Darjeeling is a town and a municipality in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalaya at an elevation of 6,700 ft (2,042.2 m). It is noted for its tea industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Darjeeling is the headquarters of Darjeeling district which has a partially autonomous status within the state of West Bengal.
The development of the town dates back to the mid-19th century, when the colonial British administration set up a sanatorium and a military depot. Subsequently, extensive tea plantations were established in the region, and tea growers developed hybrids of black tea and created new fermentation techniques. The resultant distinctive Darjeeling tea is internationally recognised and ranks among the most popular of the black teas.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Darjeeling
A well-stocked museum that displays several mountaineering gears and expedition artifacts, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is a must visit place in Darjeeling especially for the mountain lovers. It was built in the memory of Tenzing Norgay who, along with Sir Edmund Hillary, climbed the Everest in 1953. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute further runs a boarding school for mountaineering students and maintains a memorial dedicated to Tenzing Norgay, a restaurant, and a souvenir shop. Located within the premises of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, which is also known as Darjeeling Zoo.
One of the major tourist attractions in Darjeeling is the Tiger Hill, which is the highest point in the region. It stands at an elevation of 2,590 meters overlooking the spur of the snow capped mountain ranges of the Eastern Himalaya. The Tiger Hill is one of the two points in India from where you can capture the entire panorama between Mount Everest and Kanchendzonga along with other peaks like the Kabru, Rathong and Kokhtang on a sunny morning. The other point from where you can have a glimpse of a similar panorama is from Phalut, at 3,600 meters approximately, which can be only reached by trekking.
A paradise for nature lovers, the Batasia Loop is specifically known for its spiral of a narrow gauge railway track on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway where the Toy Train makes a complete loop around a wonderful circular garden. It covers an area of 50,000 square feet and is dotted with several flowering plants. It also maintains an eco garden, Gorkha War Memorial, and many restaurants and eateries. The Batasia Loop is approximately 5 kilometers away from Darjeeling town and is close to Ghoom. If you are lucky enough then on a clear sunny day, you will get a jaw breaking view of the Kanchedzonga range.
Darjeeling Mall and Chowrasta
Located in the heart of Darjeeling town, the Darjeeling Mall and Chowrasta is one of the best places in Darjeeling that one cannot afford to miss on his or her trip to Darjeeling. It is a rendezvous of people from all over the world and is notable as a popular tourist hangout in Darjeeling. Besides hosting several boutique shops, restaurants and eateries… this place is just your own pick where you would love to get hold of the nature at its best. One side of the mall is thickly layered with pine forest under the shadow of the towering mountain peaks, the other side lies shops of traditional garments, handicrafts, carpets, rugs, paintings, semi-precious jewellery and metalwares.
Rock Garden and Ganga Maya Park
Both these places around Darjeeling town are haven for botanists. The Rock Garden, which is approximately 10 kilometers from Darjeeling town, is set with picturesque and colourful terraced gardens dotted with highly diversified flowering plants… blazing the rocks and cliffs at different levels. The Chunnu Summer Falls is another additional feature that makes the park more scenic. On the other hand, 3 kilometers ahead is the Ganga Maya Park, which is another nature park with a narrow gushing stream flowing through it. The park also hosts gardens dotted with varied species of colourful flowers and a lake. Tourists can also enjoy Gorkha folk dance at Ganga Maya Park.
Withal the natural element in just one view, the Darjeeling Ropeway, which is also known as the Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car, offers a refreshing getaway. From the ropeway you can enjoy the spectacular view of the valley below that is bedded with lush green tea gardens and dense forest and cut by several small gushing streams. It is one of the best tourist spots in Darjeeling where one can spend some ideal hours in the tea estate and enjoy a nature walk.