"Queen of the Himalayas"
West Bengal | India
Darjeeling, situated at an altitude of 2,134 m, was developed by the British as a hill resort to escape the heat and rains of the plains. In the 1840s, tea plantation was introduced in the area. At the centre of the town is the Mall, Darjeeling's commercial street, lined with souvenir shops which leads to Chaurastha, a square with a bandstand and several antique shops. The Observatory Hill is perhaps the oldest built-up site in Darjeeling. A Red Hat Buddhist monastery, Dorjeling once stood here but was destroyed by the Nepalis in the 19th century. On Birch Hill to the north stands the Shrubbery, the residence of the Governor of West Bengal and further down along the Birch Hill Road is the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute previously headed by the late Tenzing Norgay. A museum displays the equipment used on the first successful expedition to Mount Everest. The nearby Zoological Park specializes in high-altitude wildlife - yaks, Himalayan black bears, pandas, but is also has four Siberian tigers. Below, the tea estate of Happy Valley is one of the best in Darjeeling and can be visited every day except Sundays and Mondays. Dominating the Mall is the Planter's Club, where planters from all over the area meet, particularly on Sundays. The Lloyd Botanical Gardens were laid out in 1878 on land donated by the owners of Lloyd's Bank. They present a collection of Himalayan and alpine flora. Nearby is the Tibetan Refugee Self- Help Centre with its temple, school, hospital and a shop selling carpets, textiles and jewelery.
Mount Kanchenjunga can be seen from Observatory Hill but a much better view of the peak is from Tiger Hill, 10 km south of Darjeeling. On the way back, you can stop at Ghoom, a small Tibetan monastery by the roadside, built in 1875 and housing a 5- meter statue of Lord Buddha.
Mount Kanchenjunga can be seen from Observatory Hill but a much better view of the peak is from Tiger Hill, 10 km south of Darjeeling. On winter days, the range can be clearly seen with Kanchenjunga (8,598 m.) in the middle, flanked by Kabru (7,338 m.) and Pandim (6,691 m.). To the right are the Three Sisters, the Everest (8,842 m.), the Makalu (8,482 m.) and the Lhotse (8,500 m.) and to the east, the Tibetan peaks. On the way back, you can stop at Ghoom, a small Tibetan monastery by the roadside, built in 1875 and housing a 5-meter statue of Lord Buddha.
Mirik is situated at an attitude of 1,767 m some 50 km from Darjeeling. The lake, Mirik’s main attraction, has a 4 km path around it which will help you limber up for the trek. Mirik is surrounded by tea estates, orange orchards and cardamom plantations.
Gorumara Wildlife Sanctuary (23 kms), is famous for its flora and fauna.The exceptional wildlife of this region includes elephants, gaurs, pigs, reptiles, birds and fishes. As one approaches the National Park, the reception is given by the continuous ringing of the temple bells, a typical sound created by the crickets
Gorumara, unique for its diversity in wildlife, is spread at the foothills of the Himalayas, in the plains of Murty and Jaldhaka rivers, comprising 80 sq.kms. including the upper Tondu reserve and Chapramari wild life sanctuary. This is the most important migratory corridor of the Asiatic Elephant and is also the residence of the Indian one horned Rhino and herds of gaur, the Indian bison. In fact there is no end to listing the mammals, reptiles, fishes and insects in the region. Bird watching is the best pastime in this park. Waiting at the Rhino Point or trekking down 35 to 40 minutes to the Bamni camp adds to the thrill. The Murty Nature Interpretation center has a beautiful geographical location.
Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary (70 kms), is one of the last refuge in the world of the one-horned rhino, an endangered animal. The viewing is from the back of an elephant. Experienced scouts lead the visitors to the exact spots in the wilderness where a rhino, a tiger or a herd of deer may be sheltering on the day and at that hour. The deer are varied-sambar, barking deer, spotted deer and the hog deer
Kalimpong is a quiet hill resort once the former headquarters of the Bhutanese governor. Situated at an altitude of 1250 m. between the Deolo and Durbindra hills it lies in the valley formed by the lower Teesta River and its tributaries in the foothills of the Himalayas. There are two Yellow Hat Buddhist monasteries in Kalimpong, the Tharpa Choling at Tirpai, the largest one, houses a library of Tibetan manuscripts and thangkas. The Zang-dog Palrifo Brang monastery on Durpin Dara Hill is smaller and of more recent construction. There is also a small market selling spices, fruit and traditional Tibetan medicines, textiles, wool and musk. Kalimpong was once the starting point for the trade route to Lhasa.
Sandakphu, a green table land on the spur of the Singalila range at an altitude of 12,000 feet (3,657 m) - the highest point in the district. In spring, the green plateau is covered with wild flowers of vivid hues. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Darjeeling is well connected by air from all the major parts of the country by Bagdogra airport. It is the nearest airport and is mere 3 hours drive away from Darjeeling.
Those thinking to travel to Darjeeling by train can board the famous Darjeeling train from Sealdah and various other express trains from all around the country on a daily basis to reach the nearest railhead New Jalpaiguri. On reaching New Jalpaiguri one can board the famous Toy Train which chugs its way up to reaching Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is well connected to Siliguri, the terminal city as a fleet of state and private buses run overnight from Calcutta to Siliguri. After deporting at Siliguri, enjoy a 2 hours scenic drive while traversing through the forest and tea gardens either by boarding a luxury bus or private taxi to reach Darjeeling.