Delightful Darjeeling, the “Queen of Himalayas” perched at an altitude of 2,134 meters is said to be named after a Tibetan word, ‘Dorje ling’ or ‘Place of the Thunderbolt’. It is endowed with exceptional scenic beauty and offers a magnificent view of the grandeur and beauty of the mighty Himalayas. The beautiful town is indeed a paradise for holiday and adventure seekers as well as botanies, photographers and artists. The lovely lush woods around Darjeeling are full of conifers like pine, fir, and birch and they are known for exotic orchids and are home to rich animal and bird life. Well, the name Darjeeling is also synonymous with the most beautiful tea in the world.
Darjeeling Tea is something that nobody wants to miss. Darjeeling produces the world’s best premium teas and is popularly referred to as the “Champagne of the East”. There are about 86 tea gardens, which produce around 25% of India’s total output of tea. The Happy Valley Tea Estate, just 3 km from the town is said to produce the world’s most expensive and exotically flavored tea. One can witness the famous ‘Orthodox Tea Manufacture’ method of tea processing here.
The famous Toy train of Darjeeling is listed among World heritage sites of UNESCO and is a living reminder of the 19th century Darjeeling. It runs between Shiliguri and Darjeeling, covering a distance of somewhat 83 km on a 610 mm gauge. The mini train is a marvel of rail engineering and weaves a magical spell as it passes through the beautiful landscape teeming with tea gardens, serpentine streams, and excellent viewpoints. The Ghoom railway station on this track is located at the highest altitude in the country. One should at least take a joy ride on this magnificent train from Darjeeling to Ghoom.
The adventurous can arrange a trek to Singalila Ridge or ride a mountain bike around the hills. Meanwhile, the steep and winding bazaars at the foot of the town bustle with an array of Himalayan products and faces from across Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet. And when energies start to flag, a good, steaming Darjeeling brew is never far away.
Festivals form an integral part of the people’s lives in Darjeeling. With the beginning of New Year in the month of January this district experiences festivity in each month due to the cultural blend of various religions, tribes, and immigrants from neighboring states.