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 Darjeeling (West Bengal)

Introduction: The name Darjeeling came from the Tibetan words "Dorje" meaning thunderbolt ( originally the sceptre of Indra )and ling a place or land hence the land of the thunderbolt

History: Darjeeling formed a part of dominions of the Raja of Sikkim, who had been engaged in an unsuccessful warfare against the Gorkhas. From 1780 the Gorkhas constantly made inroads into Sikkim and by the beginning of 19th Century, they had overrun Sikkim as far eastward as the Teesta and had conquered and annexed the Terai. E.C.Dozey in his Darjeeling Past and Present  writes, " Prior to the year 1816, the whole of the territory known as British Sikkim belonged to Nepal, which won it by conquest."

Description: Darjeeling is a fascinating place where you can see Buddhist monasteries, visit a tea plantation and see how the tea is processed, go for a ride on the chairlift, spend days hunting for bargains in coloruful markets and handicraft shops, or go trekking to high altitude spots for closer views of Kanchenjunga.

Darjeeling Quick facts

  • Darjeeling Geography and Climate

    Geography: Darjeeling is located at an average elevation of 6,982 ft (2,128 m) in the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region on the Darjeeling-Jalapahar range that originates in the south from Ghum. The range is Y-shaped with the base resting at Katapahar and Jalapahar and two arms diverging north of Observatory Hill. The north-eastern arm dips suddenly and ends in the Lebong spur, while the north-western arm passes through North Point and ends in the valley near Tukver Tea Estate. The hills are nestled within higher peaks and the snow-clad Himalayan ranges tower over the town in the distance. Mount Kanchenjunga (8,598 m or 28,208 ft) the world's third-highest peak is the most prominent peak visible. In days clear of clouds, Nepal's Mount Everest (29,035 ft or 8,850 m) can be seen.

    Climate: Darjeeling's temperate climate has five distinct seasons like spring, summer, autumn, winter, and the monsoon. Summers (lasting from May to June) are mild, with maximum temperatures rarely crossing 25 °C (77 °F). The monsoon season from June to September is characterised by intense torrential rains often causing landslides that block Darjeeling's land access to the rest of the country. In winter temperature averages 5–7 °C (41–44 °F),with lows around −2 °C (28.4 °F). Occasionally the temperatures drop below freezing; snowfalls are uncommon. During the monsoon and winter seasons, Darjeeling is often shrouded in mist and fog. The annual mean temperature is 12 °C (53 °F); monthly mean temperatures range from 5–17 °C (41–62 °F).

  • Best time to visit Darjeeling

    The best time to visit this hill station is between April and June and September and December. The summer temperature hovers between 14° C and 8° Celsius and the winter temperature falls to a freezing 6°C to 1° Celsius.

  • Darjeeling Orientation

    Most of the Darjeeling sprawls along a west facing slope in a complicated series of interconnecting roads and steep flights of steps. Near the top of  the town is the large open square known as chowrastha, the focal open point of Victorian Darjeeling . The zoo lies further northwest, reached from chowrastha on foot via HD Lama Rd. Hill Cart Rd, which runs the length of town, is Darjeeling's major vehicle thoroughfare. From the sprawling Chowk Bazaar it leads north towards the zoo and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, and heads south past the train station en route to Ghoom.

  • Darjeeling Near Getaways

    Calcutta is the gateway for Darjeeling, known for beautiful sunrise on Mt.Everest, the nearby Annapurna, and the countries of Sikkim and Bhutan.

  • Darjeeling Distance(s)

    • From here the  toy train to Darjeeling takes a picturesque route lasting about 7 hours.
    • The road distances are Kolkata 651 km
    • Gangtok 100 km
    • Kalimpong 51 km
    • Bagdogra, 96 km away is the nearest airport and is connected to Kolkata, Delhi, and Guwahati.
    • The distance from Bagdogra to Darjeeling can be covered in 3 hours by a bus or in a private taxi.

    Distance from Darjeeling to
    Click on link For a list of distances from Darjeeling to various cities .

  • How to reach Darjeeling by Road

    Bus services can be availed from Siliguri to Darjeeling, Mirik and Kalimpong from Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus, Siliguri. However, it is more convenient to travel in smaller vehicles which are available on seat sharing basis/hire, from the Bus terminus, airport and railway station.

  • How to reach Darjeeling by Rail

    New Jalpaiguri(NJP) is the nearest rail head and is also about 88 kilometers from Darjeeling. NJP is also connected with all the major cities of the country with most of the  trains heading for the north-eastern states making a stop at this junction.

  • How to reach Darjeeling by Air

    The closest air port is at Bagdogra (about 88 kilometers from Darjeeling and a three and half hour drive) and is connected by air with all the Metros in the country.

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    Darjeeling Festivals and culture

  • Darjeeling Festivals

    Festivals which are more popularly celebrated at Darjeeling are Durga Puja, Diwali, Saraswati Puja and Shivratri.
    There are robust folk dances with the males participating enthusiastically in the Chabrung of the Libus, the Tamangs dance, Damfu, and the most popular of them all, the scintillating Maruni. Gay folk songs fill the air with Jhowre relating to the lover, and the Juhari which throws questions and answers between the lovesick couple. The Rosia is sung in the fields, the Baloon extols the deeds of the Mahabharata and Malsiri is kept for the Durga Puja. The Rateli are nursery rhymes set to music. It seems that the people have saved all their energy for these two weeks which are filled with great rejoicing.

  • Darjeeling Culture

    The culture of the hill people of Darjeeling are uniquely expressed in the exquisite and inimitable artistic handicrafts of the district and their traditional colourful designs, which show marked resemblance to the art of neighbouring Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. Among the artistic crafts, ornaments, trinkets and handlooms are worth mentioning.

  • Darjeeling Religious Places

    Dhirdham Temple : Situated just below the Railway station, the temple is a structural replica of the famous 'Pashupatinath' temple of Kathmandu, Nepal.

  • Darjeeling Monuments

    Japanese Peace Pagoda : The Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist inaugurated the Japanese Peace Pagoda in 1992. It is a recent landmark constructed by Japanese Monks and commands an excellent view of the town and the Himalayan Range.

    Buddhist Monasteries
    : In and around Darjeeling there are important and interesting Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries. The oldest one is called the Yiga Cholling Monastery which is situated about 8 kms. from the town at Ghoom and enshrines an image of 'The Coming Buddha' or the Maitriya Buddha. It was constructed in 1875 and belongs to the Gelugpa Sect.

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    Darjeeling Entertainment and Night Life

  • Darjeeling Adventure

    Himalayan Mountaineering Institute: It was founded in 1954 after the historic conquest of Everest on the 29th of May in 1953, when two people set foot atop Mount Everest. They were, Tenzing Norgay (Sherpa) from Darjeeling and       Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand. As an honour to the great Sherpa this Institute was formed with the aim of imparting mountaineering skills to all the enthusiasts. Tenzing Sherpa himself was one of the founding members and also the Field Director of the Institute. It is situated on Jawahar Parbat and adjoins the Zoo. This Institute also houses a museum which holds a rare collection of mementoes from various Everest expeditions. Nawang Gombu, the first man to have climbed the Everest twice is presently the Chief Advisor for the Mountaineering Training.

  • Darjeeling Nightlife

    The hill station has a small number of lounge bars, with most of them located in the star rated hotels in the city. Rates for alcohol are pretty reasonable here.

  • Kidding around Darjeeling

    Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or the Toy Train : This fascinating narrow gauge steam engine train still operates with the original steam engine and the loops and the zigzags along the route are remarkable feats of engineering. The journey from New Jalpaiguri may be a pleasant experience but it is the short ride from Darjeeling town to Ghoom, the nearest station, that becomes a joy ride in itself. The Toy Train is considered an engineering marvel and some prefer to call it one of the wonders of the world, to be preserved forever.

  • Darjeeling Shopping

    Darjeeling’s popular commercial street is called mall. Here the Tibetans are seen selling hand-knitted sweaters, real & imitation antiques, etc. Chowrasta is also popular for shopping. The shopping here involves huge bargaining. There is Manjusha Emporium, which has good handicrafts & handmade cotton products.
    Shop for Himalayan curios like thangkas, brass statues, jewellery, woodcarvings, woven fabrics, carpets and the famous Darjeeling tea.

  • Famous To Eat at Darjeeling

    Momo: Meat dumplings which are steamed and accompanied by a bowl of clear soup and achaar. One can also order for vegetable momos in which the meat is  replaced by cabbage and other vegetables.

    Thupkas: Tibetan noodles mixed with egg/meat, vegetables with a predominant soup base.

    Shaphalay: Tibetan bread stuffed with meat.

    Aludum: Typical indian potato preparation which the hill people cannot do without.

    Tibetan tea: Salt tea which is mixed with butter which has its own distinct taste.

    Tongba: Local brew made from millet and has to be sipped through a bamboo straw. Usually found in the local haat(fair) held on sunday near the Rock Garden.

  • Darjeeling Museum and Hill Stations

    Tiger Hill: Situated at an altitude of 2590 metres (8482 ft.), it is 15 km from Darjeeling town. An early morning trip to the Tiger Hill promises an unique experience. A view of the sunrise amidst the Himalayan range has earned it an international fame. From here you can get a glimpse of Mount Everest, the highest mountain and Kanchenjunga range.

    The Observatory Hill
    : Apart from the magnificent view it commands, this hill atop the Mall also is attached with great religious importance as a revered temple complex for both the Hindus and the Buddhists.

    Natural History Museum
    : While taking a walk in The Mall, a visit to the Museum of Natural History which lies closeby is worthwhile. This fine small museum exhibits an unique collection of the fauna of the Himalayan region, especially of the Eastern Himalayas.

  • Gardens and Parks at Darjeeling

    Tea Gardens : While in Darjeeling a visit to any nearby Tea Garden to watch the actual process of the manufacturing of Darjeeling Tea is worth it. Some of the Tea Gardens also sell their packet teas. There are about 70 tea gardens in this hill region and the most accessible one is the Happy Valley Tea Estate, which is about 3 kms. from the town or within a walking distance of about 40 minutes (Closed on Monday).

    Lloyds Botanical Garden
    : This is a colourful garden situated just below the market. In 1878 Mr. W. Lloyd gifted 40 acres of hillside to make a garden with local plants and flowers. It still has the most varied collection of rhododendron, magnolia, orchids etc. of the Eastern Himalayas. It also has a glass-house full of alpine flowers and also features an Orchidarium and a collection of medicinal plants.

  • Lake at Darjeeling

    Samity Lake: From the pass, ringed with colorful prayer flags, we can see Kanchenjunga and beyond that, the Talung glacier.

    Senchal Lake: The hill of damp and mist-situated at an altitude of 8,160 ft, 10 km to the south east of Darjeeling, has a lake and golf links on the summit.

  • Darjeeling Seasonals

    The main seasons are :
    Spring (Feb-March end) is one of the blissful seasons one can imagine. The temperature is slightly warmer than the winters, with a maximum temperature of 18-degree Celsius. This season is best suited to those who wish to explore.

    Summer (April - May end) with cool winds, bright blue sky and a majestic view of mount Kanchenjunga, a certain thrill entices the visitors in the spell of the warm sunshine. The maximum temperature is between 20 -24 degrees Celsius (approx.). This season is best suited for holidays, honeymoon, leisure trips etc.

    Monsoons (July - Mid Sept) with misty weather it experiences one of the heaviest rainfalls in the whole of the Indian sub continent. This season is not suitable for travelling.

    Autumn (Mid Sept - Oct end) is perhaps the best time of the year to visit, with Hindu festivals taking place and having the best temperature reading. During this time, all the streets and houses are lit up in the spiritual glow of the diyos (Oil lamps). The temperature is in between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius.

    Winter (Dec - Mid Feb) is cold with frequent hailstorms and occasional snowfall. This season is ideal for those who wish to experience typical chill of this snowy paradise.

    Rainfall The precipitation during the south west monsoons constitutes about eighty percent of the annual rainfall. July being the wettest month and there are about 120 days of rainfall.

    Temperature The highest ever temperature witnessed in Darjeeling town was 26.7 degree Celsius i.e. 80.1 degree Fahrenheit on 23rd August 1957. The lowest ever temperature recorded in the district was minus 5 degree Celsius i.e. 23 degree Fahrenheit on 11th February 1905.

    Humidity During the rainy season the humidity is up to 90 to 95 percent. During March - April the humidity is up to 40 to 45 percent.

    Climatically the condition of Darjeeling is well compared to that of the United Kingdom.

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    Darjeeling Tips

  • Darjeeling Travel Tips

    • As the temperature is really chilling even in summer also tourist should carry woollen clothes whatever season they visit the place.
    • Always carry your medication with you—never pack it in baggage you're planning to check in. 
    • Never purchase local medications unless you're familiar with them.
    • Wear sun block and sunglasses in the tropics and at high altitudes.

  • Darjeeling Tourist Offices

    Tourist Bureau,
    Govt. of West Bengal,
    1, Nehru Road,
    Darjeeling - 734101
    Phone : 2254050
    Fax : 0354-2254102.

    Deputy Director of Tourism,
    Silver Fir Building,
    Bhanu Sarani,
    Darjeeling - 734101
    Phone : 2254879/2255351
    Fax : 0354-2254214

    Tourist Information Center,
    Govt. of West Bengal,
    Darjeeling Rly. Station,
    Darjeeling - 734101

    Tourist Information Center,
    New Car Park,
    Ladenla Road, Darjeeling - 734101

  • Darjeeling ATM's

    • ICICI Bank and State Bank of India can exchange foreign currencies besides some major hotels and currency dealers in town. These two banks also have  ATM facilities.
    • Other Banks in town : Allahabad Bank, Bank of Baroda, Central Bank of India, Indian Bank, Union Bank of India, United Bank of India, UCO Bank, U. B. Khetriya Gramin Bank and Vijaya Bank.

  • Must do at Darjeeling

    The must do in Darjeeling is to ride the narrow guage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway train, fondly called the "toy train". Another  must-do in Darjeeling is to visit the local bajar and stack up on the famous Sikkim churpis (solidified yak milk) and local candy.

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