The rustling of the wind, the hills rising in their majesties, the clouds scattered across sky, the sunlight streaming through the tall timber trees, nature’s beauty all around and the strong fragrance of tea adding to the essence of this poetic scenery. The ‘Queen of Himalayas’, Darjeeling has her own way of bringing poetry out of everyone who visits her. The once capital under British, Darjeeling, located at an altitude of 6,710 ft in Lesser Himalayas, is the jewel of West Bengal. One of the most famous tourist places, which attracts around 50,000 foreign and 500,000 domestic tourists every year, is famous for its lush tea plantations all over the world. There are 87 tea estates, also called “tea gardens” in the Darjeeling hills that have earned label to produce world famous “Darjeeling Tea”, each estate producing teas with different characteristics of taste and aroma.
Other than these tea gardens, this place has many other attractions, some of which include the Kanchenjunga peak, Tiger hills, the famous toy train and Peace Pagoda.
Top places to visit:
Here are the top places to see in Darjeeling, which are must-visits, if one is planning for a short vacation in Darjeeling.
1.Kanchenjunga: (How to Go?)
It is the third highest mountain in the world. Due to its remote location in Nepal and difficulty involved in reaching it from India, the Kangchenjunga region is not much explored by trekkers. It has, thus, retained much of its grand beauty. But, trekking into the Kangchenjunga region has just recently been permitted. It is the beautiful views of the Kanchenjunga Mountains, tea plantations and Buddhist monasteries along the way, which make the visit to the city worth.
2.Himalayan Zoo (Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park):
A zoological park along with combination of a theme park, Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park is one of the best zoos in the world. It is also the first Indian zoo to receive ‘The Earth Heroes’ award. Among the best places to visit in the city, this is where exactly one can find some of the high altitude endangered and exotic species, that are rarely seen in any other part of world, such as Red Panda, Tibetan wolves and Asiatic black bears.The super clean, well maintained zoo is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.
3.Japanese Peace Pagoda
Buddhist origin, Peace Pagodas are monuments built as a sign of inspiring peace and tranquility in world. Located in the Jalapahar hill, the city’s Peace Pagoda is part of a family of around 30 pagodas spanning the whole globe. Here we can find the four large avatars of Lord Buddha and the view from the top of the building is heart soothing.
The place to visit early in morning for witnessing the brightest sunrise, Tiger Hill, located at the highest point in Darjeeling area, is famous for its panoramic sunrise view of Mount Everest and Mt. Kangchenjunga together.
My personal favorite among all the places, was the Rock garden. It is breathtakingly beautiful place with a small waterfall, with varieties of flowers. It has been recently added tourist attractions in the hilly town of Darjeeling. Basically, here terraced gardens at different levels have been cut through the rocks, through which runs the waterfall. About 3 kilometres from the Rock Garden, is Ganga Maya Park, further down the road which is also an alluring place for visit.
6. Ghoom Monastery
Among the many monasteries of Sikkim, one is the very popular, Ghoom Monastery. Ghoom Monastery is the popular name of Yiga Choeling Monastery located at Ghum at an elevation of 8,000ft, 8 km from Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal, India. The monastery follows the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a serene place which is loved being at by the tourists.
Some of the other things to do while the visit.
7.Ride the Toy Train:
Any visit to this Darjeeling is incomplete without experiencing the world popular toy train ride. The Toy Train is one of the most well known attractions in Darjeeling, being almost 100 years old. It is an old famous steam engine that still functions to this date, travelling from Siliguri up and around Darjeeling town.
8. Ropeway/Cable car:
The ropeway of Darjeeling which is also known as the Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car starts at the Darjeeling Singamari station. This gives a breathtaking view of the valleys below, spread of lush tea plantations, dense forests and waterfalls, along with the illusion of touching the snowy sky at the background. This is definitely a must do activity while the visit.
9.Visit a tea estate:
A trip to Darjeeling, without a visit to a tea estate is like going to a temple and returning without a prayer. One can visit any tea estate, out the hundreds in the city, getting to know the process of tea production, how tea bushes are picked/plucked and processed into the, world famous, ‘Darjeeling Tea’.
10.Mountain Biking in Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary cycling park:
Ever thought of cycling at 7000 ft? For the wild and adventurous ones, this year the Wildlife Sanctuary opened the country’s first-ever, 20-km stretch, cycle trail, through thick pine forests. One can easily get a cycle on rent (Rs 50) and enjoy the life-time memorable bike ride.
11.Trekking at Singalila National Park:
This one is for the trekkers; Singalila National Park is one of the most desired trek pace in the Himalayas range, due to the grand sights of the Kanchenjunga range, the Everest range and also for the seasonal wildflower and birding blooms. Singalila Park is also one of the famous birding spots in the Himalayas.