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Darjeeling - The Queen of Hills

Darjeeling is a hill station in the Indian state of West Bengal, it is situated close to the Boarder with Nepal and Sikkim. Darjeeling is one of the first hill stations of India.

The name "Darjeeling" comes from the Tibetan words Dorje ("thunderbolt") and ling ("place"), literally means "the land of the thunderbolt." It is internationally famous for its tea industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tea plantations date back to the mid nineteenth century as part of a British development of the area.

History

Darjeeling was a part of Sikkim before the British took over the area in 1835 as they found the area suitable for a sanatorium. The cool climate of Darjeeling along with beautiful views made it an attractive place for the British; weary of the heat and dust of Indian plain.

The History of Darjeeling is intertwined with the history of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Bengal and Great Britain. It was originally just a cluster of villages that was administered intermittently by Nepal and Sikkim. Prior to the year 1816, the whole of the territory known as British Sikkim belonged to Nepal, which won it by conquest. Prior to its acquisition by the East India Company in 1835, Darjeeling formed a part of Sikkim and for a brief period of Nepal. Darjeeling came in prominence during the mid 19th century when generally because of its climate, Britishers first established a hill station there after leasing it from the Chogyal of Sikkim. They later discovered that the area was particularly well suited for tea plantations. In 1849, the British annexed the area and Darjeeling became a part of British India. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was opened in 1881 (it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the town became the de-facto summer capital of India during the days when the East India Company governed from Calcutta.

Tourism

Tourism and tea industry constitute the two most significant contributors to Darjeeling's economy. Many consider Darjeeling tea, widely popular, as the best Tea in the world. With time Tea Tourism is also becoming quite popular here. Bungalows like Ghoom, Runglee Rungliot, Sourenee, Selim Hills, etc are quite popular among tourists. Home Stay is another great side of tourism, typical Lepcha, Gurung, Tamang, forest Villages and villages near religious sites host tourists with stay and sightseeing options. Darjeeling has become a popular filming destination for Bollywood and Bengali cinema; since the days of Aradhana, Main Hoon Na, Kanchenjungha, Barfi etc have been filmed there. Colonial architecture exist in Darjeeling from the British days; mock Tudor residences, Gothic churches, the Raj Bhawan (Governor House), Planters' Club and various educational institutions are great attractions for tourists. Buddhist monasteries reflect the pagoda style architecture. 

Geography

Darjeeling is situated at an average elevation of 2050 meters i.e. 6725 feet in the lower Himalayan region - Jalapahar range that originates in the south from Ghum. The range has a Y shape with the base resting at Katapahar and Jalapahar and two arms diverging north of Observatory Hill. Jalapahar range originates in the south from Ghoom / Ghum. The range is Y shape with the base resting at Katapahar and Jalapahar. Darjeeling is also a district and spans over a large area of about 2100 square kilometers now it has been bifurcated by the creation of Kalimpong. The district has subdivisions like Kurseong, Siliguri etc as well as the hill resort town of Mirik. Flora includes temperate, deciduous forests of poplar, birch, oak, and elm as well as evergreen, coniferous trees of wet alpine. Dense evergreen forests lie around the town with a wide variety of rare orchids. Lloyd's Botanical Garden preserves common and rare species of flora, while the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park represents the only specialized zoo in the country conserving and breeding endangered Himalayan species.

Culture

There is a mixed culture yet Nepali culture prevails among majority. Residents are mostly immigrant Nepalese, Tibetans, as well as some Lepchas and Bhutias from Sikkim. Nepalese are mostly Hindus while Tibetans follow Buddhism. When you compare them with the people of lower plains, they are quite different both in looks and culture. It is quite diverse and unique. Two predominant religions are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Dashain, Tihar, Buddha Jayanti, Christmas, Holi, etc. are the main festivals. Besides, the diverse ethnic populace celebrates several local festivals. They are basically very hospitable and extend a lot of warmth. Indigenous ethnic people includes the Lepchas, Bhutias, Sherpas, Rais, Yamloos, Damais, Kamais, Newars and Limbus. Other communities include the Bengalis, Marwaris, Anglo-Indians, Chinese, Biharis and Tibetans. Nepali (Gorkhali) represents the most commonly spoken language; people also use Hindi, Bengali and English.

Food

The Momo, a steamed dumpling containing pork, beef and vegetables cooked in a doughy wrapping and served with watery soup represents a popular food along with Wai-Wai, a favorite with people, comes as a packaged snack consisting of noodles eaten either dry or in soup form. Chhang designates a local beer made from millet. Churpee, a kind of hard cheese made from cow's or yak's milk is used for chewing and a form of noodle called thukpa, served in soup form represents another food popular in Darjeeling.

Climate

It has pleasant climate throughout the year except the winter chill. Darjeeling has five distinct seasons i.e. spring, summer, autumn, winter, and monsoon. Summers are from mid April to mid June have mild temperatures, rarely crossing 25°C i.e. 77°F. Intense torrential rains characterize the monsoon season from May to September. In winter temperature averages 5°C to 7°C i.e. 41°F to 44°F. Occasionally the temperatures drop below freezing with snow fall. During the monsoon and winter seasons, mist and fog often shroud Darjeeling. The average annual precipitation totals 300 cm 

Communication

The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport (IXB) & Pakyong Airport (PYG). The nearest major Railway Station is New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) and the nearest Bus Terminus is Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus (Junction). Nearest Major city is Siliguri of Darjeeling district. It takes about 03 hours to reach Darjeeling from any of these locations by car. Private taxis, shared taxis (available at NJP) and bus are the main public transports to reach Darjeeling from any of these locations. Alternatively, you can take the fascinating toy train from New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) or Siliguri Junction Station all the way up to Darjeeling soaking in the beauty of Himalayas in a 07 hours ride. Guests need to go by road and negotiate steep & winding mountain roads

Places of Tourist Interest

Places of interests are view of Mount Kanchenjunga, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Jore Pokhri Wildlife Sanctuary, Katapahar, Jalapahar, Observatory Hill, Siwalik Hills, Darjeeling Sadar, Mall, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Manebhanjang, Sandakphu, Falut, Rock Garden, Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary, Singalila National Park, Batasia Loop, Rock Garden, Tea Estates, Tea Factories, Tea Bungalow and few British time bakery & Studios. Nearby places are Lamahatta, Mirik, Kurseong, Chatakpur, Sittong, Takdah, Tinchuley, Lebong and many more such destinations.

Tiger Hill – Famous for great view of Kanchenjunga range during sunrise. Tour starts early in the morning before dawn. Experience of a lifetime if the weather is clear.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – The DHR is commonly known as the toy train. The small train travels through narrow gauge rail tract between NJP (Siliguri) to Darjeeling.
Ghum Station on the DHR is one of the highest railway stations in the world.

Batasia Loop – The toy train takes a full circle here in order to gain height on a steep slope. The place is close to Darjeeling town and offers excellent glimpse of the town and the mountains. There is also a garden and a war memorial here.

DHR joyride – A common attraction among tourist is the 2 hour joyride on the toy train. The train travels from Darjeeling town to Batasia loop and back (more information)

Visit to Monastery – The common tourist activity includes visit to a number of Buddhist monasteries around Darjeeling. One of them is the Ghum monastery (Sampten Choling Monastery). This monastery is close to 150 years old. The others include Dali monastery (4 km from town), Japanese peace pagoda etc.

Visit to Tea Garden – A trip to Darjeeling is incomplete without a visit to the tea plantations that creates the famous Darjeeling Brew.

Darjeeling Zoo – Known as the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, this is another obvious tourist attraction. The facility here was world famous for its Red Panda and Snow leopard breeding program.

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute – Darjeeling is also the place where many great mountaineers including Sherpa Tenzing Norgey lived. Tenzing was the first to climb on mt. Everest along with Edmond Hillary. This legacy as well as other great stories of mountaineering is well maintained in the museum inside the Institute.
Being a Tour Operator and a destination management Company we also organize corporate group activities, school excursion other than the normal FIT & MICE. Specialized tour like Birding and Tea Tourism are also organized by us. Adventure activities like Trekking, Camping, etc are taken care of by our team.

Tour Ideas

Darjeeling today is one of the best hill stations in India. Apart from Darjeeling town, a number of other towns in the neighboring area such as Kalimpong, Kurseong, Lava, Loleygaon etc. has got prominence in tourism.
Due to its vicinity to Sikkim; Darjeeling and Sikkim are considered together as a tourist circuit. Till the 1980’s tourism mostly flourished in Darjeeling hills. Since early 90’s Sikkim started gaining prominence in tourism and today tourism in Darjeeling and Sikkim go hand in hand.

The common tours in Darjeeling – Sikkim Sector cover Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Pelling and Gangtok. North Sikkim has also come up as an attractive tour option.

Getting There

New Jalpaiguri / Bagdogra Airprt / Siliguri Town - 70 km - 3 hours
Gangtok - 100 km - 4 hours
Pelling    - 130 km - 5 hours
Kalimpong - 60 km - 2 hours

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About Tripsy

The journey started more than a decade ago when a financial consultant, a social activist and a biology researcher came together to start a business in tourism that none of them knew about. But travel is something they loved and enjoyed, and so they decided to change the paradigms in their own way. And they remarked “travel is more than a profession, it’s a passion”. Read More [+]

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