On a clear day, from Batasia Loop you can witness the mighty Kanchenjungha range glistening in the mid-day sunlight. Batasia Loop is on your way to Darjeeling if you’re travelling via the Hill Cart Road. About 4kms away from the main town of Darjeeling, lies this spectacular garden-like place which is in fact, a gigantic loop for the toy train.
The name originates from Batasia, which means air; and indeed, this place with its perfectly manicured landscape and open spaces all around lives up to it! Numerous benches are strategically placed for tourists to rest for a while or enjoy the serenity of the surrounding hills before they get up and start exploring.
Batasia Loop was commissioned by the British in the year 1919, and it is one of the greatest engineering achievements in the history of Darjeeling. After the toy train crossed Ghoom and chugged its way to Darjeeling, there came a sharp descent of about 100 feet, which is when this loop was created over a massive circular area on a more gentler slope to help the toy train traverse gently and avoid the steep fall.
Later in the year 1995, a War Memorial was built right at the centre of Batasia Loop to commemorate the Gorkha brave hearts who lost their lives while fighting for the country. A cenotaph and a statue of a soldier marks the spot.
What to do in Batasia Loop?
Arrive early to your destination if you wish to miss the regular throngs of crowds, photobombers, and Instagrammers. Travellers who are more drawn towards the unusual can reach as early as 9 am to catch the regular humdrum of shopkeepers who are just setting up their wares, engaging in lively banter over a cup of tea or just counting cash from the previous day’s sales.
Take your time to see around the garden; you’ll find plenty of locals with binoculars offering a sneak-peek to the neighbouring mountains in exchange for some petty cash. Makeshift stalls near the gate of Batasia Loop offer traditional Nepali costumes on rent for you to indulge in a flavour that is authentic and equally touristy.
You can shop to your heart’s content at the local market right outside the memorial. From locally made bags, purses, colourful prayer flags of various sizes, metal curios, Tibetan wind chimes to handmade woollens, the market has something for every kind of traveller. Once done, you can head to the local eateries on the opposite side of the road to gorge on some alu-mimi, a plate of momos, some samosas or even locally-made continental delicacies.