Darjeeling, India – Travel Guide and Attractions
Darjeeling, India, is located in the very Northern part of the West Bengal state. Coming from Kolkata, it’s hard to believe that Darjeeling is actually in the same state, it’s such a vastly different place.
In order to get to Darjeeling, India, it’s easiest to take the train to the nearest station which is located at New Jalpaiguri (known just as NJP by the train code). There’s little to do in NJP, but from right outside the train station you can then board to a shared jeep and for 200 Rupees, you can take the jeep straight to Darjeeling. The jeep normally takes about 4 hours to reach the town and they will often stop for a few bathroom and snack breaks. The ride to Darjeeling is very windy and very uphill into the mountains, so if you get sick easily, be sure to take motion sickness medication. You will have some amazing views on the road!
Darjeeling, India, is an old hill station that offers beautiful views of the Himalayas. It’s a small town and unlike other huge Indian cities, it’s much quieter, peaceful, and it’s a very nice place to just explore on foot (though not all the attractions are accessible on foot). So after arriving in Darjeeling, I first set off to explore the Chowrasta Square, which is a non-vehicle area with shops restaurants and cafes. There are also many trails leading from the square to other parts of the town. I explored a few of the footpaths leading in various directions to discover Buddhist Tibetan temples and other residential areas.
Probably the most famous thing about Darjeeling, India, is its production of tea; It’s one of the most famous places in the world for tea. The climate, elevation, and rich Himalayan soil make it prime growing conditions. Surrounding Darjeeling you’ll have a chance to see rolling tea fields and if you have time you can even visit a tea farm such as Happy Valley. Don’t forget to buy plenty of tea in Darjeeling before you depart.
At the top of the main hill in Darjeeling is the Mahakal Temple, one of the most famous Hindu / Buddhist temples in the city. The temple is fully decorated by Tibetan colorful flags and there are lots and lots of monkeys, that can at times be aggressive. You can also walk around the area and explore the cave. Just be careful of the scammers in this area that try to ask you for donations. Another one of the most famous attractions in Darjeeling, India, is the Darjeeling Himalayan railroad which is better known as the Toy Train. It’s an old locomotive train that runs of burning coal. You can go to the railroad station and purchase tickets daily for the joy ride, which is a 1.5 hour circuit that takes you on a leisurely ride from Darjeeling to Ghoom, the highest elevation railroad station in all of India. The railroad is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center is a center for Tibetan refugees where you’ll find handicrafts and other things to purchase. When I went it was quite quiet and there actually wasn’t much to do there. Other really popular attractions in Darjeeling, India, include the Himalayan Zoo and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, which are located on the same compound and accessed with the same entrance ticket fee. The zoo was interesting and included a snow leopard and lots of red pandas. The mountaineering institute is a museum that houses many artifacts from Himalayan mountain climbing expeditions.
While many choose to wake up and go to Tiger Hill for the sunrise of the beautiful Himalayan mountain range, I was so cold that I didn’t wake up and just stayed on the balcony of my hotel to view the gorgeous sunrise over the mountains. Darjeeling, India, is a beautiful little town and you’ll have a great and relaxing time when you travel there!
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