Dreaming about your next vacation destination? Pick Darjeeling and you will be making a spectacular choice. Popularly known as the ‘Queen of the Hills’ Darjeeling truly deserves this extravagant title. A Himalayan gem, Darjeeling has a lot to offer as a Hill station. From emerald green mountain valleys with the sparkling white Kanchenjunga in the background to Colonial Era architecture, Darjeeling stands proudly at the height of 2050 meters as an iconic Indian tourist destination.
Confused about how to plan your trip? Read further for an all-inclusive guide to Darjeeling. From what to do, see and where to eat, we’ve got you covered.
What to do:
Sunrise at Tiger Hill-
Sunrise at Tiger Hill is truly breathtaking. You can watch the sparkling white peaks of the Kanchenjunga illuminated by the rising sun and the sky change colours rapidly. Arrive early so you can book a comfortable spot at the observatory deck.
Tour a Tea Estate –
Darjeeling Tea is popularly known as the ‘Champagne of Teas’ and is highly regarded by tea drinkers around the world. Darjeeling is home to 80+ dynamic tea estates spread over emerald green valleys and you can spend a day visiting one and learning about the tea production process. If there’s only one thing you can buy from Darjeeling, make it a fresh batch of Darjeeling tea.
The Toy Train –
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, popularly known as the ‘Toy train’ is no ordinary train journey. Built in 1881, this train journey covers 80 kms from New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri to Darjeeling via Kurseong and Ghoom. The route offers spectacular hillside views as it winds through the steep mountains. Declared as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the ‘Toy Train’ should be on your bucket list.
The Darjeeling Ropeway –
The Darjeeling cable car is a great way to experience panoramic views of the Darjeeling valley. The Cable car ride runs for around 45 minutes and starts at Singamari at 7000ft and travels down to Tukvar at 6000ft. During peak season there are long queues for the ride, so go early.
Trekking with the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute –
The Himalayas are a trekkers dream. The Himalayan Mountaineering Insitute based in Darjeeling offers a variety of mountaineering and adventure courses throughout the year. If you’ve got some extra time in Darjeeling, sign up for a course.
Shopping at Chowrasta-
Chowrasta is a public square in Darjeeling city that is at the heart of the town. Chowrasta is now a gathering point for locals and tourists alike for strolls in the evenings. The best souvenir shops are located here and you can find everything from art pieces to handmade home decor.
What to See:
Yes, the Kanchenjunga counts as a site of its own when youre in Darjeeling. The third highest mountain in the world, the Kanchenjunga is a pillar of the Himalayas. The majestic white peaks of the Kanchenjunga provide a beautiful backdrop to the emerald green valleys of Darjeeling. The Kanchenjunga is highly visible during the summer and the winter seasons.
Batasia Loop –
The Batasia Loop is a spiral railway pathway through which the toy train runs through. It provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the valleys and the Kanchenjunga but is a spot to visit in its own right. It is surrounded by lush green gardens and at the center of it stands the Gorkha War Memorial. In the mornings you can find a flea market here.
The Japanese Peace Pagoda –
The Japanese Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist temple in Darjeeling. It was built as a symbol for ‘Unity for World Peace’. It was built under the supervision of Buddhist monk Nichidatsu Fuji who also founded ‘Nipponzan Myohoji’, a Buddhist order for world peace.
The Ghoom Monastery is also popularly known as ‘Yiga Choeling’. It is known for its 15 feet high statue of Maitreya Buddha.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park-
This is the largest high altitude zoo in India and located at 7000ft and is well known for its conservation of Himalayan animals and endangered species. It received the prestigious ‘Earth Heroes’ award in 2014 and is the first zoo in India to receive this award.
Where to Eat:
Glenary’s is an iconic Darjeeling eatery. Established during the colonial era, Glenary’s is atleast 100 years old. It is divided into three floors- the Glenarys Bakery and Cafe is on the ground floor, the main restaurant is on the upper floor, and in the basement, there is The Buzz Bar. Glenary’s is perfect for any time of the day and has an incredible breakfast, lunch and dinner spread. It is also the ideal spot for an evening coffee with freshly baked pastries and a gorgeous view.
Keventers like Glenarys was also founded in the Colonial Era in 1911 by Edward Keventers. This is THE spot for English breakfast and their meat platter is a must-order when at Darjeeling. During peak season it fills up pretty quickly for breakfast, so get there early.
For authentic Tibetan food, head to Kunga restaurant. It is a family-run restaurant and has been present for over two decades. The quality of the food and the pricing here cannot be beaten.
Margarets Deck –
Not located in Darjeeling, but worth including. Margarets Deck is located on the way to Darjeeling in Kurseong and the perfect mid-road trip stop for tea and snacks. Margaret’s deck has a gorgeous open verandah with a panoramic view of emerald valleys where you can relax and enjoy a cup of tea.
Street food –
In the evenings, the street food options in Darjeeling are endless. Mall road is laced with food stalls selling pocket-friendly street food ranging from momos to noodles.
How to get to Darjeeling:
To fly in, you have to fly into Bagdogra Airport. After that its a 4 hour scenic drive up the mountains into Darjeeling.
To arrive by train you have to either take a train from Sealdah station (in Kolkata) to New Jalpaiguri (NJP in Siliguri. From New Jalpaiguri, you can take the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) popularly known as the toy train to Darjeeling. The DHR is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site and is a spectacularly scenic journey. This is no regular train journey!
Taxis and shared Jeeps to Darjeeling are available from Siliguri after arriving at New Jalpaiguri by train. These shared Jeeps are an affordable way of reaching Darjeeling.
Buses to Darjeeling are also available but are generally slower due to the steep and narrow roads on the climb to Darjeeling.
The weather in Darjeeling is quite temperamental and you have to pack keeping the seasons in mind.
During the summers the weather is quite pleasant. Long-sleeved tops and light summer jackets will be enough to be comfortable.
In the winters, layer up. Temperatures can easily dip to 2 degrees in peak Winters. Pack thermals and a heavyweight jacket.
Darjeeling monsoons come with heavy rains and an umbrella or a raincoat is essential.
Motion sickness medicine is essential on a Darjeeling trip, as the roads are winding and no one wants to spend a vacation day sick.
Essentials like toiletries and Medical shops are easily available in Darjeeling so if you leave something behind, no worries!
That’s it! You’re all set for an epic Darjeeling holiday.
Looking for a place to stay and make your base for Darjeeling? Choose Anutri Hill Resort. We combine the two most important factors of a hillside hotel- a peaceful location and an amazing view. Our rooms provide a panoramic view of both the Kanchenjunga range on the right, the emerald mountain valleys in the middle, and the Batasia Loop to the left. This is unique to our property and allows our guests to wake up to a 180-degree view of the breathtaking valley. Our rooms have been made in various styles and price ranges so there is an ideal fit for every traveller!
For bookings or queries, email us at [email protected] and we will get back to you shortly.