At a height of 2025 meters above sea level lies the town of Darjeeling in the Indian State of West Bengal. The East India Company developed Darjeeling as a summer resort for their elite in 1815 through a treaty with the local Chieftain. A narrow gauge railway line was laid in 1881 to allow for easy excess from the plains to the Hill station. The train is popularly known as “The Toy Train”. Mount Kanchenjunga forms a great backdrop and the mountainous landscape is dotted with tea plantations. It is picturesque with scenic beauty; forest-land and friendly people. The town is also known as “The Queen of Hill Stations”.
Historically Darjeeling was a part of Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan. In 1815 the King of Darjeeling signed a treaty with the British East India Company to cede to Sikkim. The first road connecting Darjeeling to the plains came about between 1839 and 1842. The British set up a military depot in 1848 and Darjeeling became a municipality in 1850. Tea cultivation was started in 1856, hence many British tea Planters moved to Darjeeling. Scottish Missionaries also pitched in by setting up schools for the children of British residents and some of the schools survive with all the elitist trappings. The Toy Train commenced in 1881 making it convenient to travel from the plains to the hills.
Things to do (Activities)
The hill offers a good view of Mount Everest and kanchenjunga Peaks. The drive to the Tiger Hill is through quaint tea gardens. To witness the sunrise from here is worth a visit. It also has the highest railway station in Darjeeling. Best tile to visit the Hill is in the months of October to December and February to April.
Constructed by a Japanese Monk and took 36 months to be completed. The purpose of the Pagoda is to promote peace, unity and goodwill amongst different religions and communities. The Pogoda is surrounded by snow peaked mountains.
Singalila National Park
From the park’s height of 7000 feet one gets a birds eye view of the valley below. The park is spread 79 Kms with spectacular flora, fauna and natural beauty. The himalayan ranges blend well with the landscape and alpine valley. One may also sight a red panda or a black himalayan bear here. The park is closed to the public from mid-June to mid-September.
Mahakal Temple, Kanchenjunga Temple and a Tibetan memorial Shrine are located here. There is also a small cave a little distance away that is reached by a trek. It is open from 07 AM to 07 PM.
Rangit Valley Ropeway
This ropeway was set up in 1968 at a height of 7000 feet. It is between North Point in Singmari to the Singla Bazaar giving the tourist an opportunity to click photographs of the beautiful town.
Situated at a height of 8000 feet the Monastery is also known as Yiga Choeling and was built in 1850 thus making it the oldest Tibetan Monastery in Darjeeling. Inside is a 15 foot high statue of the Buddha and the walls are painted with Budhist Tibetan art. A Temple dedicated to Maa Kali is located nearby.
Happy valley Tea Estate
The estate is spread in an area of 437 acres and has the highest tea factory in the world. It was set up by an Englishman in 1854. Kanchenjunga peak is visible from the estate.
The toy train meanders through the loops of the rail track and the place offers beautiful views of the valley and Kanchenjunga Peak. The place may ve visited between 05 AM to 08 PM.
The nearest airport is Bagdogra, at a distance of 96 Kms from Darjeeling. Many carriers fly in and out of Bagdogra from various cities in India, Paro and Bangkok.
The nearest Railway station, New Jalpiaguir is located 62 Kms away connecting major stations across India. The Toy train from Jalpiaguri to Darjeeling does the journey in 7 hours at a speed of not more that 30 miles per hour.
The road network is good and easy connectivity to nearby cities i.e. Siliguri, Kalimpong, Kurseong and furher across to other cities on the National Highways.