The picturesque hill station of Darjeeling is a place that captures the most vivid imagination. Darjeeling is known as the ‘Queen of the Hills’ and rightly so as it is framed by the mighty Himalayas and resplendent with carpets of tea.
Located in West Bengal, at an average altitude of 7,000 feet above sea level, Darjeeling has centuries of colonial history that adds to its nostalgic charm. It was originally established in 1839 by a British official called Dr. Campbell, and became home to generations of British tea planters.
The backdrop to this hill-top town is the mighty, snow-capped Himalayan mountains. Mount Kanchenjunga features most prominently amongst them and it’s soaring peaks can be viewed on a clear day from nearby Tiger Hill. Lofty conifers, Himalayan cherry trees, weeping willows and many indigenous Himalayan plants and shrubs that can be found only at the highest climes lend to Darjeeling’s innate appeal.
Spring is a wonderful time to visit Darjeeling. During this time, the whole town and its surroundings burst into a riot of spring flowers. Especially attractive are multi-hued rhododendron, magnolia, cornflowers, dahlias, hydrangeas, tiger lilies and so much more.
You may approach Darjeeling by the numerous hair pin bends of the steep and steady winding motor road. A more leisurely approach is via the quaint little toy train, awarded UNESCO World Heritage status and considered in itself, an incredible feat of engineering progress for its time.
Darjeeling town is an interesting mix of old and new. Here, newly constructed hotels perched precariously along hillsides and small souvenir shops jostle for space along with the much older red roofed buildings, churches, temples and centuries old monasteries, like the brightly resplendent Ghoom Monastery.
Visiting places like the Darjeeling Zoo, are wonderful ways to make the most of your Darjeeling trip especially if visiting with children. The Batasia War Memorial, The Lloyd Botanical Garden, The Rock Garden and a number of scenic picnic spots in and about town are all wonderful places to visit and make memories.
When in Darjeeling you simply must treat yourself to a cup of the world famous, fragrant Darjeeling tea. Take your pick of the light and fragrant first flush or the more robust, muscatel notes of the second flush tea. Either way, you will be rewarded with a memorable brew grown, sourced and made in Darjeeling. Some of the cozy bakeries about town will be sure to serve you a warming cup, perfectly complemented with a baked confection. For a more hands on experience of the tea growing process, you might consider visiting one of Darjeeling’s exclusive tea gardens.
The British ran to the high altitudes of Darjeeling to escape the cruel summer heat of the plains. Nowadays, Darjeeling is still a place to drink in the crisp mountain air, saunter along the wide promenades in town, and take in the unsurpassed beauty of mountain scenery. There are many people who consider visiting Darjeeling akin to an annual pilgrimage. A mountain pilgrimage guaranteed to rejuvenate and exhilarate the senses.