Darjeeling Travel Guide
Darjeeling, which is located in the northern part of West Bengal is undoubtedly one of the most favorite places of all hill lovers. I am no exception. Whenever I travel to north Bengal, visiting Darjeeling is a must for me and so today I am going to share with you a Darjeeling travel guide that will help you to explore the queen of hills.
The quaint Victorian charm and the eternal beauty of this place are sufficient to attract tourists and travelers alike. And the cherry on top is the mesmerizing Darjeeling Toy Train that whistles its way through the amazing mountains.
Darjeeling Travel Guide: What To See?
At the foothills of the Himalayas, Darjeeling resides proudly. A honeymooner’s dream and backpacker’s delight, this place is an embellished canvas of natural beauty. Attracting visitors along with its rambling expanse of green set against the white of gigantic snow-capped peaks. The panoramas of Darjeeling are captivating regularly. It only requires “one visit” to the queen of the hills for you to fall in love completely. Do not leave Darjeeling before you see these places.
1. Ghoom Monastery
Along with all the prayer flags flapping around its premises, the Ghoom Monastery houses a towering 15-feet high statue of the Maitreya Buddha. This monastery houses old Buddha manuscripts among the oldest monasteries in Darjeeling.
2. Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
Most famous for being the only zoo in this country to foster a conservation program for the majority of endangered species of animals that include snow leopards, red pandas, and the Tibetan wolf, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park extends to more than 67 acres. The biggest high altitude zoo in India, this zoo is home to flora and fauna unique to the Himalayan region.
3. Japanese Peace Pagoda
Located on Jalapahar Hill at a height of more than 28 meters, the Peace Pagoda in Darjeeling is also popular as the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple. The premises of the Japanese Peace Pagoda are evenly serene as is the interior of the temple, which portrays the four forms of Lord Buddha.
4. Mahakal Temple
At the peak of Observatory Hill, the Mahakal Temple is where Hinduism and Buddhism come together. This is where the real Bhutia Busty monastery was situated and where the Mahakal Temple resides now. The sound of priests and monks chanting fills the atmosphere as you climb nearly a 100 steps to get to the temple. While appreciating the colorful prayer flags that guide the way, beware of greedy monkeys walking around you.
5. Darjeeling Mall, Chowrasta
The Darjeeling Mall, Chowrasta is the heart and soul of Darjeeling town. It is a recreational and meeting point for tourists and locals alike. The bustle and hustle are undeniable with restaurants and shops lining the street. Benches along the periphery provide great vantage points to appreciate the surrounding scenery and the direct view of mount Kanchenjunga.
Darjeeling Travel Guide: Things To Do
Apart from visiting these mesmerizing places in Darjeeling, there are many activities to do here. There won’t be a single moment where you will feel bored. So as a part of this Darjeeling travel guide, let us have a look at the things I personally enjoy when I travel to Darjeeling.
1. Sunrise From Tiger Hill
Well prior to the crack of dawn, make your way to Tiger Hill to witness one of the most amazing sunrises possible. Atop the Tiger Hill summit at a height of 2,600 meters, find a place and wait for the view of when the horizon turns shades of crimson as the rays of the sun fall on the mighty Mount Kanchenjunga peak. A truly amazing sight to behold.
2. A Joy Ride On The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
You must take a fairy-tale ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, appropriately nicknamed the ‘toy train’, which covers a length of 78-kilometer stretch with 13 stations between Siliguri and Darjeeling. Dating back to 1881, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has announced as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The glaze of the mountainous terrain that the journey takes you through is breathtaking.
This is one of my favorite things to do. Whenever I travel to Darjeeling, I make sure to reach there from Siliguri on the toy train. But there is one thing you should know, the timings of toy trains have now become abrupt and so this should not be your only option.
3. Trip Of The Darjeeling Ropeway
For unmatched sight of Darjeeling and its alpine surroundings, the Darjeeling Ropeway provides views and vistas that are befitting of postcards. The initial cable car system in India, the 45-minute ropeway ride, operates from Singamari to Singla Bazar.
4. Climb Away At The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI)
This institute was established by mountaineer Tenzing Norgay who achieved Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. at Himalayan Mountaineering Institute you will find mountaineering records of big expeditions undertaken. There you will also get to see an Everest Museum with historical equipment and facts on display. Be adventurous and surely take a rock-climbing session.
Darjeeling Travel Guide: What To Eat?
You must wonder, I have spoken so much in this Darjeeling travel guide, but I have not uttered a word about its food and delicacies. I have kept this part for the last. So now coming to the foods that are must try in Darjeeling and also the restaurants that you should not skip visiting.
Here are foods that you must try once you visit Darjeeling. They will make you feel closer to the mountains.
Fried or steamed and stuffed with vegetables or meat, momos are the most famous snack to be had in Darjeeling and places near to it. Crucially dumplings made of flour, get your plate at most small and big eateries in town.
A famous Tibetan dish, Thukpa is a wholesome hot noodle soup that is made with eggs, meat, and vegetables. Served piping hot, it is a delicious meal in itself.
If your taste buds wish for something spicy, then treat them with Dalle. A pickle that is prepared with red chilies tempered in salt, mustard oil, and spices, this spicy accompaniment is generally served with momos.
I am a complete foodie and I love you to explore new restaurants. But still, whenever I visit Darjeeling, there are some places that I crave to visit when it comes to food, and I can assure you that when you travel to these restaurants you will also want to visit again and again.
Keventers is a synonym of Darjeeling. Visiting Darjeeling and not enjoying your breakfast at Keventers, seeing the Kanchanjunga is a waste. This place is located near the mall and offers a range of breakfast items. The must try foods include Cheese Ham Sandwich, Cheese Omelette, Coffee, and hot chocolate.
This has to be your ultimate destination for Dinner. The rooftop ambiance of Glenery’s is ideal to make you feel you are actually visiting the Queen of the hills.
If you want to try authentic Tibetan food, then there can be no better place than Kunga. The delicacies to try here are their chili pork, chili tofu, and noodles. You can also try your hands on momos.
Darjeeling Travel Guide: Best Time To Visit
Darjeeling offers different beauty at different points in time. It is you who decides when you should visit.
1. October To March
The monsoon season ends in October and marks the arrival of winter. Winter makes this place look most beautiful. The snow capped Kanchanjunga is a bliss to watch. The average high temperature here is 10C and it seldom goes down to 0C.
2. April to June
These are the comparatively warmer months in Darjeeling with temperatures rising up to 25 C in May and June. The days are occupied with sunshine and the nights are comparatively cooler.
3. July to September
Monsoons in Darjeeling are generally during July and August when rain falls endlessly. Fog and mist engulf most of Darjeeling, making it gloomy and grey.
Darjeeling is known as the Queen of Hills and the serenity, beauty, and ambiance of this place rightly justify it. Traveling to Darjeeling is not very difficult, but if you can get a Darjeeling travel guide from a person who has traveled to this place more than 9 times is an added advantage. But it is advised that when you visit this place in the middle of the covid situation, you should look at the Darjeeling travel restrictions. And 15,000 – 20,000 INR will be enough if you are worried about the Darjeeling travel packages.