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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.