Everything you Need to Know about Darjeeling
Darjeeling, the land of thunderbolt, is located in West Bengal. This place is the epitome of natural beauty making it popularly known as the ‘Queen of the hills’. Darjeeling, most popular for it aromatic tea, is home to only a few thousand residents. Darjeeling’s total turnover and economy is dependent on its tourism and tea production every year.
Although, this beautiful town is blessed with mild temperatures during summer and spring, yet its temperature conditions are not too favourable for survival during the winters. It rains quite frequently here. The town has a major British impact on its lifestyle, cuisine, clothes etc. Darjeeling is about 30 km from Gangtok (another desirable place in India).
The best time to visit Darjeeling is during summer time. It rains heavily during July and September. You can travel to Darjeeling by road. Take a bus from Siliguri and have a look at the beautiful tea gardens as you progress. You can also take Darjeeling mail from Calcutta. The toy train takes you through the lush green tea gardens but takes more time as compared to a bus. This journey is terrifically magical and quixotic. Siliguri is the nearest airport from Darjeeling which is about three hours away.
At present Darjeeling encompasses eighty six active tea gardens that produce more than eleven million kg tea in a year. Darjeeling tea is also found in different flavours. They produce a different flavour every season. Darjeeling tea has extreme nutritional value and also acts as a healer for numerous kinds of disorders like pains, flu or inflammations.
Darjeeling, the natural destination with woods, tea gardens and natural flora and fauna, will not let you sit back in your Hotel room and rest. Let us now see some more places that you can visit Darjeeling for. These attractions include the Aloobari Gompa, the Bengal Natural History Museum, the Badamtan Tea Estate and many more.
Aloobari Gompa is popularly known as the Mark Dong Gompa. This place is located just three km from the heart of Darjeeling. Aloobari Gompa is a monastery, blessed with breathtaking scenic beauty, has Tibetan and Sikimmese monks. You can also visit this place for some handicraft shopping.
The Bengal Natural History Museum is situated in the centre of Darjeeling near Chowrashtra. You will be mesmerized by their splendid collection of fauna. This collection offers fauna from different parts of Bengal and the Himalayas.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling also has a world renowned Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. This Himalayan Railway is popularly called as the toy train by the locals. It runs from Siliguri to Darjeeling in West Bengal. The 2 feet long train is a world famous UNESCO heritage site since 1999. This train is powerful and uses powerful diesel engines to climb up an elevation of 328 ft.
Since 2005, it also goes up to the Nilgiri Mountain Railway which is an addition to its original end. Locals generally travel by this train which makes it quite crowded. The train passes through beautiful tea gardens and this journey is not comparable to any other rail journey in the nation.
- Location: Hill Cart Road
Not many people know that Darjeeling offers a rich aromatic cuisine which is found nowhere in the world. As you travel around the tea estate, you would find many local eateries offering good food at decent prices. Darjeeling cuisine has traces of Nepalese and Tibetan food. You would also find many local restaurants or roadside vendors offering momos, thupka, churpee, wai wai and soup. As major income of this place depends upon its tourism rate, all the eateries are decent, hygienic and sumptuous.
Tea is obvious beverage taken with meals in Darjeeling. They also consume an indigenous beer known as Tongba which is alcohol free. Darjeeling restaurants offer spicy and steaming hot food. If you are not so fond of spicy food, then you can also find multi cuisine restaurants here. Darjeeling cakes are also considered quite special and are taken with evening tea.
Overall, Darjeeling offers great eating places with delectable food, soothing music and eye pleasing ambience. Some of these popular eating places include the Glenary’s bakery and Cafe (very popular for its cakes, sizzlers and Darjeeling cuppas), the Hot Stimulating Cafe (popular for its cosy environment, Momos and some amazing local culture and music), Hotel Lunar (topmost vegetarian restaurant in Darjeeling), Kungas (for best Tibetan food) and Hotel Chanakkya (for best Bengali food in Darjeeling).
The serene and calm place also has an amazing nightlife. You will find many young boys and gals dressed in lungis enjoying the vibrancy of this beautiful place at night. Some of them have guitars and play through the night. Darjeeling also has some good rock bands that play all over the town. You can enjoy at happening nightclubs like Joey's and Glenary’s. You may want to compare this pub with high profile city lounges, but it will not be fair. Darjeeling has serene lounges and pubs. Along with relishing the beautiful meadows and woods, you will also enjoy the night beats here. Glenary’s is more popular for its bar.
The beautiful hill station has a lot to offer when it comes to shopping. Shopping in Darjeeling is a pleasant way of enjoying your vacation. Darjeeling handicrafts have a great Tibetan influence as in case of culture and food. These pieces are not found anywhere in the world or any other part of West Bengal. You must take home the fine Tibetan craftsmanship in the form of tinklets, jewellery and other artefacts.
If you wish to shop for great woollen and handloom stuff, then Darjeeling is a great place. The main hunt for shopping is in the heart of the city at the Chowrasta. If you are fond of silver jewellery then there could be no better place than this. They have the best collection of antique and contemporary designs. They sell beautiful woollen carpets, Woollen fabrics, bamboo umbrellas, wooden carvings and brass pieces. Shopping here is real fun. Their artefacts are unique and make excellent gifts for friends and relatives. You could also visit the Nehru Road, Chowk Bazar, Hayden Hall and the Ladenla Road for great handicrafts.
If you are in Darjeeling, you can’t afford to miss the unique Darjeeling tea. This is the most sorted after product in whole of Darjeeling. Every visitor wants to take home the whole bundle of different flavours (like Easter Flush, Autumn Flush, Spring Flush and Summer Flush) available in Darjeeling tea. Darjeeling also has the Manjusha Emporium where you can shop for the traditional West Bengal products like Silk, Khadi and handloom.