8 Best Things to do in Darjeeling, The Queen of Hills
Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Tired of your banal 9-5 routine? Do you often feel restive and tied to the shackles of mundane life? Then, Darjeeling is the ideal place for you to unwind, relax, and reconnect with your lost true inner-self.
This Hill Station nestled in the foothills of the Lower Himalayas, West Bengal, bears testimony to its majestic history. The once summer capital of the Bengal Presidency is now a tourist paradise. It would be blasphemous not to talk about the world-renowned palatable 'Darjeeling Tea' while referencing Darjeeling, or Wes Anderson's famous 2007 movie 'The Darjeeling Limited'. This is a perfect destination to visit once restrictions are relaxed for travel, as it is the perfect medley of culture, nature, and fun.
The best time to visit Darjeeling is from November to May. The Bagdogra International Airport in Siliguri is the nearest airport to Darjeeling, which offers a pre-paid cab facility for the tourists to reach Darjeeling. New Jalpaiguri is the nearest major railway station and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, connects New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. Trains also ply from Sealdah and Howrah stations to Darjeeling. Do not miss out on embarking a road trip along the meandering hill path from Siliguri to Darjeeling. The prospect of a 4-5 hour journey may seem excruciating, but plug in your favorite playlist, enjoy the bounties of nature, and once you reach the destination, you will be forced to think otherwise!
Without further ado, here are our top 8 picks of activities to do when sojourning in Darjeeling!
1. Visit The Padmaja Naidu Zoo, Batasia Loop, and Japanese Peace Pagoda
Named after the former Governor of Bengal, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is a haven for endemic and rare species of animals, be it the Royal Bengal Tiger or the Red Panda. The entry fees are quite nominal for both Indians and foreigners, and tourists need to pay a few extra bucks to carry their cameras inside the zoo.
Batasia Loop is popular among the tourists for the war memorial and the local market. The cenotaph standing in the middle of the garden stands as a testimony to the bravery of the Gurkha soldiers who sacrificed themselves for this country. It is a must-visit - to observe an essential piece of history, and take in the beauty of such solidarity.
The history of this architecture is fascinating, and so is the 360-degree view of Darjeeling you can get from the high altitude point, well worth visiting.
Japanese Peace Pagoda is an enduring symbol of world peace and global unity. Inaugurated in 1992, the Pagoda houses the four avatars of Buddha. The structure is similar to the traditional Buddhist structures seen in North-east India and Tibet, telling a fascinating story of cultural richness and the melding of history.
Do spend some time meditating in the temple. The sonorous beating of the Taiko drums with the redolence of the incense sticks is bound to elevate the visitors to a state of spiritual transcendence.
2. Witness the sunrise at Tiger Hill
Kanchenjunga is indeed a sight to behold. Adding icing on the cake is to witness the sunrise at Tiger Hill with the sun rays embellishing Kanchenjunga's beauty. Do leave your hotel rooms by 4 am as the routes to the Tiger Hill start to get crowded and you may end up missing the picturesque scene.
3. Shopping in Darjeeling Mall and Chowk Bazaar
Want to grab some memorabilia or buy woollies and a pack of Darjeeling Tea? Darjeeling Mall and Chowk Bazaar are the places to be. The mall is also known as Chowrasta - The Mall and Chowk Bazaar offer an exciting range of stores for tourists to go on a shopping spree. Some of our store recommendations for the tourists visiting Darjeeling Mall and Chowrasta include:
Nathmulls Tea and Sunset Lounge in Darjeeling
Established in 1931 as a trading venture of tea and other commodities, Nathmulls Tea eventually coalesced as a Tea business.
Nathmulls Tea and Sunset Lounge today enjoys a special place in the heart of tourists and Darjeeling residents.
Glenary in Chowk Bazaar
While in Darjeeling, visit Glenary. An establishment that has dated the pre-independence era, Glenary continues to be relevant among the gastronomers and the tourists and offers an eclectic range of delectable food items from cakes, pastries, and pizzas. Do make it a point to try out the English breakfast at Glenary. Glenary also houses a bar in the basement.
Oxford Books and Stationery Stores in Darjeeling Mall
A paradise for all bibliophiles.
Bhutia Market in Darjeeling Mall (The New Mahakal Market)
A must visit to grab woolies at a pocket-friendly price.
Mahakal Market in Chowk Bazaar
Mall Road Shops
4. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and Tea Estate Visit
A visit to Darjeeling is incomplete without taking a ride in the
Toy Train and Tea Estate. The Tourists need to purchase the tickets well in advance from the IRCTC Website to take a Toy Train Ride.
Darjeeling and Tea are inseparable. Do make it a point to visit the tea estates and bask in the taste of the first lush of exquisite tea. Visit Happy Valley Tea Estate - one of the best in Darjeeling!
5. Darjeeling Cable Car Ride
Rope Cars ply between the "North Point" in the town of Darjeeling and Singla on the banks of the Ramman river. These take nominal charges to board, but the views are unforgettable - in the short ride, you can experience seeing the tea estates from an ariel point, take in the rolling green hills of Darjeeling, and gawk at the picturesque view of the city below!
For a great way to top off this experience, enjoy a cup of piping hot and fresh tea estates and shops offer for less and take bags of the special tea leaves home too.
6. Visit Ghoom Monastery, Dali Monastery, and Tamang Monastery
One of the oldest monasteries in Darjeeling which dates back to the 19th century, the Old Ghoom Monastery houses the Maitreya Avatar (similar to Kalki avatar of Lord Vishnu) of Lord Gautama Buddha.
A Monastery adhering to the Kagyupa Sect of Buddhism is the Dali Monastery nestled between Darjeeling and Ghoom Railway Station. The inner walls of the building depict Lord Buddha's life. The monastery has been erected in adherence to Tibetian architecture and also houses the Prayer Wheels. Tamang Buddhist Monastery is the oldest monastery of worship for the followers of Nyingmapa Buddhism. Tamang Monastery is nestled in Mirik, which shares its border with Nepal. The monastery is well noted for its intricate art and architectural design.
7. Visit Kurseong
Kurseong is the quieter part of the Darjeeling district. In Lepcha, Kurseong means the place of white orchids. For the ones who love to spend your me-time in solace, then Kurseong is an ideal place to unwind yourselves. While in Kurseong, visit the Eagle Creek that offers a panoramic view of the lush green plains and the British-era churches.
8. Visit Kalimpong
Kalimpong is 2 hours drive from Darjeeling. Stay in Kalimpong for a day or two in the Morgan Cottage (Under West Bengal Tourism) and try your hands at rafting and hiking.
Do visit Jang Dong Palriffo Brang Gompa for spiritual catharsis.
Darjeeling is beautiful, vast, and picturesque. For further information on planning a trip to Darjeeling, do give Tale of 2 Backpackers' blog a read for a complete guide to visiting the beautiful city. Also, check out Breathe Travel Go's great blog on Darjeeling, which beautifully describes the peace, tranquility, mystery, and beauty of Darjeeling!
If you liked this blog, do check out our experiences page to further explore places you can visit with us when travel restrictions ease and our travel feed where we upload some great blogs on everything travel!