeeling with a salubrious climate that forms one of the major tourist draws besides other attractions such as the famous toy train, Darjeeling tea, and immense natural beauty. The people of Darjeeling are warm and friendly, who welcome their guests with open arms and leave no stones unturned to make them feel at home. As the sun rises, the place starts becoming lively with local Gorkhali songs filling the atmosphere and the residents heading off to work.
Climate & Best time to Visit
The climate of Darjeeling remains pleasant round the year except for a few months during monsoons. Summer season witnesses temperatures hovering between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius while winters can be cold with temperatures dropping down to as low as 2 degrees. Monsoon season arrives during May end and the city is deluged by heavy rainfalls. The best time to visit Darjeeling is the months from March to May and September to November.
Also Read: West Bengal – Culture and Tradition
Tourist Attractions in Darjeeling
Situated just 5 km from the main Darjeeling city, Batasia is a tiny town of immense natural beauty. The place houses a market that sells locally made goods such as leather purses, handbags, handicrafts items, etc. The loop is where the toy train of Darjeeling takes a sharp turn.
Bhutia Busty Gompa
Darjeeling is known for its exotic Gompas, especially the Bhutia Busty Gompa which stands proudly against the backdrop of the mighty Kanchenjunga mountains. The ancient monastery is situated just a short distance from the chowrasta and houses a number of rare Tibetan manuscripts. The Dhoom gompa is another tastefully decorated piece of architecture.
Chowrasta is the major shopping promenade and the hub of most of the activity in Darjeeling. Consisting of a number of shops, the chowrasta occupies the same place of importance for the tourists as the Mall road in Shimla and Mussoorie. The panoramic views of the snow-laden mountains and some ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples are other attractions of the place.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
If you want a crash course in mountain climbing or just looking to polish your skills before taking on the rocks, then the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is the place you need to head to. Started by the famous Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the place also houses a collection of mountaineering equipment on display.
Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway
The cable car connects the Singla Bazaar with the North Point, situated at an altitude of 7000 feet. The gondolas slowly move up the 8 km ascent offering a breathtaking view of the surroundings, in process. You may have to wait for hours to experience the 45-minute ride, yet the wait is worth it, considering the priceless views on offer.
Things to Do
Ride the Toy Train
The 83 km memorable journey on board the Darjeeling Toy Train is probably one thing you would not want to miss on your Darjeeling vacation. The beautiful train takes the tourists from Siliguri to Darjeeling as it passes amongst sites of breathtaking natural beauty, lush greenery, and tiny hamlets. The engineering system of the train makes use of a special lopped and switch back mechanism to encounter the steep uphill climb.
The chowrasta is the major shopping promenade lined with numerous small and big shops that sell everything from local specialties to international brands. Some of the musts buy include the locally made Tibetan paintings known as thangka, traditional masks, Nepali khukri, wooden statues, brass objects, and woolen clothing. Fresh tea can be purchased from one of the many factory retail shops.
Darjeeling is one of the most favored hill stations of India, frequented by thousands of visitors all round the year. The city boasts of a number of quality hotels that provide good accommodation facilities for its guests ensuring a memorable and comfortable stay. Some of the best hotels in Darjeeling include New Elgin Hotel (3 stars, situated on H. D. Lama Road just 0.5 km from railway station & bus stand), Hotel Shambhu (3-star equivalent, situated on Gandhi Road near the bus stand), Cedar Inn (3 stars, situated on H. D. Lama Road just 0.5 km from bus stand), Hotel North Star (3 stars, situated on H. D. Lama Road just 0.5 km from bus stand), Hotel Sinclair (3 stars, situated on Gandhi Road just 2 km from bus stand & 0.5 km from city center), Hotel Swiss (3 stars, situated on Gandhi Road) and Hotel Lunar (3-star equivalent, situated on Gandhi Road just 1 km from bus stand).
By Air: Bagdogra, situated at a distance of 94 km from Darjeeling is the nearest airport. The three and a half hour road journey from there can be covered via local buses or hired taxis, which are easily available for Rs. 800 to 1000.
By Rail: The nearest broad gauge railhead is New Jalpaiguri, situated at a distance of 81 km from Darjeeling. New Jalpaiguri is connected with Darjeeling through the famous toy train. Besides, taxis and buses can also be hired to access the city from there. Daily trains between Delhi and New Jalpaiguri are the North East Exp., Brahmaputra Mail, Mahananda Exp. and Avadh Assam Exp.
By Road: Darjeeling is well connected to other neighboring places through well-built roads. State transport and private operators run regular buses between Darjeeling and other major neighboring cities including Calcutta.
Distance from Major Cities
Siliguri: 77 Km
Gangtok: 120 Km
Guwahati: 590 Km
Calcutta: 500 Km
Kathmandu: 677 Km