Darjeeling, also fondly known as the “Queen of hill stations”, is nestled in the Himalayas and is famous for its tea production and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This hill town was developed in the mid 19th century, when the British set up a sanatorium and a military depot in Darjeeling. Before this, Darjeeling was the ancient Gorkha capital. Later, the Maharaja of Sikkim gifted Darjeeling to the British.
Darjeeling continues to be a popular holiday destination in India, owing to its scenic beauty and pleasant climate. Apart from tourism, Darjeeling is also popular for its many British style public schools, which attract students from across India and even neighbouring countries.
Places to see
Darjeeling is a travellers delight and is frequented by tourists year after year. Apart from the pleasant weather and scenic beauty, there is a lot to see and do in Darjeeling.
Situated at an altitude of 2590 meters (8482 ft.) and 13 kilometers from the town, this spot has earned international fame for the magnificent view of the sunrise over the “Kanchanjunga” and the great eastern Himalayan Mountains. Even Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, is visible from here. The hesitant rays of the early morning sun paint these peaks in pale gold.
Batasia Loop and the War Memorial
The Batasia loop situated almost 5 km away from the town is a gigantic railway loop where the Toy Train makes a 360 Degree turn. It was basically built to make it possible for the Toy Train to cut the deep ascend. Strategically located the Batasia Loop offers a panoramic view of the Kanchanjunga Range.A War Memorial constructed in the memory of the brave sons of the soil who laid down their lives in the different wars since the independence of the nation adds to its attraction. There is also a well furbished market where visitors can buy locally made purses, bags and other decorative items.
Ava Art Gallery
Situated about 4 km from the Market Square and on the National Highway, Ava.Art Gallery was established in 1965 by the Late. Bhopal Rao Sett and Ava Devi. It is the only Art Gallery of its kind in the Hills. A collection of 60 pieces of art work in water, oil and thread paintings are displayed in the Gallery. Visitors can travel on foot to get to the Gallery or simply hire a taxi. Entrance fees are not charged.
Chowrasta and Mall
Chowrasta, a wide promenade atop a ridge lined with shops and restaurants is taken to be the heart of the town. Here people gather to chat, spend time basking in the sun or just to snatch a moment of peace. The Brabourne Park is attached to the Chowrasta and now features a musical fountain. This place is an open place and free from vehicular movements from where one can watch the scenic beauty of the mountain range and take charm of walking at the Darjeeling Mall. Chowrasta is the central place of the Mall Road.
Rock Garden and Ganga Maya Park
Situated 10 km from town, Rock Garden and Ganga Maya Park has now developed into a very attractive picnic spot with natural water falls. The park offers boating facilities and is endowed with great scenic beauty. Ample eateries are available for visitors to indulge in local delicacies and one can even buy souvenirs. No fees are charged for taking photographs. Visitors are however, required to make arrangements for transportation. A two way travel arrangement is advisable.
The Japanese Peace Pagoda was established by Nipponzan Myohoji, a Japanese Buddhist order. Situated on the slopes of the Jalapahar Hill the pagoda can be reached by foot or on taxi. The pagoda is the highest free structure in the town. It also showcases the four avatars of the Buddha.
It is the oldest Botanical Garden named as Lloyd Botanical Garden with varieties of flora and is famous for two living fossils. It is located just below the Eden Sanatorium(Saheed Durga Mall District Hospital) on an open slope covering an area of about 40 acres. Lloyd Botanical Garden is open seven days a week. There are no entrance fees. A camera, a small note book for a botany enthusiast and a couple of hours to spare, is a must.
Nightingale Park/Srubbery Park
It is about 2-5 kms from Darjeeling Railway Station and walkable from the Chowrasta. It is a beautiful park with a package of cultural programmes performed daily during the tourist season and its opening time is 4.00 p.m. and closing time is 8.00 p.m. The park has recently been extensively re-developed, and now comprises of a giant Statue of Lord Shiva, a temple, and provisions for live-interactive entertainment. The best time to visit the park is in the evenings. Entrance fee is charged and nominal charges for photography may also be required to be made by the visitor.
Darjeeling-Rangit Valley Passenger Cable Car
Darjeeling-Rangit Valley Passenger Cable Car is popularly known as the Ropeway. It is about 3 km north of the town and situated at what is known as the North Point. The Ropeway is India’s oldest passenger ropeway and connects Darjeeling with Singla Bazaar at the bottom of the valley. The present ropeway has been extensively modernized and visitors can now safely travel over the clouds to witness the aerial view of the lush green tea gardens below.
A scenic place near Tiger Hill. This place has popularly come up as a picnic spot among the tourists. The lake supplies drinking water to Darjeeling Town.
Observatory Hill & Mahakal Temple
Also known to the locals as the “Holy Hill”, it is just a few minutes walk from the Chowrasta and is situated on the highest ridge of the town. The Mahakal temple atop the hill is a revered place for the locals and visitors will be surprised to find a Hindu priest and a Buddhist monk sharing a common altar.
Dhirdham temple is modelled on the lines of the famous Pashupatinath temple of Kathmandu and was built in 1939. It is a minute’s walk from the Darjeeling Railway Station.
Happy Valley Tea Garden
Happy Valley tea garden is located just a kilometer away from the main town and is situated along 18 Lebong Cart Road (very near to the District Magistrate’s Office) and offers tourist a refreshing ambience far from the otherwise noisy town. One can soak in the ambience of the tea garden and take a walk through the carpeted garden. You can take a pony from the Chowrasta or merely walk down the hill to reach the factory. The garden is presently closed but the residents are running it through a cooperative.