The district of Darjeeling spans across more than 1,200 square miles, and there are lovely landscapes, views, people & culture, villages, monasteries, flora & fauna that you can explore for days during your vacation.
Places to Visit:
Ideal to visit early morning when the first rays of the sun kiss the Mt. Kanchenjunga and give it a golden color. To visit the hill, one needs to get up at 3 AM in the morning. You can taste some excellent tea on your way to the hill, which will provide much needed warmth on cold Darjeeling mornings. When getting into a taxi at 4 AM keep in mind that they are shared taxis and your driver might wait around in vain for others to join your taxi causing you to miss the sunrise! Those travelling alone or as a couple might want to squeeze into an already occupied jeep to insure full viewing pleasure.
Though it has an executive lounge (INR 40/- per person) and special lounge ( INR 30/- per person), nothing beats having a view from open area, as you can have a full paranomic view from outside avoiding crowd in the lounge. The earlier you can arrive, the better place you can find to stand inside or outside the observatory tower. If you are late, you may find yourself standing behind many people with a lot obstructions to feel the sunrise and magic lighting on Mt. Kanchengunga. You may also need to walk a lot to reach there via a steep ascendent road. The tip of Mt. Everest can also be seen on clear days.
Batasia Loop is basically a place where the legendary toy train makes a loop. there is a Gorkha martyr memorial here. There is also a landscaped park. If you go early in the morning (before 8 am) you can get the glimpse of a local crafts market here. One can get dressed in the local attire and get their pictures taken.
Relax for a while and later take the 7-point local tour which includes Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Zoological Park, Ropeway, Tibetan Self Help Refugee Center, Lebong Race Course, Happy Valley Tea Estate etc. This tour will take about 4 hours.
Darjeeling Ropeway started in 1968 and went through a major upgrades in 1988. Ropeway starts at the Darjeeling Singamari station. Riders get off at Tukvar downhill, enjoy the lush tea gardens, take their time and come back to the Darjeeling Singamari station. The total distance round-trip, Singamari-Tukvar, is about 5 KM and takes 40 minutes. Allow 2 hours from the time your ride starts.
The total round trip costs Rs. 150/- per person (subject to change). Timings – 10am to 4pm during winter (off peak) and 10am to 2 pm during summer (peak). Capacity of each cabin is 6 persons. Pets are not allowed. Children above 8 years are charged adult fare.
The service shuts down on the 19th day of each month for maintenance.
There is no advance reservation required. However, during the peak season there are often long queues for the rides.
Location– The Darjeeling Ropeway or cable car station is located at Singamari which is 3km (1.8 miles) away from the Chowk Bazaar (the main market center of Darjeeling at the lower level). You will get cabs or shared jeeps from Chowk Bazaar that takes about 15 minutes to reach unless there is a traffic jam in the market area which is often the case. Get down at North Point on Lebong Cart Road which is quite close to the St. Joseph’s college. Across the road you will find a narrow and steep stairway that leads to the Singamari cable car station located at a higher level. You can see the station at a height from the road and the cable cars passing over your head down to the valley below.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI)
This Institute was founded and managed by the late Tenzing Norgay who conquered Mt Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. Today, it has on display records of some major expeditions undertaken. Next to this is the Everest Museum, which traces the history of different attempts on the world’s highest peak. You may also contact the institute for mountaineering courses for all levels. And a one-off rock-climbing session can be taken at the Tenzing Norgay Rock, located on the northern fringes of Darjeeling. Open from 9 am-4.30 pm.
Japanese Peace Pagoda
This impressive building is part of a grid of around 30 pagodas spanning the whole globe. Constructed by the Japanese Buddhist Nipponzan-Myohoji Order, the one at Charlimont on the outskirts of Darjeeling was consecrated in 1992. A small temple just lies alongside. If you’re woken up due to the sound of drumming in the streets of Darjeeling between 4 and 5AM: These are the monks (Theravada) of the Japanese temple having their early morning walk.
Happy Valley Tea Estate
It is time to enjoy the sprawling tea estate that is spread across 437 acres. Your trip to Darjeeling remains incomplete till you visit the Happy Valley Tea Estate, which is Darjeeling’s oldest tea estate and was established in 1854. If you are touring Darjeeling between March and May, then you are likely to see the plucking process. The Happy Valley Tea Estate is approximately 3 kilometers away from Darjeeling town and a treat for tea… because of the sweet flavour blending with the atmosphere.