“One country that all men want to see, and if you’d seen it once, you wouldn’t even give a preview for the rest of the world show together.” – Mark Twain (American writer)
Darjeeling; representation of the entire province is limited to a few figurative words. The combination of majestic mountains, a beautiful tea garden and a toy train – that’s how we imagine the pillar of the magnificent Darjeeling. As one of the most coveted mountain stations in the state of West Bengal, the picturesque panorama of the Himalayas in Darjeeling attracts visitors from all over the world. On a sunny day you can see the Himalayas and Tiger Hill, which offers spectacular views of the majestic Kanchenjangu. Based on the magnificent view that the viewer can see from Darjeeling, this place has been named “The queen of the Himalayas”.
Before we take you by car to the land of the glittering Darjeeling, let’s take a look at the culture, people and customs associated with this place.
Literally two words “dorje” and “ling” are the name Darjeling: the word “dorje” means “love at first sight”, and the word “ling” means place. Thus, the word Darjeeling specifically denotes the place of lightning. The picturesque surroundings of Darjeeling, located more than 2,000 metres above sea level, are the main resource of the West Bengal state’s tourism industry.
If you delve into the history of Darjeeling a few decades ago, then in 1835 this place was occupied by the British. During this period, an act was signed between the British and the monarch chogyal Sikkim. What was then called Darjeeling was a land of dense bushes and a place of residence for members of the tribe. Moving forward in time, the British admired the combination of calming climate and serenity of this beautiful place. This turned Darjeeling into a sanatorium and a colony for British troops. In addition, since independence, the area has become home to various immigrants from countries such as Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal and Tibet.
The first inhabitants of Darjeeling – lepch, mainly of Mongolian origin. They speak the language of “Rong Ring.” The lepch is mainly Buddhist. In addition, you will also notice many other tribes that have converted to Christianity and Hinduism. Thus, in Darjeeling you can observe a rich variety of cultural and religious diversity, harmonizing a mixture of gorkhs, Tibetans, Christians and Hindus. In addition, the presence of several immigrants has added a mixture of traditional religious beliefs, art, crafts, songs and dances to this hilly region. That’s why you can just as enthusiastically attend the most different festivals that are celebrated here. Some of Darjeeling’s popular festivals include Buddha Jayanti, Dasain, Diwali and Loshar.
As well as different religions and traditional customs, many immigrants speak different languages here. Therefore, in Darjeeling you can find people who speak languages such as Nepalese, Bengali, English and Hindi.
In addition to Darjeeling’s scenic splendor, this popular mountain station in West Bengal also attracts visitors with its delightful national cuisine. Because of its diverse origins and cultural differences, you can sample a variety of Tibetan, Bengali and Nepalese lip-flavoured dishes. Some of the local snacks and drinks you can’t miss in Darjeeling include Tongba, Churpi, Momos, Naga Platter, Sael Roti, Thukpa and Channg. And finally, just as importantly, the famous Darjeeling tea, without which your trip to Darjeeling will be incomplete. So don’t miss a sip of restorative Darjeeling tea.
The solid soil of the lively tea plantation and the mild climate make the visitors’ stay very pleasant. Summer in the region comes in April and lasts until June. In summer, the weather in Darjeeling is not so hot and humid. Temperatures at this time rise to 250 degrees C. After summer Darjeeling surround the monsoon, which lasts here from July to August. During the monsoon here heavy rains prevent guests from having a good time. Therefore, the rainy season is not considered an ideal time to visit Darjeeling. Before the seasonal climate, winter comes in late September – early October and lasts until March.
The best time to visit:
Unlike the plains, summer is not so hot here. So that tourists can relax in Darjeeling from March to May. Another great time to visit is from October to November, when the weather is favorable enough for visitors with clear skies and charming views of the snow-capped peaks of Kanchenjangi.
Places to visit in Darjeeling:
Darjeeling offers plenty of opportunities to explore along the beautiful Himalayan beaches and tea gardens. Stunning views of the towering Kanchenjangu will allow you to get away completely from the city noise and bustle. In addition to the beautiful nature, Darjeeling is also a paradise for fascinating walking trails. Let’s explore the places in Darjeeling that are worth seeing:
Tiger Hill, located at an altitude of more than 2500 meters and almost 8 miles from the capital, is undoubtedly one of Darjeeling’s main tourist attractions. This place is known for its peak, namely Gum, which offers spectacular views between Everest and Kanchendzong. Tiger Hill also gives you a charismatic view of the sunrise in the middle of the mountains. On a sunny morning, you can capture mesmerizing views of some of the surrounding peaks such as Kohtang, Rathong and Kabru. Another attractive peak next to the hill is Phalut, offering a fascinating walking trail for those who love adventure. If you follow this route, you will find yourself in another beautiful place – Singalia National Park. Thus, Tiger Hill is an impressive place where you can experience both the beauty of nature and the thrill of hiking.
Ghum Monastery is located almost 8 km from the centre of Darjeeling and is another attraction nearby. At the entrance is a statue of the “Buddha Maitreya” 4.5 meters high, which attracts the attention of visitors. Gum Monastery is the largest of the three other monasteries in the Gum district. This monastery was built in 1875 by Lama Sherab Gyatso. In the monastery complex you will also notice a mixture of religious bells, drums and ornate thanka.
Batasia Loop is about 5 km from Darjeeling. This is a real paradise for nature lovers. This place is popular thanks to its beautiful garden, which surrounds the narrow-gauge railway Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are trains with original steam engines. Your trip to Darjeeling will remain incomplete unless you walk from Darjeeling to Guma. Children take full advantage of the attraction here.
The Batasia loop is surrounded by a variety of vibrant flora and lush vegetation. The spherical track, which stretches over an area of about 50,000 square feet, allows the toy train to do a full circular loop. In addition to the circular loop, there is also an eco garden, restaurants and a Gorkhi war memorial. Visiting Batasia Loop on a sunny day can give you a stunning panorama of the Kanchedzong Mountains.
Lake Senchal and Nature Reserve
To get there, you need to drive almost 11 km from Darjeeling. Located near Tiger Hill at almost 8,512 feet above sea level, Lake Senchal offers a magnificent view of the soothing nature, surrounded by a peaceful atmosphere.
In addition to the large Lake Senchal, this site is also popular because it is home to one of the oldest wildlife sanctuaries in India. Founded in 1915, the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary is home to endangered species. Some of the important animal species worth seeing here include himalayan black bear, Assam macaque, barking deer, leopards, cats, flying squirrels, monkeys and wild boars. The Senchal Reserve, which stretches over an area of 40 square kilometers, is also home to several species of birds. Thus, Lake Senchal and the Wildlife Sanctuary – an unusual place in Darjeeling, able to please visitors of any age.
Happy Valley Tea Garden
People who grew up in Kolkata or anywhere in West Bengal must have tasted a sip of the famous Darjeeling tea. The Happy Valley Tea Garden is located about 3 km from the capital and is a great place to explore Darjeeling. This oldest tea estate in Darjeeling, founded in 1854 and covers an area of 437 hectares, offers you an interesting opportunity to witness the modern process of tea production.