Darjeeling is one of the most scenic and hugely popular hill resorts in India. At 2,134 meters above mean sea level, it is 686 km from Kolkata in West Bengal. Amidst the backdrop of the mighty snow-clad Himalayan peaks, Darjeeling has been popular with tourists for its beauty and pleasant climate. You can get a clear view of the world’s third highest peak, Kanchenjunga, from the town on a sunny day. Avoid the monsoons as Kanchenjunga is not visible. Skip June, July and August and definitely avoid December and January.
It is home to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), a World Heritage Site. Tourists can enjoy leisurely walks through the town’s quaint streets, watching the laidback life of the locals.
Darjeeling offers a plethora of options for those seeking an adrenaline rush. Visit the Singalila National Park to catch a glimpse of red panda, rhododendron blooms or for some high altitude trekking. The park is a camper’s delight as it is largely free of vicious animals and snakes, making it the most popular family camping destination in the eastern Himalaya.
Mountain biking, outdoor camping, river rafting, canoeing and kayaking are other activities that one can indulge in. If nothing interests you, then just hang up your boots and unwind, soaking in the scenic beauty of the hill town.
Make sure you visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and the Happy Valley Tea Garden. Shopping at the flea market (Bhutiya market) should be on your itinerary too.
Darjeeling and the DHR have featured in several Hindi movies. Sharmila Tagore-Rajesh Khanna song sequence Mere Sapnon Ki Rani Kab Ayegi Tu from the film Aradhana continues to be high on popularity. Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Raju Bangaya Gentleman and Saif Ali Khan-starrer Parineeta are some of the movies shot in Darjeeling.
Mahatma Gandhi visited Darjeeling in 1925. The Mahatma completed most of the 80 km of journey from Siliguri to Darjeeling on foot. So enthralled was the Mahatma that he declared the best way to travel through such a beautiful land was on foot.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN DARJEELING
Accommodation is easily available at Darjeeling. There are several hotels that dot the place. Resorts and hostels also offer a comfortable stay. Accommodation options are available to suit every budget. Several forest guest houses too are available in Darjeeling. However, one has to obtain a special permit from the West Bengal Forest Department to stay in any of these.
Nestle Homestay (Convent Road, Below District Magistrate’s Office, Haridas Hatta, Darjeeling, West Bengal 734101) is a lovely place to stay at. Though it is away from city centre, it is located at a 10 minutes walking distance from the taxi and bus stand. It is close to Happy Valley Tea Garden. It’s a clean place that also serves the best food!
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN DARJEELING
Popular food items in Darjeeling are thupka and momos, a steamed dumpling containing meat and vegetables cooked in a doughy wrapping, served with a watery soup called thupka. While there are a number of quality restaurants that serve anything from Chinese and Continental to hot and spicy Indian, along the bends and streets you can find plenty of eateries that sell lip-smacking local delicacies all day long.
Try Tibetan food at 7A Restaurant (Dr Zakir Hussain Road, Near Chowrasta).
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Darjeeling is as given below. The best time to visit Darjeeling is also specified.