Darjeeling and eastern Himalayas tour/Darjeeling travel/Darjeeling attractions

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Darjeeling, called by many as the "Queen of Hill Stations", is located in the northern tip of the state of West Bengal, about 85 kilometers from Siliguri. This Himalayan hill station has an average height of about 7,000 feet from the sea level. If you go to West Bengal, you must visit Darjeeling. Non-Indians should first check with their travel agents or Government tourist offices about the latest political situation and safety related issues of traveling to Darjeeling. A permit may be required for foreigners traveling to Darjeeling.

Darjeeling has a very pleasant climate and can be visited any time during the year. The summers are pleasantly cool, but slightly on the damp side. Clouds can and do enter people's rooms and make beds and clothes damp. The winters are cold, but not excessively. Since the winters are dry, one can get fantastic views of the snow covered Himalayan peaks all around. Particularly, the Kanchenjungha peak looks fabulous and close, and you can almost be assured that you will be able to view the Kanchenjungha in winter. People go to nearby Tiger Hill early in the morning to see the sun rising from behind the snow-capped Himalayan peaks. It is a glorious view, seldom seen anywhere else. (Don't miss the "Sunrise from Tiger Hill" video below. After you watch the "Toy Train" video, click on the Menu button, then click on the last video on the menu, on the extreme right. Then click on the Play button if the video does not start automatically.) In winter time, you may be able to see the Everest from the Tiger Hill. In summer time, none of the snow-covered peaks can usually be seen because of the mist produced by melting and evaporating snow that the hot rays from the sun cause.

The main attraction in Darjeeling is nature. Just walk around, take in the breathtaking view, sit down by the side of the road and relax. If your are able bodied and sporting type, there are countless places you can hike to. Trekkings to higher elevations is possible and is done by many. Just ask your travel agent in advance.

Please feel free to click on any stamp image on this page for an actual photograph and/or more information on the subject.

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is one place which interests many. Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who climbed Mount Everest with Edmund Hillary back in 1953 and became one of the two human beings to first conquer Everest, was the first Director of Field Training of this Institute. Today, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute boasts of many Everest climbers in its staff.

Conquest of Everest, May 29 1953 Conquest of Everest
(Stamp issued in 1953)
Conquest of Everest, May 29 1953 Conquest of Everest
(Stamp issued in 1953)
Conquest of Everest (Golden Jubilee) Conquest of Everest
(Golden Jubilee)
(Stamp issued in 2003)

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is another place in Darjeeling that is worth visiting. This is an unique zoo in the country and is internationally recognized because of its conservation program for Snow Leopards and Himalayan Red Pandas. The zoo has been successful in breeding Snow Leopards and Himalayan Red Pandas within its premises. The zoo is situated at an elevation of 2133.5 meters from the sea level against the backdrop of the magnificant Kanchenjungha peak. It is also the only zoo in the world to have successfully bred Tibetan Wolves in captivity and it is the first South Asian zoo to have bred Snow Leopards and Siberian Tigers in captivity. Please do visit this zoo if you go to Darjeeling.

There are two other things that are worth doing in Darjeeling. One must take at least a half-day trip to visit some nearby tea gardens. They are so pretty. Darjeeling produces world's best tea (known as champagne of teas) and is tea drinkers' paradise. Even if you don't drink tea, do visit some tea gardens. The tea bushes alongside the hill slopes are not just picturesque, but they make the entire area really serene.

Plucking Tea
Plucking Tea

The other must do thing in Darjeeling is to ride the narrow guage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway train, fondly called the "toy train". Built in 1881 it is an enginnering marvel. The train connects Siliguri (situated at the foot of the hills) and Darjeeling. The whole journey takes about 8 hours. The train winds its way up through numerous bends along the hillside and some 'Z' curves. While negotiating the 'Z' curves, the train actually goes forward, then backward, then forward again, and thus reaching the next higher level of tracks. Click on the stamp image below to see photos of the "toy train" and the 'Z' curves it negotiates during its routine run between Siliguri and Darjeeling. The train ride affords magnificent views of the hillside, deep gorges, flowing mountain streams, and changing vegetation. At times it passes through small villages. While passing through human inhabited areas, train moves so slowly that people literally get down from the moving train and hop back up again for fun. At one point the train makes a complete loop called the Batasia loop. If you look out through a window at this point, it will appear as if the locomotive engine is chasing the last car of the train! This place is very pretty and has been the location for outdoor shooting of some Bollywood movies such as "Job Pyar Kisise Hota Hai" and "Aradhana" of yesteryears. A lot of people, who do not have the time to ride the entire length of the journey, take a short ride (most often from Darjeeling to a place called Ghum at an higher elevation) to experience this world famous railway journey.


Here is the "Toy Train" in action.
Click on the large arrow twice to play video.
There are many Darjeeling/Toy Train videos here. Choose from the Menu.
Don't miss the "Sunrise from Tiger Hill" video - the last one on the Menu.

(Videos borrowed from YouTube.)

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a National Heritage Site. It has also been featured on an Indian postage stamp as shown below. The stamp shows the train is passing through the Batasia loop.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Two other hill stations in the nearby area are Kalimpong and Gangtok. Kalimpong is in West Bengal whereas Gangtok is in Sikkim (an old and small Himalayan Kingdom, now part of India).

The following sites will provide more information on Darjeeling and other nearby Himalayan hill stations:

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