DARJEELING- Cradle of Beauty
Darjeeling is a cozy little hill station situated in the north east region of India. This is the sensation of tourism industry. Every traveler wants to go to Darjeeling not once, not twice but every time. This is because this hill station has got an addictive environment with fresh, cool breeze caressing you and the mesmerizing beauty of hills and mountains all around and above all the breath taking view of the mystic Mt. Kanchenjunga will assure you that this is the place to be, if you want some refreshment from day to day hectic life. And not to forget the inhabitants of this place, it seems like they were expecting you and they receive you with such warmth and will make you feel at ease at once. The main contribution for the place being so famous comes from mainly two things. One is its world famous Darjeeling Tea. You will nowhere find the freshness and aroma like from Darjeeling Tea. You will know it with the first sip. Another is the Toy Train. Darjeeling Himalayan Railways which is declared a World Heritage Site. The Toy Train is actually a Joy Train. Words would never justify the felling, its better when experienced.
This is how Darjeeling Tea came to existence. In 1841 a civil surgeon of the Indian Medical Service named Arthur Campbell brought seeds of the Chinese tea plant called Camellia sinensis from Kumaun and began experimenting which resulted in the creation of this magical drink. During that period the British government also established tea nurseries. In 1856, the Alubari tea garden was opened by the Kurseong and Darjeeling Tea Company, and then gradually there were others too.
So, basically Darjeeling Tea is made from the small-leaved Chinese tea plant called Camellia sinensis. It is available in black, green, white and oolong and its floral aroma is worth a million dollars. However brewing plays a vital role. It should be brewed just enough so the aroma goes perfectly with the tinge of astringent tannic taste and a musky spiciness. Today there are 87 tea estates in the Darjeeling hills, covering over 17,500 hectares of land and producing over 9 million kg of tea per year. Each estate produces teas with different taste and aroma. Around 50 percent of Darjeeling population is engaged in this business.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railways
Darjeeling Himalayan Railways, more famous as the Toy Train, is a narrow gauge railway which is a 2 ft tall and 78 kilometers long. It is given that name because when you set your foot inside the train you might just mistake it for a toy. It runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal. The headquarters of the railway is in the town of Kurseong. DHR was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999. It was the second railway to have this honor bestowed upon, first one being Semmering Railway of Austria.
Some Top Places to Visit
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Darjeeling Zoo
This is a must visit place for the mountain lovers. The institute was built in memory of Tenzing Norgay who, along with Sir Edmund Hillary, climbed the Everest in 1953.It displays several mountaineering gears and expedition artifacts.
This is the highest point of Darjeeling and is probably one of the two points in India which provides the entire panoramic view between Mount Everest and Kanchendzonga along with other peaks like the Kabru, Rathong and Kokhtang on clear, sunny mornings. The soothing view of the snow capped mountains of the beautiful Himalayas drives the travelers crazy with its ambience.
This spot is famous for the big loop. The Toy Train makes the complete loop providing an amazing 360 degrees view of the whole town.
This is a big area in the heart of the town which is the ultimate hang out of the town. There are several boutiques, restaurants curio shops and cafes around the area and it is always full of life any time, any day of any week. You will not know when the sun travelled all the way across the sky to the west; such is the grip of the place.
Botanists would just go gaga over this place as it is full of colorful gardens blanketed with wide range of flowers and plants. The Chunnu Summer Falls makes it even more picturesque.
Ganga Maya Park
Ganga Maya Park is another park blessed by Nature Goddess. A narrow stream gushes through the park hosting a picturesque gardens brimming with varied species of colorful flowers.
This two storied, Japanese Temple is one of the major Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Darjeeling. The temple has got a Japanese architectural touch, with a picture of the founder Fujii Guruji and a model of Lord Buddha.
This monument is an inspiration of peace, designed in a way to bring together each in search for world peace. It homes our avatars of Lord Buddha. You will get a most eye pleasing view of the whole of Darjeeling including the Kanchenjunga range.
Bengal Natural History Museum
The museum comprises of two sections homing a huge collection of specimens like birds with nests and eggs, reptiles and fishes, mammals, insects and more.
This is the most sacred, oldest and most famous temple located near Chowrasta. People come to this temple to offer prayers and it is believed that you will be blessed with your wishes if your heart is pure. The hill also offers a mesmerizing view of the ever gorgeous Kanchendzonga along with its sister peaks.
Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center
The centre holds a historical importance, it is said that the thirteenth Dalai Lama had spent his exile in this center, in India from 1910 to 1912. Remarkable handicrafts are created here for a living by sick, elderly and the deprived. The centre homes around 130 families.
Bhutia Busty Monastery
Bhutia Busty Monastery, also known as Karmaa Dorjee Chyoling monastery, is actually a branch of Phodang Monastery in Sikkim. It homes a huge collection of the Old Buddhist scripts, including the “Book of Dead”. It is also a home to a huge collection of murals, which are originally made out of real gold powder.
Ghoom Monastery happens to be one of the major Buddhist pilgrimage places in Darjeeling district. There is a 15 feet high statue of “Maitreya Buddha”, It is decorated with elegant images of Buddha’s disciples, and Buddhist texts.
St. Andrew's Church
The church boasts the extraordinary colonial architecture. The interiors still has a touch of the old times with many inlaid marble tablets and brass plaques still lying there peacefully.
Shrubbery Nightingale Park
This public park is a place to relax. During the peak tourist seasons some traditional programs are organized here. The park has a beautiful statue of Lord Shiva, but the main attraction of the park is the musical fountain.