Saturday, 25 April 2015

Darjeeling: The queen of Hill Stations in India!

After a series of posts on Mysore, a heritage city of southern Indian peninsula, now is the time to travel up the Northern hills of Mighty Himalayas and this time, it is Darjeeling, the queen of Eastern Himalayas. Darjeeling is one of those places in India, which needs no introduction, as it has many facets to be famous and known by all. I have been exploring various parts of mystic Sikkim during my stay at Gangtok for 03 years and a trip to Darjeeling was on the cards from the day one, being the neighboring area of Sikkim. 
What i observed during my several trips to Sikkim and Darjeeling was that Sikkim was relatively untouched and less explored territory, where one could unravel many gems of natural beauty, whereas, Darjeeling had certain heritage value apart from having plenty of  natural landscapes, flora and fauna. The place is famous among all classes of travelers for it's six T's - Tea, Teak, Tourism, Tiger Hills, Trekking and Toy Train.

To explore these six T's of Darjeeling, one fine morning, we, a group of 08 persons started our trip to Darjeeling from Gangtok. It was a 4 hours (nearly 95 km) smooth ride mostly on serpentine and curvaceous NH-31A, the lifeline of Sikkim, which connects it to the rest of India. For us, it was like, first going down the hill into the planes and then again going up the hill, as Darjeeling is comparatively at higher altitude. Topographically, there is no difference between Sikkim and Darjeeling. The only difference, one can make out between the two is that the later falls in West Bengal district.

With in two hours of our journey, we had crossed Rangpo, a border town of Sikkim and had left NH-31A after Jorethang for the road (Lebong Cart Road) leading to Darjeeling. We had gone hardly a few kilometers from Jorethang and a beautiful sight of confluence of Teesta & Rangit, two major rivers of Sikkim greeted us.

Confluence of Teesta & Rangit Rivers
As we were moving up the road leading to Darjeeling, the weather was getting colder and fog was engulfing the surroundings. Soon, we crossed Lamahatta eco-tourism park and a good travel destination in itself, regarding which i will write separately. 

After another hour's journey through the famous Hill Cart Road, we had entered dazzling Darjeeling. At the entry point, our vehicle's papers were checked at the check post and we entered the city with high anticipation of fun and joy in exploring the famous hill station. As we were slowly snaking up the hills, a narrow-gauge railway track along the road grabbed our attention and we instantly realized that this is the track on which the famous toy trains of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway ply. soon, Ghum Railway Station was before our eyes. 
Ghum Railway Station
Ghum Railway Station is the highest Railway Station in India located at the height of around 7400 ft. A joy ride in the toy train from Ghum to Batasiya Loop, Darjeeling offering magnificent views may be a wonderful experience for travelers. 

We had reached there by 02:00 PM and decided to look for hotels for our night stay. Darjeeling has plenty of all budget hotels and it didn't take much time to search hotel rooms. After settling in the rooms, we started exploring local markets and famous Mall Road, popularly known as Chowrasta.

The Chowrasta is the heart of Darjeeling town. It's a flat land where tourists and locals come to enjoy in the sun and watch the wonderful views of the mountain peaks and valleys all around sitting on the benches. Here, you will find some of the old and heritage stores lined up on one side, and open view on the other with many pine trees all around. If you want to feel the real vibe of Darjeeling, Chowrasta is the right  place for you. You may also notice many young local fellows with their ponies offering horse rides to tourists.
Chowrasta at Darjeeling
Cultural Programme for tourists at Hawa Ghar, Chowrasta
We took a stroll in the bustling mall road, did some shopping of woolen clothing, for which the place is also famous for and enjoyed the cultural & musical programme going on at Chowrasta. We returned to our hotel taking colourful memories of Mall Road with us and thinking to visit the place again, if time permits. 

Next Morning, we had to start for Tiger Hills, a tourist spot, from where the magnificent view of the ranges of Mt. Kanchanjangha can be seen in a sunny morning. In the next post, i will take you all to Tiger Hills and many other tourist places of Darjeeling. Till then Adios!


  1. Nice trip. Thanks for sharing your trip experience. Better known as the Toy Train, this narrow gauge railway line connects New Jalpaiguri and the beautiful city of Darjeeling in West Bengal. Explore all best scenic rail routes around the world also.