Darjeeling the Queen of Hills

Darjeeling is a town in the Indian state of West Bengal. A popular tourist destination, it is located in the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalaya at an average elevation of 6,710 ft (2,050 m). It is noted for its tea industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Darjeeling is the headquarters of Darjeeling district which has a partially autonomous status within the state of West Bengal.

The development of the town dates back to the mid-19th century, when the colonial British administration set up a sanatorium and a military depot. Subsequently, extensive tea plantation was done in the region, and tea growers developed hybrids of black tea and created new fermenting techniques. The resultant distinctive Darjeeling tea is internationally recognised and ranks among the most popular of the black teas. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connects the town with the plains and has one of the few steam locomotives still in service in India.

Darjeeling has several British-style public schools, which attract students from India and neighbouring countries. The varied culture of the town reflects its diverse demographic milieu consisting of Nepalese, Tibetan, Bengali and other ethno-linguistic groups. Darjeeling, with its neighbouring town of Kalimpong, was a centre of the Gorkhaland movement in the 1980s. The town's fragile ecology has been threatened by a rising demand for environmental resources, stemming from growing tourist traffic and poorly planned urbanisation.

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Climate
Climate data for Darjeeling (1901–2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 9.4
(48.9)
10.4
(50.7)
14.4
(57.9)
17.4
(63.3)
18.5
(65.3)
19.3
(66.7)
19.4
(66.9)
19.6
(67.3)
19.2
(66.6)
18
(64)
14.7
(58.5)
11.5
(52.7)
15.98
(60.77)
Average low °C (°F) 1.8
(35.2)
2.9
(37.2)
6.3
(43.3)
9.4
(48.9)
11.5
(52.7)
13.6
(56.5)
14.3
(57.7)
14.2
(57.6)
13.3
(55.9)
10.3
(50.5)
6.3
(43.3)
3.3
(37.9)
8.93
(48.08)
Precipitation mm (inches) 19.7
(0.776)
24.1
(0.949)
47.7
(1.878)
115.8
(4.559)
197.2
(7.764)
570
(22.44)
781
(30.75)
635.3
(25.012)
437.3
(17.217)
122.5
(4.823)
23.5
(0.925)
7
(0.28)
3,037
(119.57)
Places to see
Tiger Hill
tiger-hill Situated at an altitude of 2590 meters (8482 ft.) and 13 kilometers from the town, this spot has earned international fame for the magnificent view of the sunrise over the "Kanchanjunga" and the great eastern Himalayan Mountains. Even Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is visible from here. The hesitant rays of the early morning sun paint these peaks in pale gold.
Batasia Loop and the War Memorial
batasia-loop The Batasia loop situated almost 5 km away from the town is a gigantic railway loop where the Toy Train makes a 360 Degree turn. It was basically built to make it possible for the Toy Train to cut the deep ascend. Strategically located the Batasia Loop offers a panoramic view of the Kanchanjunga Range.A War Memorial constructed in the memory of the brave sons of the soil who laid down their lives in the different wars since the independence of the nation adds to its attraction. There is also a well furbished market where visitors can buy locally made purses, bags and other decorative items.
Ava Art Gallery
ava-art Situated about 4 km from the Market Square and on the National Highway, Ava.Art Gallery was established in 1965 by the Late. Bhopal Rao Sett and Ava Devi. It is the only Art Gallery of its kind in the Hills. A collection of 60 pieces of art work in water, oil and thread paintings are displayed in the Gallery. Visitors can travel on foot to get to the Gallery or simply hire a taxi. Entrance fees are not charged.
Chowrasta and Mall
mall Chowrasta, a wide promenade atop a ridge lined with shops and restaurants is taken to be the heart of the town. Here people gather to chat, spend time basking in the sun or just to snatch a moment of peace. The Brabourne Park is attached to the Chowrasta and now features a musical fountain. This place is an open place and free from vehicular movements from where one can watch the scenic beauty of the mountain range and take charm of walking at the Darjeeling Mall. Chowrasta is the central place of the Mall Road.
Rock Garden and Ganga Maya Park
rock-garden Situated 10 km from town, Rock Garden and Ganga Maya Park has now developed into a very attractive picnic spot with natural water falls. The park offers boating facilities and is endowed with great scenic beauty. Ample eateries are available for visitors to indulge in local delicacies and one can even buy souvenirs. No fees are charged for taking photographs. Visitors are however, required to make arrangements for transportation. A two way travel arrangement is advisable.
Peace Pagoda
peace-pagoda The Japanese Peace Pagoda was established by Nipponzan Myohoji, a Japanese Buddhist order. Situated on the slopes of the Jalapahar Hill the pagoda can be reached by foot or on taxi. The pagoda is the highest free structure in the town. It also showcases the four avatars of the Buddha.
Botanical Garden
botanical-garden It is the oldest Botanical Garden named as Lloyd Botanical Garden with varieties of flora and is famous for two living fossils. It is located just below the Eden Sanatorium(Saheed Durga Mall District Hospital) on an open slope covering an area of about 40 acres. Lloyd Botanical Garden is open seven days a week. There are no entrance fees. A camera, a small note book for a botany enthusiast and a couple of hours to spare, is a must.
Nightingale Park/Srubbery Park
Nightingale Park It is about 2-5 kms from Darjeeling Railway Station and walkable from the Chowrasta. It is a beautiful park with a package of cultural programmes performed daily during the tourist season and its opening time is 4.00 p.m. and closing time is 8.00 p.m. The park has recently been extensively re-developed, and now comprises of a giant Statue of Lord Shiva, a temple, and provisions for live-interactive entertainment. The best time to visit the park is in the evenings. Entrance fee is charged and nominal charges for photography may also be required to be made by the visitor.
Darjeeling-Rangit Valley Passenger Cable Car
Cable Car Darjeeling-Rangit Valley Passenger Cable Car is popularly known as the Ropeway. It is about 3 km north of the town and situated at what is known as the North Point. The Ropeway is India's oldest passenger ropeway and connects Darjeeling with Singla Bazaar at the bottom of the valley. The present ropeway has been extensively modernized and visitors can now safely travel over the clouds to witness the aerial view of the lush green tea gardens below.
Senchal Lake
Senchal Lake A scenic place near Tiger Hill. This place has popularly come up as a picnic spot among the tourists. The lake supplies drinking water to Darjeeling Town.
Observatory Hill & Mahakal Temple
Mahakal Temple Also known to the locals as the "Holy Hill", it is just a few minutes walk from the Chowrasta and is situated on the highest ridge of the town. The Mahakal temple atop the hill is a revered place for the locals and visitors will be surprised to find a Hindu priest and a Buddhist monk sharing a common altar.
Dhirdham Temple
Dhirdham Temple Dhirdham temple is modelled on the lines of the famous Pashupatinath temple of Kathmandu and was built in 1939. It is a minute's walk from the Darjeeling Railway Station.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park Established on the 14th of August, 1958, the zoo was dedicated to the memory of Padmaja Naidu, former Governor of West Bengal on the 21st November, 1975. Considered as one of the best zoos in the country, it is the only centre that breeds the tibetan wolf in captivity. Breeding programmes for the endangered red panda, snow leopard and the siberian tiger are also carried out at PNHZP. The zoo is open on all days except on Thursdays and other national holidays.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was set up following the successful ascent of the Mount Everest-the highest peak in the world by the local hero Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir EdEdumund Hillary on 28 May 1953. The oldest mountaineering institute in the country carries out various mountaineering courses every year. Apart from Tenzing, legendary mountaineers like Nawang Gombu(the first man to climb Everest twice) and Lattoo Dorjee Sherpa have helped build the reputation of this pioneering institute. The institute is presently under the purview of the Minstry of Defence, Government of India and its museum is worth a visit.
Raj Bhawan
 Raj Bhawan

Raj Bhawan is the summer residence of the Governor of West Bengal. The fantastically developed mansion with perfect manicured lawns, lush gardens, surrounding forests and British Bungalows overlooks the Darjeeling Lebong spur and commands a magnificent close-up view of the snow capped Kanchanjunga Range. Being a high security zone, visitors are no longer allowed to venture inside its precinct, a walk around it through the dense forest is however, most charming. Visitors can experience the entire Sikkim-Jorethang crest unhindered.

 

[The Raj Bhawan was earlier the property of the Maharajah of Coochbehar and the present 'Shrubbery Park' was the 'courtyard' of Sir Thomas Tartan's bunglow which was called 'The Shrubbery'. This bunglow had been constructed in 1879; however it was destroyed in the earthquake of 1934.]

Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre
Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre "Our way may be hard and long one, but I believe that the truth and faith must ultimately prevail".- His Holiness the Dalai Lama. After His Holiness escaped from Tibet, thousands of Tibetan refugees came to reside in India. Darjeeling too became a home away from home for the Tibetans in exile. To rehabilitate the community a ten-member committee was formed in Darjeeling to organize a rehabilitation centre which was known as "Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre". The centre was established on October 1, 1959 and the residents of the centre are today known for their handicrafts. The centre makes excellent carpets, woolen goods, woodwork, etc, which are famous across the globe.
Druk Thupten Sangag Choling Monastery(Dali Monastery)
Druk Thupten Sangag Choling Monastery(Dali Monastery) This monastery is situated at Dali, about 4 kms away from Darjeeling town. This is one of the most famous monasteries belonging to the Kargyupa sect. The pioneer of this monastery was Thuksay Rimpoche, who died in 1983 and his incarnate is reported to have been born in 1986 at Ladakh. This monastery is the headquarters of Drukchen Rimpoche XII, the supreme head of the Kargyupa lineage.
Ghoom Monastery
Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre Built in 1875 by Lama Sherab Gyatso, this ancient monastery is said to have been blessed by the renowned Tomo Geshe Rimpoche of Tibet. The specialty of this monastery is that it contains the statue of the 'Future Coming Buddha' known as Maitreye Buddha. The Monastery has also preserved some of the rare handwritten Buddhist manuscripts. You could visit the monastery on your return journey to Darjeeling from Tiger Hill.
Places to stay
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