Darjeeling is a town in India's West Bengal state, in the Himalayan foothills. Once a summer resort for the British Raj elite, it remains the terminus of the narrow-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or “Toy Train,” completed in 1881. It's famed for the distinctive black tea grown on plantations that dot its surrounding slopes. Its backdrop is Mt. Kanchenjunga, among the world’s highest peaks.
Best time to get to Darjeeling:
Winters are the best time to visit Darjeeling. Avoid Monsson visits because the roads get blocked due to landslides.
Ways to get here:
By air: The nearest airport is in Bagdogra, near Siliguri, 96 km from Darjeeling. Bagdogra Airport is 2.5 hours by road from Darjeeling and two hours by air from Delhi, and 50 minutes by air from Kolkata.
By rail: Siliguri is the nearest town connected to the mainline rail network. Ample transport is available to Darjeeling from here. The 'Joyride' train operates from Darjeeling to Ghoom round the famous Batasia Loop, nine times a day – enquire at Darjeeling station. Joyride take two hours with 30 minutes stop at Ghoom and 10 minutes at Batasia Loop.
By road: The most popular modes of transport are taxi (usually shared by three to four passengers), shared jeep (ten passengers). If you have arrived by train at NJP, you can take a taxi or shared jeep to reach Darjeeling from the booking counter at the taxi stand in front of the railway station. There is also a prepaid taxi stand in front of the train station. Note that if you arrive too late for the jeep to make a return journey from Darjeeling, you may end up paying more.
By bus: There is a regular bus service from Silguri to Darjeeling. However, they are quite slow due to the steep, twisty climb up to Darjeeling. Shared jeeps are faster, but cost double: 200rs vs. 100rs for the bus (2015).
Places to stay:
Some of the economical places to stay in Darjeeling are-
· Ivy Castle
· Birds Eye
· Bellevue Hotel
· Mayfair Darjeeling
· Hotel Pineridge
Places to visit:
· Singalila National Park
· Rock Garden
· Nightingale Park
· Japanese Peace Pagoda
· Tiger Hill
· Rock Garden
Some of the famous festivals celebrated here are-
· Sankranthi in Jan
· Losar in Feb
· Holi in March
· Darjeeling Carnival in November
· Christmas in December
Places to eat:
Momos are a must eat in Darjeeling. Eat them whenever you can because they will be one of the best ones that you will ever eat. Some famous places to eat are-
· Hotel Lunar near the clocktower
· Hotel Chanakya- try this if you are looking for an authentic Bengali restaurant
· Kanika’s- Try the Chinese food and thukpa
· The Park- try the chicken noodles here
· Happy Valley Tea Estate
Street shopping is at its best at Darjeeling. From woollens to crockery you will get everything here and that too at affordable prices. Some markets to try are-
· The Mall Road- You will get to experience the Tibetan culture here. Do not miss out on the Golden Tips Tea.
· Ghoom Monastery Market- You can get prayer flags, wall paintings and much more here.
· Chowk Bazaar- You will get food, grocery and household items here for decent prices.
· Biswa Bangla- It is on Nehru Road and incorporates the heritage of the local weavers and the artisans. It specializes in statues, shell products, clay dolls, conch shell items, wood carvings, jute items and much much more.
· Shop in the morning whenever possible. The markets are less crowded, and the shopkeepers sell items for cheaper if you bargain well.
· Keep cash handy as most local vendors won’t accept cards.
· Stay hydrated always and keep sipping on juices/water.
· Take the toy train at least once.
Festival Calendar of Darjeeling
|Jan||Maghe Sankranti, Darjeeling Winter Festival|
|Feb||Losar, Sri Panchami|
|Mar||Holi, Chaita Dasai, Chotrul Ducan|
|May||Buddha Jayanti, Kamlipong Marathon|
|Oct||Diwali, Durga Puja|
|Nov||Darjeeling Carnival, Teesta Tea and Tourism Festival|
|Dec||Christmas, New Years Eve, Darjeeling Orange Festival|