Darjeeling conjures visions of serenity, of vibrant green hills steeped in splendour, a land of breathtaking beauty crowned by the majestic Himalayas.
Darjeeling is one of the most magnificent hill resorts in the world. This heavenly retreat is bathed in hues of every shade. The flaming red rhododendrons, the sparkling white magnolias, the miles of undulating hillsides covered with emerald green tea bushes, the exotic forests of silver fir – all under the blanket of a brilliant azure sky dappled with specks of clouds, compellingly confounds Darjeeling as the QUEEN OF HILL STATIONS.
Darjeeling – the name is derived from the Tibetian word ‘Dorje’ which means the precious stone or ecclesiastical sceptre, which is emblematic of the thunderbolt of indra, and ‘ling’ – a place, hence the land of the thunderbolt. The sceptre of indra is believed to have fallen at a place where now stands the Observatory Hill.
Darjeeling is a fascinating place, where the tourist can see Buddhist monasteries, visit a tea plantation, see how the tea is processed, go for a ride on the chairlift, go shopping in the colourful markets or go trekking to high altitude spots, near the border with Sikkim. Darjeeling has the unique feature of a toy train, which takes you from Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling through the steep mountainsides.
Places to see
Darjeeling has plenty of tourist spots in and around the city. Some of the most important are listed here.
The Japanese peace pagoda depicts the various stages of the Buddha’s life.Another attraction is the nation’s oldest passenger ropeway which connects North Point to Singla Bazar.
A visit to the Tiger Hills before dawn is a must for all Darjeeling visitors who want to see sunrise over the Mt Kanchenjungha. Tiger Hill is 2590 m above sea level and 11 kms from town (45 min).
Two kilometers from Darjeeling is the town of Ghoom which is the highest railway station in the world. It also has a monastery.
The Batasia loop (5 kms from Darjeeling) on the Darjeeling Himalayan railway is an engineering marvel and is another attraction even if someone doesn’t want to take the slow train ride.
The Tenzing Norgay Himalayan Mountaineering Institute trains mountaineers. It has a small museum as well. Adjacent to it is the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park.
The Lloyd’s botanical gardens is another attraction.
The two popular view points are Jawahar Parbat and the Observatory Hill which offer views of the Himalayan ranges.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park : Located adjacent to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. It is a high altitude wild life park and a new home for the Siberian Tiger, Himalayan Black Deer, Deer Panda, Llama and birds. It is open from 8 am to 4 PM
The Dhirdham Temple, built in the style of Katmandu’s Pashupatinath temple adds to the varied religious architectural styles of Darjeeling. It is near the railway station.
Senchal Lake: A favorite Picnic Spot about 10 k.m. from the town. The lake provides water supply to the Darjeeling town.