DarjeelingWest Bengal, India.
Later it was discovered that the area was particularly well suited for tea plantations and Darjeeling tea is still exported world wide. In 1849, the British annexed the area and Darjeeling became a part of British India. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was opened in 1881 (it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the town became the de-facto summer capital of India during the days when the Raj was governed from Calcutta.
A lovely Victorian town was built among the Himalayan foothills, the remnants of which are still visible around the Chowrasta and Darjeeling remains a popular summer and fall resort for the natives of Kolkata today. For foreign tourists, the main attractions are the cultural diversity (many Tibetan refugees moved here after Tibet was annexed by China and they co-exist with the descendants of the many Nepalis who once came to the land as soldiers of Prithvi Narayan Shah and settled down there to work as labourers in the tea plantations. The town is also a jumping off point for travelers heading to Sikkim.
There has been intermittent political action from Gorkha groups demanding an independent state (Gorkhaland). In June 2008 a strike paralyzed the area, with closed hotels, restaurants and shops, and the accompanying protests even turned violent a couple of times. Though inconvenient, tourists generally are not at risk, but you should check the status before going there.
The nearest international airport is Bagdogra in Siliguri, 96 km from Darjeeling. There are flights from Bangkok, Paro and to most major cities in India.
By taxi or shared jeepdiaSiliguri is the nearest city on the mainline rail network. Ample transport is available to Darjeeling from here. The most popular modes of transport are taxi (usually shared by three to four passengers), shared jeep (ten passengers), ₹150-200 depending on time.
Shared jeeps depart regularly from several locations around town. They leave when full, and are a cheap, fast and reasonably comfortable way to reach Darjeeling.
After arrival by train at New Jalpaiguri (NJP) in Siliguri, taxis and shared jeeps continue the trip to Darjeeling. There is a booking counter at the taxi stand in front of the railway station. There is a prepaid taxi stand in front of the train station. After the last jeep has left to make a return journey from Darjeeling, the price rises to ₹200 per person. The prepaid counter will state that no jeeps are available, but they can be arranged by fixers or by negotiating directly with drivers.
Tourists often opt to buy an extra seat or two to have more space for the three-hour journey up to Darjeeling. Luggage is carried for free on the roof (try to hire a taxi/Jeep/Sumo with overhead carrier). Jeeps may stop for a snack and toilet break on the way up (normally a few kilometers short of Kurseong).
Reserved cars are available from Kings Travels: 098304-28401/ 093319-39486.
From NepalGetting to and from Nepal can be tricky, despite its proximity. From Darjeeling, take a shared jeep to Siliguri and then a bus to the Nepalese border at Panitanki, changing buses again in Nepal.
An alternative is that Juniper Tours and Travels – located just next to the clock tower in Darjeeling – offer a service where a driver transports passengers across border to Bhadrapur airport in Nepal for a connecting flight to Kathmandu. It is more expensive than the alternatives, but they look out for the client and assist if the situation becomes dicey (particularly with strikes in Nepal).
With an e-Tourist Visa (eTV) to enter India, it is not possible to travel overland from Nepal. The eTV can be used only at certain entry points (mostly large airports).
By busThere are buses from Siliguri to Darjeeling, but they are slow due to the steep, twisted, narrow climb to Darjeeling. The option of shared jeeps is available and it is cheap and faster. But jeeps wait for a full load of passengers before departing.
If the bus price is ₹113 to Darjeeling from New Jalpaiguri, consider hiring a taxi, Jeep or Sumo with overhead carrier. This will be cheaper if the vehicle goes directly from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling.
From NJP, the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), known as the 'Toy Train', completes the journey to Darjeeling. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was the first, and still the most outstanding, example of a hill passenger railway. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This route is popular with tourists as it passes through picturesque mountain scenery and has been the subject of many articles. The line has a series of zigzags and loops to gain height and even runs straight up several village main streets!
Seats on the DHR Toy Train sell out in peak season, so make reservations up to one month in advance. The train departs New Jalpaiguri at 09:00 and arrives in Darjeeling at 15:30, but only on certain days of the week. The train is diesel-hauled now and is reliable and punctual.
The steam 'Joy' train operates from Darjeeling to Ghoom via the Batasia Loop, four times a day – enquire at Darjeeling station. Steam trains cost ₹2200 and diesel trains cost ₹1200. See the DHR website.
A steam train also operates between Siliguri and 'Agony Point' above Tindharia most Saturdays and Sundays. Enquire at Siliguri station.
There is also a daily 'School Train' departing Kurseong at 06:15 and arriving at Darjeeling at 08:45. It leaves Darjeeling at 16:00 and arrives at Kurseong at 18:30. This is still hauled by a steam engine and is one of the world's last 'day to day' steam trains. Its schedule is frequently changed and it often runs hours late.
A great way to spend a day is to take a share-jeep to Ghoom (the next town up the ridge), visit some monasteries there and walk back to Darjeeling via some of the villages.
One can also walk to the botanical garden and spend few pleasant hours appreciating the nature; then, there is a rock garden, which is very much at a (slightly longish) walkable distance. One can also walk to the zoo and then to the ropeway at North Point. A walk to the Peace Pagoda and then to Jalapahar is also quite refreshing. It’s quite interesting to have a leisurely walk on the Mall road and then one can sit and relax for hours in the soothing sun at Chowrasta.
Batashiya LoopBatashiya Loop is basically a place where the legendary toy train makes a loop. There is a Gorkha martyr memorial here. There is also a landscaped park. if you go early in the morning (before 8AM) you can get the glimpse of a local crafts market here.
Bhutia Busty MonasteryThis monastery was built in 1761 by Lama Dorje Rinzing above the Observatory Hill, where the Mahakal Temple stands now. Later it was re-located downhill to Bhutia Busty.
Old Ghoom MonasteryThis is one of the oldest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Darjeeling. It was built in 1850.
Dali MonasteryThis is the biggest monastery in this region. It was built in 1971. It is the head quarters and residence of Drukchen Rimpoche the XII, the head of the Kargyupa sect of Buddhists.
Aloobari MonasteryLocated in Aloobari on way from Darjeeling to Jorbunglow, this is the least visited monastery as it is located away from the main road. Established in 1914, The monastery offers some breathtaking views of the Tiger Hill region and houses some old rare Buddhist manuscripts.
Botanical gardenThe green house has quite a nice collection of flowers.
phone: +91 9711100094This is one of the most visited spots in Darjeeling. This institute was created by the late Tenzing Norgay, and you can pay your respects at his grave here too. He was a Sherpa who climbed Mount Everest on in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary. All the equipment used in that climb are still a highlight in that institute.
Himalayan ZooIt has a good collection of the more charismatic animals found in the Himalayan region, including leopards, a rare Bengal tiger, and red pandas.
Japanese Peace PagodaThis impressing building is part of a grid of around 30 pagodas spanning the whole globe. Constructed by the Japanese Buddhist Nipponzan-Myohoji Order, the one at Charlimont on the outskirts of Darjeeling was consecrated in 1992. A small temple just lies alongside. If you're woken up due to the sound of drumming in the streets of Darjeeling between 4 and 5AM: These are the monks (Theravada) of the Japanese temple having their early morning walk.
Nightingale Park/Shrubbery ParkA beautiful park with a package of cultural program performed daily during the tourist season. The park has recently been extensively re-developed and now features a giant Statue of Lord Shiva, a temple, and provisions for live-interactive entertainment. The best time to visit the park is in the evenings. You may think of it as an alternative to Tiger-hill to see the sunlight magic on Kanchenjunga from this park. Good spot for photographers, as this place is not very crowded. Nice landscape is visible from this park.
Observatory Hill & Mahakal TempleObservatory Hill is the oldest site in Darjeeling. This hill is also known as the “Makal-Babu-Ko-Thaan” in local area. It is said that a Red Hat Buddhist Monastery stood at this very spot. Nepal people destroyed this monastery in the 19th century. Now the Mahakal Temple is located in this hill.
Rock GardenIt's a beautiful place with a small waterfall. This place has got varieties of flowers landscaped in the rocks. Females can also get dressed in the local dress and take pictures.
Tiger HillIdeal to visit early morning when the first rays of the sun kiss the Mt Kanchenjunga and give it a golden colour. To visit the hill, one needs to get up at 3AM in the morning. You can taste some excellent tea on your way to the hill, which will provide much needed warmth on cold Darjeeling mornings. When getting into a taxi at 04:00, keep in mind that they are shared taxis and your driver might wait around in vain for others to join your taxi causing you to miss the sunrise! Those travelling alone or as a couple might want to squeeze into an already occupied jeep to insure full viewing pleasure. Though it has executive lounge (₹40 per person) and special lounge (₹30 per person), nothing beats having view from open area as you can have a full panoramic view from outside avoiding crowd in the lounge. The early you can reach, the best place you can find to stand inside or outside the observatory tower. If you are late, you may find yourself standing behind many people and a lot of obstructions to feel the sunrise and magic lighting on Mt. Kanchengunga. You may also need to walk a lot to reach there via a steep ascendant road.
Dhirdham TempleLocated just below the Darjeeling train station, this temple was built by Purna Bahadur Pradhan in 1939.
St. Andrew's ChurchLocated near the famous mall, this church was built in 1843.
phone: +91 80-1770-0700address: Pamphawati Gurungni RdQuite a hike from the centre, Darjeeling's second oldest tea estate is open for visitors. An employee will guide visitors through the tea factory, showing the full process of tea production and explaining the different varieties of tea. At the end of the tour, tea samples are tested and you can buy teas produced from the estate.
Darjeeling is one of the oldest hill stations in India, and has plenty of options, both for those seeking a lazy getaway from the hot plains, as well as nature enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies. Apart from sights within the town, there are plenty of trek options along the Himalayan ridges on the Indo-Nepal border near Darjeeling. The most popular one is the Singalila Ridge Trail. Bookings for guides, porters and accommodation on the trail can be made in Darjeeling or in the nearby town of Manebhanjang, which serves as the trailhead. From July to mid-September the Singalila park is closed, but because of the rain, clouds and fog it is less enjoyable anyway.
Darjeeling Himalayan RailwayThe Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, nicknamed the "Toy Train", is a 2 ft. (610 mm) narrow-gauge railway from Siliguri to Darjeeling in West Bengal, run by the Indian Railways. It was built between 1879 and 1881 and is about 86 km (53 mi) long. The elevation level is from about 100 m (328 ft) at Siliguri to about 2,200 m (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling. It is still powered by a steam engine. A modern diesel engine is used for Darjeeling’s mail.
Mountain BikingMountain biking is an adventure and the best way to explore the beauty of any mountain or hilly area. This is the best way to explore the natural beauty of the Darjeeling. Darjeeling has many exciting tracks for the motor biking. Adventure lovers love to ride on these roads as they provide them the opportunities to explore the natural beauty at their own with some adventure and thrill.
Shrubbery Health ClubLess visited but offers unique and charming views of Kanchenjunga. Few locals can been found jogging here and offering prayers to various deities.
Singalila National ParkSingalila is a trekking destination in the far northwest corner of West Bengal state. Kanchenjunga, the world's 3rd highest peak, is visible for much of the trek, to the north, on the Nepalese border with Sikkim. Usually the park is accessed from Maneybhanjang, approx. one hour, or 30 km. west of Darjeeling. The park can also be accessed from Rimbik, where many trekkers finish up, or from Bijanbari, with one extra day's walking. Trekkers must pay a ₹100 fee to enter the park, and must hire a guide. Porters can also be hired in Maneybhanjeng. Many trekkers sign up for a 3-, 5- or 6-day trek in Darjeeling, where various trekking companies make all of the arrangements. Passports must be carried, as the trek crosses briefly into Nepal, then back into India. Sleeping bags and layered warm clothing are a must, as the temperature dips well below freezing most nights. Overnight lodging is done at assorted huts or simple guesthouses along the way, and hot meals are available at the same. Starting from Maneybhanjang, most trekkers stay overnight in Gairbas or Kalipokhari, and press on to Sandakphu for the 2nd night. Sandakphu at 3636 meters is a favorite spot to view the high Himalayan peaks of Lhotse, Everest, Makalu, etc., in early morning when visibility is good. 3-day trekkers turn aside and head downhill to Rimbik for their final night, while others head further north for spectacular views from Sabarkum and Phalut, then downhill for Raman, and finish in Rimbik for the last night. For greater cash outlay, non-trekkers, or those pressed for time can hire a jeep as transport from Maneybhanjang to Sandakphu, and stay overnight to catch the sunrise views. The ideal time to visit is April or May, in spring when the rhododendrons are in bloom, but Singalila can also be done in the fall, after monsoon season.
- Curio items pertaining to Tibetan and Himalayan cultures, such as thangkas, miniature monasteries and garments made from yak wool. Shops are located in and around the Rink Mall, Chowrasta and Darjeeling Local Haat:
address: The MallPosters and picture postcards. Excellent selection of posters and cards depicting scenes of the Himalayas.
DorjeeThe most unique shop that perhaps has the most fascinating collection of Buddhist and other local artefacts. This place, though surprisingly small, is more like a mini Aladdin’s cave. A must-visit for all objet-d'art lovers. However, The owner is rude towards Indians and they are frequently cold shouldered unlike the deep interest shown to foreign customers. This behaviour stems from the fact that the Indian tourists see through the sham of the mentioned shopkeeper. Yes this is very true. When buying artifacts it is best to take a round and not to appear in a hurry. You may try few other shops, which are opposite the State Bank of India and also below the Chowrasta mall.
Handbags & Junk JewelleryDarjeeling is a place where you can get variety of ladies hand bags and junk jewellery at an completely affordable price. You can try to bargain if you really like a piece.
Currency Exchange. Riddhi Siddhi Exchange in Darjeeling. 11 Laden La Rd. Up hill from the Foreigner's Registration Office. It may give you better rates for larger amounts.
Everything closes pretty early in the night (The town goes to sleep before 9PM; plan to be at your restaurant no later than 7PM). If you are planning to stay up late, you might keep something extra in stock to eat.
Boney's Snack Baraddress: Capital Market, Ladenla RoadServes very good grilled sandwiches, sandwiches, pizzas, burgers and even pastas.
Cake LadyCake Lady makes cakes, muffins and brownies to order and even delivers them free of charge to your hotel or home in Darjeeling town. The cakes are a taste of home using quality ingredients (sourced locally and organic wherever possible) and are known to be the best in town! Just call 0091 9547457734 and order the day before.
phone: +91 354 225 8408address: Nehru RoadIt was known as "Plivas" during the British tim. Glenary's is divided into 3 restaurants - the upper deck is specially more decent and apt for families and good for lunch and dinner. The second one below the upper deck is the confectionary and a restaurant ideal for a cup of Darjeeling Tea and also a good breakfast. The lower deck is known as "The Buzz" where a live music band will be playing and is more of fun stuff with bar and food. Yes, it is a good place for cakes, pastries, the ubiquitous Darjeeling cuppa, sizzlers and North Indian fare. Offers nice views of Mt Kanchendjunga on clear days.
address: Chowrasta, The MallDarjeeling tea in loose (estate) & handcrafted gift packaging. Over 250 varieties - Darjeeling black, green, oolong, white, flavored, herb teas. Gourmet tea sit in service with a handsome and well presented range of snacks and eatables. Tea menu with almost 75 kinds of different hot & iced teas, tea mocktails. Tea paraphernalia like metal and silver tea sets & pots, strainers, infusers, spoons, tea cosies, etc.
Hot Stimulating CafeOn the way to Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, on Hooker Road, is this lovely little cosy place with pictures of Bob Marley covering one whole wall. The Momos here are awesome! They even offer a Momo-cooking course! If you want to taste the local home brewed beer Tongba, this is the place. The guy who owns it can double up as your local guide, trekking along with you to some adventurous outings from Darjeeling.
Hotel LunarThis is probably the best vegetarian restaurants in town where you can enjoy a great view and wonderful service.
Kanika's (Veggie Lovers)address: H.D. Lama road, (beside Bank of India)A small but artistically designed hotel with lot of interesting painting. For vegetarians good place to eat with North and South Indian dishes, Chinese. One must taste Thupka (soupy noodles) here. If you play guitar just pick the guitar keep in the reception and start playing it!
KeventersThis place with its awesome western delicacies and cool view was featured in a number of movies and books. Don't forget to try the chicken sausages, pork platter and the chocolate milk shake. The sandwiches here are great too. The first floor is the restaurant, while you can buy meatloaf, sausages, cheese etc. from the ground floor store. Good place to buy Kalimpong and Nepal Cheese.
Kunga'sAn excellent Tibetan place, situated just above the clocktower. It serves superb Tibetan food, including hearty Tibetan soups (Thentuk is recommended). It is, however, tiny, hence often full and crowded.
address: The Rink Mall (Opposite General Post Office)A great place tastefully done up with an amazing ambience and collection of hundreds of varieties of Darjeeling teas. Serving almost 100 varieties of tea & tea mocktails from a tea menu. A large collection of tea accessories such as silver tea pots & sets, tea cosies, tea strainers & infusers books on teas & other paraphernalia
phone: +91 8371-919527address: 110 Gandhi RoadIf you want to try Naga dishes, this is the place. Non-veg plates made with ingredients such as smoked pork and fermented bamboo shoots. But you need to place orders in advance (at least 3 hr) for lunch or dinner.
The ParkLocated near the clock tower, this restaurant is especially popular with tourists. They have two menu cards, one Thai and the other Indian, and the cook mastered both cuisines. The Thai cuisine is quite excellent. Try their Thai style chicken rice noodle.
- Beni's Cafe. Opposite the Big Bazaar, Near the Rink Mall. 3, Dr.S.M. Das Road. Around the corner from the Timber Lodge (100 meters). Snacks, drinks and sweets. Lots of local people here. Price is OK.
- Joey's Pub – Pop into Joey's Pub for some cheap beer, great hospitality, cricket on TV etc. A British-looking pub popular with travellers. A good place to pick up trekking information and travel partners to fill a jeep to Sikkim or down to the plains.
phone: +913542257308address: Laden La Roada snazzy tea boutique having a very wide frontage even though the place is not all that big. Over 50 kinds of finely packaged teas from Darjeeling & other areas in India. Oolong, black, green, white, CTC, spiced, herbal & many more. Besides, they also have almost 25 kinds of estate teas to see, taste & select The place even has of a small 4-seater tea bar with a proper Tea Menu ! Interesting and very well located. Few accessories are also available. Teas can also be bought from their online website which is quite nice.
- Tea – Darjeeling tea is world renowned after all. Also called the 'Champagne of Teas', You can taste and buy the best teas in the market & at Tea Cosy, the tea parlors with an excellent environment located inside the Rink Mall and at the Golden Tips Chowrasta.
address: Chowrasta SqThe best tea bar in Darjeeling. The staff has a true passion for Darjeeling tea and is very enthusiastic to share their knowledge. A big selection of teas is available and you can ask to try many different varieties (black, green, white, etc). The balcony gives a view over the mountains, especially nice in sunset, hence the name. You can also buy pastries, but having a tea pot of Darjeeling can't be missed here. They also sell teas and tea accessories for taking home. Free Wi-Fi.
Darjeeling has a large number of hotels and lodges. However, on the whole, budget accommodation is of poor value compared to elsewhere in India. Most places target groups coming in from West Bengal; backpacker-oriented accommodation is sparse and you probably won't get touts coming to pick you up at the bus stop so it pays to have a few ideas in advance.
There are several forest guesthouses in the Darjeeling area. In order to stay at any of these a special permit from West Bengal Forest Department is required.
Birds Eye Viewphone: +91 9832321037, +91 9775972955address: Dr. Zakir Hussain RdOpened in October 2008.
address: Bhanu Sarani, DarjeelingProperty belongs to West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation and has a breathtaking location with views of Kanchenjunga.there are also dormitories available but these tend to be booked out.
Hotel AlimentLocated at the top of the hill, the views are nice, but the 15 min walk from the clock tower is quite steep. In some double rooms there is hot water 6:30PM-7:30PM, but they can fill up a bucket with hot water the rest of the day. There is also a simple restaurant, which houses an impressive library.
Hotel Pineridgephone: +91 354 2254074address: The Mall, DarjeelingAll rooms face Kanchenjungha. Rooms are dank & dreary with rickety old furniture. Offers a hint of the old world charm.
Hotel PrestigeSimple hotel with cozy rooms, running hot showers and TV. Half hour internet use free each day. Owners are nice couple of Indian (Iranian ancestry) and Japanese. Single for ₹220, Double for ₹330 (2012).
Hotel RomaLocated near the mall, the views are nice, but the 3 min walk to mall.
The Parklane hotelphone: +91 354 2256902address: N C Goenka roadAll rooms office good hill view with balcony. Pure vegetarian restaurant is attached with hotel.
phone: +919434428935address: 110 Gandhi RdA Beatles themed lodge and restaurant. The lodge features five cosy rooms, each named after the fab four and Brian Epstein, considered the fifth Beatle. Very affordable, each room has a double bed, attached bathroom with hot water and closet. The lodge showcases a constantly growing list of Beatles memorabilia. Free WiFi available.
Zakir Hussain Rd Lodgingaddress: Zakir Hussain RdOffers a clutch of backpacker-oriented places. On a north-facing slope, which is perpetually misty, so these places get very cold and damp, with the lack of sunshine often being felt in the attitudes of the proprietors too.
phone: +91 354 2254075address: P O Box 28, The Mall, Darjeeling, W.B. 734101Run by a Tibetan family for around forty years, the hotel features a modest, dry and warm interior, rooms are wood-panelled and clean. Free WiFi.
Gymkhana Resortphone: +91 354 2257325address: 1
address: 51 Gandhi RoadLocated very centrally at the south end of the Mall. Has wifi.
Hotel Fairmontphone: +91 354 2253649
Hotel Seven SeventeenCentrally located.
phone: +91 354 2259271address: 51/1 Lebong Cart Road
phone: +91 354-2257226address: 18 HD Lama Rd, Chauk BazaarA luxury heritage hotel in Darjeeling. The hotel has stories to tell from the time of its first owner the Maharaja of Cooch Behar to Nancy Oakley in the 1950s.
phone: +91 354 225 6431address: 18/1 Gandhi Rd, LimbugaonIt has 46 beautiful rooms and suites, with satellite TV. The wooden interiors give it an ambience of a traditional country home.
phone: +91 354 2256376address: Mall RdHill resort offering good views. This property was once the summerhouse of the Maharajah of Nazargunj.
address: Observatory HillEstablished in the 19th century as a boarding house for bachelor English and Scottish tea planters, it was converted into a hotel just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Has been the subject of many stories in the international media. It is situated on Observatory Hill, a Darjeeling landmark. It offers Wi-Fi facility.
But extreme suffering and poor state of business, development, jobs and infrastructure has created deep scars, which may take some more time to heal. So a note of caution is given while travelling around the city.
Take caution when walking at night, as many feral dogs roam the street once the sun goes down. If approached by an aggressive dog in the street, acting as though you are picking up a rock to throw will usually deter them.
- Kalimpong - (50 km away) It is a hill station in Lesser Himalaya and recognized for educational institutions. Most of those were formulated during British colonial period. The town has many religious sightseeing places apart from beautiful views of mountains.
- Kurseong - (35 km away) It is referred as Karshiyang in Bengali and Khār-sỵāng in Nepali. The town is home to most expensive teas in entire world. Some popular tea gardens such as Ambotia, Makaibari and Castleton produce special aromas which are difficult to cultivate elsewhere.
- Mirik - (50 km away) Mirik name came from the Lepcha word Mir-Yok implying ‘place burnt by fire’. Nestled in the serene hills of Darjeeling, It is a picturesque location. Mirik has become highly famous tourist place because of its natural beauty, climate and easy accessibility.
- Sikkim - (100 km away) With more than 40% of the area is covered with forest, Sikkim boasts of its natural beauty. It is well known for its Lush green valleys and snow covered hills.
- Siliguri - (80 km away) Located on the banks of Mahananda River, Siliguri is prime educational, transportational, tourism and commercial center in West Bengal. The town also acts as a key transit point for railway, road and air traffic to northeast states of India and other neighboring countries such as Bhutan and Nepal.