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Journey to the Jewel of the East: A Comprehensive Darjeeling Tour Guide

Darjeeling is one of the most-wanted travel destinations in India today. It is a municipal town located in the northernmost part of the eastern state of West Bengal. Whether you are a foreign tourist or a homegrown traveler, if this place is your next destination to explore, then you definitely need a Darjeeling tour guide. So we are here to assist you in planning the ideal Darjeeling travel journey for the best experience. 

In the following Darjeeling tourist guide, we will first brief you about the history of the town that was once a part of the Kingdom of Sikkim, the best places to visit in Darjeeling including the Happy Valley Tea Estate, Batasia Loop and many more, and finally, we will provide you with the best way to reach the place. So strap your belts, pack your bags, and let’s fill you with all the motivation to visit the “Jewel of the East.” 

MORE ABOUT “THE JEWEL OF THE EAST”

Once a summer resort for the British Raj elite, Darjeeling, now a municipality in West Bengal state & geographically located in the Eastern Himalayas, is primarily known for its exclusive black tea plantations.

Other major attractions of this place include the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or the “Toy Train,” an 88-kn long railway opened for all to travel between New Jalpaiguri & Darjeeling. The railway was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. Also, there’s the very beautiful Mt. Kanchenjunga in view on clear days which is among the world’s highest peaks. The place is based at an altitude of 2,045 meters.

To the West, of Darjeeling, lies the Koshi province of Nepal. To its East is the Kingdom of Bhutan. Over the north there’s the Indian state of Sikkim, go further in the same direction and lies the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. Bangladesh is located in the south and southeast whereas the rest of the West Bengal lies in the south and southwest. 

Darjeeling was leased from the Kingdom of Sikkim by the Britishers during the East India Company rule until it got taken over by British India. It was treated as a holiday destination for the colonial rulers, which explains the reason for building European-style cottages.

It also became a successful center for tea plantations for the Britishers during colonialism. These tea plantations serve as the ideal environment for a tea plant to grow due to the elevated location, that’s why they are still cultivated in independent India. This eventually makes the world-famous Darjeeling tea stand apart from other tea variations, thanks to the muscatel flavor & a special aroma.

THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN DARJEELING

Out of way many spots that you cannot miss, the following are the five best places to see in Darjeeling:

Batasia Loop

Batasia Loop is the place where you cannot stop yourself from picking out your mobiles or cameras and start recording. It is an expansive railway route where the aforementioned Darjeeling “Toy Train” takes a 360-degree turn right after Ghum. If you are an avid photophile, you should start recording from Ghum so that you can cover the mountains on the backdrop along with a partial or full view of some remarkable Buddhist sites.

You also get to access the beautiful, panoramic scenery of Kanchenjunga ranges along with a splendid view of the eco-garden at the loop that has proper seating facilities for some rest. This is where your eyes will be blessed by the magical view of nature all around you. 

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

Also known as the Darjeeling Zoo, it covers a massive region of 27 hectares. An ideal Darjeeling tourist spot for animal lovers, the zoo carries expertise in conservation breeding programs of exclusive Himalayan species such as the Tibetan Wolf, Red Panda, Himalayan Black Bear and Snow Leopards, etc. At an elevation of 7,000 ft., the zoo is the largest high-altitude zoo in India. It is aimed at conserving species as well as spreading awareness to both local residents and tourists about the importance of protecting the Himalayan ecosystem. 

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park was formally recognized as the Himalayan Zoological Park and was inaugurated on 14th August 1958. The Zoo is now named after Padmaja Naidu, an Indian freedom fighter, daughter of Sarojini Naidu, and former Governor of West Bengal. 

Ganga Maya Park & Rock Garden

As a perfect Darjeeling tourist spot for nature lovers, these 2 extremely beautiful parks situated very close to each other are a bunch of definite, must-visit places. The Rock Garden, also known as Barbotey Rock Garden, is located about 10km away from Darjeeling. It has been cut into multiple-level flat areas out of mountain rock and with seating facilities in between. The waterfall streaming gracefully down the rocks is a major attraction. The garden was built by the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council to increase tourism.  

The distance between Ganga Maya Park and Rock Garden is about 3 km. Ganga Maya Park is more spread with splendid fountains and flower gardens. The garden is surrounded by hills and there’s a natural stream flowing through those hills that will surely catch your attention. On crossing one of the bridges built over the stream, there is a small lake in the park where anyone can enjoy boating as well. 

The Japanese Temple and Peace Pagoda 

Located approximately 10 minutes of driving distance away from the town, the Japanese Temple and Peace Pagoda are the 2 most serene tourist spots in Darjeeling to visit. The Japanese Temple, also known as Nippozan Myohoji Buddhist Temple, was built in the early 1970s under the guidance of a Buddhist monk from Japan named Nichidatsu Fujii. The temple is built with a Japanese theme with 2 floors and an amazing facility for viewing the peak of Kanchenjunga. 

Just beside the Japanese Temple is the Peace Pagoda. The Japanese Peace Pagoda was built with the intent to spread the message of uniting people for world peace irrespective of anyone’s ethical background such as caste and race. At times, you can also hear peaceful Buddhist chants and prayers at the temple. The place definitely carries an aura of tranquility that helps bring inner peace.

Happy Valley Tea Estate

One of the most important things to do at Darjeeling is to make time to immerse yourself in understanding the process that lies behind the making of the world-famous Darjeeling tea. Happy Valley Tea Estate will assist you in your curiosity to know how the tea leaves eventually find their way into your early morning cups. Earlier known as the Wilson Tea State, it was established in 1854. As one of the largest tea estates in the state of West Bengal, it covers an area of about 110 hectares. 

The estate is located below Hill Cart Road and the best time to visit the place is between March and October, when the plucking and processing takes place. You will be guided by an employee throughout the process of extracting tea leaves as you tour around the factory following his lead. The Estate is closed between the months of November to February since no tea plucking occurs during that time.

THE BEST TIME AND HOW TO VISIT DARJEELING?

Now that you know why you should tour Darjeeling by knowing about the enticing places that are worth giving a visit to, let us discuss the possibilities of achieving this by assessing the best time to visit Darjeeling and the ideal route to visit the place. March to May and October to November- these 2 timelines are the best to visit the place. The March to May timeline covers the Summer and Spring seasons where temperature varies between 6-17 degree Celsius in March & April and 11-19 degree Celsius in May. The months of October and November are for the Autumn season with temperatures varying between 6-18 degree Celsius.

March to May is ideal to have a clear view of the Kanchenjunga mountains whereas you will be able to see snow-covered peaks during the months of October and November.

To reach Darjeeling by plane, know that the nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport. From there, you can get rented cabs to finally reach your destination. If you plan to come by train, the nearest broad-gauge railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP). From NJP, you can reach Darjeeling via the toy train. If you wish to go the other way, you can also get shared jeeps or rented vehicles from NJP itself to reach there. 

CONCLUSION

In this blog, you have been extensively guided about Darjeeling tourism places. You informed yourself about the history of this municipality located in the Indian state of West Bengal. You are well aware of its geography and know the best destinations to visit while traveling here. Not only that, you have also gone through the estimation of the best time and route to visit the “Jewel of the East.”

If you are a mountain person, there’s no way you should miss elevating yourself to another wonderland that is surrounded by multiple nations and has one of the best eco-system management programs in the country as evident from the work done in the Darjeeling Zoo. If you are a nature lover, you definitely would not want to miss visiting the Rock Garden as well as the Ganga Maya Park.

When seeking for a photogenic place, look no further than the Batasia loop and make the most out of the beautiful scenery of mountain ranges including that of Kanchenjunga. A visit to Darjeeling is incomplete when you miss the story of its magnificent tea, so make sure to acknowledge its history while sipping the hot beverage in the Happy Valley Tea Estate.

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