Darjeeling: Beautiful Hill Station
Darjeeling is a beautiful town and one of the 19 districts of West-Bengal which is perched at an elevation 6,700 ft in the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region on the Darjeeling-Jalapahar range. The range is Y-shaped with the base resting at Katapahar and Jalapahar and two arms diverging north of the Observatory Hill. The hills are nestled within higher peaks and the snow-clad Himalayan ranges tower over the town in the distance. Kanchenjunga, the world's third-highest peak, 8,598 m (28,209 ft) high, is the most prominent mountain visible. In days clear of clouds, Nepal's Mount Everest, 29,035 ft (8,850 m) high, can be seen. The history of Darjeeling is intertwined with that of Sikkim, Nepal, British India and Bhutan.
The rolling hills around Darjeeling, full of tea plantations and green sparkle, have made it eminent the world over. Infact, the ‘Muscatel Tea’ grown here is exported to various countries of the world. With verdant greenery, undulating slopes, exotic flora and fauna, blooming orchids and breathtaking scenery, Darjeeling never fails to astound! Darjeeling beckons thousands today for a leisurely respite from the bustle of the madding crowd. The traveller - whether a tourist or a trekker, an ornithologist or a photographer, a botanist or an artist - will find in Darjeeling an experience which will remain etched in the memory - forever.
Flora & Fauna
Flora around Darjeeling comprises Sal, Oak, Semi-evergreen, Temperate and Alpine forests. A wide variety of rare orchids are also found. The Lloyd's Botanical Garden preserves common and rare species of plants, while the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park specializes in conserving and breeding endangered Himalayan species. The fauna found in Darjeeling includes several species of ducks, teals, plovers and gulls that pass Darjeeling while migrating to and from. One-horned rhinoceros, elephant, tiger, leopard and hog deer with small mammals like civets, mongooses, badgers and Pandas are found too.
Cuisine & Food
A popular food in Darjeeling is the Nepalese & Tibetan momo, a steamed dumpling containing meat cooked in a doughy wrapping & served with clear soup and achar. A form of Tibetan noodle called thukpa, served in soup form is also popular. Other commonly eaten dishes include alu dum, a potato preparation, Tibetan bread stuffed with meat. Fermented foods & beverages are consumed by a large percentage of the population Fermented foods include preparations of soybean, bamboo shoots, milk and Sel roti, which is made from rice. Alcoholic beverages include Tongba, Jnaard and Chhaang, variations of a local beer made from fermenting finger millet.
Culture & Festival
Apart from the major religious festivals of Dashain (Durga puja), Tihar (Diwali) and Christmas the diverse ethnic populace of the town celebrates several local festivals. The Lepchas and Bhutias celebrate new year in January, while Tibetans celebrate their new year, Losar, in February–March. The birthday of the Buddha is celebrated in mid-June with processions.Darjeeling is regarded as a centre of music and a niche for musicians and music admirers. Singing and playing musical instruments is a common pastime among the resident population, who take pride in the traditions and role of music in cultural life with high fervor and glee.
Darjeeling has a temperate climate with wet summers caused by monsoon rains. The annual mean maximum temperature is 14.9 °C while the mean minimum temperature is 8.9 °C (48.0 °F), with monthly mean temperatures range from 5 to 17 °C (41 to 63 °F).The lowest temperature recorded was −5 °C on 11 February 1905. The average annual precipitation is 309.2 cm (121.7 in), with an average of 126 days of rain in a year. The highest rainfall occurs in July. The heavy and concentrated rainfall that is experienced in the region, aggravated by deforestation and haphazard planning, often causes devastating landslides, leading to loss of life and property.
How to reach?
By Air: The nearest airport is Bagdogra near Siliguri, which is at a distance of 93 km from Darjeeling. This airport is connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati. International travellers can get connecting flights from Kolkata or Delhi.
By Bus: Regular bus services connect Darjeeling with many cities in and around Darjeeling. Siliguri, Kurseong, Gangtok and Kalimpong are well connected by private vehicles also.
By Train: The nearest rail is New Jalpaiguri (NJP), From NJP take roadways to Siliguri town, from here its about 80 km away to Darjeeling by Himalayan Railway or Toy Train.
POPULAR ATTRACTIONS & TOURIST DESTINATIONS IN DARJEELING
Also called as Sakya Monastery, the Monastery in Ghoom is located 6 km from Darjeeling. Sakya Monastery is a historic as well as significant Monastery of the Shakya Order. The original Monastery was built during the early twentieth century. The Monastery also preserves some of the rarest Buddhist manuscripts.
In this Monastery you can find Tibetan and Sikkimese monks. If you are interested in shopping as well as sightseeing, then Aloobari Gomba is a place of choice to visit. The grand Monastery, in bright red and white, is a feast to the eyes. Thupten Sangachoeling Gompa and Sonada Gomba are other monasteries also seen nearby.
The hill atop the Mall is the Observatory Hill. This hill is attached to strong religious faith and great importance both for the Hindus and the Buddhists. The sacred Mahakal temple rests on this hill; Mahakal is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva.
Bhutia Busty Gompa
Bhutia Busty Gompa is a Monastery situated just under a kilometer out of Darjeeling. Kanchenjunga provides a spectacular backdrop to this Monastery. This Monastery is a branch of the Nygpama sect’s Phontag Monastery in Sikkim. The Monastery houses a well-stocked library, which contains many old Budhist texts.
It is approximately 11 km from the town and is close to Tiger Hills. It is especially appreciated for its scenic splendour—a picnic spot, which is very popular among the tourists. This lake serves as the water reservoir for the supply of water for Darjeeling.
Bengal Natural History Museum
The Bengal Natural History Museum is near Chowrashtra, the heart of Darjeeling. The museum contains a representative and comprehensive, but dusty, collection of Himalayan and Bengali fauna. The museum houses more than 4300 specimens. Bird species, reptiles, and other animals of the Eastern Himalayas are displayed at true to life altitudes.
Bengal Natural History Museum
The Bengal Natural History Museum is near Chowrashtra, the heart of Darjeeling. The museum contains a representative and comprehensive, but dusty, collection of Himalayan and Bengali fauna. The museum houses more than 4300 specimens.
Everest Museum and mountaineering museum
The mountaineering museum has a grand collection of historical mountaineering equipment, specimens of Himalayan flora and fauna, and a relief model of the Himalayas. The Everest museum is situated next door. This museum traces the history of attempts to climb the Everest.
Padmaji Naidu Zoological Park
Padmaji Naidu Zoological Park is claimed to be the only zoo in the world to breed Tibetan wolf in captivity. It is also the first South Asian zoo to breed Snow Leopard and Siberian Tiger.
The temple resembles the famous Pasupathinath Temple of Kathmandu. A statue of Lord Shiva is present outside of the temple depicting “Pancha Bakram Tri Netram‿—five different facial expressions in different moods and the Third Eye of Lord Shiva are depicted.
Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway
The largest bi-cable passenger carrying ropeway in Asia which connects Darjeeling with Bijanbari in the Rangeet valley presents an exalting view of the beautiful tea gardens of Darjeeling. One of the most beautiful attractions of Darjeeling, the passenger ropeway starts at North Point, about 3 km from town. This is India's first passenger ropeway.
Darjeeling Toy Train
Darjeeling Toy Train acquired UNESCO’s endorsement as a World Heritage icon in 1999. . A journey in the toy train crisscrosses the motor road and passes through bazaars, leaving a long-lasting memory to the visitor. The journey takes approximately eight hours to Darjeeling from New Jalpaiguri.
Lloyd Botanical Garden
The garden represents the characteristic flora of the Eastern Himalayas. Sir John Anderson Rock Garden of this garden is where many alpine and sub-alpine plants grow under conditions akin to their natural habitats. More than 60 orchids representing various terrestrial and epiphytic species are found in the Orchid House, a spacious glass house
Badamtam Tea Estate
Badamtan Tea Estate was originally owned by the more than 150-years-old Lebong Tea Company. The tea estate was one of the tea company owned and managed by the British. It is located across the Rangit River. Badamtan Tea Estate is also a place en route in a hiking from Darjeeling and Glenburn. One should not miss the Buddha of Badamtan, a 14-foot-high statue of Lord Buddha.