Darjeeling | India
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Darjeeling is a city and hill station in the northern part of West Bengal, India.

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About

Tea gardens of Darjeeling Darjeeling used to be a cluster of villages that was administered intermittently by Nepal and Sikkim. It grew in prominence during the mid-19th century when, because of its climate, the British established a hill station there. Later it was discovered that the area was particularly well suited for tea plantations and Darjeeling tea is still exported world wide. In 1849, the British annexed the area and Darjeeling became a part of British India. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was opened in 1881 (it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the town became the de-facto summer capital of India during the days when the Raj was governed from Calcutta. A lovely Victorian town was built among the Himalayan foothills, the remnants of which are still visible around the Chowrasta and Darjeeling remains a popular summer and fall resort for the natives of Kolkata today. For foreign tourists, the main attractions are the cultural diversity (many Tibetan refugees moved here after Tibet was annexed by China and they co-exist with the descendants of the many Nepalis who once came to the land as soldiers of Prithvi Narayan Shah and settled down there to work as labourers in the tea plantations. The town is also a jumping off point for travelers heading to Sikkim. There has been intermittent political action from Gorkha groups demanding an independent state (Gorkhaland). In June 2008 a strike paralyzed the area, with closed hotels, restaurants and shops, and the accompanying protests even turned violent a couple of times. Though inconvenient, tourists generally are not at risk, but you should check the status before going there.

Darjeeling

Planning a Trip

1 Get in 1.1 By plane 1.2 By taxi or shared jeep 1.2.1 From Nepal 1.3 By bus 1.4 By train By plane The nearest airport is Bagdogra in Siliguri, 96 km from Darjeeling. Air India (formerly Indian Airlines), India's largest airline, has flights from: Delhi - IC 880 (Tu Th Sa) and IC 879 (Mon/Fri - via Guwahati) Guwahati - IC 879 (M F) Kolkata - IC 721 (Tu Th Sa) Jet Airways, a private airline, has flights from: Delhi - 9W 601 (M W F - Via Guwahati) and 9W 602 (Tu Th Sa Su) Guwahati 9W 601 (M W F) Kolkata 9W 617 (Daily) Spice Jet also operates flights from Kolkata & Delhi. IndiGo also operates direct and indirect flights from Delhi and Guwahati. All other cities major cities can be accessed by taking a flight to Delhi or Kolkata and connecting. By taxi or shared jeep Siliguri is the nearest town connected to the mainline rail network. Ample transport is available to Darjeeling from here. The most popular modes of transport are taxi (usually shared by three to four passengers), shared jeep (ten passengers), ₹150-200 depending on time. Shared jeeps depart regularly, from several locations around town. They leave when full, and are a cheap, fast and reasonably comfortable way to get to Darjeeling. If you have arrived by train at New Jalpaiguri, you can take a taxi or shared jeep to reach Darjeeling from the booking counter at the taxi stand in front of the railway station. There is also a prepaid taxi stand in front of the train station. If you arrive too late for the jeep to make a return journey from Darjeeling, you may end up paying more, e.g. ₹200 per person. The prepaid counter will tell you that no jeeps are available, so you'll have to find one via a fixer or by negotiating directly with drivers. Tourists often opt to buy an extra seat or two to have more space for the 3-hour journey up to Darjeeling! Luggage is carried for free on the roof (try to hire a taxi/Jeep/Sumo with overhead carrier). Jeeps may stop for a snack and toilet break on the way up (normally a few kilometers short of Kurseong). Reserve cars are available from Kings Travels,dial: 098304-28401/ 093319-39486 for tour purpose in Darjeeling. From Nepal Getting to and from Nepal can be tricky, despite their close proximity. From Darjeeling one can catch a share jeep to Siliguri, and then a bus to the Nepalese border, changing buses again in Nepal. An alternative is that Juniper Tours and Travels – located just next to the clock tower in Darjeeling – offer a service where a driver can take you across the border and drop you at the Bhadrapur airport in Nepal for your connecting flight to Kathmandu. It is more expensive than organising your own transport but they make a concerted effort to look after you and will help you out if the situation becomes dicey (particularly with strikes in Nepal), they cannot be recommended highly enough and this is unusual for India. If you are going to use the increasingly popular e-Tourist Visa (eTV) to enter India, then you cannot travel overland from Nepal. The eTV can be used only at a limited subset of entry points (mostly large airports). By bus There is a regular bus service from Siliguri to Darjeeling. However, buses are quite slow due to the steep, twisty and extremely narrow climb up to Darjeeling. The option of shared jeeps is available and it is very cheap and faster. But you have to wait for some time as your jeep cannot depart unless it is full of passengers. While going to Darjeeling from New Jalpaiguri: if the bus price is ₹113, consider to hire a taxi, Jeep or Sumo with overhead carrier. This will be a much cheaper option if you hire a vehicle that is going directly from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. By train Toy Train of Darjeeling New Jalpaiguri (NJP) in Siliguri is the nearest station on the main inter-city line. Direct trains to NJP run from Delhi (approx. 27 hours) several times a day. If you are traveling from Kolkata (Sealdah Station) the best train for you will be Darjeeling Mail (circa 12 hours) running nightly at 22:05. There is also a train from Howrah Station called Paharia Express, which departs Howrah Station at 21:55 and arrives New Jalpaiguri at 08:45. From NJP, the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), known to all as the 'Toy Train,' completes the journey to Darjeeling. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was the first, and is still the most outstanding, example of a hill passenger railway. It is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This route is very popular with tourists as it passes through some very picturesque mountain scenery and has been the subject of many romantic articles. The line has a series of zigzags and loops to gain height and runs straight up several village main streets! Seats on the DHR Toy Train sell out in peak season, so make reservations up to 1 month in advance. The train departs New Jalpaiguri at 09:00 and arrives in Darjeeling at 15:30, but only on certain days of the week. The train is diesel hauled now and is reasonably reliable and punctual. (As of December 2015, DHR service is running, resumed after repairs due to landslide in 2011.) The steam 'Joy' train operates from Darjeeling to Ghoom round the famous Batasia Loop, four times a day – enquire at Darjeeling station. Costs ₹2200 for steam trains & 1200 for diesel trains. Website DHR: [1] A steam train also operates Siliguri to 'Agony Point' above Tindharia most Saturdays and Sundays. Enquire to Siliguri station. There is also a daily 'School Train' that leaves Kurseong at 06:15 arriving Darjeeling at 08:45. It leaves Darjeeling at 16:00 arriving Kurseong at 18:30. This is still hauled by a steam engine and is one of the last 'day to day'/ordinary steam trains running anywhere in the world. IR keeps changing the times for it and it is notoriously unreliable often running hours late.

Darjeeling

Getting Around

By train Toy Train of Darjeeling New Jalpaiguri (NJP) in Siliguri is the nearest station on the main inter-city line. Direct trains to NJP run from Delhi (approx. 27 hours) several times a day. If you are traveling from Kolkata (Sealdah Station) the best train for you will be Darjeeling Mail (circa 12 hours) running nightly at 22:05. There is also a train from Howrah Station called Paharia Express, which departs Howrah Station at 21:55 and arrives New Jalpaiguri at 08:45. From NJP, the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), known to all as the 'Toy Train,' completes the journey to Darjeeling. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was the first, and is still the most outstanding, example of a hill passenger railway. It is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This route is very popular with tourists as it passes through some very picturesque mountain scenery and has been the subject of many romantic articles. The line has a series of zigzags and loops to gain height and runs straight up several village main streets! Seats on the DHR Toy Train sell out in peak season, so make reservations up to 1 month in advance. The train departs New Jalpaiguri at 09:00 and arrives in Darjeeling at 15:30, but only on certain days of the week. The train is diesel hauled now and is reasonably reliable and punctual. (As of December 2015, DHR service is running, resumed after repairs due to landslide in 2011.) The steam 'Joy' train operates from Darjeeling to Ghoom round the famous Batasia Loop, four times a day – enquire at Darjeeling station. Costs ₹2200 for steam trains & 1200 for diesel trains. Website DHR: [1] A steam train also operates Siliguri to 'Agony Point' above Tindharia most Saturdays and Sundays. Enquire to Siliguri station. There is also a daily 'School Train' that leaves Kurseong at 06:15 arriving Darjeeling at 08:45. It leaves Darjeeling at 16:00 arriving Kurseong at 18:30. This is still hauled by a steam engine and is one of the last 'day to day'/ordinary steam trains running anywhere in the world. IR keeps changing the times for it and it is notoriously unreliable often running hours late.

Darjeeling

Things to do

27°3′0″N 88°16′0″EMap of Darjeeling 27.016788.247091 Batashiya Loop. Batashiya Loop is basically a place where the legendary toy train makes a loop. There is a Gorkha martyr memorial here. There is also a landscaped park. if you go early in the morning (before 8AM) you can get the glimpse of a local crafts market here.  Bhutia Busty Monastery (Karmaa Dorjee Chyoling Monastery). This monastery was built in 1761 by Lama Dorje Rinzing above the Observatory Hill, where the Mahakal Temple stands now. Later it was re-located downhill to Bhutia Busty.  Old Ghoom Monastery (Yiga Choeling Monastery). This is one of the oldest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Darjeeling. It was built in 1850.  Dali Monastery (Druk Sangag Choling Monastery). This is the biggest monastery in this region. It was built in 1971. It is the head quarters and residence of Drukchen Rimpoche the XII, the head of the Kargyupa sect of Buddhists.  Aloobari Monastery (Yolmowa Mak Dhog Monastery). Located in Aloobari on way from Darjeeling to Jorbunglow, this is the least visited monastery as it is located away from the main road. Established in 1914, The monastery offers some breathtaking views of the Tiger Hill region and houses some old rare Buddhist manuscripts.  Botanical garden. The green house has quite a nice collection of flowers.  View of Kunchenjunga from Tiger Hill 27.0586888.253792 Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) (naveen), ☎ +91 9711100094. F-W 08:30-16:00. This is one of the most visited spots in Darjeeling. This institute was created by the late Tenzing Norgay, and you can pay your respects at his grave here too. He was a Sherpa who climbed Mount Everest on 29th of May 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary. All the equipment used in that climb are still a highlight in that institute. ₹50 SAARC countries, ₹100 foreigners. Includes entrance to Himalayan Zoo. (updated Feb 2017) 27.0586188.254413 Himalayan Zoo (Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park) (shares the premises of HMI). F-W 08:30-16:00. It has a good collection of the more charismatic animals found in the Himalayan region, including leopards, a rare Bengal tiger, and red pandas. ₹50 SAARC countries, ₹100 foreigners. Includes entrance to Himalayan Mountain Institute. (updated Feb 2017) 27.0276388.259394 Japanese Peace Pagoda. This impressing building is part of a grid of around 30 pagodas spanning the whole globe. Constructed by the Japanese Buddhist Nipponzan-Myohoji Order, the one at Charlimont on the outskirts of Darjeeling was consecrated in 1992. A small temple just lies alongside. If you're woken up due to the sound of drumming in the streets of Darjeeling between 4 and 5AM: These are the monks (Theravada) of the Japanese temple having their early morning walk.  27.0536588.260095 Nightingale Park/Shrubbery Park (mid-way between Chowrasta and HMI/zoo, a 10-minute flat walk from either). Daily 09:00-17:00 year-round. Cultural programme runs approximately April-Nov 14:00-16:00. A beautiful park with a package of cultural program performed daily during the tourist season. The park has recently been extensively re-developed and now features a giant Statue of Lord Shiva, a temple, and provisions for live-interactive entertainment. The best time to visit the park is in the evenings. You may think of it as an alternative to Tiger-hill to see the sunlight magic on Kanchenjunga from this park. Good spot for photographers, as this place is not very crowded. Nice landscape is visible from this park. ₹20.  27.049988.266036 Observatory Hill & Mahakal Temple. Observatory Hill is the oldest site in Darjeeling. This hill is also known as the “Makal-Babu-Ko-Thaan” in local area. It is said that a Red Hat Buddhist Monastery stood at this very spot. Nepal people destroyed this monastery in the 19th century. Now the Mahakal Temple is located in this hill.  27.0248388.237697 Rock Garden. It's a beautiful place with a small waterfall. This place has got varieties of flowers landscaped in the rocks. Females can also get dressed in the local dress and take pictures.  26.9956888.284918 Tiger Hill. Ideal to visit early morning when the first rays of the sun kiss the Mt Kanchenjunga and give it a golden colour. To visit the hill, one needs to get up at 3AM in the morning. You can taste some excellent tea on your way to the hill, which will provide much needed warmth on cold Darjeeling mornings. When getting into a taxi at 04:00, keep in mind that they are shared taxis and your driver might wait around in vain for others to join your taxi causing you to miss the sunrise! Those travelling alone or as a couple might want to squeeze into an already occupied jeep to insure full viewing pleasure. Though it has executive lounge (₹40 per person) and special lounge (₹30 per person), nothing beats having view from open area as you can have a full panoramic view from outside avoiding crowd in the lounge. The early you can reach, the best place you can find to stand inside or outside the observatory tower. If you are late, you may find yourself standing behind many people and a lot of obstructions to feel the sunrise and magic lighting on Mt. Kanchengunga. You may also need to walk a lot to reach there via a steep ascendant road.  Dhirdham Temple. Located just below the Darjeeling train station, this temple was built by Purna Bahadur Pradhan in 1939. (updated Jan 2017) St. Andrew's Church. Located near the famous mall, this church was built in 1843. (updated Jan 2017) 27.0510288.258389 Happy Valley Tea Estate, Pamphawati Gurungni Rd (walk north along Hill Cart Rd for 2 km, then walk down the hill at the sign), ☎ +91 80-1770-0700. Tu-Su 8AM-4PM. Quite a hike from the centre, Darjeeling's second oldest tea estate is open for visitors. An employee will guide visitors through the tea factory, showing the full process of tea production and explaining the different varieties of tea. At the end of the tour, tea samples are tested and you can buy teas produced from the estate. ₹100.   (updated Apr 2017)

Darjeeling