Think Darjeeling and you will think of a hot brew that can calm and warm your senses at the same time. Yes, we are speaking about the world-famous Darjeeling tea, and who wouldn’t have heard of it?! In fact, ask any Darjeeling native or a frequent visitor there and s(he) will tell you promptly and proudly that Darjeeling is about the 6 Ts – Tea, Teak, Toy Train, Tiger Hill, Trekking and Tourism. Just the perfect elevator pitch, we would we say, and best captured in a single line. Here is a complete guide on Darjeeling.
The top of the world – The Kanchenjunga
Darjeeling is West Bengal’s most desired, most visited, most famous and most beautiful hill station. It is where you can get very close with the Himalayas – to be precise, with Kanchenjunga. The mountain is very close and is prepared to be awestruck at its first sighting. The entire skyline is dominated by Khangchendzonga, that’s the right name for the mountain, which means ‘great five-peaked snow fortress’. It is India’s highest peak and the world’s third-highest!
The perfect T- Tea
The next sight that fills you with a sense of longing is the tea gardens and estates – miles and miles of emerald green spread lavishly on slopes with earthy ribbons in between showing the pathways used by the tea leave pickers in the tea estates. The same paths that beckon you when you go for one of the most fancied activities – tea tourism. Worth an experience that includes tea growing lessons and tea tasting!
The grand finale of the estate visit could well be the brew itself- the world-famous Darjeeling tea that has tea lovers from the world over, swoon over the captivating brew. Little doubt that you will spend some quality time shopping for the magical brew.
Tiger Hill – The King of the Hills
Tiger Hill is located on the summit of Ghoom, the highest railway station in the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. It is the sixth-highest peak in the Indian state of West Bengal (2600 m). Tourists are known to clamour to get to this much-in-demand hill for the indescribable beauty of the dawn light that breaks over a spectacular 250km stretch of the Himalayan horizon, including Everest (8848m), Lhotse (8501m) and Makalu (8475m) to the far west. The route to Tiger Hill, 11 km South of Darjeeling is in a Jeep – another addition to an already exciting hike up to watch the sunrise.
The cuteness overloaded Toy Train- our next T!
The next T deserves an affectionate kiss on its cheek, for its utter cuteness – we are talking about the famous, Toy Train that chugs up the slopes in vintage pride, inviting delighted eyeballs and screams from tourists, despite the Land Rovers that zip past and faster to their destination uphill.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, known lovingly as the toy train, made its first journey along its precipice-topping, 2ft-wide tracks in September 1881 and is one of the few hill railways still operating in India. It is a 2 ft narrow-gauge railway based on zigzag and loop line technology that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. It’s listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Besides its regular passenger service to/from Kurseong, there are steam-powered joy rides during high season. Train lovers and others can see the locomotives up close in the shed across the road from Darjeeling train station. Definitely, a ride that is not to be missed for anything in the world.
The other Ts of Trekking, Teak and Tourism are what we are familiar with. Darjeeling is one of the best trekking destinations in India. As for the Darjeeling Teak, do not forget to look for objects carved in top quality teak for your home and as gifts for people back home.
Apart from the Ts, in Darjeeling, you will love exploring the colonial-era/styled architecture; the holy Buddhist monasteries; you will love to go for some treks that can be arranged when you are there and burn those calories as you warm yourself with a good jaunt. For the animal lovers, you can visit the zoos and enjoy watching the snow leopards and red pandas there, which are not to be seen in many zoos in the country. The adventure-lovers can go for a guided ride around the hilltops on mountain bikes and feel the wind in their hair. You can also indulge in some retail therapy and stock up on some good Himalayan products.
And then when you are really tired of ‘doing’ anything at all, ‘do nothing’. That is the best way to soak up on the flavours of Darjeeling is the street food – thukpas and the momos. There’s no stopping you, is there?
Can’t wait to visit Darjeeling and see all these places for yourself? Sterling Darjeeling, offers spectacular views of the tea estates and mountain ranges in Darjeeling. Plan your next holiday with us to get the most out of your trip to Darjeeling.