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You thought that Darjeeling must be a small hill town and what could you see there

other than Kanchenjunga peaks and some scenic views? Sure Darjeeling town is
small, but you may be amazed to know how many great places you can access
from here that are within short distances. And if you love to travel down the
winding mountain roads, you can reach some treasures that are unmatched
anywhere in the world.

Over the past many years of our family vacations, we have uncovered all such
great Darjeeling attractions. Remember, while Darjeeling town is small, the district
of Darjeeling spans over more than 3,000 square kilometers (or about 1,200 square
miles). So it's really up to you how far would you like to travel to uncover a
treasure. We don't keep any limits until it's time to be back.

In the sections below, I have described the top Darjeeling tourist places and
attractions including the parks & gardens, scenic places & view points, waterfalls,
temples & monasteries, museums & historic places, and lot more. But you will need
to take Sightseeing Tours to experience all that unless you have your own vehicle.
Few of these tourist places are of course within easy walking distance from the
town center.

If you are planning to visit some of them on foot, remember a couple of things.
First a distance in the hills will feel like almost three times of a similar distance in
the plains as you walk uphill. And most of the roads in Darjeeling have steep
gradient or slope. So unless you are used to walking in the hills, it may not be as
easy as you may think. Second, there are some sightseeing places in Darjeeling
that can only be reached on foot. A vehicle can only go up to a point beyond which
you will need to walk. So in general, a sightseeing day in Darjeeling should start
early.

As you go through the Darjeeling tourist attractions below and visit the links for
details, you will get the distance of the places and time it should take to reach from
the town center. Let me start with our top favorite sights and tourist places in
Darjeeling. And then I'll talk about the ones which too come very close to the best.


2 Star Darjeeling Hotels
The Best Mid Priced Stays

So you want the best of both the worlds - a good comfortable stay in a great
location in Darjeeling while paying reasonable price. And you are probably aware
that it's not easy to meet both ends unless you really get to know which are those
hidden gems from people who experienced them.

In fact in Darjeeling, all the mid priced or so called 2 star hotels actually claim to
offer real value for money, because they lose nothing with such claims. You are the
one at stake to lose your money and precious little time.

So how do you start? Over the past many years I have had the opportunity to stay
at and experience many of the mid range hotels in Darjeeling - some real good,
some bad and many quite ugly. I have made friends with many such property
owners and understood how they plan and treat their properties and also their
long-term goals.

My selection of hotels below are based on my personal experience and findings by
considering the location, comfort, service, friendliness, ambience and amenities. I
have no commercial tie up of any sort with any establishment in Darjeeling, and
therefore my recommendations are personal and based on my own experience over
the past many years. Of course the opinions of my family who have been a part of
this journey and many guests who I met up with, have all contributed to the
assessments.

Price Category: These hotels belong to the Mid Range or so called 2 Star
category. I say "so called 2-Star" because most of these hotels do not offer any real
star category facilities. The status is more self proclaimed out of public perception
and charges. The difference between them and the budget hotels would be that the
2-star hotel have rooms with better finish and more amenities, bathrooms will be
certainly better having geysers with hot & cold shower, likely to have a multi
cuisine restaurant with a bar, etc. The tariff would typically range from Rupees
2,000 to Rupees 4,000.



But there are several hotels in this category that are better than the rest when it
comes to class, their location and service. Here are those that are my favorites:

Shangri-La Hotel (Nehru Read, Yards away from the Chowrasta Mall)
This is a beautiful small boutique hotel having only four attic suit rooms on the first
floor. As you walk up the Nehru Road towards the Chowrasta Mall, you will find this
unassuming gem on the right just after you cross Glenaries. The ground floor is the
reception area extending into the popular Shangri-la restaurant. It's a Tibetan
family run business. The property which was an old British home, is now fully
refurbished inside. However it has delicately retained its overall British aura.

Golden Heights Enclave (Gandhi Road, About 10 minutes walk to Chowrasta Mall)
A very nice 2-star hotel with 10 very clean and nicely appointed rooms. The hotel
occupies couple of top floors in a multi storeyed residential building. It's is owned
by a Tibetan family. The attic rooms (super deluxe) offer excellent views of the
snow peaks and the valley. The hotel has in-house restaurant and a library. The
service is very friendly. The hotel has its own elevator and taxis come right up to
the door front.

Darjeeling Tourist Lodge (Bhanu Sarani, 5 minutes walk up the Mall Road)
It takes about 5 minutes along Mall road and then the right alleyway going past the
Gymkhana Club to reach the Tourist Lodge. The main highlight is the spread of the
property with its lovely private lawn at the back side, spacious well furnished rooms
most of which overlook the valley behind. We had a clear view of the Lebong race
course. There are main and annex blocks having over 30 rooms. The hotel offers
several facilities including a large restaurant, bar and a meeting lounge.

Shangri-La Regency (Gandhi Road, 10 minutes walk to the Mall)
A small hotel with only 12 rooms, but very well maintained and conveniently
located. Nice clean rooms. The attic rooms and the common roof top lounge area
offer magnificent views of the mountain range. The staffs are all professionals and
very courteous.

Villa Everest (AJC Bose Road, About 15 minutes walk to the Chowrasta Mall)
A family run business and an old heritage home of British days has now been
converted into a lovely boutique hotel. The interior of the hotel is completely
modernized with wood finish while from outside the old architecture of the building
has been retained. The best part is that it has only 10 rooms and all of them have
great views of the mountains and the valley. While AJC Bose road may sound alien
to some, it is actually a few steps into a lane from Gandhi road.

Swiss Hotel (Gandhi Road, About 15 minutes walk to Chowrasta Mall)
As you walk down the stairs and through an archway covered with green plants
toward the front door of a cottage like building, you know that you are approaching
a beautiful heritage property of British days. Other than 8 nice rooms in the main
block, there are 4 lovely cottages opening out to a garden with a sweeping view.
This is a property of Help Tourism.



Dekeling Hotel (Gandhi Road, 7-8 minutes walk to the Mall)
Climb the narrow stairs passing another hotel on the way in the same building and
you will reach this quality accommodation. Located centrally in an old building and
right next to the upper Clubside Taxi Stand (across Gandhi Road Police Point), this
hotel is run by the Dekeva Tibetan family which have been taking personal care to
ensure that guests enjoy themselves. The front rooms upstairs have great view of
the mountains. This is one of the few hotels that features both under my Budget
Hotels as well as under the mid priced ones because Dekevas have cleverly kept
the tariff right in the middle of the two categories.

Main Olde Bellevue Hotel (Nehru Road, On Mall)
This hotel has two sections or buildings that are located close to each other and
located next to the Mall. The first block which is visible from the Mall entrance is the
newer block having several well appointed rooms and a lovely lounge on the top
floor with cushioned wicker sofas and delicate wooden interiors. But the hidden gem
is behind this building which earns its fame as the heritage hotel and having a
wonderful garden, cottage like settings and nice views of the valley in front. This is
a lodging only hotel and doesn't serve food.

Sunflower Hotel (Right on the Chowrasta Mall)
You can't stay much closer to Mall than this. It's only a few steps into the alley that
leads from the Mall and below the Mall road on the left. As the entrance is from the
narrow alley, it may not look much impressive from outside. However once you get
in, the wood finished interior continues from the reception to all the rooms including
the restaurant. Most of the rooms have great views of the valley. But the winning
point of this hotel is its location, the Mall where tourists come all the way from
wherever they are put up in Darjeeling.

Hotel Seven Seventeen (HD Lama Road, 10 minutes walk to the Mall)
This is a traditional Tibetan style hotel run by a Tibetan family over the generations.
Its interior decor, the bright contrasting colors, the low wooden furniture, the
artwork at the stairway landings ... everything here reflects Tibetan traditions, style
and culture. It has an in-house multi-cuisine restaurant, a bar, lounge, travel desk
and a gift & souvenir store.

Planters Club (On Nehru Road, less than five minutes walk to the Mall)
Planters Club (actually the Darjeeling Club Limited) was established in 1868 as a
place for entertainment for the British tea planters and their families. It offers large
rooms and suites for regular and temporary members and tourists. If you are
looking for colonial ambience with great aura of heritage and history, Planters club
can be a great choice. The club offers some unique amenities like billiards room,
table tennis etc.



Related Articles

1) Those are only some of my select choices of mid priced 2-star hotels and
accommodations in Darjeeling. There are lot more that are worth exploring.
VisitDarjeeling Hotels Guide to know about all the good hotels that I have
discovered over the last many years of exploration.

Visitors' Reviews/Comments

Santosh Kumar (March 2013)
Raj I have got your response to my earlier query and you have suggested me to
book Shangrila but to my dismay there is no rooms available on the said date.
On the same time I have got emails from Bellevue hotel (Mr Tashi Pulger) and he
said that rooms are available. So just wanted to know about this hotel review
(mind you this is not Olde main Bellevue, this is just Bellevue). I am not sure is it
the same hotel with new name. I just wanted to know whether it has clean
rooms with good view. I have got one more option Dekeling hotel. So please
guide me out of the above two which is better? before I go ahead and book the
room

Raj - darjeeling-tourism.com (March 2013)
Shangrilla has only three rooms and they are always in high demand, mostly
from foreign tourists. One needs to book well in advance. Don't go for Bellevue
... it's not the same as Olde Main Bellevue although located right next to it. It
belongs to the second brother who hasn't maintained it well enough. However
there are couple of Mall facing rooms that I like ... huge spacious ones with great
views but again not well maintained .... filthy carpets etc. Your next best choice
would be therefore Dekeling out of the ones you have ... Pros.. clean rooms,
have their own nice restaurant at the ground floor (Dekevas) ... Cons .. steep
narrow stairway, not all rooms have views, hotel right on the clubside taxi stand,
so a noisy environment. But overall a family run quality hotel.

Jane Hadley (February 2013)
Hi, You have been very helpful when my husband, Tom, was asking about how to
get to Darjeeling - thank you! Again, I realise you are not a travel agent, but
would you be able to suggest a good place to stay at Darjeeling or nearby? I am
getting very confused looking at the places! Or, if you can recommend a tea
estate to stay. We are looking for a modest budget, not luxury. Regards,

Raj - darjeeling-tourism.com (February 2013)
Hello Jane, While I do not have much idea about your expectations out of a hotel
(like location, amenities, views etc), here are a few mid scale hotels that are my
personal favorites:

1) Shangri-La Hotel: Great location ... steps away from the Mall, nice views and
very convenient. Only three rooms but all rooms are well apointed and large,
some with fireplaces. There is an in-house restaurant at the ground floor. You
must book well in advance. Cons: 3-5 minutes walk required from nearest taxi
stand since it is in a pedestrian only zone. But porters are available if you so
need.

2) Villa Everest: All 10 rooms are well appointed and have great views. Family
owned, very clean and nice service. They serve breakfast and meals in their
small ground floor dining room. 12-15 minutes walk to the Mall.

3) Swiss Hotel: Close to Villa Everest. Excellent garden with view of the valley.
Nice rooms. Either take rooms on the upper floor of the main building or the
cottages by the side of the lawn.

I have also discussed all the great tea estates, their accommodations and
offerings in great details in Darjeeling Tea Tourism. Please visit the page and go
through the tea estate links, you should be able to choose one if you rather
prefer a tea estate for your stay. By the way, you can also split your stay, first in
a hotel right in Darjeeling town and then in a tea estate little further away to
have a combined experience. All estates offer pick up and drop (transfer)
services from any point to any point in the district, so it's easy. Most estates
offer all-inclusive packages including meals & sightseeing. So beyond 2-3 night
stay in a tea estate may become a bit expensive.

Rajshekhar Roy (January 2013)
Raj, Wish you a very happy and successful new year. We will need 4 nights of
hotel booking and 2 rooms. Can you suggest something close to the mall and
accessible to the taxi stand? I am trying to decide between Dekeling and
Shangri-la for the hotel and have some specific questions where I need your
help.
1. In your opinion which is the better one?
2. The attic suite in Shangri-La - can it sleep 4 people with 2 extra beds? We do
not need to be in the hotel much otherwise.
3. I've got the prices for both hotels from them but is it possible to negotiate on
this price?
Also, what will be the charges from NJP to Darjeeling by taxi? We can do it in an
Indica.

Thank you for all the help. Regards

Raj - darjeeling-tourism.com (January 2013)
Hi, I personally prefer Hotel Shangri-la (not Shangri-la Regency) over Dekeling
anytime. It's only steps away from the Mall and on Nehru road. It has three
beautifully appointed rooms with nice views. You must book well in advance to
get rooms here. They are on high demand. The rooms are large and can easily
accommodate 4 persons. But I'm not sure if the hotel will allow that even with
extra charges. In May, you can not negotiate the rates. It falls in the peak tourist
season.

Note that Shangrila Regency located further down Gandhi road is also owned by
the same owner (Ranjan Lama) who stays in the UK, but very active in
personally taking care of his guests in these hotels. However, Shangrila Regency
is not as good as Hotel Shangri-la. You can get some idea about the transport
rates here:Darjeeling Transport Rates

Darjeeling Tourist Places & Attractions

You thought that Darjeeling must be a small hill town and what could you see there
other than Kanchenjunga peaks and some scenic views? Sure Darjeeling town is
small, but you may be amazed to know how many great places you can access
from here that are within short distances. And if you love to travel down the
winding mountain roads, you can reach some treasures that are unmatched
anywhere in the world.

Over the past many years of our family vacations, we have uncovered all such
great Darjeeling attractions. Remember, while Darjeeling town is small, the district
of Darjeeling spans over more than 3,000 square kilometers (or about 1,200 square
miles). So it's really up to you how far would you like to travel to uncover a
treasure. We don't keep any limits until it's time to be back.

In the sections below, I have described the top Darjeeling tourist places and
attractions including the parks & gardens, scenic places & view points, waterfalls,
temples & monasteries, museums & historic places, and lot more. But you will need
to take Sightseeing Tours to experience all that unless you have your own vehicle.
Few of these tourist places are of course within easy walking distance from the
town center.

If you are planning to visit some of them on foot, remember a couple of things.
First a distance in the hills will feel like almost three times of a similar distance in
the plains as you walk uphill. And most of the roads in Darjeeling have steep
gradient or slope. So unless you are used to walking in the hills, it may not be as
easy as you may think. Second, there are some sightseeing places in Darjeeling
that can only be reached on foot. A vehicle can only go up to a point beyond which
you will need to walk. So in general, a sightseeing day in Darjeeling should start
early.

As you go through the Darjeeling tourist attractions below and visit the links for
details, you will get the distance of the places and time it should take to reach from
the town center. Let me start with our top favorite sights and tourist places in
Darjeeling. And then I'll talk about the ones which too come very close to the best.



Top 10 Tourist Places in Darjeeling - Our Favorites
Here are the top places to see in Darjeeling. If you are visiting Darjeeling for a
short vacation, then you should target to visit some of these places listed in this
section.

(1) Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) and the amazing Darjeeling Zoo
HMI is a destination by itself and a said to be a pilgrimage for all climbing
enthusiasts of the world. It was established in honor of Tenzing Norgay after he and
Sir Edmund Hillary climbed the Everest in 1953. It has a well stocked museum with
mountaineering displays and many expedition artifacts, a boarding school for
mountaineering students, houses for the trainers, a restaurant, a souvenir shop and
more. It's located on Jawahar Road or the Birch Hill that can be accessed from the
Mall Road and Lebong Cart Road.

The Zoo is located in the same premises where HMI is and therefore should be
covered at the same time. The unique feature of this zoo is, it houses animals of
high altitude and mostly from upper Himalayas. You can see some rare animals
here like Red Pandas, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and lot more.

(2) Tiger Hill
Located at the highest point in the Darjeeling area, Tiger Hill is best known for the
dazzling sunrise view of the Kanchenjunga and the snow covered peaks of the
entire eastern Himalayan range. On a clear day you can even see the mount
Everest from here. Tiger Hill is located 11km from the Darjeeling Town and takes
about 40 minutes to reach by car.

(3) Batasia Loop
Located 5km from Darjeeling Town and just below Ghoom, Batasia Loop as the
name suggests, is a loop or a spiral of a narrow gauge railway track where the Toy
Train negotiates a sudden sharp descent from Ghoom. It's a wonderful viewing
place with manicured gardens, streams and falls, from where you can get a wide
range view of the Darjeeling's landscape, Kanchenjunga and the other Eastern
Himalayan peaks.

(4) Darjeeling Ropeway
This is one way you can be part of special diverse offerings from the nature and all
in one place. From the ropeway of Darjeeling which is also known as the Rangeet
Valley Passenger Cable Car, you can have mind blowing view of the valley below,
see the spread of lush tea gardens, dense forests, mountain streams in their full
flow, waterfalls, and the awesome snow peaks at the background. Get off at a lower
station and enjoy the tea estates, walk through the tea gardens, or just relax and
enjoy the view around. It's hard to find all these together in one place.

(5) Darjeeling Mall & Chowrasta
The Chowrasta or the Mall is the town center in Darjeeling. This is a lovely little flat
area, a public square where four roads meet. This public place is where you would
like to lounge & bake in the sun, sit and watch the wonderful views of the mountain
range and see many locals and tourists hanging around. One side of the mall is
lined with pine trees through which you get wonderful mountain vistas, the other
side is lined with lovely boutique shops of different kinds. And all around the mall,
you have benches to sit and relax.

(6) Rock Garden & Ganga Maya Park
These two are scenic parks in wonderful settings located a few miles away from the
Darjeeling town. Rock garden is about 10km and Ganga Maya is another 3km from
there. Rock Garden is all about terraced gardens at different levels that have been
cut through the rocks having a waterfalls with nice seating arrangements. Ganga
Maya is more spread out and has a beautiful stream flowing through it on a valley,
has flower gardens, fountains and more.

(7) Japanese Temple & Peace Pagoda
About 10 minutes by car, you will reach a wonderful area that is symbolic of peace
and tranquility. Located in the Jalapahar hill, the Japanese Temple is built in
traditional Japanese style where you can join the prayers and feel the spiritual
peace amongst humming and chants. Close to it is the Peace Pagoda where there
are four large avatars of Lord Buddha. The view from the top is magnificent. You
can see the snow peak range from here including the Kanchenjunga.

Darjeeling Tours and Sightseeing

If you are planning to experience some of the lovely tourist places and vistas in and
around Darjeeling, you will need to plan a tour, preferably a guided or a conducted
tour. Depending on what you want to see and how much time you have, there are
several options to go around Darjeeling.

Most tourists who come here for short vacations, take the local half day sightseeing
tours that are known as 3-point, 5-point, 7-point and mixed-point tours covering
preset points or tourist places in and around the hill town. These local sightseeing
packages offered by taxi drivers and local tour operators are most popular amongst
tourists. And another ride which is seldom missed is a toy train joy ride.

But, if you want to get deeper into the magical attractions of Darjeeling hills, then
your next step would be to take a scenic drive to one of the many amazing places
close to Darjeeling, enjoy the bounty of nature like wonderful mountain landscapes,
driving by the tea gardens & villages, watch waterfalls & lakes etc and come back
after spending a day of great joy & fulfillment. These are known as day trips from
Darjeeling.

However, if you intend to explore Darjeeling and the surrounding areas at greater
depth, like to know about the heritage and historical background of the place that
originated from the British colonial times, or want to feel the nature and its flora
& fauna more intimately, then you will need to take a special tour. There are tours
& safaris to take you to national park & sanctuaries which are habitats of amazing
and rare Himalayan animals, you can take a heritage walk of the town to visit many
historical places that reflect the life & culture of British Raj days, and there are
lovely tea garden tours that includes many tea garden activities including stay at
the garden.

While you can self organize most standard tours by hiring a taxi or a shared jeep
from the stand, you will need to go through a tour operator for the special tours. I
shall discuss all these options in the following section from all our personal
experiences.



Local Package Tours in Darjeeling
These are short half-day tours covering sunrise views, monasteries & temples, art
& craft, museums, zoo, tea gardens, parks, rides and more. These are the most
popular sightseeing tours with the common tourists and provide a quick flavor of
Darjeeling. There are several preset packages offered with various combinations of
the sights and attractions. You can choose the ones you like.

Toy Train Joy Rides & Services
There are regular 2-hour joy rides offered by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways on
its toy trains from Darjeeling. The narrow gauge train with steam engine makes a
round trip to Ghoom via Batasia and back. This is a scenic ride offering great views
of Darjeeling landscapes and the Eastern Himalayan snow peaks. This tour by Toy
Train is extremely popular with tourists. You will need to book well in advance as
the capacity is limited and demand is high. Many visitors who can't take the 7-
hours long toy train ride from New Jalpaiguri to reach Darjeeling, take this short
ride.

Kanchenjunga & the Toy Train, Darjeeling


Day Trips & Tours From Darjeeling
Although Darjeeling town is small, the district of Darjeeling spans over more than
1,200 square miles of area that includes majestic mountains & valleys, beautiful tea
gardens, lakes, waterfalls, forests, villages and more. So you have great
opportunities to take lovely scenic drives to some amazing places where you can
spend the day and even stay back if you like.

Heritage Walk of Darjeeling
Very few people know that there is a guided walking tour offered to explore the rich
heritage and history of Darjeeling. During the colonial days of 1800s and early
1900s, the British have left behind many heritage landmarks. They built schools,
parks, museums & monuments as they converted miles of raw forests in Darjeeling
hills into a natural holiday sanitarium and laid thousands of acres of tea plantations
to make it a place for Champagne of Tea. All these along with the people, flora and
fauna, the landscapes & majestic mountains have all been integral part of
Darjeeling's heritage.

Jeep Safari of Singalila National Park
Spread across the Singalila range, this high altitude national park can be accessed
from Manebhanjan which is located 26kms from Darjeeling town. This is one of the
stunningly beautiful parks that offers plethora of flora & fauna, and breathtaking
view of the Himalayan snow peaks. There are numerous types of orchids,
rhododendrons, magnolia, primula and many other flowers that bloom in
abundance during the season.



You will pass through forests of thick bamboo, oaks and silver firs. The reserved
forest area has many exotic and rare high altitude animals like Red Panda and
Pangolins that you see only in the books. The park has over 120 species of birds.
And you will get rare opportunity to view some of highest peaks of the world
including Everest and Kanchenjunga family. However this tour will take 2-3 days to
complete. Know about the complete description of the park, how to reach, best
time to go, where to stay and many other details.

Sandakphu and Phalut by Jeep
Not many can trek and that too along the steep routes of Sandakphu and Phalut.
But anybody who loves mountains and the snow peaks, will love to make it to these
places once in a lifetime. Where else can you view four of the five highest peaks of
the world? A great way to do that is to take a jeep safari.

Darjeeling Tea Garden Tours & Tea Tourism
Tea tourism is increasingly becoming popular in Darjeeling area. It's about spending
a few days in a sprawling tea estate, staying in original planter's bungalows that
offer British colonial ambience, walking through the tea gardens to experience
garden life, visiting the factory to watch tea processing, and tasting some of the
greatest teas the garden offers to the world. And all these can be combined with
nature & village walks, day trips to nearby attractions and view points, witnessing
ethnic cultural dance & musical performances by the local villagers, and enjoying
many other nature activities including even wildlife safaris and white water rafting.
Sounds interesting?

Darjeeling Sandakphu Gangtok by Car
Is it possible to take a car from Bagdogra Airport or NJP Station and cover all the
thee places - Darjeeling, Sandakphu and Gangtok and get dropped back to the
airport or the railway station. Well, nothing is impossible when you have the will to
do it, particularly when in search of the best of the mountain nature.

Related Articles

1) Day trips & tours from Darjeeling

2) Best Tour Operators in Darjeeling

3) If you need further information, check out Tourist Information Centers and
contact the GTA or West Bengal state Government run centers that provide
information and booking assistance for Darjeeling tours.


Visitors' Reviews/Comments

Mehul Patel (June 2014)
Dear Raj.. I go through your website for many useful information. I am comming
on a trip to Darjeeling and Gangtok for 25th Oct to 1 Nov. My booking is
confirmed. I want to do direct booking of hotels over there. But I have a problem
or confusion on touring 7 days... Darjeeling 2 days, Gangtok 3 day, Lachung 2
days with all sightseeing. Can I get taxi after reaching Darjeeling and what do
they charge for this type of package. We are 4 adults and 2 kids.

Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) June 2014
Hi, Local Taxis are usually not in good condition. During high season their rates
can be anything depending on demand and opportunity. They will likely take
short cuts through the tours to save on petrol and time. I suggest that for local
tours in Darjeeling, you go through a good tour operator like Ashmita Trek
& Tours. They are good and reasonable. Note that they offer 15% discount on
Darjeeling Tourism Card. While booking hotels directly, select one where discount
is given on tourism card (many good hotels of different categories offer attractive
discount on the card). However you must have the card and give its details at
the time of directly booking the tours and hotels.

Note that in Sikkim (i.e. Gangtok, Lachung etc), you will need to take a separate
taxi once you reach. In Sikkim, the taxis from Darjeeling (West Bengal) are not
allowed for sightseeing and vice versa. The tourism card also works in couple of
good budget/mid-range hotels in Gangtok. If you use the card judiciously, you
can save a lot.

Ron Rodrigues (September 2013)
In February 2014 my wife and I plan to visit Darjeeling. Having just read Path to
Glory covering the two climbs of Everest by George Mallory I am interested in
finding out more of the journey from Darjeeling to Base Camp or a point where
we could get a good and clear view of Everest. Any information would be greatly
appreciated.

Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) September 2013
Hi, In Darjeeling, a good place to get a view of Mount Everest is from Tiger Hill.
You should visit the place to view the sunrise amongst the Himalayan snow
peaks. Early in the morning and with clear sky (you need to have a bit of luck for
this) you get a wonderful view of some of the highest peaks in the world
including Everest. You can see Everest between the peaks of Kanchenjunga and
Makalu. Although it looks quite close, it's at a distance of about 225kms from
where you stand. So carry a binocular. Tiger hill is 11kms from Darjeeling town
and you can take a jeep or private taxi to reach the sunrise point. You will find
more information here: Tiger Hill

Another great place to get a view of Everest is from Sandakphu. It's the summit
of the Singalila range and a popular trekking destination. It's also accessible by
jeep or Land Rovers. You can organize a trip or a trek to Sandakphu through a
tour operator in Darjeeling. However, in February the routes are often closed due
to heavy snowfall in the area. The season actually begins from April, but the best
views are available between October through November. Here is more
information about Sandakphu

Mahesh M (August 2013)
I am planning for a 10 days long trip with my wife and 3 years old kid from Oct
05 - Oct 14. My wife is physically challenged but may be able to walk some
distance with good support. But mostly would require wheelchair. Firstly, Is it
possible to Manage sightseeing in Darjeeling and Gangtok. If so what would be
the best plan when you are travelling with Physically challenged and a small kid.
Last year i could take my family to Jaipur, Udaipur, Agra, Fatehpur-Sikri( Just for
more info).

Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2013
Hi, Darjeeling and Gangtok are both on steep hilly terrain. Most tourist
attractions won't be accessible or suitable for wheelchair bound persons. Also
note that it's unlikely you will find a taxi or van in Darjeeling which can
accommodate a wheel chair, or has a site door with a ramp etc. You will require
a folding type wheelchair which can be taken in the car boot.

If she can manage to walk a bit and get into a taxi, then you can certainly take
her around for a scenic sightseeing tour to view the landscapes, tea gardens (like
Happy Valley Tea Estate, Rangeet Valley Estate etc from the taxi of course).
Unfortunately most tourist attractions in Darjeeling require quite some uphill
walk or climbing stairways from the car park. There are some exceptions though
like Bengal Natural History Museum, Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center, Tenzing
& Gombu rocks, Ava Art Gallery, Samten Choling Monastery in Ghoom etc which
are relatively easier to access and are suitable for most who are physically
challenged. However you won't find a packaged local tour that covers these
assorted places. You will need to negotiate with the taxi driver and make a local
sightseeing day tour of your own. All these can be easily covered in 4-5 hours.

I have discussed the most suitable hotels in Darjeeling for physically challenged
in the link below (it considers taxis being able to reach up to the door step,
elevator in the hotel, ramp for wheel chair etc etc): Darjeeling hotels for
handicapped

Nivedita Seal (May 2013)
Hello Sir, a wonderful blog with loads of information and no doubt they are
priceless for travelers like us. Six of us are planning to visit Darjeeling in the first
week of December 2013 though our plan was for Sikkim but 2 of us will be from
Bangladesh so we are planning for Darjeeling. We want to enjoy the core beauty
of Darjeeling for 5-6 days and we want to include Jorpokhri, Mirik,
Maneybhanjang etc. Will you please inform us from where we can get best view
of Kanchenjunga? And we will be traveling with 2 year old kid and want a good
budget or 2 star (if we get discount) hotel. Will you please suggest which one will
be good as per service and view? Is there any way that we can get some snow
around any places near Darjeeling? Will it be possible for us to visit Sandakaphu
with the kid? Eager to hear from you. Best regards

Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2013
One of the best family hotels with Kanchenjungha views in Darjeeling is the main
building of Darjeeling Tourist Lodge. The attached small private balconies in the
rooms offer great views. Check out the following link for my detailed reviews of
Darjeeling hotels with great views: Best View Hotels in Darjeeling

You can also go down to the Mall road view points (specifically the one just next
to the Dolphin Hotel and close to Raj Bhawan). In December you should get
excellent views from there. If you can wake up early in the winter morning, try
outTiger Hill to see the sunrise and the range of snow peaks including
Kanchenjunga. It's likely to be quite cold in December, but snowing is very rare
in Darjeeling town.

You can go to Manebhanjan and take a jeep towards Sandakphu. In fact you
should get enough snow in Tumling itself (about half way to Sandakphu) around
that time. But with an infant with you, you should be very careful. It will be
biting cold over there and there are hardly any facilities. All accommodations are
basic. Even if you decide to go, do not go further than Tumling around that time
with a kid. Take adequate measures and warm clothes. While you may see plenty
of snows, you may not be able to see snowfall. There is nothing
in Manebhanjan and do not plan to stay there. Darjeeling to Mirik via Jorpokhri is
a nice drive through the tea gardens. You will enjoy boating at the Mirik lake.

Sunanda Choudhury (May 2013)
If I want to visit 3 points & mixed points by a shared jeep how is that possible....coz a
shared jeep wont wait in every point for me. Please suggest me the plan of day 2: three
points tour & mixed points tour & day3: Mirik with Pasupati market tour by a shared
jeep....

Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2013
Only Sunrise from Tiger Hill and Batasia Loop on the way back can be planned on
shared jeep. Rest can be done on reserved taxi. Shared jeeps ply between
Darjeeling and Mirik. You can get off at Pashupati market and take another one
from there to Mirik. You will get more information about fares and timings
here:Darjeeling to Other Places

Nikhil Jain (April 2013)
Hi Raj, Thanks for your wonderful work in this website. We 3 people are coming
to visit Darjeeling. We want to hire a cab in NJP itself, from there we need 3 days
package (NJP to Darjeeling, sightseeing there and drop us to NJP railway station
on 3rd day). Can you please let me know will any one offer this and how much
approximate charges would be. Would be grateful if you let us know reliable guy
for this. Thanks,

Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2013
There are tons of such tour operators, many in Siliguri area which you can get by
searching the web. In Darjeeling, you can contact Subash Tamang of Ashmita
Treks & Tours. You will get his contacts here: Top Tour Operators. Take my
reference, it can help

Rajiv Chanda (March 2013)
Let me congratulate you on this awesome site. It has provided me most of the
info needed for travelling to Darjeeling. I plan to come there on 30/5/13 to
6/6/13. I just wanted to know should I book the transport before hand as we are
3 families including 6 kids. Though you have already mentioned that Prepaid
taxis are available from NJP. I was wondering if they are easily available or will
have to wait. The charges that I find for drop are about Rs. 3000 per Innova and
about 1600 per Sumo. Would it be better to book now or take a chance once we
reach there? And secondly it seems that 14 seaters or more are not available (for
sightseeing) in that area. We enjoy traveling together, but it is being suggested
that we need to take 2 separate vehicle. Also vehicles are for point to point basis
only and not available on per day or per km basis. Can we find 14 seaters if we
explore on reaching there. Warm regards

Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2013
Hi, Pre-paid and reserved taxis are easily available at NJP unless you are
reaching at an odd hour. 14-seaters are not easily available in this area. You can
either book a vehicle for a pickup/drop service or local tours, usually not both.
For that you should contact a credible travel/tour agent who can offer a tour
package for your entire stay including pickup and drop services. The charges will
depend on your tour plans. Most good hotels in Darjeeling offer such services as
well. If you want to go through a tour operator, then look for one in Siliguri/NJP
area since the pickup and drop will take place here, and the overall charges
would be most economical. Here is one in Siliguri that you may look into:

Kings Travels, 94 Bankim Chandra Road. Siliguri-6.
Email: kingstravels7@gmail.com or kings_travels@yahoo.com,

Airi Chang (March, 2013)
Hello Raj, after I saw the Bollywood hit movie (Barfi), I was totally in love with
Darjeeling's nature beauty. Now I am planning to visit Darjeeling around end of
April. Is it possible to ask you to provide information of any local travel agency
who conduct Barfi location tour, or can you suggest any shooting location to
visit? Thanks in advance. Warm regards.

Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2013
You can call up and check this out with Subash Tamang of Ashmita Treks
& Tours. You will find his contacts here: Top Tour Operators

Amrita Kumar Mukherjee (November 2012)
Respected Sir, I shall reach Darjeeling on 19/01/2013 at about 12 noon and
leave within 12 noon of 21/01/2013. I am in extreme need of your valued advice
for local sightseeing along with DHR Joy Ride.
Q-1) Is it be possible to do 7-Point/5-Point and Tiger Hill-Batasia etc. and DHR
Joy Ride of 13:40PM Train on 20/01/2013.
Q-2) How much I have to spend for those.
Q-3) If any other advice in details, as I am in first time in Darjeeling. We are
three Self-Wife-Son (7 years)

Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2012
Hi, It is possible to take a half day local sightseeing tour and then take the toy
train joy ride in the afternoon. For that you will need to start the sightseeing tour
early. Ask the Taxi driver to pick you up by 8am and finish the tour by 12:30pm.
However the 7-point tour will be difficult to complete as HMI/Zoo takes time and
so does the Ropeway (cable car), and both have specific opening hours/operating
time that you have to keep in mind. But if you are willing to just breeze through
the spots quickly, then it may still be possible by sequencing the visits correctly.
Ask the taxi driver and he will help you on that.

The 5-point tour or Tiger Hill/Batasia are easily doable in first half, but don't try
both. You can also mix and match (mix point tour) between the options and work
out an optimal sightseeing plan. But you will need a private taxi of your own
rather than joining a set tour offered by an operator. I have indicated the tour
and ride rates in appropriate sections of my website which you can use as
reference for working out your budget.

Darjeeling in January is gong to be very cold. So take lots of woolens and warm
clothes, and carefully select a hotel that offers proper room heaters.

Somanath M (From Chennai, Aug 2012) - A customized tour in Darjeeling
We reached on 13th August, by noon. Then we went around to Chowrastra for a
short hang out. Mr.Subash (of Ashmita Tour & Trek) then explained the points of
interest in Darjeeling. We started on the next day early morning at 4 to Tiger
Hills. The scenic beauty of sun rise was like a heaven. It was amazing and the
best part of our trip... those 45 minutes are still in front of our eyes. Then we
went toBuddhist Monastery in Ghoom, followed by the War Memorial, here the
view of mountains that glitter under the sun was amazing. There was a short
break for breakfast.

We then resumed to Japanese temple, then to Himalayan Mountaineering
Instituteand Zoological Park. Then we had the local lunch, then to few mountain
view points. We were back to the hotel by evening. Then we took a walk to local
bazaar in the evening.

On day two, we started at 9 in the morning and went to Mirik Lake, a hang out
place. On the way we saw the parade by school students, (since it was Aug
15th), it was very nice. We then had lunch and went to Nepal border, then to a
mountain view point Jorpokhri. Next day, we had some shopping then back to
NJP by cab.

P.S: It was a well planned, organized and structured tour by Mr. Subash of
Ashmita Tour & Trek. A Pleasing smile of Mr. Subash confirms you the pleasure
of your trip. They welcome even salty feedback with pleasant smile a

Darjeeling Shopping & The Top Stores

So where do you go for shopping in Darjeeling and what should you buy? Well,
having come all the way to this vibrant hill town, I am sure you won't like to get
into a typical city type mall. By the way that too is available here including a Big
Bazaar and a Rink Mall at the Laden La Road. You are probably looking for some
original and authentic of Darjeeling. There are actually plenty on offer for you from
this small part of the world that has many skilled craftsmen and artisans making
exquisite handmade articles and products.

The main shopping areas in Darjeeling are located along the Nehru Road and also
around the Chowrasta Mall itself. As you walk along, you will see many boutique
and other shops, as well as many temporary stalls on the roadside put up by the
Bhutias and Nepalese. And there would be many vendors selling various small
souvenir and gift articles on table tops or spreading them right on the road on a
piece of plastic cloth.

So what do you shop in Darjeeling? Some popular handmade items include the
Khukri (curved Gorkha knives with decorative handles), Tibetan masks, paintings of
Bhutia facial expressions on cloth pieces, local jewelry items including brooches and
pendants with carved-in gems, many types of curios, traditional boots, woolen
items including shawls & pashminas, scarves, caps, leather items and lot more.
Another unique artwork is the scroll paintings locally known as Thankas that are
typically created by local Bhutia artists depicting Buddhist religious stories.

Darjeeling is where the Toy Train was first introduced in the country by Darjeeling
Himalayan Railway (DHR) in 1881 which later went on to get the UNESCO World
Heritage status. One of my favorite souvenirs from the Darjeeling hills is a small
memento that reflects of this rich heritage. There are lot many outlets at the
Darjeeling Station that sells miniature toy train models, T-shirts with DHR logo, or
even beer mugs and wine glasses with DHR tags, caps, pens and more.



If you take keen interest in Art and Handicraft, then there are some places
including craft centers, emporiums and stores that are special and stand out from
the rest in terms of craftsmanship and authenticity. Check out Darjeeling Art
& Craft to know about them and what kind of stuff can you get there.

Nehru Road Darjeeling


Shops along Nehru Road, Darjeeling
Let's now take a walk along Nehru Road that leads up to the Mall and see what kind
of stores you get there. The road essentially starts from where the
restaurant Keventer'sis located which has an address of 1 Nehru Road. On the right
side of this narrow uphill road, there is a long line of temporary stalls set up by the
local Bhutias and selling all types of small souvenir and curio items. Most will have
woolens including shawls & sweaters, gloves, caps, bags etc. Some even sell toys
that work on solar.

A Stall on Nehru Road, Darjeeling


Update March 2014: The Bhutia Market has been shifted to a narrow lane that
originates from chowrasta mall and just after Nathmulls and Hotel Sunflower.

On the left and after Keventers is a store called Photo Services & Sales that offers
books and photos including children's books and novels. This is a good place to pick
up picture postcards of Darjeeling including that of Toy Train and Himalayan
Ranges. It also sells gift items, cameras & films, toys and music as well.

The next one is the Bata Shop having well stocked shoes and slippers for both men
& women. Next to that is House of Tea which is an exclusive outlet of Goodricke
Tea Estate. This is a great place if you want to buy Darjeeling Tea of various
qualities that are sold in packets and plucked and processed at the Goodricke
gardens. You can also have a cup of hot tea here.



Next is Radhaswamy Store selling usual clothing items. But upstairs is the
interestingKhukri House, a nice compact store selling different kinds of Khukris or
curved Gorkha knives. If you are looking for one, then this is the place to come.
They also keep other curio items and models of Buddha. The next store is Rajesh
Enterprise selling shawls, jackets and other clothing items. Then you will find
the Tirupati Handloom Emporiumselling all kinds of shawls, jackets and sweaters.

Next is Darjeeling Pharmacy. Other than medicines, it also sells many types of
toiletries, hair colors, conditioners etc.

Followed by this is the popular vegetarian restaurant Hasty Tasty. After this you will
see a small shop R N Agarwal Tea selling Darjeeling Tea both loose and in packets.
It proudly displays "Fresh Pure Darjeeling Tea" and "Flavory Darjeeling Tea". An
young Sardarji was once at the counter. Being quite impressed with his selling
style, on one occasion I had bought a packet of tea from here. I was quite
disappointed though and found hardly any flavor.

Then you will find Darjeeling Photo Stores that has diversified over time to sell
several items other than photos and pictures of various Darjeeling scenes. Other
than large laminated pictures of Tea Gardens, Kanchenjunga and other attractive
landscapes of Darjeeling, there are sections on books and leather bags as well. You
will also get camera films here.

Next is Weekender, a fashion clothing store selling modern clothing items mostly
for young boys and girls. Then there is Lilliput Bazar, a store for the kids. They
have plenty of collections including dolls, soft toys, kids dresses, shoes etc. Then
you will see Frank Ross Chemist Shop which is a large pharmacy and adjacent to it
is the Frank Ross Caferun by the same family.

Weekender & Lilliput Bazar, Nehru Road


The next store P. C. Banerjee established in 1900 offers a range of spectacles,
sunglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids etc. Next store Montecarlo Canterbury sells
different kinds of shawls, sweaters and other woolen products. This is followed by
the well known bakery and multi-cuisine restaurant Glenary's.

Right opposite to Glenary's is Chandulal's, another large clothing shop selling
mostly woolens and jackets. They are exporter and trader of Pashmina shawls
which are mostly brought from Kashmir and rare parts of the hills in Kashmir.
The Sikkim Tourist Information Center is located right next to this shop. Next to
Glenary's is Das Studio, a well known family run business since 1927 that has
grown far beyond just a photo studio. They have wonderful and some rare
collections of pictures of Darjeeling scenes and surrounding areas. Many pictures
come in poster size prints as well that can be framed or laminated, and can serve
as a great personal asset.

Chandulals, Darjeeling


Next is the Elite Studio which is also quite large and sells diversified products. You
can get picture post cards, soft dolls, posters, cameras, films and many other
souvenir and gift items. After Elite Studio you will come across the Manjusha
Emporium showcasing West Bengal handcraft and handloom products including
wood craft, needle work and silk products. Next is the Nepal Curio House selling all
kinds of Nepalese curio items and souvenirs.

Inside Manjusha Emporium, Darjeeling


You will then see Asian Art Palace, a store packed with curio items. They have
different kinds of necklaces, earrings, chains, gems & other semi precious stones,
brooches and many other items. Then there are couple of small shops selling dolls,
cloth bags etc and one selling pure organic honey, followed by Kalimpong Art
Gallery that has all kinds of artwork including paintings on cloths that can be rolled,
brass models of Buddha. Then there is a tailoring shop.



If you look at the right side, the line of temporary Bhutia stalls that started right
from the beginning of the Nehru Road, finally ends here. Here you will see the Hotel
Shangri-La & Restaurant, boutique hotel cum restaurant located close to the Mall.

After that on the right side of the road are a bunch of clothing stores including
Manipur Handloom, Himalayan Hosiery and Handloom, Dayal Handloom and few
others. All of these sell items like jackets, sarees, shawls and other woolen items,
and some like Manipur Handloom almost always offer items on sale (up to 30 -
40% discounts).

Manipur Handloom, Nehru Rd., Darjeeling


You will soon see the huge Pine Ridge Hotel on the left. There is a shopping arcade
below the hotel and facing the road. Players Sports store sells all kinds of sports
items,Kodak Photo Shop which is a studio selling cameras and accessories, Pine
Ridge Travelswhich is a travel agent offering flight, train and tour bookings
and Eastern Art which sells Tibetan arts, carpets, cloth paintings and other curios.

Shops in Chowrasta Mall
As you walk past the Pine Ridge hotel, you will be on the Chowrasta Mall. There are
many stores located along the boundary of the Mall selling all kinds of items
including curios, books, jewelry and other items. Here you will find some of the
oldest and famous shops of Darjeeling. Check out Shops in Darjeeling Mall to know
about them.

Chowk Bazar
Another popular area with the locals is the Chowk Bazaar, a hyper busy market in a
flat area located a lower level and selling all kinds of household items.

Visitors' Reviews/Comments

Karthi (February 2014)
Hi Raj, I have planned to visit Gangtok, Kalimpong, Darjeeling for 5 days on 15th
March 2014 with my wife and 1 year old son. I am unable to get proper clothing
in my place, I would like to know that will I be able to find shops near Bagdogra
airport to buy winter clothes for my 1 year old son? Suggest me the best place to
buy.

Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, Feb 2013)
Hi, Bagdogra market is a at a short distance from the airport and is on your way.
You will get a few shops there and also further down at Matigara (this is where
you will leave the highway and take a left turn if you are heading for Darjeeling).
But both Bagdogra and Matigara are local bazaar areas and you will only get
some local low scale clothing shops there. If you want proper clothing stores, ask
the driver to go further down on the highway and there is a huge City Centre
shopping mall on the left. You will get all kinds of stores there including Shopper
Stop etc. If you are heading for Gangtok or Kalimpong first, then City Centre will
anyway come on the way. Otherwise you will need to pay a bit extra to the driver
for this (may be around Rs. 50-75).

Santosh Kumar (Feb 2013)
Actually I am staying in Chennai. Here its always hot and we never require warm
clothes. But to visit Darjeeling we ought to wear warm clothes to avoid cold. so I
wanted to know whether there are any shops which rents warm clothes for few
days. I know it sounds cheapish but can't help asking this query.

Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, Feb 2013)
Hi, No, I don't think there is one. But there will be lots of small temporary Bhutia
stalls along Nehru Road that leads to the Mall selling warm clothes at cheap
prices. You can ask them if they would offer clothes on rent which I doubt. You
can also check if they would buy them back on your return (which they might if
they see good profits). At least you will not have to carry them back home.

Darjeeling Tea

I was heading for Darjeeling and having a chat with the jeep driver as I sat next to
him. He mentioned that there are three 'T's that form the pillars of Darjeeling's
economy - Tea, Tourism and Teak, but tea is the oldest and the strongest out of
all.

Everybody in Darjeeling knows how deeply the people here are connected with tea
gardens. Tea plantation in Darjeeling have not only given new life to countless
Nepalese in the hills, but have also placed Darjeeling and India prominently into the
world tea market.

Darjeeling has gone on to become the world leader in producing highest quality tea,
a position which it has proudly retained for well over a century. Like the
Champagne of wines, Darjeeling tea is the ultimate tea and unique in the sense
that it can only be produced in Darjeeling hills.

Darjeeling Tea (Black)


The slope of the hills, the soil condition, the mist, the cool Himalayan breeze,
amount of rainfall and many other factors all come together to make a unique
combination that helps producing the tea which has its own unique natural aroma
and flavor. Newly planted tea bushes take 6 to 9 years to mature. Older and deeper
roots create increased muscatel flavor in the leaves. There are many gardens with
bushes that are over 100 years old. On top of all these, Darjeeling tea is still
processed using the orthodox method of withering, rolling, fermenting, drying
& sorting with delicate human care and skills. All these make Darjeeling tea so
exclusive and special.



Tea Board of India stated and the world has recognized that such tea production
can not be replicated anywhere else in the world. Because such natural factors and
century old human practices are nearly impossible to replicate at other places.

Story of Darjeeling Tea
The story of Darjeeling Tea started in 1800s when the East India Company's as well
as British Empire's main earnings were based on taxes on tea import. Those days
the company depended on importing tea from China and reselling them. It was a
hugely profitable business. But having lost their monopoly in China Tea Trade in
1833, they had to quickly find an alternative source of tea supply and keep it under
their own control. Find out how Darjeeling popped up to be that premier source and
finally went on to dominate the world with the highest quality of tea ever
produced.

Types, Flavors & Grades of Darjeeling Tea
If you think that Darjeeling tea is only about the garden where it is produced, then
please read on. It's true that due to intense rivalry the gardens strive to create
their own personalities when it comes to taste. But Darjeeling tea comes in different
varieties or types, in each variety there are unique flavors that depend on the
season when the tea is harvested, and within each variety and flavor, there are
grades that depend on the size of the tea leaves.

How is Darjeeling Tea Processed
After selective plucking, Darjeeling Black Tea which is the most popular type in the
world, goes through several stages including withering, rolling, fermenting, drying,
sorting and packing. Great art, experience and skills come into play while the
flavors and aroma are developed. Even within a step, several delicate adjustments
are made to get the signature flavors. Green and white tea undergo variations in
processing and skip several stages to retain the natural chemicals. Check out the
above link to know all about how various types of Darjeeling tea are processed in
the garden factory.

Tea Estates in Darjeeling
There are several gardens in Darjeeling that are over 150 years old and were
established in 1800s during the British days. They are still operational today with
tea bushes that have lived through time. In all, there are now 86 gardens in
Darjeeling district. Check out the above link to know about all the main gardens in
Darjeeling, their background stories, main offerings, production capacity, location,
area covered, contacts and many other details.



Darjeeling Tea Industry - Present & Future
Since its commercialization, plantation and production of tea in Darjeeling had
grown in leaps and bound. Year after year new gardens haven opened up and the
quality of tea only kept improving due to growing competition between the gardens,
improved technology and innovation. The first world war put a check to the influx of
Nepalese garden workers and later India's independence forced the change of
ownership from British to Indian planters. So did all that impact the tea gardens in
Darjeeling? Where does Darjeeling Tea Industry stand today and can it retain its
leadership position in world tea market and keep growing further from here?

Darjeeling Tea Garden Tours (Tea Tourism)
Tea tourism is catching up big time in this part of the country. Several tea estates
in Darjeeling offer tea tourism which essentially means experiencing the garden life
while enjoying luxury amenities and comfort. Tea garden tour or tea tourism is
about staying in the tea garden (many estates offer the original but upgraded
planters' bungalows with modern amenities), watching the garden workers pluck
tea, enjoying the serene garden atmosphere, learning about the tea manufacturing
process in the tea factory, experiencing the village life and culture of the workers,
hiking the nature trails, and indulging into many other nature activities.

Best places to drink & buy tea in Darjeeling
Find out which are the great tea lounges and outlets in Darjeeling if you are
planning to taste and buy pure Darjeeling tea of fine quality in the hill town. There
are some that are outlets of specific tea estates and offer tea of that garden, while
the others are collectors of tea and source from various gardens in Darjeeling.

How to make a cup of Darjeeling tea
There are many intricate steps in making a great cup of Darjeeling tea. Just having
authentic tea leaves is not good enough to guarantee the right flavor and aroma. In
fact, there are several other factors that are equally important. Without ensuring
those you will only keep striving to reach that elusive combination of taste,
fragrance and color that Darjeeling tea is known for. Check out the link to know
about how to correctly prepare different types of Darjeeling tea (black, green,
oolong and white) and get genuine flavor, aroma and color.
Visit & Explore Gangtok

Gangtok is a beautiful hill town and the capital of north eastern state of Sikkim.
This is one place which many tourists like to combine along with a visit to
Darjeeling. In fact the combined trip of Darjeeling-Gangtok is a common recipe
when people think about visiting this part of the country. This is mainly because of
the proximity of the two places as well as easy access.

Gangtok is located at an altitude of 5410 ft in East-Sikkim. Distance from NJP (the
nearest major railway station) is 126kms, from Bagdogra airport 124kms, from
Siliguri 114kms and from Darjeeling 98kms. Private and shared taxi services are
available in plenty between Gangtok and these places. There is also bus service
from Siliguri and helicopter service from Bagdogra airport.

Gangtok (Sikkim)

I took this picture from the cable car (Ropeway)

The name Gangtok means the 'Top of the Ridge'. Between 1894 to 1975 it was part
of the Namgyal kingdom and a center of Royal administration. After that it became
a state of India. Over the years Gangtok has experienced booming economy and
advancement of lifestyle. However it has remained as a peaceful place with a mix of
different cultures & ethnicity.

The residents are mainly comprised of Nepalese, Lepchas and Bhutias, although the
Lepchas are actually the original residents of the place, the rest are immigrants.



Gangtok spreads over a forested mountain that faces the Kanchenjunga snow
peaks. There are many vantage points in and around Gangtok from where you get
magnificent views of Kanchenjunga and other Himalayan snow peaks. In fact every
spur extending from this hill town offers a setting of a great sight.

The heart or the main hub of Gangtok is M.G. Marg (i.e. Mahatma Gandhi Road),
which has been converted into something like a long stretch of open promenade
and mall area. It's a pedestrian only zone and vehicles are not allowed here. This
litter and smoke free zone has many glittering shops, restaurants & bars lined up
on both sides.

There are benches laid out along the middle and both sides of the road where you
can relax and see the pedestrians passing by or tourists shopping around. When the
natural light fades, the beautiful Victorian lamps on the street are lit up. It's a great
place to hang around for a while and experience the bustling carnival like
atmosphere.

View of Gangtok town from Rumtek


Over the years while mushrooming of concrete buildings in the main Gangtok town
has taken toll on trees and greenery that it was once known for, still there are
enough in the place to make a great vacation for all. A big advantage of Gangtok
today is that you get all modern amenities along with nice mountain charm. It
perfectly suits those coming from cities and looking for great weather, sightseeing,
good food, comfortable stays with modern facilities, and nice shopping
opportunities. And all these are available here at various price categories which can
suit both budget and luxury travelers.

Gangtok has several taxi and bus stands, and each earmarked for specific purpose.
While coming from Siliguri/NJP or Bagdogra by bus or taxi, you will be dropped at
the Deorali taxi stand located 2kms below the Gangtok town center. From here you
will need to take a local Sikkim taxi to your hotel. If you plan to visit South or West
Sikkim from Gangtok, you can take a reserved or shared taxi from the stand near M
G Marg. For North Sikkim, you can take a taxi from the stand near Vajra Cinema
Hall. The Sikkim Government Bus Terminal is located about 5 minutes walk from M
G Marg.



Permits for Gangtok & other parts of Sikkim
Indians do not require permits to visit Gangtok which is part of Sikkim. However all
foreign nationals (except Bhutanese) require an Inner-Line Permit to visit Gangtok.
Additionally the nationals of China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar need to get
prior approval from Ministry of Home Affairs (Government of India, New Delhi)
before they can apply for the Inner-Line Permit.

The Inner-Line Permit is issued from several places including Indian Missions in
overseas countries, or at Darjeeling (Foreigner Registration Office, Laden La Road,
Opposite State Bank of India Building), Siliguri (Dy. Secretary Tourism), Gangtok
(Secretary, Tourism), airport Immigration Offices at Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai,
Chennai and several other places. It takes only 15-20 minutes to get the permits
across the counter. You need to carry two photographs and your passport.

Note that some restricted areas in Sikkim like Tsomgo lake, Baba Mandir etc
require a special permit for all including Indians. It is issued by the local authority.
Your hotel or travel agent can organize that, but you should carry two photos and
ID proof. Note that foreigners are not allowed in Nathula.

How to reach Gangtok - Transport & Fares
Gangtok is only 4 hours drive from Darjeeling, 4.5 hours from both NJP (the
nearest major railway station) and Bagdogra (the nearest airport). You can get
private taxis from all these places, shared Jeeps from NJP, Siliguri, Darjeeling,
Kalimpong etc, and buses from Siliguri.

Gangtok Top Attractions & Activities
You can easily be absorbed and filled for days in Gangtok with its so many
attractions & entertainment activities. There are great view points, monasteries
& gompas with awesome architecture, museums, gardens, waterfalls, lakes & pools,
art & craft, rides, adventure activities like paragliding ... the list goes on.

Local Sightseeing Tours & Operators
There are numerous tour operators (along M G Marg, Tibet Road and several other
places) who offer local sightseeing tours of Gangtok and surrounding areas.
However for local sightseeing, taxis are the best and most economical.

Where to stay in Gangtok
The place offers a wide range of accommodations from modern luxury hotels to
budget stays. Here I have discussed the ones that are our favorites.

Where to dine in Gangtok
Most good eateries, restaurants and cafes are located on MG Road or nearby. This
is where most tourists come to dine as there are so many choices from pure
vegetarian restaurants serving north & south Indian dishes to those serving non-
veg food of Indian, western, Chinese, continental & other cuisine.

Nightlife - Bars, Pubs, Casinos, Night Clubs
You will be surprised that Gangtok has so many popular pubs & bars. The first land
based live casino was opened in Gangtok. Plenty of options for night outs.

Shopping in Gangtok - what to buy & from where
You can pick up many different locally made souvenirs, gifts, clothes, utility items,
art and handicraft products, some which are rarely found elsewhere.

Darjeeling - Gangtok Itineraries
Planning to make a combined trip of Darjeeling and Gangtok? Well many do so. You
want to ensure that your days are well planned and you do not miss out on the top
attractions in either of these places. This section will help you to effectively plan
your days in both Darjeeling and Gangtok, as well as plan transfer between the two
places, what to see & do, and more.

Gangtok Weather & Best Time to Visit
Like all other places in the north Bengal and north east India, Gangtok too faces the
extremes of winter and monsoon. However, summer (April - May) and autumn
(October - November) are quite pleasant and best for the views with clear sky.

Tourist Information
You will get a lot of handy information about Gangtok here including the location of
Sikkim Tourism Centers & what they offer, internet cafes, travel & tour operators,
shopping & business hours, and more.

Shiva Mandir, Legship

Also known as Kirateshwar Mahadev temple, it is situated on the banks of beautiful Rangit river. A foot suspension
bridge takes the devotees to its attractive location. People from all over the state visit this holy place of eminence.
According to popular belief, whosoever worships here will earn virtues of two life times.

Dubdi Monastery

This was the first monastery established soon after the consecration ceremony of
the first Chogyal. The monastery is located on a hill top above Yuksom surrounded by verdant forest. It can be
approached by trekking only, negotiating steep slope for about half an hour. It is an ideal place for lamas seeking
meditation recluse..

Holy Caves

The mountainsides are dotted with many caves which are considered holy by the people and revered as places of
pilgrimage. It is believed that Guru Rimpoche and Lhatsun Chenpo have halted and meditated in these caves. Most
of these caves are located in remote places requiring tough treks.
The holiest of them is Lha-ri nying phu or the old cave on Gods hill. Located in
West Sikkim, it can be reached only after a difficult 3 day trek from Tashiding.
De-chhen phu or the cave of happiness is equally inaccessible located in the snows above Dzongri in West Sikkim.
Pe-phu, a huge cave, is located between Tendong and Maenam hills in South Sikkim around 5 kms from Ravangla.
Khando-sang - phu or the cave of the occult fairies is one of the easiest to reach and is located just beyond the Rishi
hot springs.

Lakes in Sikkim
Sikkim has many beautiful lakes dotting its landscape. Most of the lakes in Sikkim are considered sacred and are
revered by the people. The North Sikkim plateau adjoining Tibet has a number of mountain lakes of which
Gurudongmar and Chho Lamo are the most famous. Chho Lamo is the source of the Teesta River. The Tsomgo Lake
in East Sikkim is the most popular with tourists while Khecheopalri in West Sikkim is one of the most beautiful and
sacred.
:: Tsomgo Lake ::
The most visited lake in Sikkim is the Tsomgo Lake in East Sikkim. Located 35 km from Gangtok and at an altitude of
12,000 ft, the ethereally beautiful Tsomgo Lake is a must on every visitors itinerary Embedded in steep and rugged
mountain terrain, the lake is covered with snow cover from early winter to late spring. Associated with many legends
and myths, Tsomgo is regarded as holy by the Sikkimese. For the tourist a visit to the lake offers a wonderful outing.
Rides on colourfully decorated yaks and mules are offered at the lake site, which also has a variety of eating stalls
serving snacks and beverages. Snowboots and gumboots can be hired here. The lake also provides the perfect
backdrop for the holiday photo.
:: Menmecho Lake ::
Located twenty kilometers ahead of Tsomgo is the much larger Menmecho Lake at an altitude of 12,500 ft. It is a
stunningly beautiful lake with snow cover from early winter to late spring. It is surrounded by a rich, varied forest and
some rather interesting rock formations. The lake is famous for its trout and a farm to cultivate these fish also exists
nearby. Fishing is allowed at Menmecho Lake but you have to obtain a permit from Gangtok and ascertain the
availability of fishing gear. Accommodation for the visitors coming here is available at the dak bungalow and tourist
lodge near the lake.
:: Lampokari Lake ::
The Lampokari Lake at Aritar in East Sikkim saddled on the top of a hill. This serene Lake, surrounded by lush
greenery is considered one of the oldest in Sikkim and is about 350 meters in length and 75 meters wide. Shaped
curiously like a human foot, this lake, although natural, has been recently provided with artificial embankment to
facilitate boating, a first for Sikkim.
:: Khecheopalri lake ::
Altitude: 1799 meters Another holy lake is Khecheopalri in West Sikkim. Located between Gyalshing and Yuksum
and surrounded by hills, Khecheoplari Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Sikkim and is considered as sacred
by both Buddhists and Hindus. So hallowed is the lake in local imagination that it is believed that even birds protect
its sanctity by carrying away any leaf or twig that drifts on to its calm and placid surface. Also known as the Wishing
Lake, it is visited by a large number of people all year through. The green and clear waters of the lake along with the
serene atmosphere make it a very popular tourist destination. A trekkers hut has been built near the lake for the
convenience of tourists.
:: Gurudongmar Lake ::
At 17,100 ft, Gurudongmar is revered by both Buddhists and Hindus as a sacred lake.
Encircled all around by snow-covered mountains the lake freezes during the winter, except at one spot said to be
blessed by Guru Rimpoche. The water of the lake is believed to have the miraculous power of granting children to
issueless couples.

Wild Life Sanctuaries

Kanchendzonga National Park (KNP)
KNP encompasses an area covering 1784 sq km. It is bounded in the north by the Tent Peak and the ridge of the
Zemu glacier. The eastern boundary of this park comprises of the ridge of the Mountain Lamaongden. The southern
boundary includes Mount Narsing and Mount Pandim. The western boundary comprises of the mighty
Kanchendzonga which presides over its namesake park and the Nepal Peak. Being bounded by such formidable
features, it is no wonder that the park has remained ecologically untouched and therefore has provided a natural
protection to the flora and fauna it shelters. The fauna includes the Snow leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda,
Barking deer and many other species. The KNP is surrounded by biosphere which combines nature conservation
with sceintific research, environmental training, environmental education monistoring and demonstration. Many
places in this park have perhaps never been trod by man and it is very likely that new species may be discovered
here.
Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary
This is located about 20 kilometres from Gangtok and covers an area of about 5200 hectares above the road
between Singtam and Dikchu with the highest point at a place called Tinjure where a wooden observation tower of
the Forest Department exists. The Sanctuary is the home of Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Civet cat and many
varieties of birds and butterflies.



Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary
It is located in South Sikkim above the town of Rabongla and covers an area of about 3500 hectares with its highest
point being at Maenam at 10,600 ft. It shelters the Red Panda, Leopard cat, civet cat, blood pheasant, black eagles
and other animals of the temperate forest.
Singba Rhododendron Sanctuary
It is located near Yumthang in north Sikkim and contains a vast variety of rhododendrons. When in blossom the
rhododendrons provide a riot of colour to this small 33 hectare park.
Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary
It is situated around the area adjoining the Changu lake and covers an area of about 400 hectares.


Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary
This Rhododendron Sanctuary lies in the West corner of Sikkim.
Mountains scarred by landslides suggest that development activities are taking
a toll on the environment and the flora and fauna are definitely being affected. The loss of topsoil, soil instability,
degeneration of agriculture land and shrinking of catchment areas of the rivers are issues that are cause for concern.
The alpine areas of Sikkim in particular which look so powerfully big and formidable are ironically most vulnerable and
sensitive to environment degradation. High altitude soil is not readily regenerative and therefore overgrazing of yaks
and sheep in alpine meadows has led to many stretches of land becoming barren. Man has realised that forests form
an indispensible part of our life support system and placed their conservation high on the agenda. Perhaps in the
thousands of species of flora in Sikkim, some of them unique to this state and not found elsewhere, are some which
await to be discovered to provide life saving drugs to fight diseases like cancer and AIDS that are stalking mankind. It
is truly said that in the wildness is the preservation of the world.
The best protection for the species is the people who know and care about them. The need for development and the
preservation of the ecology have to be balanced and one should not be allowed to overwhelm the other. We do not I
require an asteroid to destroy us. Like the anecdotal bull in the china shop we are destroying the world ourselves -
slowly and irrevocably without realising it. Emission of green house gases is causing global warming and these cuts
across borders and nations. But we have saviours in the form of trees. Quietly they stand absorbing the noxious
gases. Perhaps the trees in Sikkim at some given moment would be absorbing carbon-dioxide emitted by a coal fired
power station in China and releasing pure oxygen in return. Sikkim has the capability of earning good Carbon credits
and doing carbon trading given the good forest coverage. The forest coverage in the state is steadily increasing due
to the green initiatives of the state. Grazing in forest areas has been banned and the use of j chemical fertilizers
banned as a step to make the state completely organic, Felling of trees is banned : Government also feels that trees
can be more productive if left standing. Sikkim is perhaps the only state in the country to set up a Glacier Commission
to study the effect of climate change on its glaciers.

Tour Itinerary for Tourist visiting Sikkim
Sight seeing in and around Gangtok for small cars and vans inclusive of fuel.
SL.No FROM TO Distance in Kms
1 Gangtok Ranka Kanchanjunga tourist village 25
2 Gangtok Tsongmo Lake(including one hour halt) 38
3 Gangtok Baba Mandir including one hour halt 53
4 Gangtok Nathula pass(including one hour halt) 56
5 Gangtok SaatKanya Jharna(Phamtam/Phensong) 37
7 Point Sight Seeing
Sl.No FROM TO Distance in kms
1 Gangtok
Chorten Gumpa
11kms on total
Tibetology
Cottage Industry
Enchey Monastery
White hall flower show
Hurrurey Pakha(Namnang)
Gangtok Ropeway
5 Point Sight Seeing
SL FROM TO Distance in kms
1 Gangtok
Chorten Gompa
11 kms in total
Tibetology
Cottage Industry
Enchey Monastry
White hall flower show
3 Point Sight Seeing
SL FROM TO Distance in kms
Gangtok
Tashi View Point/Ganesh Tok
21 kms in total Himalayan Zoological Park
Hanuman Tok
OR
Afternoon sightseeing
Ban Jhakri Fall
28kms Lingdum Monastery
Rumtek Monastery
OR 24 kms
Early morning sightseeing
Tashi View Point
31 kms in total
Ganesh Tok
Hanuman Tok
Excursion trips( outside Gangtok )
From To Distance in kms
Visit to South District:
Gangtok Chardham, Solophok, Samdruptse, Namchi, Buddha park, Rabong 164 kms in total
Visit to West District:
Gangtok Pelling 110 km
Kechepari lake 134 km
Pemayangtse 107 km
Legship Hot spring 90 km
Yuksom 146 km
Visit to North District
Gangtok Phodong 38 km
Yumthang via Lachung 13 km
Gurudongmar via Lachen 176 km
Visit to Zuluk, East Sikkim Halt at Zuluk
From Gangtok via pakyong - rongli (one day package tour)total distance 113 kms
Visit to Aritar Lake, East Sikkim , halt at Aritar
From Gangtok via Renock, Rongli (one day package tour) total distance 70 kms