Perched on a steep mountain ridge, surrounded by lush tea plantations and backed by snow-capped Himalayan peaks, Darjeeling is picturesquely beautiful. The town is a jewel of West Bengal with its botanical gardens, Tibetan temples, museums and even the famous Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.
A series of steep, narrow streets are lined by graceful colonial buildings and lead to colourful markets filled with Tibetan artefacts, jewellery, antiques and woolen wares. The ever-present aroma of just-brewed tea, wood smoke and wildflowers adds to Darjeeling’s old-world charm.
The viewpoint at Tiger Hill offers spectacular views of the world’s third highest peak, Khangchendzonga, and on a clear day, Mount Everest looms in the distance. In the centre of town, Observatory Hill is the site of the Dorje Ling monastery fluttering with colourful prayer flags and haunted by cheeky monkeys.
Tibetan Buddhist monasteries or gompas are in abundance. The Druk Sangak Choling Gompa is vast and airy, the Bhutia Busty Gompa houses the original Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Yiga Choling Gompa is known for its Buddha statue. Famed for its Himalayan views, the mountains also offer an array of activities: tea plantation tours, superb mountain treks, thrilling train journeys and river rafting on the turquoise gushing mountain rivers.
Stay at a tea plantation just outside of Darjeeling in the midst of the romantic rolling hills with a view of the Himalayas in the distance.
The view of Kanchanjunga (and Everest on a clear day) from Tiger Hill at sunrise | Walking all the way around Observatory Hill | A tea plantation tour | A ride on the ‘toy train’
− The town is situated at an altitude of 2134m or 7000ft
− There is a hitch-point at the entrance of town to tether and water a horse, which is still in use today
− It is the burial place of Tenzing Norgay, intrepid mountaineer