Delights of Darjeeling

Delights of Darjeeling

hill station

Delights of Darjeeling

Nestled in the lap of the Himalayan range, the Darjeeling hill station combines views of the mighty peaks, the aroma of muscatel-flavoured Darjeeling tea and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO-declared World Heritage site. Only here can you leisurely watch the old miniature steam engines chugging up the hill and then peaking in wonderment around the famous Batasia Loop, situated 5 km away from the town.

It is also here that you can view a burst of flower beds with the backdrop of the Kanchenjunga Range. While in Batasia Loop, don’t forget to visit the war memorial to pay tribute to the brave Gorkha soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the wars India has fought since 1947.

The Mall Road is a famous tree-shaded mountain walkway that the British had constructed, and it leads to the bustling town centre or Chowrasta. There, shops and restaurants throng with tourists and locals who are seen enjoying the sun or surrendering to the nearby lip-smacking bakery delights of Glenary’s, one of the oldest confectioners in Darjeeling.

Tasty treats
Started in 1935, Glenary still remains a popular gastronomic attraction, known for its cakes and snacks. Atop the bakery cafe is a classy restaurant that serves delicious Continental sizzlers, Chinese dishes, tandoori specials and veg gratin.

While Glenary’s is highly recommended for all-time food, not to be missed is another eatery, Keventer’s — more than a century old. Known for its English Breakfast, it is an open-terrace eatery that makes food reviewers who have binged on its sausages, say, “I can survive on this grub all day long.”

Joined with Chowrasta is the Brabourne Park, which now features a musical fountain. Vehicles are prohibited and so the charm of walking makes pedestrian the king. Horse rides are popular. In Darjeeling, the usual sight-seeing spots includes the Rock Garden and Ganga Maya Park, which is now a picnic spot with natural waterfalls; the Japanese Peace Pagoda, run by the Japanese Buddhist order, Nipponzan Myohoji, showcasing the four avatars of the Buddha, and Lloyd’s Botanical Garden, famous for its living fossils.
Darjeeling is also known for the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, where one can glimpse endangered red pandas, snow leopards and siberian tigers.

The Ropeway or the Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car is India’s oldest passenger ropeway, and connects Darjeeling with Singla Bazar, situated at the bottom of the valley. The aerial view of green tea gardens is to die for. But a trip to Darjeeling is enriched by visiting the Tiger Hill, at the height of 8,482 ft, famous for its  sunrise. A bumper-to-bumper car queue is seen, so do start early to grab your spot. When the sun rises, it turns the horizon into a palette of changing colours, the most notable being golden.

On the way back from the hill, one could shop at the Batasia Loop, grab a breakfast with a steaming cup of tea, and then visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. It was set up following the successful ascent of the Mount Everest by Darjeeling’s local hero Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edumund Hillary on May 28, 1953. Both of them are no more, but the legacy of their conquest renders Darjeeling special.

Shopping here
For buying handicrafts, visit the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre. Set up in 1959, it offers some of the best handicrafts, including carpets, woollen goods, woodwork, etc. Darjeeling also houses many monasteries, and the notable ones are the Druk Thupten Sangag Choling Monastery, Ghoom Monastery, Tashi Dargye Ling Monastery and Aloobari Monastery. While Darjeeling has almost everything that a hill station can offer, the place can be best enjoyed by a tourist who wants to soak in the spirit of the land, its British legacy and its Western ambience that blend with the local Gorkha culture and population.
And when you hit the road from the Siliguri town in the plains towards Darjeeling, make sure you take the route by River Teesta, which gurgles by rocky ridges against forested mountains making for a spectacular view.