Nestled against the scenic backdrop of the rugged Himalayan mountains of Darjeeling, the Mahakal Temple is where you can witness an amalgamation of cultures, colours, and myths. Located atop the Observatory Hill in the Mall Road area, the uphill walk to the temple lasts for about 15-20 minutes.
Whether you’re casually taking a stroll around the much-famed Chowrasta area or are a part of the usual touristy sight-seeing game, you’ll find your way to the Darjeeling Observatory Hill which is also known for the gorgeous views it offers of the Kanchenjunga on a bright, sunny day.
How to reach
A prominent signboard near a flight of stairs can be found as you walk towards the Mall Road, clearly indicating the way to the top of the Darjeeling Observatory Hill towards the Mahakal Temple. Brace yourself for quite a steep climb if you’re not an avid traveller. Soak in the surrounding vistas of greenery often brought to life by the occasional chirping of birds as you stop to take a picture or two on your way, or wait to catch your breath on your way up. As you reach closer to the main temple facade, you’ll cross the Siddhi Sai Baba Temple and the Hanuman Temple, which is how you know you’re nearing the summit.
What to see
At the entrance colourful Buddhist prayer flags, merrily fluttering in rhythm with the wind characterised by the low, deep clangs of the temple bells stand proof to the concept of mutual coexistence. The Mahakal Temple is well-steeped in history; legend says that the original Dorjeling Monastery stood at the spot where the Mahakal Temple stands today. After the monastery was destroyed during the Gorkha Invasion, it was rebuilt down south of its earlier location. In the same spot emerged the Mahakal Temple.
This quaint historical temple in Darjeeling is extremely popular among local devotees and tourists alike. The main temple compound houses multiple other shrines including a white chorten or a Tibetan memorial shrine to pay homage to its Buddhist relics. There are also Shrines dedicated to Goddess Kali, Durga, Ganesha among others. Amidst the chilly mountain air, the calm setting, the mixed scent of burning diyas and incense sticks wafting in the air, and the holy chants of Buddhist monks and Hindu priests alike make a visit to the Mahakal Temple an experience of a lifetime. While making the descent down the Darjeeling Observatory Hill you’ll come across the Mahakal Cave which is said to be as old as the temple itself and houses idols of Durga and a Shiva Linga.
The Observatory Hill in itself is an experience mostly owing to the uninterrupted views it provides. On clear days you can see as far as up to Sikkim. On other days, the hill is a shroud of mystery enveloped in a thick layer of fog.
Pro Tip- You might find pestering monkeys along the way so it is advisable to keep your belongings at bay.
When to visit
The Mahakal Temple is open from sunrise to sundown. Try and catch the golden light bouncing off the mountains during sunset for that post you’d want to gram later!