Darjeeling Travel Guide

Darjeeling Travel Guide

Darjeeling Travel Guide. Photo courtesy Prabita Khambu Rai

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The glistening white peaks of the Kanchenjunga with lush green slopes— Darjeeling is every wide-eyed traveler’s dream destination. The scenic beauty of the tea plantations accompanied by dreamy mountains will rejuvenate your heart and soul. 

With rhododendrons swaying in the wind and mysterious woods of oak and pine, Darjeeling is the most dreamy and rustic place. The occasional whistle of the toy train through the rounded lanes will fill your heart with joy. Darjeeling is a place that exudes colonial charm in every bit of its architecture. The place also has a hip, youthful vibe that blends in just perfectly with its heritage. 

How to reach Darjeeling

Darjeeling is a part of West Bengal and the nearest airport is the Bagdogra airport. If you are planning to go by train, New Jalpaiguri (NJP) station is your best bet. It is well connected to all other major cities across the country. The nearest air connection to Darjeeling is the Bagdogra Airport. Many carriers including Jet Airways, Air India, Indigo, SpiceJet run direct flights to Darjeeling. Private or shared cabs are available from Bagdogra and NJP to take you to Darjeeling. 

You can also avail the DHR Toy Train service from New Jalpaiguri to reach Darjeeling at a speed of 30 miles/hour. However, if you want an economical way to reach Darjeeling you can avail the bus service. Regular buses are available from Siliguri that will take you to Darjeeling. You can get similar buses from Kalimpong and Kurseong. Even the city of Gangtok runs regular buses but it will take longer to reach Darjeeling. 

Where to stay in Darjeeling

Imagine waking up to a glorious morning where the Kanchenjunga range is bathed in warm hues and glistening sun rays. You can pair it up with a cup of steaming hot Darjeeling tea to beat the nip in the air. Darjeeling has a mix of places for you to book your accommodation. You can choose from luxury upscale properties or go for more affordable budget options.

Windamere

Windamere, Darjeeling
Windamere, Darjeeling

This is an upscale property located on top of Observatory Hill with uninterrupted views of the Himalayan range around. The hotel is close to the Mall and cars come up right up to the hotel.

Darjeeling Tourist Lodge

This is a good option for mid-range travelers since this property is government-owned. It is very close to the main hub of Darjeeling- Chowrasta. It also offers good views, with a restaurant and a bar for you to grab a drink in the evenings!

Tumsong Tea Retreat

Tumsong Tea Retreat
Tumsong Tea Retreat

If you’re looking for a couple of days away from the hustle and bustle of city life, book your stay here. The tea estate in itself is massive, with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains. There’s a bio-organic garden and a tea garden to explore. Tourists are offered accommodation in the main Tumsong bungalow which dons a colonial vibe with its architecture and antique furnishings.

Singalila Jungle Lodge

Singalila Jungle Lodge
Singalila Jungle Lodge

If you want to live amidst the scenic lush greenery, then this place is your best pick. It offers the best view of the breathtaking mountains. Absorb the beauty of nature while taking a stroll around the property. It is one of the best honey cottages available in Darjeeling. You can choose family rooms or premium suites. It comes with an in-house restaurant and garden area to enhance your convenience. 

The English Cottage

The English Cottage, Darjeeling
The English Cottage, Darjeeling

The interior decor and countryside setup serves justice to the name. If you want a place that is closer to nature, then this cottage is your ideal destination. Engulf in the mesmerizing view of the royal Kanchenjunga. It offers free Wi-Fi, a kitchenette, a terrace, and a garden. The place is close to famous attractions like Mahakal Mandir, Zoological Park, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, and Happy Valley Tea Estate.  Places like Ghoom Monastery and Tiger Hill are about 7 kilometers from The English Cottage. 

Khambuhang Nature Holiday Camp

Experience tranquillity and the best view at this property in Darjeeling. Absorb in the beautiful sight of birds chirping and lush green trees. The place is strategically placed amidst the natural wonders of Darjeeling with incredible staff hospitality.

Red Panda Eco Huts

This affordable property is situated close to some of the major tourist attractions. You can easily go to places like Canopy Walk, Jamgon Kongtrul Monastery, Zuluk Wildlife Area, and Deolo Hill from here. Enjoy a great view of the Himalayas with freshly served food and warm hospitality. It is one of the cheapest places to stay in Darjeeling. 

Tieedi Earthy Dwelling

Tieedi Earthy Dwelling, Darjeeling
Tieedi Earthy Dwelling, Darjeeling

Get mesmerized by the location and interiors of this property. It is situated right in the center of the forest to revive your soul and spirits. If you want to stay in an offbeat place in Darjeeling, this property should be first on your list. With a bamboo construction and beautifully crafted huts, this place is an absolute beauty! It offers facilities like free parking, vehicle service, and breakfast to its visitors. 

There are of course other options you can choose from to suit your budget and preferences.

Where and what to eat in Darjeeling

Darjeeling has a fairly varied traveller base and has something to offer to everyone. Whether you’re backpacking, travelling from overseas, or are just in town for a weekend retreat you will find the best food here. The food here is diverse with a mix of ethnicity and local flavours in most dishes. You cannot miss an authentic Nepali thali during your stay in Darjeeling. However, there are a couple of other dishes too that are a must-try for any traveller.

Momos

Momo
Momo

The most popular snack in Darjeeling, this Tibetan dish has several variants. Non-vegetarians can go for chicken, pork, or beef filling momos. Whereas vegetarians can go for the good old cabbage and carrot filling. Momos are served with a spicy chutney, commonly known as aachar and clear soup.

Where to eat- You can look for small, vintage joints to experience the local flavors at their best. You can also try momos at Hasty Tasty, Kunga, Hot Stimulating Café, and more.

Alu Dum

Alu dum
Alu dum

Typically a side dish, Alu Dum is famous among locals and visitors alike. Boiled potatoes are cooked in a spicy red chilli gravy with a thick consistency and often garnished with crispy bhujia.

Where to eat- All small eateries serve this local side dish; served in leaf plates this itself is an experience. You can also try some at Beni’s Cafe.

Thukpa

Thukpa
Thukpa

Another Tibetan delicacy, Thukpa is noodle soup mixed with eggs, meat, veggies and served steaming hot in a bowl.

Where to eat- There are small eateries that serve Thukpa on Mall Road, but you can also try at Deveka’s and Kunga.

Other must-visit cafes or restaurants to visit are the iconic Keventers, Glenary’s, Frank Ross Cafe, and Revolver. You must also visit Sonam’s Kitchen, Golden Tips, and Nathmulls Tea Bars, Gatty’s Cafe, and more.

Places to visit in Darjeeling

Tiger Hill

Tiger Hill, Darjeeling
Tiger Hill, Darjeeling

The highest point in Darjeeling, Tiger Hill is best experienced at breaking-dawn. It is the time when the sun is rising, spreading its warm hues over the majestic Kanchenjunga range. Engulf in the illumination view of the snow-capped mountain peaks sitting peacefully among the cotton clouds. You can reach this mesmerizing place by 4:15 AM and set your soul free in the scenic beauty of Tiger Hill. However, the roads often get congested by a convoy of cars and jeeps during the peak months. You can book a car via travel agencies to reach here. 

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR)
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR)

Darjeeling is famous for its Toy Trains that can excite adults as well as the young ones. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway runs between Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri. Enjoy the soothing mountain views while the toy train passes through local shops and villages. The Darjeeling Toy Train can pass through the steep gradients and unfeasible curves of the rugged mountain roads. A UNESCO World Heritage, the Darjeeling toy train offers the most pleasing ride to its visitors. It is a must-visit place for all. 

Mall or Chowrasta

Chowrasta, Darjeeling
Chowrasta, Darjeeling

Chowrasta is the meeting point of four different roads and the hip, happening hob of Darjeeling. Lined by shops that sell everything from clothes to candies to souvenirs, Chowrasta or the Mall is a hotspot for tourists. Even locals are seen gathering here now and then. Grab a steaming cuppa at one of the cafes, or spend one of your evenings strolling around the place. The place is where you can live the local culture at its best.

Batasia Loop

Batasia, Darjeeling
Batasia, Darjeeling

This is a popular tourist haunt. Firstly for the sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains on a clear, bright day.  Secondly, this is where the toy-train takes a sharp descent. It offers the best picturesque view by following a lush green pathway. You can opt for a joy-ride on the toy train from Darjeeling to Ghoom and back. It is one of the most refreshing expeditions that you cannot miss during your stay in Darjeeling. 

It is located on NH 55, Hill Cart Road, offering a panoramic view of the mountains with all its verdant glory. The Batasia Loop pathway was developed to ease the navigation system in Darjeeling. It will take around the green carpet of Darjeeling vegetation while overlooking the majestic snow-clad peaks of the heavenly Kanchenjunga. Pass through the white clouds and run deep into the emerald beauty of the steep terrain. 

Darjeeling Ropeway

If you want an exquisite overview of the beautiful landscape of Darjeeling, you should opt for the Darjeeling Ropeway. Get an unfiltered view of the snow-capped mountains, verdant tea estates, and glorious terrains of Darjeeling. Darjeeling Ropeway will provide you with a heavenly panoramic view of the charming landscapes. Travel past the breathtaking valleys and magical tea gardens. 

Darjeeling Ropeway has been a tourist hotspot for years. It has 16 cable cars with each one accommodating about 6 people at a time. Enjoy the view of the cascading waterfalls and the glistening Kanchenjunga. Every tourist must dive right into this magical experience. 

The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park
Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park

Spot rare animals at the zoo, including the snow leopard, the endangered red panda, various birds, and butterflies, and more. It houses a wide variety of rare animals and has been an attraction for all nature enthusiasts. Often called Darjeeling Zoo, this place has the best conservation and breeding programs that are Internationally renowned. You will also find the Asiatic black bear, Pheasant, Sambar Deer, Himalayan Wolf, Yak, Temminck’s Tragopan, Macaw, and Lady Amherst. 

The zoo specializes in keeping animals that are suited to alpine conditions. It has the best captive breeding policies for endangered species like the Red Panda and Himalayan wolf. If you are an animal lover you must visit this place and watch these exquisite animals. 

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

If you are interested in the sport of mountaineering then Darjeeling has something grand for you. Make a stop at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute while you’re there. Channel your energy and indulge in a sport that sends an adrenaline rush in your body. The picturesque setting of the institute makes it a popular choice among tourists. The institute strives to develop mountaineering as a scientific sport with an entrepreneurial pursuit. 

The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute will provide you with intensive training with artful techniques to ace the sport. Give wings to your thrill of indulging in an adventurous sport with the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. Rule the raw landscape and climb the snow-covered mountains. The institute brings you a step closer to the raw nature and lives up to your thrill. It also has a museum that displays interesting artifacts collected from various treks and expeditions.

Nightingale Park

Relish the charming beauty of the Kanchenjunga while sitting at this public park. Earlier known as ‘The Shrubbery’, Nightingale Park offers a great place to relax in the soothing winds amidst the snow-capped mountain peaks. Climb a few steps and reach this green haven. You will also find a majestic statue of Shiva, the Lord of the universe. The place also boasts of a musical fountain and magical green scenery. 

Singalila National Park

Singalila National Park
Singalila National Park Darjeeling

Boasting an altitude of 7000 feet+, it is the highest national park that you will find in West Bengal. It was originally a wildlife sanctuary which later got converted into a national park. It has a massive land of rhododendron forests with the rarest type of orchids. The alpine valley and rare animals will surely take your breath away. The place also provides a panoramic view of the breathtaking Himalayas. 

Singalila National Park is home to the Himalayan black bear and exotic Red pandas. The place forbids practices like poaching, developmental forestry, and hunting. 

Sandakphu Trek

Sandakphu
Sandakphu, Darjeeling. Photo by Poozan

Located at a height of 11,941 ft, the Sandakphu peak is famous for being the highest peak in West Bengal. This place will give you the best view of the four highest peaks in our world. You can trek to this place or travel via car. 

You will find the Himalayan Cobra Lilies which lends the name of ‘Mountain of poisonous plants’ to this place. This beautiful peak is a paradise for all nature lovers around the globe. You will find 600+ types of orchids in this place, along with magnolias, rhododendrons, primulas, and other wildflowers.

Tinchuley

Tinchuley derives its name from two different words which mean ‘three ovens’. The three hills that constitute this beautiful hill station lend the ‘Tinchuley’ name to this place. The rivers Ranjeet and Teesta intersect nearby which adds to the natural beauty of this place. 

Darjeeling Observatory Hill

Climb to the top of the Observatory Hill for uninterrupted views of the Himalayan landscape. Apart from offering breathtaking views of the glorious mountains, this place also offers various Buddhist and Hindu temples. You will find the Mahakal Temple, Tibetian Memorial Shrine, and Kanchenjunga here.  

One can reach here from Mall Road within 15 minutes and enjoy the religious calmness here. You will find small shrines, devotional belts, and colorful flags while walking up to this place. 

Mahakal Temple

A visit to the Mahakal Temple here is a must whether you are religious by nature or not.

Darjeeling Rock Garden

Rock Garden
Rock Garden

If you want an exquisite place with natural fall and lush greenery, then you must visit the Darjeeling Rock Garden. Also called ‘Barbotey Rock Garden’, this place is surrounded by a glistening hill stream. You will find fascinating flower gardens along the slopes with beautiful sitting arrangements for the tourists.

Ghoom Monastery

Ghoom Monastery
Ghoom Monastery

The Ghoom Monastery or Yiga Choeling is another famous tourist spot. It is the oldest Tibetan Buddhist monastery established in Darjeeling. You will find a 15 ft high statue of Buddha made of Tibetian clay. The place also holds some of the rarest and oldest Buddhist manuscripts. 

Other places to add to your itinerary are the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre, Japanese Temple, Peace Pagoda, and more. You can also visit the Bengal Natural History Museum, Lamahatta Eco Park, and Lepchajagat. 

Book those tickets, pack that bag, and set off!




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