DARJEELING - A PLACE TO MAKE MEMORIES
Darjeeling is a small town and a district of West Bengal, located at an elevation of 6,700 ft, The Queen of Hills is nestled within the higher peaks. The great Himalayan ranges overlook the town. In clear days the panoramic sight of Nepal's majestic Mount Everest and one and only Kanchenjunga, the world's third-highest peak, can be seen. Darjeeling is famous for its aromatic tea, in fact, it was the amazing flavor of the tea and long stretches of tea garden, that it earned its place in the map. Another thing that makes this place famous is the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a toy train that goes around providing an important transport link to various parts of Darjeeling hills and lower plains, the Toy Train is still unmatched when it comes to touring the magnificent beauty of Darjeeling. No wonder it has been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you are planning a vacation and wondering if Darjeeling would be right, then let me help you make up your mind. No-doubt there are ‘n’ number of places on earth that you can go to enjoy yourself and have a good time, but must say that Darjeeling has got it all. It is blessed with all the ingredients required to make it a perfect vacation destination or let’s say it could be a perfect getaway.
Darjeeling is mostly inhabited by Nepalese and Tibetans, Lepchas and Bhutias from Sikkim. The Nepalese follow Hinduism while the Bhutias follow Buddhism. There are other religions as well like Christianity and Muslims. It basically has a diverse culture which co-exists in harmony. People there are warm and friendly. Since Darjeeling has varied mix of cultures, the local and ethnic food of Darjeeling is also quite varied. Rice, noodle and potatoes seems to make the dominant part that's as it goes well with the cool climate too. The most popular local snack food is Momos, a steamed dumpling containing meat or vegetables cooked in a doughy wrapping and served with clear soup and achar. Other popular Tibetan food is 'Thukpa', which is a hot noodle soup with meat, eggs and vegetables kinema, Churpee, Shaphalay, a Tibetan bread stuffed with meat, soybean, bamboo shoots, milk and Sel roti, which is made from rice. Tea (esp. the butter tea) is the most popular delicacy. Alcoholic beverages include Tongba, Jaard and Chhaang.
Darjeeling can be the the ultimate place for the nature lovers or the trekkers paradise for those who are adventure seekers and a wonderland for the shopaholics. The tea gardens fill long stretches of sloping hills, of which the sight is just super eye soothing. For all you botanists and flower crazy folks, you will be mesmerized by the mindblowing scenario of the beautiful flowers like orchids, pines and rhododendrons. There are plenty of places to visit in and around Darjeeling. There are taxis available in the town which shall provide take you to your destination and they will even provide you with tour packages but it would be best that you seek the help of the experts for arranging the tour package, transport medium and other related things. We will solve all of your problems and make sure that your trip will be a beautiful one worth cherishing. Chowrasta happens to be the happening place in the town. It is an open space where long benches are there for people to sit and enjoy, gossiping and watching other people. There are plenty of small shops around the area which sell many interesting things, from silver items and ornaments to traditional stuffs. There are also cafes. Another place most visited by the locals as well as the tourists is the temple ‘Mahakaal’, which is just little further from the Chowrasta. It is believed that your wishes are fulfilled if you pray with a true heart. Other places of attraction around are other temples, zoo, museum, etc. There are places that are a little far and might need a medium of transport. But the trekkers, hikers and the adventurers can do it their way. Here is the list of some must visit places in Darjeeling.
PLACES YOU MUST NOT MISS TO VISIT
Best known for a very good trekking spot. It can be reached either by foot or by vehicle. Best time to visit this hilltop would be early in the morning before sunrise because you do not want to miss the sunrise, the sight of the rising sun is just breathtaking and just priceless. Added to that it will give you the most amazing view of the Mt.Kanchenjunga and Mt. Everest.
This place is famous for housing a Gorkha war memorial and you can witness a 360 degrees view of Darjeeling while in the toy train. The loop covers an area of 50,000 square feet and transverses spirally into tunnels, landscaped parks and hillocks.
Happy Valley Tea Estate
This is one of the major tourist attractions in Darjeeling. It was established in 1854 by an Englishman. It is situated at an elevation of 2,100 meters above sea level and spreads across a massive area of 437-acres. It has one of the highest tea factories in the world.
Japanese Peace Pagoda
This Buddhist shrine was built during 1885-1985 by a Japanese Buddhist monk. It is located amidst some really enticing locations .It looks just perfect and amazing with its white color and golden sculptures.
The locals call it “Mahakal Dham” and is the most worshipped place. It is believed that if go here with a pure faith than your prayers are fulfilled. This holy site is located near the famous chowrasta.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is spread in an area of 67.56 acres. It is the home for many of the endangered species like snow leopards, red pandas, Himalayan Salamanders, Tibetan wolf, Himalayan mountain goat and Siberian tigers. It is wellknown for its famous Red Panda.
Singalila National Park
Singalila National Park is situated in the highest regions of West Bengal located at an altitude of approximately 2134 meters above sea level. You can enjoy the amazing peaks and the panoramic views of the lesser Himalayas. It is well known as the trekker’s paradise. The place is rich with varieties of vegetation flora and fauna and birds and also wildlife which include rare and endangered species like the Red Panda, Black Bear, Leopard, Tigers, Clouded Leopard, Serow, Leopard Cat, Barking Deer, Yellow-throated Marten, Wild Boar, Pangolin and Takin.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Also known as the ‘Toy Train’, is a narrow gauge rail that is 2ft in width and runs between Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri. it was built in the years between 1879 and 1881. In 1999, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, making DHR, the Second railway in the world to have such an honor.
The place has been made famous by Guru Rabindranath Tagore who visited Mangpu several times. Tagores used to stay here at the home of his protégé Maitreyi Devi. The house is presently known as Rabindra Bhavan and is maintained by the government of Bengal. Many poetries were written by him when he was here. Mangpu and its surrounding area are also famous for oranges.
Singalila National Park
Singalila National Park is a reserved forest area located at the Singalila ridge in Darjeeling district. This is a high altitude park. This is in fact the highest altitude park in the state of West Bengal. It was initially a wild life sanctuary and later made into a national park in 1992. The whole of Singalila range and the national park has long been part of the trekking route to Sandakphu and Phalut.