Hotels in 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.
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'
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 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 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 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
Adventure Sports in
One of the most well equipped Clubs of the region with
facilities of Indoor and Outdoor games. Visitors may
become temporary members over here.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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,
DISTANCE FROM MAJOR CITIES
» Kalimpong: 51-km
» Mirik: 45-km