Darjeeling is a town in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. Darjeeling is the hill station located at an elevation of 6700 ft. The hills of Darjeeling are the part of the lesser Himalaya (Mahabharata Range). The town was developed by the British in the mid 19th century and is most popularly for its black tea. In fact, Darjeeling tea is internationally recognized and ranks among the best black teas on the globe.
Overwhelmingly beautiful sunrises, Mt Khangchendzonga and its views, lush green tea plantations, and welcome smiles from the locales all make Darjeeling one of the most beautiful hill stations and is rightly called 'Queen of the Himalayas' in India.
It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India today. However, it wasn't always so. The Gorkhaland Social Movement in the 1980s and 2000s affected tourism at the time because of political instability. However, since 2012, there has been a steady growth in tourist inflow in Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is enriched with cultural diversity, endowed with natural resources, and because of its pleasant and cool climate all year round is a popular tourist destination.
Top 9 places to visit in Darjeeling
(1) Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Also called "Toy Train," the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway station is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In fact, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is only the second railway to ever be listed in the UNESCO heritage list, the first being Semmering Railway of Austria. No wonder, it is the most famous attraction in Darjeeling. Built between 1879 and 1881, it runs between Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri.
The journey aboard this beautiful Toy Train takes you through majestic mountain views, local shops, and villages from Darjeeling hills to its lower plains.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Darjeeling
(2) Tiger Hill
Tiger Hill is the best-known trekking destination in Darjeeling and offers spectacular views of Mt. Khangchendzonga and Mt. Everest as well. Alongside enticing views of the snow-capped mountains, Tiger Hill is also famous as a sunrise spot. Lying at an altitude of 2590m and about 13km from Darjeeling, the place can be reached by jeep or by foot, whichever suits the traveler best. The journey to the peak passes through some of the oldest tea plantations in Darjeeling, which is also a beautiful sight to see as you drive or hike. However, it requires people to walk a short climb from the parking spot to reach the sunrise spot.
View from Tiger Hill, Darjeeling
(3) Batasia Loop
Batasia Loop, as the name suggests, is a loop or spiral narrow-gauge where Toy Train takes the sudden descent from the place called Ghum. It is located 5 km away from Darjeeling. The major reason for creating such a magnificent loop was to ease navigation through the steep terrains of Darjeeling. Apart from the loop itself, the surrounding natural beauty and the panoramic view of Darjeeling is another reason tempting enough to be here.
A war memorial has been established within the loop to honour the soldiers who lost their lives on the battlefield. Next to the memorial is a souvenir shop where you can buy purses, bags, and other decorative items.
Batasia Loop, Darjeeling
(4) Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Darjeeling Zoo
Recognized as one of the best mountaineering institutes in the world, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was established in Darjeeling in 1954 in honour of Tenzing Norgay to encourage, enhance, and support the interest of people in mountaineering. Besides being one of the best for many aspiring mountaineers, it has also become a popular tourist destination given its captivating location in the hill station of Darjeeling. There is a restaurant, accommodation for trainers, a school for mountaineers, and a souvenir shop inside the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI). So, it is a destination in itself stacked with mountaineering art and artifacts.
The entrance to HMI and the zoo is the same. The Darjeeling Zoo is home to animals of upper Himalayas and houses animals like Red Pandas, Snow Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, and more.
Entry point of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling
(5) Barbotey Rock Garden
Ten kilometers away from Darjeeling lies Barbotey Rock Garden and is known for its captivating picnic spots with waterfalls and boating. One of the most preferred locations for nature lovers traveling to Darjeeling, Rock Garden is surrounded by tea gardens and flower gardens.
Apart from the location, the journey from Darjeeling to the garden is a delightful experience in itself where travelers are welcomed by the scenic beauty filled with rocky hills and greenery. Terraced with a natural waterfall – Chhunu Summer-Fall, it is one spot tourists visiting here ought not to miss.
Barbotey Rock Garden, Darjeeling
(6) Japanese Peace Pagoda
The Japanese Peace Pagoda is the highest free-standing structure in Darjeeling and was built by Nipponzan Myohoji followers. The pagoda is among the most visited locations in Darjeeling.
This giant of a structure portrays the four avatars of Buddha. Situated on the slopes of Jalapahar, it is easily accessible by cab or on foot. It is the symbol of peace and unity in Darjeeling. From atop this 94-ft massive structure, one can view the eye-pleasing sight of the beautiful Darjeeling landscape. The walls are decorated with 8 sandstone carvings that tell the tales of various stages of Gautam Buddha's life.
Japanese Peace Pagoda, Darjeeling
(7) Tea Gardens
Darjeeling is well known for its lush tea gardens that surround the town from each direction. While travelling in Darjeeling, it is worthy to visit tea gardens and the factories that produce tea leaves. One of the most easily accessible tea states is the Happy Valley Tea State, which is situated inside the town and also happens to be one of the oldest and most renowned tea estates of Darjeeling.
When in Darjeeling, it’s a must to visit these tea gardens simply because they're beautiful. There are 86 tea gardens in Darjeeling producing world-famous Darjeeling black tea. This experience will be more educational and novel as you can have a guided tour of these gardens or tea states and acquaint yourself with all the processes involved in tea production. To name a few, Happy Valley Tea Estate, Glenburn Tea Estate, Makaibari Tea Estate, Gomtee Tea Estate, and Chamong Tea Estate are among the famous tea estates in Darjeeling.
Tea garden in Darjeeling
(8) St. Andrew's Church
One of the popular pilgrimage places in Darjeeling, St. Andrew's Church is 1.5 km from Darjeeling Himalayan Railway at Mall Road. Named after the patron saint of Scotland, St. Andrew church was built in Gothic style and is one of the most beautiful architectures in Darjeeling.
Inside the church, there are inscriptions of some of the oldest inhabitants of Darjeeling. Among them, one of the most prominent figures is of Lt. General Lloyd, who is believed to be the discoverer of Darjeeling.
St. Andrew's Church, Darjeeling
(9) Darjeeling Ropeway
Darjeeling Ranjeet Valley Passenger Ropeway, or simply Darjeeling Ropeway, is located at a distance of 4 km from Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. It is one of Asia’s largest passenger ropeways and the largest in India.
Commenced in 1968 by Forest Development Corporation mainly to have easy access to the tea plantations in the valley down the Darjeeling hills, it was later used as public transport. However, the service was halted in 2003 after some tourists died when two of the cable cars broke and fell down the hill. After an upgrade and all the safety measures put in place, the Darjeeling Ropeway was open to the public and tourists again in 2012 and is in service to date.
Darjeeling Ropeway is one better way to experience and view the lush green tea plantation of Darjeeling that it is so famous for. Furthermore, the ropeway goes through forests, waterfalls, flowing rivers, and a beautiful valley.
Darjeeling Ropeway passing atop tea plantations in Darjeeling
Darjeeling Tour Packages