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Home   »   Hill Stations  »   Darjeeling
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Darjeeling
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Tea Gardens at DarjeelingDarjeeling's velvety green hills abound in tea plantations, orchids and immense natural beauty. With its proximity to the snow clad peaks, every morning as the sun rises Dearjeeling offers bird's eye views of the grand mountains of the Himalayas. On clear days one can even see the Mt. Everest all the way across Nepal. As the fog lifts up and the sun rises upwards, the town gradually comes alive, amidst brewing of tea, the sing-song Gorkhali which is the local dialect, rises and falls like music.

Darjeeling is also famous for some of the best teas in the world, in fact connoisseurs know that the name Darjeeling is now synonymous with `Orange Pekoe' tea itself. Another historical landmark here is the little toy train that comes chugging up all the way from Siliguri, a relic of times gone by this train was built by the Britishers and still runs on the same route and at the same rate at which it did then, covering a journey of 82 kms in 6 hours it offers tremendously panoramic vistas on route as it hugs the hillside and winds its way up passing through forests, waterfalls, over deep valleys and through the mountains and tunnels.

The warm and friendly locals of Darjeeling consist of the Gurungs from Western Nepal, other Gurkhas races from eastern Nepal, Bhutias and Lepchas from Sikkim and Dukpas from Bhutan. The local fare is rice and meat, curry and momos, which are steamed dumplings, and of course, chow, the locally made noodles. This is generally accompanied by chhang, a locally brewed wine made from millet or the jaad, which is made from fermented rice. The Gurkhas are staunch Hindus and celebrate all Hindu festivals with equal dedication. Dussehra surprisingly is the most popular Gurkha festival here.

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Attractions
Batasia Loop
The legendary toy train of Darjeeling takes a sharp turn at this loop just 5 kms short of the main town. This place also has an interesting market that sells purses, bags and other decorative items made by the local women.

Bhutia Busty Gompa
Darjeeling is equally famous for its teas and its monastries. The Bhutia Busty Gompa set against the backdrop of the Kanchenjunga range stands tall and stately. This Gompa is a branch of the Nyingmapa sect's Phodang Monastery in Sikkim. The monastery is not far from the chowrasta and is very tastefully decorated. It also has a library which has a copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Botanical Gardenss
These gardens are worth a visit for their exotic and exclusive collection of a variety of Himalayan plants, flowers and orchids. The gardens also have a charming little green house.

Chowrasta
One of the important shopping places in Darjeeling, it overlooks the snow capped peaks of the Kanchenjunga and houses several Hindu and Buddhists temples. This market is usually chock a block with foreign tourists and a popular place to hire pony's from.

Dhoom Gompa
8 kms outside of Darjeeling lies the Dhoom Gompa. Here a very beautiful statue of the Maitrayia Buddha ( prospective Buddha) is established. This monastery has also preserved some of the rare handwritten Buddhist manuscripts.
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Happy Valley Estate
This estate processes tea and allows the visitor to see how tea is crushed, torn and curled. The fragrance of fresh tea leaves and the vistas of endless rows of tea plantations make for a refreshing sight.

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute Originally started and run by the famous Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, this institute is one of India's most famous mountaineering institutes. It runs courses for training mountaineers as well as has a very good collection of mountaineering equipment. The institute also screens short films on mountaineering.

Natural History Museum
Established in 1903, this natural history museum packs in its folds a rich collection of fauna found in the Himalayas and in Bengal. Among its many attractions are the estuarine crocodiles here. This unique museum also has a good collection of butterflies and the mineral forms of various stones have been displayed in a very attractive manner here.

Observatory Hills
This point provides one of the breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga peaks, every morning crowds and worshippers of the sun gather to see the peaks shake off the night to dress in the hues of a fresh dawn. This place is also very sacred for the Hindus and the Buddhists as there are temples and monasteries sit side by side here.

Passenger Ropeway
This was the first ropeway to have been built in India. It connects the North point (7000 ft) to the Singla Bazaar (800 ft). The rope covers a distance of 8 kms in 45 minutes. The seats in the rope way is limited and it is better to get the tickets in advance and the trouble is worth it since this journey offers sweeping views of the gorgeous mountains all around.

Climate
The best time to visit Darjeeling is from March to May or between September and November. The monsoons strike here around May end and the rains are heavy downpours that make living conditions difficult. During summer the temperature ranges from 15 to 25 degrees centigrade whereas in winter there's a drastic fall and the temperature hovers between 2 to 10 degrees.

Getting There
Air - The nearest Airport is at Bagdogra, 94 kms and three and a half hours away. Taxi fare is between Rs 850-1,000.

Rail - The nearest railhead is the New Jalpaiguri Junction at a distance of 81 kms and a three and a half hours drive. Taxi fare again is between Rs 850-1,000.

Road - Darjeeling is well connected by roads. The state transports run buses from Kolkata and other nearby places. The private operators also have their buses and the fair does not vary much in the state or in the private buses.

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