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Destination DARJEELING

Darjeeling: The Queen of Hill Stations


Darjeeling,spread across the area of 3149 sq km and at an attitude of 6,710ft, is located in the state of West Bengal in theLesser Himalaya. This UNESCO World Heritage Site wasoriginally set up as a sanitarium or health resort by the British in mid 1800s.Over the years, it earned its name for its world famous aromatic tea and thenarrow gauge toy train. Spread over a steep mountain ridge, nestledamidst acres of lush green tea plantations, the hill station boasts of coolclimes all year round.

 

Providing a heady mixture of splendid teagardens on rolling mountain slopes, meandering toy train rides through thepicturesque city, and delectable traditional Tibetan cuisine, theplace works wonders to cater to the gorgeous panorama of the Himalayas. With a large number of inhabitantsbeing Buddhist, lots of old monasteries are present along its length andbreadth. Jaw-dropping locales, mesmerizing sunrises, theuntouched beauty of the hills, the old-world charmof the past, and the welcoming smiles of the local people all add up to make thetown one of the most beautiful places in Eastern part of India. It also is one of the importantshopping centers where visitors can shop for showpieces, clothes handicrafts,woolen garments, fashion clothes and shawls.

 

Darjeelingis the highest tea exporter and thus, tea tourism in Darjeeling attracts manyvisitors during the plucking season. In this season one might observe the womenin the fields plucking the leaves. The aroma in the hills surroundsinternational visitors. There are over 86 tea estates in Darjeelingthat are responsible for producing the worldwide famous 'Darjeeling Tea'.

 

The toy train established back in 1881still runs in this part. The amazingnarrow gauge machine is an engineering marvel of 1880s which still can overcomethe steep gradientsand curves of the mountains, and provide a scenicrailway transportation in the hills. Beautifulcolonial architecture including mansions and churches dot this little beautifultown. The third highest peak in the world Mt. Kanchenjunga and the panoramicview of the accompanied mountain range are clearly visible from here. The view of magnificentKanchenjunga on a clear day is like revealing the treasure of beauty andexcitement before a cheerful crowd. There are endless attractions in Darjeelingthat place the 'Queen of Hills' as a popular of all tourist destinations in theNorth East of India.

Places of Interest


 Toy Train Ride

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway also referred to as 'Toy Train', is a 2 feet narrow gauge train that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. The ride on this train route has been a coveted experience ever since. Also there is another joyride that happens in Darjeeling up to Ghum and back in a two-hour round trip that covers a total distance of 14 kilometres. The train stops for 10 minutes at the Batasia Loop, where it makes a loop around a beautiful and well-maintained garden. From here, one can easily get a bird's eye view of the Darjeeling town, and the snow-capped Kanchenjunga peaks. The War Memorial in honour of the Gorkha soldiers is also located here, in the centre of the garden. The train also stops for 30 minutes for a visit to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway museum. This museum is located on the station premises and boasts of having the oldest toy train engine safely preserved here.

 Darjeeling Ropeway

Darjeeling Ropeway finds itself as a prime attraction of Darjeeling, giving its passengers an array of divine panoramic views as they travel across the magical valley at an altitude of 7000 feet. Established in 1968, the Darjeeling Ropeway is India's first cable car system. It serves as a coveted tourist hotspot, attracting scores of tourists all year round to experience the beauty of Darjeeling's scenery in the best way possible. It travels from the North Point in Singamari to the Singla Bazaar, situated by the banks of Ramman river. The view of the numerous tea estates of Darjeeling, the cascading waterfalls, and the majestic Kanchenjunga makes this experience an essential to every tourist in Darjeeling. At the bottom end of the trip, the cable car halts for a while, where travellers may explore the lovely tea gardens, or relax at the small mountain cafe, before proceeding back to the Singamari base station.

 Rock Garden

Rock Garden or Barbotey Rock Garden is a multi-level garden, terraced around a natural fall called Chunnu Summer Falls, in the Darjeeling. The entire garden area has been created by cutting rocks at different levels and making terraced seating arrangements. It was created to introduce a special attraction for tourists a little outside the town area so that the visitors have an added incentive to come to the hill town. There are sharp hairpin bends on the way and the gradient of the road is very steep. However the view of Darjeeling's landscape and the mountain range from the road is unparalleled. The garden offers a beautiful view of a hill stream cascading over rocks along the slope, done up with flower gardens and sitting spaces at different levels. There are pretty small bridges constructed over the stream from where one can see the crystal clear water flowing over the rocky bed and a small lake where one can enjoy boating.

 Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

Located in Darjeeling, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute(HMI) is recognized as one of the best mountaineering institutes in the world. Established on 4th November 1954, the primary purpose of this initiative was to encourage, enhance and support the interest of the people in the sport of mountaineering. Aspiring mountaineers from all over the world come to this institute to develop their skills. Besides being one of the best mountaineering institutes in the world, HMI has become a significant tourist attraction on account of its picturesque setting in the hill station of Darjeeling. The magnificent view of the 8586-meter high peak of Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world, from this institute is genuinely mesmerizing. Another highlight of HMI is its mountaineering museum, which was founded in the year 1957. A fine assortment of paintings, literary works, artifacts and models related to life in mountains is showcased at this museum. The Everest section of this museum features tools, maps and other articles that were used during the several attempts to climb this peak.

 War Memorial at Batasia Loop

Perhaps one of the most picturesque train routes in all of Darjeeling, the Batasia Loop is a lush green toy train pathway that is meant to minimise the elevation of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The unique design of this magnificent attraction allows the track to wrap around itself through a hilltop tunnel. The War Memorial is located at the centre of the Batasia Loop garden in Darjeeling. It has been created to honour and to serve as a memorial for the Gorkha soldiers of Darjeeling area who sacrificed their lives in various operations and wars after India's independence.

 Chowrasta

Chowrasta is the most happening place in Darjeeling, where both tourists and locals gather to bask in the sun and hang around. Located on top of a ridge, the main highlights of this place are the Brabourne Park, Temple of Mahakal, food stalls, book stores, curio shops and numerous vendors selling artifacts and other collectibles along the street. At the Brabourne Park, you can enjoy marvellous views of the mountains or catch a glimpse of the beautiful musical fountain. Chowrasta literally means a place where the four roads meet. It is situated at the locus of the Mall Road, which is considered as the town's social as well as commercial centre. At Chowrasta, you can either laze around while sitting on the benches set up on the roadside or go for a pony ride, for a fun-filled experience. Notably, the architecture of this place is symbolic of the Victorian era in the region.

 Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (also called the Darjeeling Zoo) is a 67.56-acre zoo in the town of Darjeeling.The zoo was opened in 1958, and an average elevation of 7,000 feet, is the largest high altitude zoo in India. It specializes in breeding animals adapted to alpine conditions, and has successful captive breeding programs for the snow leopard, the critically endangered Himalayan wolf and the red panda. The zoo attracts about 300,000 visitors every year. The park is named after Padmaja Naidu, daughter of Sarojini Naidu.

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