The beautiful hill station of Darjeeling tops the list of the best tourist destinations in India. Located in West Bengal in the foothills of Himalayas, the tourist spot is at an elevation of 2000 meters above sea level. The majestic view of snow-capped Kangchenjunga, the third-tallest mountain in the world, is the greatest attraction of the place. Nature has endowed the land with a lush green valley which accentuates the beauty of the mountain ranges. For those leading a hectic urban life, a sojourn in Darjeeling will be a relaxing experience.
Since the British colonizers occupied the area, the region was developed into an estate for tea plantation. The unique climate of the region gives the characteristic flavor to the Darjeeling tea that earned it international acclaim. The Europeans loved to spend time in the place because of its comfortable climate and overflowing beauty. Hence Darjeeling slowly developed into a tourist location. Now tourists from all parts of India and around the world throng the hill station in the hope of spending a nice vacation. With the inflow of travelers, many areas were restructured by the government into tourist-friendly spots.
There are many enchanting places to visit in Darjeeling. The scenic view of snow-clad Kanchenjunga is undoubtedly the best sight. White snow ranges assume a golden glow when the sun falls on it; making it all the more attractive. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway ride is an adventure in its own right. The toy trains that run on steam made it eligible for UNESCO’s affiliation as a World Heritage Site.
Some of the best sights of the valley can be seen in the ropeway ride. Many attest to the excitement guaranteed by the ride which takes you to a dizzying height of 2134 meters. Peace Pagoda was built as the symbol of universal peace that India stands for. The hill station is also famous for the tea plantations. You can enjoy the unique flavor of Darjeeling tea if you wish. When you get tired of visiting all the places you can go and be at peace in the Buddhist Monasteries in the land. Thus a tour to Darjeeling is a complete package.
Top attractions in Darjeeling
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Running between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, the 2-feet narrow gauge railway line is one of the most adored tourism destinations in the land. The Darjeeling Toy Train as the locomotives are lovingly called brings out the toy loving child in you. The 88-kilometer long line that was constructed between 1879 and 1881 is declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The steep climb of the steam engine passing through difficult curves and gradients is an amazing sight. The train stops for some time in the Batasia loop – an awe-inspiring 360-degree loop in the steep hill. The railway line with spirals over around itself is a rare sight. The area is elegantly landscaped to attract tourists. Hence do not miss out on the opportunity for this ride while you are in Darjeeling.
At an altitude of 2590 meters above sea level, Tiger hill is a great tourist location in Darjeeling. The place provides an exquisite view of the peaks of Kanchenjunga. Tourists throng the place to see the rising sun creating golden shade in the distant snow-clad peaks. But you have to get to the point as early as 3.30 AM to see the sunrise. The night owls who hate rising early will have to content themselves with the sunset, which is not as enchanting. Tiger hill is also home to the summit of Ghoom — the highest railway station in the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway line. Hence this location, situated 13 kilometers away from Darjeeling, should not be missed on your Darjeeling trip.
Buddhism is one of the major faiths in Darjeeling. A tour to the land will not be complete without a visit to the Buddhist monasteries in the area. The most prominent of these would be Ghum Monastery, also known as Yiga Choeling. The temple houses a marvelous 4.6 meters high statue of Maitreya Buddha. The structure of the building is believed to be established in 1850 by Mongolian astrologer and monk Sokpo Sherab Gyatso. The place also acted as a refuge for many high ranking monks during the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959. The shrine is a great destination in Darjeeling to enjoy silence and calmness. You are more than welcome to meditate and spend some quality time in the place.
Japanese Peace Pagoda
A monument erected to establish harmony, unity, and goodwill amongst people, the peace pagoda is worth a visit. Located on the slopes of Jalapahar hills, the tranquility of the environment energizes the pacifist in you. The monument was built under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fuji, a Japanese Buddhist Monk. Designed by M. Ohka, it is overlaid with idols of four avatars of Buddha. Nestled in the lap of Kanchenjunga ranges with serene natural beauty, there could not be a better setting for an artifact that aims for world peace.
Nightingale is a mesmerizing public park that attracts the attention of travelers. The gorgeous view of the Kanchenjunga ranges is the greatest scenery. You can enjoy the view while relaxing on the well kept green meadows. The garden, previously known as ‘The Shrubbery’ was a private courtyard during British reign. Later it was opened to the public. A stroll around the park through paved walkways, relishing the lush greenery, is an exciting experience. You can rest in the park benches, imbibing the natural beauty. The exquisite mountains, thick greenery, and the refreshing atmosphere give you the feeling of being at the bosom of mother nature.
A rising hill situated just above the mall road, observatory hill is one of the most visited places in Darjeeling. It may be the best spot in all of Darjeeling to relish the exquisite sights. Many temples like Mahakal temple, Kanchenjunga temple, and Tibetian Memorial Shrine make it a favorite place for religious people. Many enjoy the small 15-minute hike to the spot from Mall road through a steep uphill path and a small cave.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
Spread across almost 68 acres of land, the Darjeeling zoo will enthrall you with the variety of species in it. It is well known for its Red Panda, Himalayan wolf, and Snow leopard breeding program. The park is named after the erstwhile Governor of West Bengal and daughter of the eminent activist Sarojini Naidu. The visit to the zoo provides you the rare opportunity to see some of the endangered and critically endangered animals. Red Panda, Snow Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, Himalayan Leopard are some of the curious creatures in the park. The zoo also houses nearly 200 different trees and plants including Oak, Alder, and Birch. As it is a great opportunity to see the rare flora and fauna, do not miss out on a visit to the Darjeeling zoo.
A quaint village located in the Singalila National Park area, Rimbik is a tourist destination in Darjeeling. The place is not so well known among conventional tourists. But if you are someone who likes to know the real culture and lifestyle of Darjeeling away from all the bustle of the tourist, this is the place to be. Rimbik is also slowly gaining popularity as a trekking route. So you can experience a hike if you are an adventure lover. The stunning view of the mountains and green valley are other factors that make the visit to the place worthwhile.
The most exciting thing about the tourist destination of Darjeeling is that it provides innovative ways to enjoy the magical beauty of the picturesque landscape. The cable car ride is a sure shot way to get you in the vacation mood. Established in 1968, the cable car is the first of its kind in India. It was primarily designed to provide easy access for the workers to the tea gardens in the valley. It became one of the most sought after tourism activities after the place developed into a buzzing tourist destination. Once you get into the ride you will know what the hype is all about. Traveling through an altitude of 7000 feet, it is the best possible way to enjoy a bird’s eye view of tea estates, waterfalls, and majestic mountains.
For those who love to enjoy some adventure in their tour, Sandakphu is the best place. Though there are other short and long trekking trips in Darjeeling none of them are so thrilling than Sandakphu trek. The slow trudge through the steep slope requires some patience. But once you start climbing, the trek unveils some of the best views in the region with each step. You will regret it if you do not carry a camera with you. It is assured that by the time you reach the final point, which is at a height of 11,930 feet, you will feel thrilled like never before. The grand view of the far Himalayan peaks, the scary depth of the valley beneath, and the flowering beauty of nature make the trip one of the best experiences you can get in Darjeeling.
Best Time To Visit Darjeeling
The summer season which falls between April and June is the ideal time to visit Darjeeling. The weather during this season is very comfortable. So this time of the year sees an Rs.ush of travelers from all around India.
Nevertheless, many prefer to visit the hill station during winter, which is between November to January. The temperature during this time averages between 7 and 5 degrees Celsius. The hope of seeing the rare snowfalls in the region attracts tourists during this time.
How To Reach Darjeeling
- By Air: Located 96 kilometers away from the hill station, the Bagdogra Airport is the nearest spot that you can reach through the air. There are frequent services from the major cities in India and around the world to the airport. A cab will take you to Darjeeling within 3 hours.
- By Road: Darjeeling is connected to nearby cities of Siliguri, Kalimpong, and Kurseong via road. You can enjoy a great drive if you like to ride or hire a cab to reach the tourist spot. If you prefer a more economic method, bus services are also available at a cheap rate from nearby towns.
- By Rail: The New Jalpaiguri railway station which is located at a distance of 62 kilometers from the city center is the nearest one. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR) Toy train service starts at New Jalpaiguri. It is the best and the most exciting way to reach the hill station. So we recommend it. You can also get a cab from the railway station which will take you to Darjeeling much faster.