A quaint hill town nestled in the lap of nature amidst the grandeur of Mt. Kangchenjunga, Darjeeling is one of the most popular tourist destinations in West Bengal, East India. Located close to Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, Darjeeling is perfect for those who love being surrounded by nature as much as they love their cup of Darjeeling Tea.
Travelers and tourists (especially the backpacker kinds) mostly prefer to stay near the Mall road also known as the Nehru Road. There are plenty of guesthouses/dorms/hotels to choose from and most offer food and lodging at affordable prizes. Another plus point of staying close to the Mall is its proximity to the tourist attractions. Almost all the attractions can be reached on foot.
Some of the must-visit attractions in the city include the Japanese Peace Pagoda, Mahakal Temple (Observatory Hill), Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (Darjeeling Zoo), and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. Mahakal Temple, in particular, is a very interesting sight as it is a one-of-its-kind Hindu-Buddhist temple that attracts a majority of its worshippers on Saturdays. The place is very beautiful and colorful to look at with thousands of prayer flags swarming the temple vicinity. The zoo is also a nice place for a visit, especially if you have young kids accompanying you. Don’t miss out on the famous and the oh-so-adorable red pandas found only in the eastern Himalayas and south-western China.
For the shopaholics, Darjeeling’s Chowrasta is a mini-paradise. Besides, here you would find Nathmull’s – the best place to pick your dose of the world renowned Darjeeling Tea. The shop also has the provision of seating arrangements in and out of the store in case you fancy yourself a cuppa before you buy a pack for your folks back home.
Darjeeling is best for those who love exploring a new place on foot as it’s easy to walk from one corner to another and people are extremely helpful and polite in giving the directions. Besides, nothing is ever too far in Darjeeling.
Tiger Hill is the famous sunrise spot in the city. You can hop onto a shared jeep/cab at Chowk Bazaar taxi stand. Or, if you are in a group of more than 4 people then ask your hotel to arrange something. (Don’t forget to haggle)
Last but not the least, you can take a ride on the famous ‘Darjeeling Himalayan Railway’, locally known as the ‘Toy Train’. The train travels between Darjeeling and Kurseong via Ghum. One of the most interesting facts about this epic train journey apart from the fact that the railway is only the second railway to have been honored by the UNESCO World Heritage Site title is that Ghum is India’s highest railway station.
The easiest way to reach Darjeeling is to take a train to New Jalpaiguri station (NJP). From there, you can take a shared cab jeep or taxi to Darjeeling. It takes about 3 to 3.5hours. Alternatively, you can fly into Bagdogra airport which is approximately 70 km from Darjeeling via Hill Cart Roat. After reaching the airport, you can take a cab/taxi. If travelling from Kolkata, AC and non-AC buses are available.