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Hotels in Darjeeling               Darjeeling      Car Rental in Darjeeling

Darjeeling is the Queen of India's hill stations. Its setting is one of incomparable beauty. A Victorian town of old world charm 'discovered' by the British, it is almost completely surrounded by fragrant tea gardens which seem to flow over the layered slopes like emerald swells on a rough sea. These are in turn interspersed by untamed jungle of Fern and Bamboo, groves of sweet smelling Coniferous trees and hamlets lost and which may be the finest this earth has to offer, It hits one like Darjeeling's true name, “Dorje Ling”, or 'Place of the Thunderbolt'.

Part Victorian holiday resort, part major tea-growing centre, Darjeeling straddles a ridge 2,200m up in the Himalayas and almost 600-km north of Kolkata. Its been more than 50 years since the British departed, still the town remains as popular as ever with holiday-makers from the plains, and promenades such as the Mall and the Chowrasta still burst with life.

Toy Train & Tea Gardens

Although one can reach Darjeeling after-hour drive up a steep and winding road from Siliguri, the most exciting and nostalgic form of transportation is the Toy Train. This ' marvel of engineering' was inaugurated in 1881 and is the world's highest track railway. The miniature steam train huffs, puffs and toots as it wrestles its way up a vertical track of blind curves and loops in nine hours.

Tea gardens blanket the lower slopes. To the world's tea fanciers, Darjeeling is a name synonymous with prized perfection. Introduction in the 1840s, there are now 84 gardens of which Happy Valley and Lopchu are instantly recognisable to the connoisseur for their special fragrance. As the train nears Kurseong, the mid-point of the journey, it parallels the road, which is lined with tiny shop-houses, and tea stalls. Most, leach-infested forests of Oak, Ilex and Magnolia trees, dripping moss and brilliantly hued Orchids, encroach at every turn.

The Trans-Himalayan Backdrop

Ghoom, as the town's name seems to suggest, is gloomy and dank with perpetual fog. At this Tibetan village, which is at an altitude of 2,276 m (7,470 ft), one can hear the foghorn-like sounds of Buddhist monks blowing their giant Gyeling pipes from the rooftops of the nearby Yiga-Choling ' Yellow Hat' Buddhist Temple.

Ghoom is the jumping off point for an excursion to Tiger Hill, which should not be missed if the weather co-operates. For a truly magnificent view of the Himalayas, one must arrive before the sun rises and the clouds roll in. Inky darkness gives way to a gauzy mauve dawn and the peaks are unveiled in all their glory. Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makaly, Kabru, Kanchenjunga, Siniolchu and Chomolhari can all be seen with the forbidden peaks of the Tibetan Trans-Himalayan as a backdrop.


Places of Interest in Darjeeling
Entering Darjeeling is like travelling back in time to the days of the British Raj, a vertical Victorian London - like town populated with oriental faces. Church spires and brick chimneys dominate the skyline.

The Mall:
The Mall is Darjeeling's popular commercial street. It is lined with Tibetans selling hand-knitted sweaters and souvenir shops chock-full of Himalayan artifacts and both real and imitation antiques. Photo shops carry turn-of-the-century photos as well as specialising in hand-painted black and white prints with glowing oil colours. The Mall leads to Chaurasta, a square, which doubles as a bandstand, a pony riding arena for children and a haven for lovers.

Chowrasta:
The Chowrasta, meaning crossroad, is a hive of commercial activity. The Mall Road originates and culminates at the Chowrasta. This is the heart of Victorian Darjeeling. Here hotels, restaurants and shops brush against each other. The shops and stalls are a veritable paradise for souvenir collectors. The Bhutanese sellers display their wares. Woollen garments, tribal ornaments, Thankas, rosaries, brass statuettes and Gorkha daggers are kept on display for sale. Foreign goods are also available in some shops. Local handicrafts are much in demand.

Obeservatory Hill:
The oldest site in Darjeeling is Observatory Hill, known locally as “Makal-Babu-Ko-Thaan”. According to legend, a Red Hat Buddhist Monastery called Dorje Ling, or 'place of the Thunderbolt', stood at this very spot. The Nepalis destroyed it in the 19th century. The Shivas and Buddhists share the temple that stands there today.

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute:
A spot not to be missed is the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute created by the late Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who conquered Mt Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary on 29 May 1953. A display of equipment used on the climb is one of the highlights. A zoological garden nearby has an assortment of wildlife such as yaks, Siberian tigers and red pandas who call the region their home.

Darjeeling Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway:
At North Point about 3-km from the town, this is the first passenger ropeway in India. For reservation of ropeway seats please contact - Officer in-charge, Darjeeling Rangeet Valley Ropeway Station, North Point, Darjeeling. Regular share taxi service is available from Market Motor and Taxi Stand is to the Ropeway Station.

Nearby Attractions from Darjeeling
Tibetan Refuge Camp:
The area in and around Darjeeling is a treasure chest of interesting destinations. The Tibetan Refugee self-help scheme produces traditional artifacts, jewellery and carpets for tourist consumption.

Lloyd's Botanical Garden:
Lloyd's Botanical Garden displays a fine collection of Himalayan fauna for those with an interest, and for punters there is horseracing at Lebong, the smallest and highest racecourse in the world.

Tiger Hill:
Situated at an altitude of 2,590m (8,482 ft.) and 13-km from the town, this spot has earned international fame for the magnificent view of the sunrise over "Kanchenjunga" and the great Eastern Himalayan Mountains. Even Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is visible from here.

Phalut & Sandakphu:
A week's smallest-trip of Phalut and Sandakphu will get one within reach of the high peaks; for the onlooker it affords a more spectacular panorama than at Tiger Hill. Giant flowering Rhododendron trees, a pointillism of reds pinks and whites Dwarfs comprise of the en route trail. On attaining heights of over 3,048m, one is surrounded by skeletal trees devoid of leaves and branches, which are especially eerie when the clouds roll in and envelop the area.

Pashupati:
Further afield, in Pashupati on the Nepal border, one can purchase foreign goods at reasonable prices, view wildlife such as the endangered one-horned Rhino, Deer, Gaur, and wild boar while seated atop an Elephant's back at Jaldapara Game Park; learn of the Lepcha legend at the confluence of the Teesta and Ranjeet Rivers; relive Kalimpong's past glory as a trading post by visiting the market filled with traditional Tibetan medicine, spices, musk, wool and silk; or for the truly adventurous-hire some ponies and a crew and take to the hills.

Kurseong:
Kurseong is mid-way between Siliguri and Darjeeling. The way from Darjeeling to Kurseong is generally open through out the year. So, the toy train is not coming to Siliguri then one can come up to Kurseong. This place is equally beautiful and is full of natural splendour.

Mirik:
Mirik is 52-km from Siliguri and 55-km from the nearest Airfield of Bagdogra. Mirik is being developed as a new hill station in the mountains. Tea estates, orange orchards and cardamom plantations surround Mirik. It has all the facilities to fulfill the needs of a tourist.

Siliguri / New Jalpaiguri:
The twin Cities of Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri are the departure point to Darjeeling, Sikkim and the North Eastern States. Being the nodal point this place has become very busy and crowded. Siliguri also acts as a transit point for Nepal. Tourists come to Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri mainly to change bus or catch trains.

Kalimpong:
Kalimpong is within Darjeeling province and is a sub-division of Darjeeling. It is a small but bustling town in the Himalayan foothills of West Bengal - Kalimpong is at an altitude of 1,250m. This bazaar town was originally a part of Bhutan but later it was taken over by the British and finally it settled down with West Bengal.

Adventure Sports in Darjeeling

Darjeeling Gymkhana Club Ltd.:
One of the most well equipped Clubs of the region with facilities of Indoor and Outdoor games. Visitors may become temporary members over here.

Darjeeling Club:
This is popularly known as the Planter's Club and has the best possible location in town and has a breathtaking view of the mountains and valleys. Approachable directly by car and has parking area. Limited number of rooms and available for temporary members but permanent members have the first claim. Fully equipped kitchen, bar and other indoor game facilities are available here.

Senchal Golf Course:
This 9-hole Golf Cource is one of the highest Golf Cource in the world (altitude 8,150 ft). It is near Tiger Hill and has a Club House and a Tourist Lodge.

Lebong Race Course:
About 8-km from the town, it is one of the smallest and highest Race Course in the world. Races are held during Spring & Autumn season under the management of local Gymkhana Club

Trekking:
Trekking in the Darjeeling Hills began almost a century ago. Infact, the first organised trekking route in India was established here along the Sangalila range. The trek begins in Darjeeling and proceeds through Maneybhanjyang, Tonglu, Sandakphu and ends in Phalut. The alluring natural beauty is replete with countless varieties of Rhododendrons, Magnolias, Orchids and Wild Flowers. The dense forests, the verdant meadows, the savage mass of Mt. Everest, the everlasting beauty of Kanchenjunga, the rugged Lhotse or the mysterious Makalu - all in one sweeping glance, present an experience that can never be equaled.

There are trekker huts under the management of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Tourism Department all along the route to Sandakphu. For further information contact Tourist Bureau, Darjeeling.


How To Get There
Air:
The nearest airport to Darjeeling in Bagdogra, 100-km south. ADGHC bus leaves the tourist lodge and club side around 8 am each day to connect with flights; tickets for the bus can be booked at the tourist bureau.

Rail:
The toy train runs to Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri, weather and landslides permitting, but takes an angst-inducing nine hours. Railway reservations for selected mainline trains out of NJP can be made at Darjeeling’s station a couple of days before departure. They have tourist quotas for trains to Delhi, Kolkataa, Bangalore, Cochin and Thiruvananthapuram.

Road:
Buses and minibuses run every thirty minutes or so to Siliguri from the bus stand at the bazaar. Buses leave for Mirik every thirty minutes. Two minibuses run each day run to Gangtok and one minibus leaves every day for Kalimpong. Although it’s possible to buy bus tickets for Kathmandu, tourists still have to change buses at Siliguri.

Local Transport:
Jeeps run to Gangtok, Siliguri, Mirik, Kalimpong and Jorethang, and are the most efficient and comfortable way to travel. Book in advance or just turn up at the jeep stand. The Gangtok service runs frequently between 7.00 am and 2.00 pm. Private Taxis and Landrovers are also available for local sightseeing purposes in and around Darjeeling.

For Tourists:
Tourist Cars and Buses, Tourist mini coaches and Taxis are available for transfer of passengers between Darjeeling and Siliguri / New Jalpaiguri Junction / Bagdogra, and also for sightseeing at fixed rates and may be reserved through Tourist Bureau, Govt. of West Bengal, Darjeeling.

DISTANCE FROM MAJOR CITIES
» Kalimpong: 51-km
» Siliguri-90-km
» Mirik: 45-km
» Gangtok-115-km

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