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Darjeeling

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Darjeeling is in a small city in West Bengal, India.

Understand

Originally just a cluster of villages that was administered intermittently by Nepal and Sikkim, Darjeeling grew in prominence during the mid 19th century when the British discovered that the area was suitable for growing tea. The town was subsequently annexed by the British Indian Empire, and in 1881 a small railway was constructed linking the town with the lowlands. This development greatly enhanced the town's prosperity and regional importance.

Due to its cool summer climate, Darjeeling also served as a summer retreat for the British living in Kolkata and in the plains, and as a result, a Victorian town was built among the Himalayan foothills. The British empire has long gone, but the ideal climate and the legacy of British architectural gems remains, making the town a very popular summer resort with both native Indian and foreign tourists. The town is also a jumping off point for travelers heading to Sikkim.

Darjeeling is also a politically sensitive region in India's North-East subject to disruptions in daily affairs from the Gorkha political groups. Hence one must check the local conditions before venturing towards the hills.

Get in

By plane

The nearest airport is Bagdogra (near Siliguri, 96 kms away from Darjeeling.)

  • 9W-602 Bagdogra-Delhi 1425 1640 Everyday
  • 9W-617 Calcutta-Bagdogra 1110 1210 Mon, Tues, Sat
  • 9W-618 Bagdogra-Calcutta 1240 1340 Mon, Tues, Sat
  • Air Deccan also runs budget flights to and from Bagdogra from Delhi and Calcutta.


By taxi

Siliguri is the nearest town. Ample transport is available to Darjeeling from here. The most popular modes of transport are taxi (usually shared by 3-4 passengers), share jeep (10 passengers).

However a Taxi from Siliguri will not take you out for sight seeing once on the hills/or in the Darjeeling town ship. It is advisable to take a one way taxi from Siliguri into Darjeeling, and book a Taxi within Darjeeling for sight seeing and your journey back to Siliguri. Taxi-fares are standard, and are generally affixed on the rear wind shield of the vehicle.

By bus

There is a regular bus service from Silguri to Darjeeling.

By train

New Jalpaiguri (NJP) in Siliguri is the nearest station on the main inter-city line. From there, a 'toy train' completes the journey to Darjeeling. This route is very popular with tourists as in passes through some very picturesque mountain scenery and has been the subject of many romantic articles. Trains depart at 9AM and arrive in Darjeeling at 7pm.

Get around

Darjeeling is a small town and the salubrious climate means walks around town are an extremely enjoyable means of getting around. For longer trips, taxis are available in stands near the entrance to the Mall.

See

  • Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
  • Himalayan Zoo - Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park
  • Buddhist monasteries
  • The Kanchenjunga - best seen at dawn from Tiger Hills (check out the weather though, a cloudy day can ruin the effort of getting up at 0300 hrs. Also for traffic jams, can take hours in the morning rush when almost all the taxis here are at the Tiger hills.)

Do

Darjeeling is one of the oldest hill stations in India, and has plenty of options, both for those seeking a lazy getaway from the hot plains, as well as nature enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies. Apart from sights within the town, there are plenty of trek options along the Himalayan ridges on the Indo-Nepal border near Darjeeling. The most popular one being the Singhalia Ridge Trail. Bookings for guides, porters and accommodation on the trail can be made in Darjeeling or in the nearby town of Manebhanjang, which serves as the trail-head.

Buy

Darjeeling is famous the world over for its teas, which are very aromatic and have a delicate taste. Shops selling teas (usually owned by local tea gardens), dot the area in and around the Mall. Nathmulls is especially known for their tea and also ship worldwide. Stop by to smell the numerous varieties they have to offer.

Cheap Chinese products also available. Also a good place for collectors of items pertaining to the mountainous regions (like dragon paintings, Lama paintings, miniature monasteries etc.)

Eat

'Momos' - a steamed delicacy are a staple food offered by almost every eating joint. Several eateries which dish out North Indian, Nepali, Tibetan, and continental fare dot the area around the Mall.

  • Glenary's Bakery and Cafe. A good place for pastries, the ubiquitous Darjeeling cuppa, sizzerlers and North Indian fare. Offers nice views of the Kanchendzonga on clear days.
  • Hot Stimulating Cafe. On the way to Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, on Hooker Road, is this lovely little cozy place. The Momos here are awesome! They even offer a Momo-cooking course! The guy who owns it can double up as your local guide, trekking along with you to some adventurous outings from Darjeeling.

Vegetarians: Can head to Merry Resort on the Hill carter road about 3 Km away from Darjeeling railway station.

Drink

  • Tea -- Darjeeling tea is world renowned after all.
  • Joey's Pub -- Pop into Joey's Pub for some cheap beer, great hospitality, cricket on TV etc.

Sleep

There are several forest guest houses in the Darjeeling area, although in order to stay at any of these a special permit from West Bengal Forest Department is required.

Budget

there are about 200 hotels and lodges in darjeeling. so you can get a room easily for different budgets.

Mid range

  • Viramma Villa on Jalapahar Road, above TV tower
  • Hotel Dekeling
  • Hotel Windamere
  • Hawk's Nest Resort
  • Hotel Sunflower
  • Hotel Heritage
  • Hotel Dil
  • Hotel Sonar Bangla
  • Hotel Prince
  • Swiss Hotel, A charming Colonial style hotel with own garden.
  • Hotel Pineridge On Mall All room are Kanchenjungha Facing 0354 2254088
  • Hotel Fairmont 1050-2000 0354 2253649
  • Jimkhana Resort On Mall 0354 2257325

Get out

When travelling back to the Airport (Bagdogra) or the Railway Station (NJP) you can stay at Viramma Resort a comfortable natural resort which comes on the Darjeeling Highway, 5 mins before of the main city of Siliguri.

Also the scenic drive to Mirik (which is a detour to Siliguri on Darjeeling-Mirik-Siliguri). check out the Mirik lake and the monastery nearby



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