8 places you must visit in Darjeeling
From wild stretches of untouched forest to historical and glamorous heritage cafe there is a wide array of places which you must visit in Darjeeling. To help you plan out your Darjeeling trip, here’s our guide to some of the unmissable places to see. But first let’s learn few basic things about Darjeeling.
Nestled in the mountainous valley of Eastern Himalaya Darjeeling is one of the favored hill stations of North-East India. Situated at an altitude of 2050mt Darjeeling is the summer capital for tourists from far and wide. Since early British era Darjeeling has captivated the mind of travelers with the mesmerizing view of Mt Kanchenjunga. It is the world’s third tallest peak. Before the Britishers arrived Darjeeling used to be the part of Sikkimese Kingdom.
Top 8 places to visit in Darjeeling
1. Happy valley Tea Estate: A sea of Tea
Darjeeling has been world renowned for its aromatic tea leaves so to take a tour down the valley sprawled with the luxuriant tea garden is a must. Rippling with rows and rows of emerald green tea bushes is the second oldest tea estate of Darjeeling, Happy Valley Tea Estate. You can visit this tea estate to witness the process of making the finest tea leaves.
How to reach: It is located at a distance of 3 km from main town. There are shared taxis available from Lebong stand which will take you to the tea estate. Wear comfortable footwear since you need to walk for 10-15 mins before you reach the main production area.
Timing: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm from Tuesday to Saturday. During winter season from November to February the factory remains close.
Entry Fee: Strolling or posing amidst the lush tea garden of Happy Valley Tea Estate is free of charge. But for a tour within the factory you need to pay a small amount of money to the worker who will act as a tour guide.
2. Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park or as the locals call it Darjeeling Zoo, is one of the country’s highest altitude zoological park. Here, you can observe the exquisite wild animals of Himalayan region in their semi-natural habitat. From the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger to the shy red Panda find them all in Darjeeling Zoo.
How to reach: If you don’t mind walking, the zoological park is located at a 30 mins walking distance from the Mall road on the Jawaharlal Nehru Road. There is also an alternative route on the Lebong Cart Road where you only need to walk for 5 mins.
Timing: Except on Thursdays the zoological park stays open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm in summer season and during winter season from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.
Entry Fee: Indian and SAARC nation visitors and foreign visitor are charged a nominal price of Rs 50 (subject to change) and Rs 100 (subject to change) respectively as the entry free. Extra Rs 10 (subject to change) is charged for a still camera.
3. Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI): Test your mountaineering skills
The exhilarating feeling of conquering the daunting peaks has addicted many adventurers. You can learn those skill in Himalayan Mountaineering Institute of Darjeeling. HMI with its golden past and bright future has become the mecca for the novice mountaineers. Established in 1954 HMI has the oldest museum dedicated to the mountainous region of Himalayas. Here, you can see the journals, gears, clothing, used during the first Mt Everest expedition.
How to reach: Sharing its grounds with the Darjeeling Zoo, the route towards HMI is same as Darjeeling zoo.
Timing: Except on Thursdays the HMI stays open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm in summer season and during winter season from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.
Entry fee: The entry fee for HMI is charged along with Darjeeling zoo entry fee.
Your Darjeeling trip is incomplete without the visit to Chowrasta. Chowrasta is the Darjeeling first vehicular and smoke-free zone.It is even a free WiFi zone. Decked with green colored siting benches you can feel the lively spirit of Darjeeling in Chowrasta. One side of Chowrasta is adorned with the view of mountainous valley while on the other you can see the colonial era structure. Ride on a pony or just enjoy the playful yet serene ambiance of Chowrasta.
How to reach: An easy uphill walk in Nehru road will lead you to Chowrasta.
Things to do: Pony riding, strolling in Mall road, enjoying the free WiFi.
Timing: There is no restriction or visiting hours in Chowrasta but it is not advisable to stay past 9:00 pm.
5. Shrubbery Nightingale Park
While strolling in the well paved path of Mall road, look out for the sign showing the way towards Shrubbery Nightingale Park. Built in the British era, it is a well manicured park. On a clear day you can witness the panoramic view of snow capped Mt Kanchenjunga from Shrubbery Nightingale Park.
How to reach: An easy 10 mins walk from Chowrasta will take you to this well manicured park.
Entry Fee: You have to pay a nominal price of Rs 20 (subject to change) as entry fee.
Timing: Shrubbery park stays open daily from 5:00am to 8:00pm.
6. Mahakal Mandir
Adorned with the colorful prayer flags on the observatory hill is the pictorial Mahakal Mandir. It is one of the places where you can see the impeccable blend of two different religion. On a clear day you can see the Mt Kanchenjunga looming above the verdant valleys. The alluring chanting of delectable prayers and the fluttering of vibrant prayer flags has mesmerized travelers and devotees. While visiting Mahakal Mandir be wary of the naughty monkeys. The monkeys of Mahakal Mandir are known for being skilled food bandits.
How to reach: Located above the mall road a long array of staircase will lead you towards this historical temple.
7. Batasia Loop
Batasia loop is the famous railway loop of Darjeeling. It is here where the DHR does its astonishing 180 degree to overcome the gradient. On a clear day you can catch the panoramic view of Darjeeling town from here. You can also see the war memorial built to honor the brave Gurkha solider.
How to reach: Situated on the Ghoom- Darjeeling road, you can either take a shared jeep or toy train to reach Batasia loop.
Timing: Batasia Loop stays open daily from 5:00am to 8:00pm.
Entry Fee: You have a pay a nominal price of Rs 20 (subject to change) as entry fee of Batasia Loop.
8. Tiger Hill
Your Darjeeling Trip would be meaning less if you miss out the sunrise from Tiger Hill. Tourist from far and wide travel towards Tiger Hill to witness the surreal sunrise over the snow capped Himalayan range. The outwardly phenomena of the sun rays glazing the snow peaked mountain in an orange hue has captivated the mind of many people. Wake up early in the morning to get an experience of a lifetime.
How to reach: You can reserve a cab or take a shared cab from Darjeeling taxi stand to reach Tiger hill.
Best time to visit: Mid October to December are considered the best time to catch the unhindered view of snow-capped Himalayan range.