Darjeeling is popularly known as the "Queen of the Hills" and produces the famous Darjeeling tea, one of the world's finest teas. It is also home to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the oldest hill stations in India, Darjeeling has plenty of options, both for those seeking a lazy getaway from the hot plains, as well as nature enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies. Apart from sights within the town, there are plenty of trekking options along the Himalayan ridges on the Indo-Nepal border near Darjeeling. The most popular of these is the Singhalia Ridge Trail.
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is one of the most visited spot in Darjeeling. This institute was created by the late Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa who climbed Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary. The institute has a fascinating Everest Museum and offers some mountaineering and adventure courses. Situated on Jawahar Parvat, the institute is famed for its exceptional collection of mountaineering equipment and findings.
Just beyond the quaint Tibetan market lies the Observatory Hill, the popular meeting place of tourists and residents. It is popular not only for its religious significance but also for the scenic views. Another popular spot for short treks is Tiger Hill, the summit of Ghoom, the highest railway station on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. It is famous for its spectacular sunrise view over the Himalayas. Leveling out at 8,500 ft, Tiger Hill is the highest summit in the immediate surroundings.
Sights in Darjeeling
Tiger Hill, the summit of Ghoom, is the highest railway station on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. It is famous for its spectacular sunrise view over the Himalayas. Leveling out at 8,500 ft, Tiger Hill is the highest summit in the immediate surroundings. This spot has earned international fame for the magnificent view of the sunrise over "Kanchenjunga" and the great Eastern Himalayan Mountains. Even Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is visible from here.
Depending on your itinerary, you may travel to Darjeeling via the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or you may enjoy an excursion on the train’s Batasia Loop during your time in Darjeeling. The Toy Train, as it is affectionately known, affords breathtaking views of high waterfalls, green valleys, and at its end, the splendid panorama of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga range. The Batasia Loop is a marvelous feat of engineering. It is fascinating to watch the toy train wind its way through the loop.
Just beyond the quaint Tibetan market lies the Observatory Hill, the popular meeting place of tourists and residents. Apart from the magnificent view it commands, this hill is attached with great religious importance as a revered temple complex for both the Hindus and the Buddhists.
Leopard Breeding Centre
Padmaja Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling opened up a Snow Leopard Breeding center in order to breed, in captivity, endangered Snow Leopards that would eventually be introduced back into the wild. This center also specializes in breeding programs for the Red Panda, Tibetan Wolf, and Blue Sheep. The center provides a rare opportunity for visitors to view the Snow Leopards in the large enclosures, but visitors have to observe absolute silence not to disrupt the Leopards. Children are not allowed.
Tenzing and Gombu Rock
Always wanted to try rock climbing? Tenzing and Gombu Rock is a preliminary course that provides amateur and beginning rock climbers an opportunity to test their mountaineering skills. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute conducts many demonstrations on this rock, and professionals are waiting to help you discover your mountaineering potential.
Lloyds Botanical Garden
Lloyd Botanical Garden is a colorful garden located in the beautiful hill station of Darjeeling. The garden was designed by Mr. W. Lloyd in 1878. It contains a vast collection of rare Himalayan plants, flowers, orchids and many more flora species. Built on 40 acres of land, Lloyd Botanical Garden is overseen by the Indian Botanical Garden Network. The garden mainly preserves various flora varieties native to the Darjeeling Himalayan region, Sikkim and other neighboring areas. The garden, one of the most prestigious gardens in the Himalayas, is divided into three sections. The upper section contains the flora of the Eastern Himalayas, the lower part has a collection of exotic species of many temperate countries, and the middle portion contains a large variety of alpine flora. The garden's orchid collection is quite impressive, containing over 2500 species. This leads to the garden’s cacti and succulent conservatory which displays nearly 150 species. The garden also houses a Victorian-era herbarium, displaying rare botanical specimens. This exotic and magnificent collection of rare plant species makes Lloyd Botanical Garden a favorite among both tourists as well as residents.
Happy Valley Tea Estate
Happy Valley Tea Estate is located in Darjeeling’s picturesque hillside. Due to its high perch, the garden is able to utilize the mountain mist which has a unique effect on the pollen of the plants and lends to the unique flavor of Darjeeling tea. Aided by Darjeeling's cool, moist climate and sloping terrain, its tea estates produce a fine and delicately flavored tea that is referred to as the "Champagne of teas."
A look at the processing method used in the Happy Valley Tea Estate in Darjeeling shows how one bush can produce five different varieties of tea. The picked leaves are placed in long trays to a depth of about 20cm where air is blown from underneath to drive out moisture in a two-stage process, six hours of cold air and six hours of hot; this reduces the moisture content of the green leaves from 75% - 35%. The leaves then pass into a rolling machine where they are rolled and crushed for 45 minutes to bring out the juices from the cells, after which a sifter machine separates out any leaves that are too big.
Fermentation is next, where the leaves are left on cold metal shelves for two to three hours to ferment in their juices, turning the color from green to brown; they are then passed through the drying machine, a long conveyor through a furnace where the moisture is reduced to about 2%. Finally the leaves, now ready to brew up, are sorted into categories according to leaf size, the smaller leaves being the best quality; at the Happy Valley the teas produced are, in order of quality with the best first, Orange Pekoe, Golden Flower, Golden Supremo, and Supremo.
Barbotey Rock Garden
The Barbotey Rock Garden is an elaborate terraced garden full of walkways and stone paths perfect for snapping unforgettable pictures. The garden is surrounded by beautiful hills and is full of lush green plants and beautiful flowers. The Rock Garden also features Chunnu Summer Falls, a free flowing water fall that rushes through the garden. Relax and really take in all the views of this wonderful garden.